Nobody can deny Rotorua's property market is still on the up, with more than $423 million in property sales in the 12 months to May.
And while the city can boast three half-million-dollar suburbs from the 12-month period - Lynmore (median price $599,000), Tihiotonga ($575,000) and Springfield ($517,500), it is Owhata, Ngongotahā and Glenholme that have made the biggest contribution to the overall sales figure.
Reports released to the Rotorua Daily Post by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) show the city's total sum of sales for the year ending May was $423,342,344.
Topping the sales list was Owhata with $48,631,588 coming in from 127 house sales in the 12-month period. The median price for a home in Owhata was $360,000.
Owhata has featured consistently since 2015. In the 12-months to May 2017, 144 Owhata homes were sold with an overall sales value of $50,380,539.
For the same period ending May 2016, 190 homes in the suburb sold, generating $55,782,094 and for the 12-months to May 2015, 94 Owhata homes sold, making $24,112,666.
Ngongotahā was second on the list with a total sales sum of $45,166,325 in the 12-months to May. This was realised from 102 house sales with a median price of $357,500.
Behind Ngongotahā was Glenholme with $42,699,014 in sales of 96 homes during the same period.
In the half-million dollar suburbs, $29,746,200 worth of sales were made in Lynmore from 49 property sales. In Tihiotonga $12,852,000 came in from the sale of 23 homes and in Springfield $31,530,850 came in from the sale of 58 homes.
Annual overall property sales in Rotorua since 2015 show that in the 12 months to May 2018, $423,342,344 came from 1070 sales compared with the $483,003,440 that came from the sale of 1394 homes for the same period last year.
In the 12 months to May 2016, $470,729,084 came from 1631 house sales and $233,854,780 came from the sale of 880 Rotorua homes in the year to May 2015.
First National Rotorua principal Ann Crossley said it was not a surprise to see Owhata performing so well.
"Owhata is a large suburb that covers all housing types so is therefore attractive to all buyer types.
"There are great homes for first-time home buyers and investors, and also family homes for second, third and fourth-time buyers."
She said it was largely first-home buyers and investors still driving the Rotorua market with out-of-town investors still making up a significant portion.
"Ngongotahā is similar in that there are entry-level homes, new builds and also top-end lake-edge properties on offer for buyers. The median price in Ngongotahā would be pushed up quite a bit by the top-end purchases."
Professionals McDowell Real Estate co-owner Steve Lovegrove said the sales numbers and figures definitely made sense.
"Our suburbs that have been described as half-million dollar suburbs are quite specific in terms of their housing type. Lynmore, Tihiotonga and Springfield are seen as Mum and Dad, family home areas – they have an identity as such – whereas Owhata and Ngongotahā offer a range of properties, from high-end residential homes to less expensive rental properties."
He said Rotorua's population increase had also contributed to the popularity of suburbs like Ngongotahā and Owhata.
"Ngongotahā is accessible to State Highway 5 and State Highway 36 so for people who have bought in Rotorua but work in Tauranga or toward Hamilton, the suburb is an ideal choice.
"Owhata on the eastern side is great for people working in Kawerau or Whakatāne as State Highway 30 is easily accessible, as is State Highway 33 to Papamoa and Mount Maunganui. That's my suggestion anyway," Lovegrove said.
Simon Anderson, chief executive of Realty Services which operates Eves and Bayleys, said that while suburbs like Owhata, Ngongotahā and Glenholme offered a great range of houses, they also included good services and amenities nearby.
"They are popular locations because each offers good schools and facilities most often quite nearby. So people looking at the high-end of the market are often able to find something within these suburbs while the same can be said for buyers at the lower end," Anderson said.
OneRoof editor Owen Vaughan said heightened activity in the city's more affordable suburbs chimes with what's going on in other regional markets, with first-home buyers continuing to make up a large proportion of the market.
"Buyers from outside of Rotorua are also seeing the value the city offers, with the region's continued economic strength proving a powerful drawcard for businesses and families," Vaughan said. "And in fact, there are indications that buyers who work in Tauranga see Rotorua as a viable location from which to commute."