Hot spots in Rotorua's property market leading up to the level 4 lockdown have been revealed.
But those suburbs topping the list for value growth before lockdown could be at risk of coming under pressure in the post Covid-19 property climate.
Rotorua real estate experts say more established suburbs with sustained buyer interest were more likely to weather the effects but areas popular with first-home buyers means job security will be a key decider in the suburbs' survival.
The latest OneRoof Property Report showed median values in Hannahs Bay climbed 12.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2020 to reach $415,250 on March 25, the day before lockdown.
Western Heights jumped 10 per cent to $385,000, Mourea 9.5 per cent to $462,500, Whakarewarewa 9.3 per cent to $410,000 and Koutu 9.2 per cent to $379,500.
Suburbs with the least amount of growth in the three months leading up to lockdown included Fairy Springs, Owhata, Glenholme and Lake Okareka, as well as rural village Reporoa, south of Rotorua.
OneRoof editor Owen Vaughan said the suburbs that could be in a stronger position to hold up against the Covid-19 crisis depended on who was buying.
"Suburbs that will do well include those that have typically held value or had higher price brackets."
"Suburbs that may come under pressure are suburbs that are popular with first-home buyers and investors.
"These are areas where people may have to sell because they have lost their jobs or may not have the savings to get them through."
Vaughan said first-home buyers and investors had fuelled Tauranga's growth but may fall without its investor card and it would be "doubly hard" for Rotorua because of its strong tourism sector.
"What Tauranga will find is that the development sector is going to pause. There may be fewer apartment complexes come to the market and fewer appetite for investors. That will take a hit.
"But with Rotorua, there is going to be job pressure and lack of employment. It faces more challenges than Tauranga."
Vaughan said the good news was both areas may bounce back faster if first-home buyers who could afford to buy returned to the market, though the true impact won't be known for at least another six months.
"The property market is still in a state of shock. We won't really know how bad things are or how strong certain areas are until we get further past lockdown and move into a level 2 situation."
Valocity director of valuation and innovation James Wilson said strong value growth in Rotorua had been fuelled by the comparative affordability of housing stock, increasing the area's popularity among first-home buyers and Investors.
However, Wilson said Rotorua was likely to see a noticeable drop in sales volumes in the immediate post-lockdown phase as the market adopted a cautious or wait-and-see approach.
Wilson said the impact on value levels was more difficult to predict and he advised those seeking to make their next purchase decision to consider the longer-term drivers on the immediate location.
"Ask yourself, is this area supported by sustainable drivers such as access to employment, good schooling, areas of population growth, or is every home in this area owned by an investor, making the longer-term growth levels more exposed to volatility."
First National principal and Rotorua Real Estate Institute of New Zealand spokeswoman Ann Crossley predicted investors and first-home buyers that still had jobs would be back in the market.
"Different sectors in the market will move and it won't be based on suburbs, it will be based on job certainty and availability."
Professionals McDowell Real Estate co-owner Steve Lovegrove suspected landlords may exit the rental market leaving a good opportunity for first-home buyers to get on the property ladder.
"There are people who have thought this could be a good time to buy property as soon as they know there is job security.
"Rotorua is going to be easier for first-home buyers should there be enough employment."
Lovegrove said there would be some people who would have to move due to job loss and unaffordability while others would sit on their investments.
"I think you are going to see a bit of a rush back to the market because of people who have had to buy through this period and a population increase as people overseas look at New Zealand as a place to be."
Harcourts Rotorua sales manager Colville Barbour said it was difficult to say what the effect would be on the strong growth areas as the market could rebound quickly depending on buyer activity.
But, he said, there were some strong positive indicators in the market.
"The Reserve Bank has removed LVR restriction, interest rates have never been lower and ex-pats are eyeing our market as a serious consideration."
Barbour said the ability to borrow or maintain mortgage repayments would be a major factor in people's decisions to buy or sell.
"Job security will be a key decider. There will also be a number of investors that see bricks and mortar as a secure investment following a drop in the financial markets and shares."
As the country moves through the Covid-19 levels, Barbour said he remained confident of a return to a normal market as Rotorua still offered plenty of affordable opportunities.
Tremains Rotorua sales manager Megan Davies expected to see investors exiting the market and first-home buyers looking for opportunities to buy below value.
"I don't see that happening significantly due to Rotorua already being below national par but there may be distressed sellers out there in a month or two.
Davies said initially buyers may be waiting to see if they have job stability.
"But banks are supportive and I think people who need to buy will see an opportunity to enter the market.
"Rotorua will be hit hard, as will all provincial towns and cities who rely on tourism and local businesses will need support."