Average asking prices for houses have smashed through the half-million-dollar barrier for the first time.

New figures from realestate.co.nz reveal the average national asking price for homes peaked at $511,421 last month, up from the previous high of $498,471 in January.

The rampant Auckland market had the highest average asking price, posting a record $764,000, up $87,000 from 12 months ago and more than $200,000 from early 2012.

Property commentator Olly Newland said he was surprised at the pace of the latest property surge. "It makes me wonder where it's going to end," he said.


The new data was further bad news for first-home owners looking to break into the Auckland market, especially those looking for houses in popular city suburbs.

"First-home buyers are going to keep missing out.

"They need to stop dreaming about buying in the middle of Auckland city, unless it's an apartment. People who are renting and want to buy shouldn't hang about."

According to Realestate.co.nz, which lists more than 120,000 properties annually, Taranaki posted the biggest month-on-month jump, up 10.2 per cent for a new record high of $369,791.

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The central North Island was the worst-performing region, with a 13.8 per cent drop in average asking prices, to $321,028.

Realestate.co.nz spokesman and board director Bryan Thomson said the figures were a sign of "robust growth" in the property market.

The release of the data comes as banks step up their competition for the mortgage market. Kiwibank will tomorrow drop its two-year home lending rate to 5.39 per cent, matching deals offered by ANZ, BNZ, ASB and Westpac.

Spokesman Bruce Thompson said the move was to ensure the bank remained competitive.


Banks were also offering incentives such as TVs, iPads and cash for new clients.

Buyers snap up high-end apartments in Auckland

Luxury apartments with million-dollar price tags have sold out six months before completion - further evidence of demand outstripping supply in Auckland.

Ninety-one apartments in the unfinished Hopetoun Residences building near Ponsonby have sold out, as have the apartments in the neighbouring Hereford Residences.

Bayleys real estate agent Trent Quinton said it was unusual to sell all units before developments were completed. "Most developments carry around 20 per cent of unsold stock on completion. So Hopetoun Residences has out-performed market trends," he said.

Quinton said the biggest sale at Hopetoun Residences was $2.5 million for a 230sqm dwelling plus 100sq m of deck with spectacular views over the harbour bridge and cityscape. The local buyer plans to live in the apartment.

Prices for 63sq m one-bedroom apartments started at $520,000, 70sqm two-bedroom apartments at $650,000 and larger two-three bedroom apartments at more than $1 million. The apartments went on sale at the end of 2013 and were sold out by December last year.

The Hopetoun Residences and Hereford Residences have been transformed from old business buildings by the Tawera Group.

Latest figures from QV show the average Auckland house price soared to $775,555 at January 31.

TradeMe revealed two weeks ago a 26.5 per cent jump in prices for properties of one and two bedrooms over the past year. The expected sale price in Auckland was $449,850, compared with a nationwide increase of 15 per cent, with an expected sale price of $330,550.