The median home value in Tauranga's "affordable" residential areas has jumped more than 70 per cent in the past five years; just three suburbs are now valued under half a million dollars.
The latest Valocity data shows median home values in Gate Pā had the most growth, rising 77.4 per cent in the past five years to $470,000 from $265,000.
Homes in Parkvale, Poike, Hairini and Judea also rose more than 70 per cent in the past five years, leaving just Parkvale ($450,000), Poike ($448,000) and Gate Pā ($470,000) with median home values under half a million dollars.
Tauranga City Council also released its new rateable values data last week, finding that, citywide, rateable values had increased 48 per cent since 2015.
So what makes Tauranga's most affordable suburbs so attractive to buyers apart from fitting the budget?
Local real estate agents say water views were a drawcard for buyers who couldn't afford to live in popular beachfront locations like Mount Maunganui and Pāpāmoa.
Tauranga Harcourts managing director Simon Martin said properties in places like Tauranga South, Matapihi, Gate Pā, Greerton, Parkvale and Judea had water views of the estuary and Tauranga Harbour.
"That is a drawcard for some of those properties. They can get a water view for a lot cheaper than what you get at the beachfront."
Martin said buyers saw those areas as more affordable, which was what had driven the increase in value.
"If you can't afford to buy in the Mount, you have to move to the next option."
Anton Jones, general manager for Tremains, Waikato and Bay of Plenty, said properties in Tauranga's more affordable areas had shown the biggest percentage increase because of the lower starting value.
Whereas places like Bethlehem and Mount Maunganui had started a lot higher.
"Because of the higher prices, people have moved to areas where they can afford those properties. There is a flow-on effect ... if you can't afford to buy in Bethlehem you have got to go to a different area."
Jones said Auckland investors were eyeing up properties in the city's more affordable suburbs about three or four years ago. "The return on investment is better at that level than say a house that is worth $800,000," he said.
He said Judea was one of the more popular more affordable suburbs, with water views and bigger sections attracting buyers.
OneRoof.co.nz editor Owen Vaughan said the city's most affordable suburbs had seen huge growth in five years but the top end of the market was still desirable.
"You would find it hard to find a property in Tauranga for less than half a million," he said.
However, Vaughan said Tauranga's "growth years" were behind it. The city's median value had barely moved in the past quarter - up 1.4 per cent to $650,000 in the three months to November 1 this year.
He said sales volumes continued to slide, down 12 per cent on the same period last year, which was a reflection of tighter market conditions.
"Buyers and sellers appear to be in a holding pattern, but as with Auckland, the city's population is booming and there is a demand for quality, affordable housing," he said.
First-home buyers continued to have the largest share of new mortgage registrations (27 per cent), but the slide in investor activity (down to 15.4 per cent) suggested investors were looking further afield.
Simon Anderson, chief executive of Realty Group, which operates Eves and Bayleys, said areas such as Gate Pā, Parkvale and Judea were seen as good value.
The areas became more desirable as more people moved to the suburbs and spent money on renovating their homes, he said.
Anderson said the increase in Tauranga's home values reflected how desirable the area had become. "Tauranga has gone from being a village to the fifth biggest city."
Gate Pā School principal Richard Inder said the school had significant growth in enrolments this year.
"We have got an open enrolment zone, which makes a difference," he said.
Inder said young families were attracted to the good schooling options in Gate Pā and the wider Tauranga area. "There are lots of good choices for families."
Fresh Market Gate Pā owner David Stewart said Gate Pā was central, had good schools, good transport options and was close to the hospital.
"It is handy to everywhere, that is what people are looking for," he said. "You can buy a reasonably priced property on a reasonably good-sized section."
Five-year growth in Tauranga's "affordable" suburbs
• Gate Pā homes rose 77.4 per cent to $470,000 from $265,000
• Parkvale homes rose 76.5 per cent to $450,000 from $255,000
• Poike homes rose 75.7 per cent to $448,000 from $255,000
• Hairini homes rose 73.5 per cent to $520,000 from $300,000
• Judea homes rose 73.4 per cent to $503,000 from $290,000
Tauranga's total sales for the year
Gate Pā 89
Mount Maunganui 355
Pyes Pā 222
Tauranga Central 33
Tauranga South 76
Welcome Bay 158