Tauranga real estate experts say sale volumes are expected to pick up over spring, with buyers eyeing up "fresh" new properties to the market.
Real Estate Institute of New Zealand's latest data showed Tauranga sale volumes dropped 11.1 per cent to 240 in August 2018 from 270 in August 2017 - and 4.8 per cent from 252 in July 2018.
However, Tauranga's median house price jumped 2.4 per cent to $640,000 in August 2018 from $625,000 in August 2017 - and only 0.6 per cent from $636,000 in July 2018.
First National Mount Maunganui, Tauranga and Ōmokoroa owner Anton Jones said it had been a busy start to September, with a high number of lifestyle properties entering the market.
"The fresher properties that are well presented and new to the market are always very popular," he said.
Anton said homes with a $700,000 to $900,000 price tag were struggling to sell, but new property listings were proving popular "as long as you are pricing it right".
He said sale numbers were picking up with more first-home buyers entering the market and an increase in properties with multi offers and homes sold under the hammer.
"We had 17 groups of people coming through an open home in Pyes Pa last week."
OneRoof editor Owen Vaughan said some areas saw a drop in volumes in August, compared to the same period last year.
"Much of this could be due to the scarcity of properties at the lower end and middle of the market," he said.
However, Vaughan said sale volumes were starting to "tick upwards" as the market headed into spring following a period of low listings.
"First-home buyer and investor activity in Tauranga has been subdued, but a lift in listings over the next couple of months is expected to change that picture."
Simon Anderson, chief executive of Realty Group, which operates Eves and Bayleys, said the median price had increased despite a drop in sale volumes.
"That is a reflection on demand in the top end of the market," he said.
Anderson said a 47.7 per cent increase in the number of sales in the Western Bay of Plenty for the year to August (44 to 65) showed buyers seeking better value properties were willing to purchase in outlying areas rather than in the city.
"There are pockets of opportunity in rural areas," he said.
Tauranga Harcourts managing director Simon Martin said sale volumes for August in the last three years were "within a stone's throw of one another" but were still up on 2015 and 2016.
Martin said August had been a "normalised market" which had given both sellers and buyers confidence, with the market expected to pick up more over spring.
Real Estate Institute of New Zealand regional director Philip Searle said the Bay of Plenty market continued to be buoyant throughout August, with good attendance and bidding at auctions.
"Fresh to the market stock is seeing a high interest with most properties receiving multi offers and clearance rates are good," he said.
"The market has a balanced mix of first-home buyers, investors and owner occupiers and we see an almost 50/50 split between locals and out of town buyers."
Listings remained low but had started to increase toward the end of the month, which Searle said was in line with the traditional spring lift.
"Last year, the traditional spring lift didn't happen due to the election, but the signs are there for it to happen this spring and it will most likely continue to be active up until Christmas," he said.
FIRST HOME BUYERS
Phoebe Ball bought their first home with fiance Troy Anderson at auction at the beginning of this month.
Ball, 26, and Anderson, 30, first started looking to buy back in May but the search for a home was put on the back burner while they travelled overseas.
The couple started looking seriously at the start of August when they returned and had secured their first home by early September at auction.
"We loved the idea of being close to the beach, however, as first-home buyers the reality of that was not possible," Ball said.
"We looked closer to my work but also central for Troy to travel over to the Mount for work."
The couple locked eyes on a 1960s-built, three-bedroom, single-storey home with an office in Greerton.
"We are blessed to have a large single garage for Troy to be able to work in with all his tools," Ball said. "Being a mechanical engineer it was important to have this for our house."
Ball said she and Anderson purchased their home for $500,000 - the house price cap of a HomeStart grant which they used along with KiwiSaver and a few savings.
"I will be honest, having a cap so low for Tauranga definitely makes it harder on first home buyers," she said.
"We were lucky enough to have the help of mortgage broker Melanie Dingle - she is incredible."
The 26-year-old new home owner said it felt amazing to be able to own her own home.
"[It is] something that is officially ours," she said. "We are both extremely proud and blessed to have had an incredible year in 2018, engagement, Europe trip and now owning our first home."
HOT PROPERTY: THE RISE AND FALL
Volume sold 2018: 240
Volume sold 2017: 270
Percentage fall: 11.1 per cent
Median house price 2018: $640,000
Median house price 2017: $625,000
Percentage rise: 2.4 per cent
Western Bay of Plenty
Volume sold 2018: 65
Volume sold 2017: 44
Percentage rise: 47.7 per cent
Median house price 2018: $592,000
Median house price 2017: $628,000
Percentage fall: 5.7 per cent
Bay of Plenty
Volume sold 2018: 438
Volume sold 2017: 467
Percentage fall: 6.2 per cent
Median house price 2018: $565,000
Median house price 2017: $535,000
Percentage rise: 5.6 per cent
Source: Real Estate Institute of New Zealand
TAURANGA'S HOME VALUES
Tauranga QV property consultant Steven Dunn was interested to see what impact the anticipated lift in property listings and sale volumes this spring would have on value growth.
The latest QV House Price Index showed Tauranga home values crept up only 0.7 per cent in the three months to August and 1.6 per cent in one year to an average value of $705,383.
The Western Bay of Plenty market jumped only 0.8 per cent in the three months to August and 3.5 per cent in one year to an average value of $634,582.
Dunn said a low number of listings recently had meant that multi-offers and strong sales prices were being achieved in many cases.
"We have seen an increase in investor activity and first home buyers are less active, which could be due to the lack of listings in the low-to-mid price bracket," he said.
OneRoof editor Owen Vaughan said Tauranga had been beset by lower listing volumes, which has had an effect on value growth over the winter.
"Well-presented stock in high-value areas have enjoyed success, but buyer caution has seen some sluggishness in other segments of the market," he said.