Of Rotorua's top five most expensive residential sales in the last year, three were lakefront, reigniting real estate agents' cries of location, location, location.

The latest Valocity data showed a home on Acacia Rd at Lake Okareka topped the list of Rotorua's five biggest residential sales in the 12 months to August 2018.

The data showed 1111 residential properties were sold in Rotorua during the year to August. The total value of those sales was $608.6 million.

Rotorua's top sale was 101 Acacia Rd which sold for $2.2m. This was followed by 1517C State Highway 30 which sold for $1.8m.

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In third, 73B Burnsdale Dr sold for more than $1.75m. A property at 41 Mokoia Rd sold for $1.67m and in fifth 829 Te Waerenga Rd sold for $1.66m.

The five properties were sold by Sotheby's, Bayleys and Harcourts.

Sotheby's Rotorua principal Shona Duncan who sold the top property on Acacia Rd said she believed it sold well because of its location on a peninsula and in a secluded spot. It also hadn't been on the market for more than 50 years.

She said the house needed either replacing or redoing so the property was marketed based on the land.

"It was all about the land, all about the site."

Duncan said the buyer, who was local, intended to develop the site.

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Simon Anderson, chief executive of Realty Group, which operates Eves and Bayleys, said lakefront properties drove the price.

"If someone wants this ... they are willing to pay what some people thought was above the market, but it's what they want so they get it.

Simon Anderson, chief executive of Realty Group, which operates Eves and Bayleys.
Simon Anderson, chief executive of Realty Group, which operates Eves and Bayleys.

"It's just your classic real estate. When it's in a good location in the current market, it's going to sell well."

Anderson said while the prices may seem high by Rotorua standards, they were reasonable when compared to other centres such as Tauranga where the highest residential sale was $6.3m.

He said the property on State Highway 30 was "exceptionally well-presented" and on the waterfront. While the Mokoia Rd property got national attention and five bidders.

First National principal Ann Crossley said the five top sales were all beautiful homes. Three were lakefront while the other two were on large properties.

She said Rotorua had offerings at both affordable and high prices.

"We've always been a town with a good mix. Even in one suburb we have that spread.

"If you look at Malfroy Rd you've got units at one end, nice houses at the other then in the middle you've got Ford Block," she said.

"It's wonderful we've got diversity. That's one of Rotorua's treasures I think."

Professionals McDowell Real Estate co-owner Steve Lovegrove agreed natural views, lifestyle blocks or waterways were desirable and attracted top prices.

"I think that it's reflective of the overall effect of what's happening in Rotorua and the dynamics of the city. Its attractiveness is reaching the high-end part of the market.

"It's a smart investment for somebody looking for somewhere to escape."

Lovegrove agreed Rotorua had houses on both ends of the spectrum.

"I think we'll see a massive shift away from Rotorua being the city of investment to Rotorua being the city of first-home buyers."

OneRoof.co.nz editor Owen Vaughan said it was hard to generalise why one home would sell for $1.5m and another just down the road will go for $5m, but water views were usually key in New Zealand.

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"Homes with water directly in front of them, a road behind them and a long clear line of sight tend to be valuable everywhere," he said.

However, Vaughan said there was a limited amount of housing stock that fit that criteria, which lead to higher prices.

"Architecture and design is almost secondary to that, with position more important to the upper end of the market than the actual house."

Vaughan said development potential was the other factor driving higher prices in New Zealand.

"The ability to put up several townhouses or an apartment block on a site that currently houses just one home would increase that property's value."

Rotorua's top five sales

Acacia Rd ($2.2m)

A lakefront property at lake Okareka situated on a cul de sac. Three bedroom, two bathroom on a 1439 sq m plot of land. Sold by Sotheby's.

Source: Sotheby's

State Highway 30 Rotoiti Forest ($1.8m)

Lakefront property, listing not found. Sold by Bayleys

Burnsdale Dr, Ngongotaha ($1,751,350)
Four bedroom, two bathroom property with lake views, alfresco dining, a conservatory, barbecue area and patio. Set on 22.7ha of farm land. Sold by Sotheby's.
Source: Sotheby's
Mokoia Road, Ngongotaha ($1,675,500)
Lakeside with riparian rights, with "park-like grounds" and its own trout stream. Four bedrooms, separate dining, formal lounge, family room, rumpus room, office, workshop, and double garage. Sold by Bayleys.
Source: Bayleys
Te Waerenga Road, Hamurana ($1,660,000)
A main house set among native bush with kitchen, butler's pantry, four bedrooms, spa and three bathrooms plus a second home marketed as a holiday home. Set on 12.65ha. Sold by Harcourts.
Source: Harcourts