Rotorua has been dubbed the "next frontier" by one real estate agent, with sales jumping and international buyers showing interest.

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand figures, released yesterday, show 179 residential properties were sold in Rotorua in June, compared with 104 in June last year.

The median sale price was $285,000, up from $276,000 in June last year, but down a slight $250 from May.

The 72 per cent increase in sales was the highest growth in the Waikato/Bay of Plenty region for the month.


Real Estate Institute Industry of New Zealand spokeswoman for Rotorua and First National principal Ann Crossley said June was "an amazing month" so the figures come as no surprise.

"The figures reflect how the month felt. The activity levels are remaining but it will be interesting to see what the sales are for this month as the stock is not coming as fast as it was."

In relation to the stable median price, Mrs Crossley said it was not always reflective of the real market situation.

"Vendors are expecting better prices and that's not always shown when looking at median price. I know one sale last month went for a million and there were a few other residential sales in the high figures."

Mrs Crossley said the biggest concern continued to be the dwindling number of houses on the market.

"If you drive anywhere around Rotorua, you're not going to see many real estate signs. The listings are continuing to fall because the stock just isn't there."

But her concern was not shared by everyone.

Professionals McDowell Real Estate Rotorua owner Steve Lovegrove said there was just shy of 200 new, advertised listings in Rotorua last month.

"There is no shortage of stock, it's the speed of which the listings go on the market and then sell. Locals are beginning to accept that they need to pay more as Rotorua continues to attract out of town buyers, and more recently, international buyers."

Mr Lovegrove said Rotorua's property market was in the spotlight and was being seen as the "next frontier" for buyers priced out of major centres.

"Rotorua is still price achievable and is becoming attractive to a much broader range of buyers. We do see first home buyers frustrated because they are having to compete with out of town investors for the properties in that lower price range."

He said all property owners were winners in the buoyant market.

"Those that are selling are doing so in a reasonable time frame and are getting a return in excess of what they paid for."

Ross Stanway, chief executive of Eves and Bayleys Real Estate, said the increase in house sales, coupled with the relatively stable median price was a "very good situation for Rotorua to be in".

"The figures show there is increasing demand but at this stage, the prices have not risen to the same extent - as seen happening in other areas."

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand regional director Philip Searle noted rising sale prices were driving up seller expectations and making it more difficult for first home buyers.

"Despite the lift in prices, demand remains strong and the supply of listings continues to fall away creating more competition for those properties available for sale."