Rotorua is shaking off its "poor cousin" nickname with 10 properties selling last month for more than $1 million, helping to contribute to a new record median sale price.
Property agents say while it is unusual for Rotorua to have so many sales over $1m in a month, it was "no fluke" and was reflective of the positive outlook they were still seeing in Rotorua.
The median sale price for Rotorua in March was $449,000, up from $420,000 in February and breaking the previous record of $435,000 recorded in June last year.
Four of the $1m-plus sales were lifestyle properties and sold in the Hamurana area, ranging from $1.1m to $1.75m. Three were at Lake Tarawera ranging from $1.2m to $1.75m and three were Rotorua residential properties ranging from $1m to $1.5m.
First National principal and Rotorua REINZ spokeswoman Ann Crossley said it "felt like a coming of age" and it was good news for Rotorua.
She said the nicer homes built in what were new subdivisions about 10 years ago, such as Stafford Rise in Lynmore, were now coming back on the market and fetching great prices.
"For a long time we have been seen as the poor cousin but we are slowly dropping that. We are being seen as a great place to live."
First National director Murray Piesse said it was unusual for Rotorua to have so many properties sold for more than $1m in a month but he said it reflected the mood of the market.
"I don't think it's a coincidence."
Tremains Real Estate Rotorua manager Malcolm Forsyth said there were not only $1m homes selling last month but plenty other well-priced homes too, showing it wasn't a "fluke".
He said there were 32 houses sold in the $300,000 to $400,000 bracket, 21 sold in the $400,000 to $500,000 bracket and 22 in the $500,000 to $600,000 bracket.
"We are still seeing that activity right across ... Rotorua still offers a lot and people are seeing true value here. They realise 'we can buy a really, really nice home and still have plenty of money left over from our $2.5m sale in Auckland'."
Forsyth said encouragingly they were starting to see more listings too.
"What that means for the future will be interesting to see. Things are changing in the real estate market and I don't doubt that will happen in Rotorua but I think that'll be more towards the end of the year. From now through winter I think it'll be business as usual."
Ray White Rotorua co-owner Anita Martelli said her company had sold one family home over $1m in Lynmore and the rest were lifestyle blocks or lakeside properties.
"I think that's fantastic for Rotorua. We're seeing growth. It's all round so positive in Rotorua."
Martelli said when high-end homes sold it usually had a flow-on effect by opening up homes at the lower end.
Asked about the 32 sold in the $300,000 to 400,000 bracket she said it reflected first home buyers and investors as well.
"We've seen a lot of first home buyers want to get in the market.
"People recognise the value here. It's a lovely place to live and people are investing in their futures. It lifts Rotorua which I think is great ... We're sitting in a really good place."
Martelli said the high number of $1m-plus sales was unusual but showed people weren't afraid to buy in Rotorua.
"I think it shows people are willing to invest in Rotorua."
OneRoof editor Owen Vaughan said the increase in sales over $1m was to be expected.
"Rotorua is continuing to grow as a preferred destination for people in the Bay of Plenty and outside. it's a really good place to live.
"Those high-end sales are going to have a flow on effect. You're going to see the top end start to command the prices you'd expect to see in nearby Tauranga or Coromandel.
"Rotorua has got lakeside views that you'd really pay top dollar for elsewhere."
Million dollar homes sold in Rotorua in March
* Four lifestyle properties around the Hamurana area ranging from $1.1m to $1.75m
* Three at Lake Tarawera ranging from $1.2m to $1.75m
* Three Rotorua residential ranging from $1m to $1.5m
Number of properties sold
March 2019 - 106
February 2019 - 92
March 2018 - 122
Rotorua property sales over $1m in previous year
March (2019) - 10
February - 0
January - 1
December - 2
November - 3
October - 2
September - 1
August - 0
July - 0
June - 5
May - 2
April - 6
March (2018) - 2