The top price paid for a Rotorua house in the first six months of 2018 was $2.5 million.

The four-bedroom home was one of 16 Rotorua homes to have sold for $1m or more in the first half of this year.

The highest price paid for an apartment during the first six months of 2018 was $1.3m for a three-bedroom abode, according to figures from the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand.

Last year, 11 Rotorua residential properties reached the million-dollar mark in the whole year.

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The $1m-plus sales this year were in suburbs including Ngongotahā and Lake Ōkareka.

Last year the sales were in lakeside locations including Rotoiti, Lake Okataina, Lake Tarawera and Hamurana.

Harcourts Rotorua sales consultant Hielke Oppers said the increase could be put down to natural growth.

"Houses that were selling for $800,000 to $900,000 last year have now hit the million-dollar mark simply because of the continuing increase in Rotorua house prices," Oppers said.

"That's natural growth."

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A few years ago it was only lakefront properties fetching more than $1 million, he said, but now homes in other suburbs, like Lynmore, had also hit the mark.

"The other important factor is Rotorua is now seen as a destination place for buyers instead of a poor cousin to the likes of Hamilton and Tauranga."

On property website OneRoof yesterday there were three houses being marketed at more than $1m, plus others being sold at auction.

Those for sale on OneRoof were at Tikitere ($1.9m), Pomare ($1.45m) and Lake Ōkareka ($1.275m).

First National Rotorua principal Anne Crossley said the Rotorua market had "caught up on itself".

"The increase in house prices has pushed the top end properties over a million.

"Our market has caught up to itself in that where lake properties had sat on the market for some time, they have sold this year because of what's on offer.

"If a buyer really wants to live in Rotorua, they'll go higher and higher until they get what they want."

Crossley believed Rotorua had more high-end stock this year than last.

"It's those high-end sales pushing Rotorua's average house price upward."

Professionals McDowell Real Estate co-owner Steve Lovegrove said without knowing the locations of the 16 properties, it was hard to know what people were getting for their seven-figure price tag.

"Any of those sales could have been a four-bedroom home on a 2000 sq m section or a small block ready for development.

"But I can say that most of the people looking at the high end homes want spacious living areas and bedrooms, large outdoor areas and, in some cases, views of the lake."

He said buyers had changing perceptions of Rotorua.

"People want to come here for the lifestyle. And if they can get a good home, with a large section and lake views for around $1m – they're really happy. Particularly people coming from Auckland, Hamilton or Rotorua."