Auckland's property market is shaping as a puzzle for buyers and sellers ahead of an expected pick up in spring sales.
Take West Auckland where new data showed Waimauku rose to be the city's best-performing suburb in the past year, while just next door Kumeu was the worst-performing.
Waimauku's median sales price jumped $160,000 or 14 per cent over the past year to $1.28 million, while Kumeu prices fell $355,00 or almost one-quarter to $1.14m, the latest OneRoof-Valocity Property Report found.
Elsewhere, Kingsland dropped into the 10 worst-performing suburbs, while neighbouring Eden Terrace emerged in the past three months as one of the best.
The strange results come on the back of a quiet winter - yet signs were also emerging of a brighter spring.
Meanwhile, Hastings and Whanganui are the hottest property markets in New Zealand right now, with the two towns recording the country's biggest annual leaps in house prices, according to new figures from OneRoof and its data partner Valocity.
"This winter we saw a more pronounced winter effect than we have in the last five years," said James Wilson, director of valuation at property analysts Valocity.
"But in housing confidence surveys and anecdotally we are hearing mindsets changing.
"When you start getting that coal-face confidence creeping back in, it will generally correlate to better sales volumes and more market hype."
Yet a bounce back was not guaranteed, with Auckland house prices having now been on the slide for 18 months.
National prices, while still on the up, were also slowing as fewer locations remained bargain buys.
Despite this, Westpac and ASB economists were among those detecting signs of optimism.
They tipped Auckland prices to – instead of sliding – start holding their value again and national prices to jump from less than 2 per cent growth up to 5-7 per cent.
This was due to strong population and wage growth and the Reserve Bank's shock decision to cut the official cash rate and allow banks to offer cheaper home loan deals.
However, all eyes would be on spring as "a key test" to see whether house sales and prices did recover, ASB senior economist Mick Jones said.
Real Estate Institute chief executive Bindi Norwell was hopeful, saying house sales in July had been up year-on-year, while banks had also lent 7 per cent more money out as home loans.
"We hope these are the early signs of a positive market as we head into spring," she said.
Philly Lyus, general manager of DMI Homestagers, could already see spring's green shoots.
Her team were one of Auckland's biggest homestagers but had endured a quiet winter as fewer people put their homes up for sale and hired out staging furniture.
Yet there had now been a big pick up in inquiries and up to 10 homes were booked to hit the market this week with her furniture on display.
Her husband, a real estate agent with Ray White Remuera, had also noticed a pick up, she said.
Yet she also wondered if this spring had felt busier than normal because the winter was so quiet.
Property commentator Ashley Church was less buoyant. He expected the Auckland market to stay flat through spring and continue in the same pattern as the past 40 years.
That would mean prices wouldn't take off until 2020-21, at which point they would likely go through a growth spurt of about six years again, he said.
Valocity's Wilson said a flat market through the rest of the year could lead to more fluctuating prices.
Median sales prices tended to vary month to month when there were fewer sales because a few higher or lower value sales could skew the data, he said.
First-home buyers suddenly becoming active in a suburb and buying cheaper properties could also drive prices down, as could a raft of new apartments and cheaper homes being released on to the market.
Graham McIntyre, from Mike Pero Real Estate's Kumeu branch, blamed "uncontrolled development" and a "balloon in supply" for driving down Kumeu's prices.
The suburb had been home to numerous lifestyle blocks in the past, until Auckland Council recently opened it and neighbouring Huapai up as future housing development areas.
Yet whereas new housing had been released in phases in areas such as West Harbour, new homes were being built and released en mass in Huapai and Kumeu, McIntyre said.
"Five years ago, Huapai had 300 houses in the region - that was it," he said.
"Now we've got over 300 houses available for purchase at any one time."
It meant 18 months ago four-bedroom homes were rarely on sale under $990,000. Now brand-new four-bedroom houses could be picked up for $799,000.
By contrast, neighbouring Waimauku was largely untouched by the rash of new development as its lifestyle blocks had proven popular over the past year and driven up prices in leaps and bounds.
McIntyre suspected the same effect may have taken place in suburbs like Albany in the north and Bombay in the south, which also featured in the top 10 worst-performing suburbs in the past year.
TOP 10 AUCKLAND SUBURBS
• Waimauku - Home values grew 14% from $1.12 million one year ago to $1.28m currently
• Karaka - Up 7% from $1.12m to $1.19m
• Auckland Central - Up 6% from $440,000 to $460,000
• Warkworth - Up 6% from $805,000 to $850,000
• Matakana - Up 4% from $1.16m to $1.21m
• Schnapper Rock - Up 4% from $1.36m to $1.42m
• Ōtara - Up 4% from $545,000 to $565,000
• Waterview - Up 3% from $895,000 to $925,000
• East Tamaki Heights - Up 3% from $1.23m to $1.19m
• Wellsford - Up 3% from $560,000 to $575,000
BOTTOM 10 AUCKLAND SUBURBS
• Kumeu - Home values fell 24% from $1.5m one year ago to $1.14m currently
• Bombay - Down 17% from $1.34m to $1.12m
• Westmere - Down 13% from $1.9m to $1.66m
• Albany - Down 12% from $1.16m to $1.02m
• Long Bay - Down 11% from $1.59m to $1.42m
• Farm Cove - Down 10% from $1.34m to $1.21m
• Newmarket - Down 10% from $745,000 to $670,000
• West Harbour - Down 10% from $1.05m to $940,000
• Kingsland - Down 9% from $1.3m to $1.18m
• Castor Bay - Down 8% from $1.57m to $1.44m