The number of "non-resident buyers" of Rotorua houses doubled in the last three months.

The latest property transfers and tax residency data was released by Land Information New Zealand today and showed that of the 1614 properties sold in Rotorua in the three months from April 1 to June 30, 30 - or 1.85 per cent - were bought by people with "overseas or mixed" tax status.

This was up from 1 per cent in the six months between October and March when just 15 of the 1500 homes sold in Rotorua were to overseas tax residents.

Nationally, overseas residents bought 1749 out of the 57,678 homes sold in New Zealand between April and June.


That amounts to 3 per cent of total sales over the three-month period - a similar level to the previous quarter.

In Auckland, 900 homes, or 5 per cent of total sales, went to non-residents.

Since October last year, the tax residency of people buying property in New Zealand has to be recorded under the Land Transfer Amendment Act.

Ross Stanway, chief executive of Realty Services, which operates Bayleys and Eves, said the 30 Rotorua sales to overseas tax residents was noteworthy.

"In absolute terms it's a significant change, but as a percentage it still looks rather small.

"But, I understand some of these are sales to ex-pats, New Zealanders who have been overseas for long enough for them to have non-resident status."

Mr Stanway said it was the trend that was important.

"What we are seeing in the wider Bay of Plenty is people are assessing their options of where they want to live, and Rotorua is benefiting from that.

"I think there's a renewed interest, awareness and a positive attitude to what's happening in Rotorua, not just property, but careers and retirement options."

First National principal and Rotorua Real Estate Institute of New Zealand spokeswoman Ann Crossley agreed with Mr Stanway in terms of sales going to New Zealanders living off-shore.

"For the last three to four years they have been saying it's overseas investors buying up all our property, but it's still a very small amount.

"Some of that 1.85 per cent will be ex-pat New Zealanders, so when you take that into account foreign investment is an even smaller number," she said.