More Aucklanders are interested in buying properties outside of the city - with many potential buyers keen on the Hawkes Bay where you can get "more bang for your buck". data shows Aucklanders are more interested in homes outside their region compared with the same time last year. Last month more than 12,600 searched for homes in the Hawkes Bay, up by 152 per cent from the same time last year. The figure accounted for 36 per cent of all searches or views in the regions.

Other regions that saw a jump in interest from Aucklanders included Manawatu and Wanganui, up 123 per cent; Waikato, up 114 per cent; Northland, up 86 per cent; and the Bay of Plenty, up 84 per cent.

"This is a dramatic change in online searching behaviour, which could well be driven by record high property prices in Auckland," said chief executive Brendon Skipper.


Property Brokers Hawkes Bay manager Paul Whitaker said he'd noticed an influx of buyers from Auckland with the number of referrals jumping from one or two a month to six or seven. "I can put it down to the Auckland market - people are taking their money out of it. If people are re-investing [money in Auckland], they're not getting anywhere."

He said people not dependent on the job market were looking towards Hawkes Bay for the lifestyle and the weather. It also gave them a chance to retire earlier. "They're getting great bang for their buck," he said.

Hawkes Bay-based real estate agent Simon Tremain started seeing the trend emerge late last year.

Most people were buying to move, rather than as an investment.

"In May we made 75 sales and 10 to 15 per cent of the buyers were Aucklanders moving into the region."

Real Estate Institute figures show the median house price as $305,000 in the Hawkes Bay compared with $720,000 in the Auckland region.

According to QV, the average Auckland house price in April was $970,360. In Napier it was $330,242.

Real Estate Institute chief executive Colleen Milne said she had heard of "multiple cases" of Auckland investors moving to the regions.


She said they were buying in places like Rotorua and Whangarei without physically seeing the properties.

Meanwhile, Asians abroad appear to be showing less interest in NZ property, with 20 per cent fewer views of from Asian countries last month compared with May 2014.

Hawkes Bay convert goes all in

Auckland timber sales representative Mike Towns, 56, sold his West Harbour home and Snells Beach bach, and invested in nine properties in Hawkes Bay, where he plans to move with his wife next year.

"We bought a house in Havelock North about 4 years ago with the intention of moving down there anyway. We felt that Auckland was getting too hard for our kids to be able to live in, or to be able to buy houses in later on, and we knew the Hawkes Bay was a bit more reasonable."

The couple spent $1.1 million on eight properties, which they now rent out. "It basically gives us sufficient income to retire."

Mr Towns said the returns were stronger in Hawkes Bay.

"They're not so strong from an investment point of view, but they're good from a rental return point of view - it's almost twice what you can get out of Auckland, which enables me to be able to do this.

"You can spend half your earnings in Auckland on living expenses whereas you can spend about a quarter of them down there."

- Additional reporting: Hawke's Bay Today