A ferocious bidding war for a modest New Lynn home has driven its sale price up to $1.8 million - or nearly twice its council valuation.

The rocketing price that leapt in bids up to $100,000 was driven by buyers keen to build apartments on the 1012sq m block and comes as developers roam the city with new vigour in their hunt for prime sites.

It also follows the sale last week of a small Takapuna unit for $1.4m, close to half a million dollars above its council valuation.

Like the Takapuna unit, the 1940s, three-bedroom New Lynn home on 15 Arawa St was renovated but otherwise unremarkable.

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Its value lay instead in its vast quarter-acre size and proximity to New Lynn's train station.

Barfoot & Thompson selling agent Alex Wu said the home sold on Wednesday night at auction to a developer who was likely able to put up to nine apartments on the block.

Pete Evans from real estate firm Colliers International said Auckland's resurgent housing market had given developers renewed confidence.

"Developers are now very bullish on selling affordable apartments," he said.

"The demand for that type of property that can be developed is extremely high."

one roof

The sale adds evidence to Auckland's fast-paced property price rebound.

The latest Real Estate Institute data showed Auckland prices and house sales last month leapt to highs not seen in the month of January since the 2016 boom.

Auckland's median house price hit $875,000, close to record highs and up 8.7 per cent on the median $805,000 price last January.

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Ray White Remuera agent Ben Ryken said he also witnessed the "craziest auction he had seen in his five years in real estate" on Wednesday night.

2 Scherff Rd, Remuera sold for half a million dollars above reserve. Photo / Jason Oxenham
2 Scherff Rd, Remuera sold for half a million dollars above reserve. Photo / Jason Oxenham

A home he was marketing at 2 Scherff Rd in Remuera sold for about half a million dollars higher than its reserve price with the hammer eventually coming down at $1.7m.

He said he had 65 groups through the house to look at it, 14 registered buyers and eight active bidders at the auction.

Yet unlike the New Lynn property, the Scherff Rd home was not zoned for development into apartments and most of its 607sq m of land was "unusable" even for building a bigger house on the site.

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"It was a crazy price ... the auction just went nuts," Ryken said.

He put the home's draw down to its location in the Auckland Grammar school zone and a fear among buyers that prices were set to skyrocket.

By contrast the home at 15 Arawa St was zoned for terrace and apartment housing, and was just a block away from the New Lynn train station and close to shops.

Colliers' Evans said while the $1.8m sale price was high, it was exactly what Auckland Council planners wanted to happen when they earmarked transport hubs like New Lynn as ideal for intense housing development.

"If it is close to amenity, you can't have a 1000sq m site sitting there with one little dwelling on it," he said.

"We don't want Auckland to expand out, we want Auckland to expand close to amenity so people can walk to train stations and then pick up a few groceries in the evening when they walk home from the station."

A look on Google maps showed many of the properties neighbouring 15 Arawa St similarly had small homes on large quarter-acre blocks - a fact that hadn't escaped the notice of selling agent Alex Wu.

"Maybe I'm going to knock on the doors of all the neighbours and tell them the price we sold for and say now is a good time to put their home on the market," he said.