House prices in the Bay of Plenty are among the fastest-rising in the country, hitting record highs.
Median prices in the region hit $620,000 in October, according to Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) data.
It was a record for the region and a lift of 7.8 per cent year-on-year - the sixth biggest increase in New Zealand.
REINZ chief executive Bindi Norwell said October produced the highest number of regional record prices the organisation had seen in 23 months.
Prices in Bay of Plenty's main centres - Tauranga and Rotorua - continued to rise and set new records.
Tauranga's median hit $687,400, up 1.1 per cent from the record $680,000 set in September.
Rotorua's median was $490,000, up 5.2 per cent on the previous record of $465,900 set in August.
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Simon Anderson, chief executive of the Realty Services Group, which operates the Eves and Bayleys real estate brands, said he was not surprised to see the steady growth in the Bay of Plenty median.
"For example, we see Tauranga as being a more established city than a few years ago, when it was more seen as a retirement village. People are moving here now for work and lifestyle reasons. There is quite a big top end in our market with the Mount and waterfront areas."
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He did not expect the housing shortage in Rotorua to alleviate in the short-term.
"A lot that couldn't enter the Tauranga market have seen Rotorua as good value and have made a decision to move there. Some are now commuting to Tauranga for work."
Anderson said things were looking "really positive" in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, particularly Whakatāne.
"There are a lot of good projects happening out there. The same way that a lot of people have moved from Auckland to Tauranga for the property price range, people are moving from Tauranga to Whakatāne."
OneRoof editor Owen Vaughan said: "The wider Tauranga housing market remains relatively buoyant but sales volumes are down significantly when compared to the same period last year.
"The suburbs that are doing best are also the most affordable ... interestingly, investors are now more active than before - which suggests an end to the 'wait and see' mentality that had put a dampener on purchases by that group."
Harcourts Tauranga managing director Simon Martin said he had seen an increase in median house prices earlier "when first home buyers and investors took a step back from the market, when rental rules and borrowing limits tightened".
"So the properties that were selling were mainly the higher priced ones."
When asked if the record regional median in October was an accurate reflection of the Tauranga Central market, he said: "yes and no".
"First home buyers and investors are showing more interest, and we expect that to continue with insulation rules set in stone now and interest rates being so low."
Professionals McDowell co-owner Steve Lovegrove said there was less stock in Rotorua than this time last year so "a good, clean, well-presented property will not last".
He said there was a flood of first home buyers in the market meaning open homes that used to have four people through per session now have twice that, particularly houses in the high $300,000s to low $400,000s mark.
"There is a market standoff because no one wants to sell because there's nothing to buy, and no one can buy because no one wants to sell."
Tremains general manager Anton Jones said the record prices, though an accurate depiction of last month, were a surprise as this year had been a "softer year" in Tauranga.
"We haven't seen the highs that we've seen over the last three or four years ... six months ago it didn't seem that great," Jones said.
He said it had started to pick up in the last few months which he said was due to the shortage of listings and "over the last two months, things are looking a bit better".
"Houses are being snapped up pretty quick at the moment.
"People are still looking for houses, people are still wanting to move here."
First National principal and Rotorua REINZ spokeswoman Ann Crossley said there was a lot of competition among first home buyers. They are having to spend to get into the market and they are prepared to do it," she said.
"I think the scarcity of property is still the major issue ... We're selling more than we were last year that's for sure and that's not a good recipe because at some point you'll have nothing left."
National sales volumes fell 4 per cent in October compared with a year ago.
Bindi Norwell said it was unfair to compare October last year with last month due to the number of people aiming to sell their home before the foreign buyer ban came into effect at the end of October 2018.
"It's not surprising that the number of properties sold fell when compared to last year. When you add this to the fact that there are around 7800 fewer listings for the first 10 months of 2019 when compared to the same time last year, it's no wonder sales volumes are down," she said.
In October the median number of days to sell a property nationally decreased by a day from 35 to 34 days when compared with October last year.
Auctions were used in 15.5 per cent of all national sales last month, with 1052 properties selling via that method, in line with the same time last year.
National inventory is falling, with the total number of properties available for sale nationally fell 13.1 per cent in October to 22,313.
The six areas with the fastest-rising median house prices
• Manawatu/Whanganui, up 20.9 per cent from $337,000 to $407,500;
• Hawke's Bay, up 16.3 per cent from $460,000 to $535,000;
• Otago, up 15.8 per cent from $475,000 to $550,000;
• Waikato, up 9.6 per cent from $$520,000 to $570,000;
• Northland up 9.4 per cent from $480,000 to $525,000;
• Bay of Plenty up 7.8 per cent from $575,000 to $620,000.