After 30 years in the real estate business, very little about the Rotorua housing market surprises Ann Crossley.
The First National principal and Rotorua Real Estate Institute of New Zealand spokeswoman has worked through periods where it has taken 12 months for a house to sell and other periods where she's fielded multiple offers after the first open home.
She's seen the market stagnate and soar, interest rates dip and rise, and gone from getting data on microfiche to everything being available online.
When Crossley first started, agreements were typed with carbon paper, cellphones didn't exist and the fax machine blew her mind.
While Crossley took these changes in her stride, 2020 had some surprises up its sleeve that even a seasoned pro wasn't expecting - a global pandemic and a mandated national lockdown.
"It was scary going into lockdown, everything was unknown and as a business owner, I didn't know what it would mean for the business.
"But real estate as an industry has been able to weather the effects of Covid relatively well because we're not having to buy stock and we didn't have as much of a wage burden as the sales team are on commission only.
"Going back into alert level 2 has actually been harder than alert level 4 because it's a bit murkier around the edges. When we went to level 1, a lot of people thought the pandemic was over in New Zealand, this latest crash up has reminded people that it's not."
Nevertheless, the real estate industry had still been busy since the first lockdown, with strong demand being driven by the housing shortage, Crossley said.
This had the potential to be compounded as more people looked to move out of bigger cities in favour of the regions.
"This was happening before Covid but I think we will see more of a drive out of big cities as people are not wanting to live in high-density areas right now."
Crossley said there were still first-home buyers in the market and investors had come back strongly after the nationwide lockdown looking for good opportunities.
She said in terms of the number of houses being bought and sold, Covid had had little impact.
"The biggest impact Covid has had on the industry is the way we go about our day to day with things like taking people through properties.
"When you look at houses being sold, that's still very much being driven by stock shortages and demand."
She said the difference was people were finding it harder to secure home loans from banks so often properties were being sold to the second or third back-up offer.
Crossley said despite the challenges in the industry, real estate was still first and foremost about people.
"I come from a nursing background and I ended up in real estate because I had a bad experience and thought I could do a better job for people.
"I love helping someone buy and sell their home. It's a really exciting and dynamic business and allows us to help people solve some of the biggest problems in their lives - housing."
Crossley said the sweet spot in real estate, having experienced the different extremes of the property market, was when there were good deals for buyers and sellers.
"Due to our current housing shortage, the vendor tends to benefit more from the market.
"It is a serious problem and there is no quick fix to it, but things like stopping businesses working in houses, changing zones to be higher density and councils working with developers to subdivide could all help.
"It's like being asked how you eat an elephant - one bite at a time."