Nineteen blocks of bare land, part of a long-standing Rotorua residential subdivision, have been sold for close to $6 million at auction.
The 30 blocks of bare land at Baxendale, a subdivision off Pukehangi Rd, went under the hammer on Tuesday.
Owned for generations by the Hunt family, the land was once one of Rotorua's biggest dairy farms and has been gradually sold off over the past four decades.
• Premium - Rotorua housing crisis: Plans for 800 new homes announced - so why have only a few been built?
• Premium - Rotorua businesses take up housing stock among housing crisis
• Premium - Transitional housing in Rotorua costs taxpayer more than $4 million
• Premium - 42 new state houses for Rotorua by early next year
Bayleys Rotorua branch manager Beth Millard had been involved in the development since about 2012 and was the agent who marketed the plots.
She said the auction "exceeded expectations" and there was a room of nervous, but buzzing bidders on Tuesday night.
Nineteen sites out of the 30 were sold under the hammer for a total value of $5,828,500, and some of the remaining 11 were under post-auction negotiations.
The blocks ranged from 766sq m to 1504sq m, with access off Baxendale Dr or Great West Rd, and were auctioned through Bayleys Rotorua.
The auction room was full to the brim, and it was "standing-room-only" by auction time, she said.
One man bid on eight different lots before settling on one, she said.
"The developers were overwhelmed with the results."
She said they did not believe they would sell all of them at auction, as construction and earthworks were ongoing on some of the sites. Once this was completed, she said "interest would ramp right up".
Millard could not disclose how many blocks were still available.
Richard Murray and his wife Emma were some of the lucky people who nabbed one of the sections at Tuesday night's auction.
The couple, originally from Tauranga, already lived in a home in Baxendale and jumped at the chance to build their second home in the same area.
He said he loved the area as it was close to town and a nice, quiet neighbourhood.
The 26-year-old said he saw a sign pop up about the sections last year and got into planning mode.
"We were ready for the next step and have wanted to build a new home for a while."
The auction was the first the couple had ever been too and he said it was "exciting to see how they ran".
He said they were in "no rush" to get building on their section.
Many of the buyers on the night were very much "mum-and-dad types", many of whom were going into their second homes, Millard said.
A perk of second-home buyers was they likely would be selling off Rotorua properties, which was good for the market, she said.
Millard said the decision to subdivide the premier piece of land into individual sections was hugely beneficial to the Rotorua residential market as a whole in the midst of a housing crisis.
That opinion was shared by a number of industry and community leaders.
Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick said the "opening up of sections like those at Baxendale will, once homes are built, free up others down the chain, so these types of developments are welcome and play a role in ensuring we have enough homes across the housing spectrum".
Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Bryce Heard said the outcome was a "very strong result" and would no doubt create a "secondary market" for the city.
He said there was a slight loss of business confidence happening worldwide at the moment as a result of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) and that could relate to why not every lot was sold.
"Maybe it could have been even better".
Professionals McDowell Real Estate principal Steve Lovegrove said to have 19 cash buyers front at an auction under the hammer showed the "strong demand" the Rotorua market was in.
He said he had no doubt the rest of the plots would be snapped up under contract.
The market needed more "regular supplies of available sections" like that as building a new home was becoming a more realistic option for many given current property values, he said.
People moving up the housing chain would have a great flow-on effect for the market, he said.
Real Estate Institute of New Zealand data showed the median residential sale price for Rotorua houses had reached a record $520,000.
Rotorua developer Martin Schilt said any development that allowed new houses to become available on the local market had to be a "good thing".
Schilt was still in talks with the council about his special housing development that had been in the pipeline for three years.
The first subdivision of the Hunt farm empire in the 1970s had homes built in Buchanan Pl, at Matipo Heights along Cobbe Pl in the 1990s, followed by Matipo Cl. Baxendale was developed in the early 2000s.