"Sustained, positive growth" are the buzz words being used to describe Rotorua's current property market.

Coming off 2016's market peak when more than 100 properties were sold every month, local agents say early 2018 data suggests Rotorua's housing market has slowed but is still in good shape.

Figures released by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) this week show the median house price in Rotorua in January had jumped 13 per cent compared with the same time last year.

The median price is now sitting at $365,000 compared with $323,000 in January 2017. In December 2017 it was $385,000.


There were 67 properties sold in Rotorua last month, up from the 62 in January 2017.

REINZ regional director Philip Searle said January was busier than January 2017 in the Bay of Plenty.

"After the lull in activity during the election period, people appear to be getting on with their lives. Listings are slightly down. However, some investors are selling homes because of the impending new Healthy Homes requirements.

"We have people wanting to purchase, but they are just trying to find the right type of property for them. The interest is mainly from younger people looking for holiday homes and people relocating from the cities for retirement."

Simon Anderson, chief executive of Realty Services, which operates Eves and Bayleys, said the figures reflected a strong market.

"These are normal market transactions at a sustainable level. At the peak of the market we were seeing 100 or more houses being sold each month. We've come off that peak now and are back to a normal, positive market.

"We are still seeing people coming from outside the region to buy, there's a strong first-home-buyers' market and we're starting to see Auckland investors sniffing around again.

"There is positive growth in Rotorua, though buyers are more willing to wait for the right property which I think has swung the pendulum back from a sellers' market to 50/50."


Ann Crossley, First National Rotorua principal and district forum leader for the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand, said January was a "month of setting up for February".

"We always expect lower numbers in January, but there were still several multi-offers, but not a lot of sales at the higher price band, which is why the December median price was higher.

"While February is shorter than all the other months, I think we can expect to see a lift in the number of sales."

Ray White co-owner and principal Anita Martelli said the market was busy with good growth.

"There is a lot of buyer interest and the stock levels are about the same as they have been so as good properties come on to the market, we are seeing a lot of interest and multi-offers."

Professionals McDowell Real estate co-owner Steve Lovegrove said comparing December to January was "unfair".

"In December a lot of properties go unconditional so people can be in their homes in time for Christmas," Lovegrove said.

"In January you see the flow-on from lawyers, engineers, surveyors and other professionals being closed during the Christmas/New Year break.

"As real estate agents I think we cram four weeks worth of work into three in December and, in January, can really only work for three fifths of the month."

He said a fair comparison was sales and median prices in January 2017 compared with sales and median prices in January 2018.

"I think Rotorua has seen a busy January which is an indicator as to how the rest of the year will go. I believe the year will be stable in both price and volume."

Lovegrove said lack of stock was still an issue in Rotorua.

"We've become a summer destination spot and people do tend to look at properties while they are visiting. So for anyone thinking of selling, now is a very good time."

Harcourts Rotorua sales consultant Hielke Oppers also said January often had a lower number of sales as it was harder for people to do their due diligence during December.

"Many businesses are closed during the month of December making it harder for people to gets reports and the like done.

"January is always a poor sales month – we generally see a 25 per cent drop from the months either side."

Oppers said the lower number of sales also resulted in significant changes to medium prices.

"In December there may also have been people buying homes to live in while January may have attracted people wanting investment properties – which all contributes to price change.

"Sixty-odd sales is not a great number for a month, I can't recall the last time numbers were in the 60s, but that also reflects the low stock numbers were are continuing to experience," Oppers said.

"We have lots of buyers, almost half the properties on the market attract more than one buyer, there's just not a lot of choice out there."

He said Rotorua prices were still increasing just not at the same rate as they had previously.