Property prices have soared in Rotorua for months and according to the latest figures, this does not appear to be slowing down any time soon. Reporter Jean Bell dives into the data and pulls out the top of the class.
Real estate experts say first-home buyers are getting their foot in the door as new data reveals the top performing suburbs in Rotorua.
The latest OneRoof/Valocity figures show Victoria and Fairy Springs jointly took the cake as Rotorua's best performers, where median house values rose 17.6 per cent for both to $400,000 in the past 12 months.
Mangakakahi followed with a 16.9 per cent increase to $380,000, while values in Pukehangi rose 16.9 per cent to $415,000, and Lynmore rose 12.4 per cent to $700,000.
Valocity valuation innovation director James Wilson said the majority of Rotorua sales were in the $400,000-$500,000 price bracket, attracting "strong interest" from investors and first-home buyers who sought affordable property.
Investors represented 15 per cent of new mortgage registrations last month while first-home buyers accounted for 25.2 per cent, he said.
Looking into the future, he said "crystal ball gazing" was best avoided and there were a number of factors involved.
Historically low-interest rates coupled with stable net migration were balanced to maintain prices, but growth rates were expected to slow towards the end of the year due to increasing lack of market confidence and sentiment of unaffordability in New Zealand's main urban centres, he said.
He said the coming local and central government elections in this year and next may lead to a "wait and see" approach in the market as people await possible policy changes.
OneRoof editor Owen Vaughan said the best performing suburbs were those where the median prices were under $500,000.
"The most active in the market is your first-home buyer," he said.
Simon Anderson, chief executive of Realty Group, which operates Eves and Bayleys, said the growth came as Rotorua battled a housing shortage and a lack of rentals.
He said the changes in the legislation around rental properties had prompted a number of landlords to sell, making way for first-home buyers.
Properties under $400,000 would attract first-home buyers using their Kiwisaver fund, given the threshold for accessing their money was $450,000 for existing builds, he said.
Meanwhile, he said there was an increasing willingness for Rotorua residents to travel to Tauranga for work.
"You'll notice the number of cars going from Rotorua to Tauranga has increased."
He said it would be hard to see the high growth rate increase continue, but he was confident the region would continue to perform well as long as the international market "behaved itself".
"I think it's going to be a busy spring."
Tremains Real Estate Rotorua manager Malcolm Forsyth said first-home buyers were attracted by the affordable prices in Victoria, Fairy Springs, Mangakakahi and Pukehangi.
Forsyth said there had been "huge interest" in Lynmore during the past six months and it had always been popular among second or third-home buyers given its proximity to the lakes, forests and wider Bay of Plenty.
He believed the Rotorua market was promising going forward, despite slowdowns in other parts of the country.
"Multi[ple] offers continue to be the norm, not the exception, and interest rates are at historic low rates. Therefore, it has never been a cheaper time to buy."
First National Rotorua principal Ann Crossley said the growth in Victoria reflected the first-home buyer activity.
Crossley said there was an increasing number of "unit buyers" or people, including retirees, downsizing and buying smaller homes.
"As long as we're short of stock, we'll keep getting the demand and multi-offers."