Rotorua's housing stock shortage has become so severe that if no further homes were introduced to the Rotorua market as of today, existing stock would be gone within four to six weeks, local agents say.
And while the city is in line with the rest of the country, with most New Zealand agents reporting a lower number of listings, Rotorua's attraction as a great place to buy coupled with the demand for tourist accommodation, means the problem is exacerbated.
The latest QV figures show Rotorua homeowners have enjoyed a 1.8 per cent increase in their property values in the past three months and the average current value of a home sits at $427,132. This is against a national 0.3 per cent decrease in residential values.
Over the past 12 months, Rotorua properties have increased 8.5 per cent, higher than the 5.7 per cent nationwide increase.
First National Rotorua principal Anne Crossley said she could not recall a time stock numbers were as low as they currently were.
"I do know this is happening nationally but believe different regions face different factors and in Rotorua, we have several [factors] contributing to the shortage.
She said Rotorua had about 1200 properties for sale in 2008.
"It's possibly been trending back since then. 2015, 2016 and 2017 were boomer years, when there was plenty of homes to sell and plenty of homes to move to, and the majority of the available stock was sold."
Crossley believed contributing factors were a market-driven recently buy first-home buyers and investors, the fact Rotorua had become a desirable place to live, and the city being a tourism hub.
"First-home buyers and investors do not add to the stock pool, they simply take a property out, and they have been driving sales for the past 18 months. On top of that Rotorua has come of age and is now seen as a great place to live which has resulted in population growth. New people to town need homes.
"Rotorua locals wanting to upgrade to a bigger home, or to a different area of the city are not willing to list their home until they have found another property to buy and, at this stage, there's just not much around.
"It's a chicken and egg situation."
Adding to the mix is the number of homes taken out of the sell/buy pool to accommodate holiday-makers to the city.
"I believe we have about 300 entire homes available through AirBnB and around 400 on the BookABach site," Crossley said.
Also contributing to the shortage is the unavailability of land for building.
"If there's a lot of movement at the top end of the market, for example, if someone decides to build a new house and sell their existing one, there is a flow-on effect. But when there is a lack of land to build and also a limited number of tradespeople to construct the house, this is less of an option."
Crossley also believed the construction of another retirement village could take a little pressure off the existing market.
"I know there will be the usual lift of properties to the market in spring, although this happened late last year as Winston Peters made people a little nervous at springtime, but I can't see the situation changing too much in the near future.
"It's actually an exciting time in real estate and a great time to sell your home if you live in Rotorua. You're bound to get multiple offers but I can't promise you'll be able to find anywhere to go."
Professionals McDowell Real Estate co-owner Steve Lovegrove said the shortage of stock was something not seen in Rotorua for a long time.
"It's almost a repeat of the Auckland market in 2014," Lovegrove said. "There are many factors that impact on the market and Rotorua has several."
He said people were not willing to list their house right now until they had found another home that ticked all the boxes.
"Because there is a shortage, finding that next home is not easy, and goes down the chain to all levels of the market. And that creates a stalemate.
"This will change when spring arrives as, anecdotally, people say 'too bad' and list their homes anyway. I expect the usual spring flurry and then think the market will tighten up again close to Christmas."
He said the flurry would soften the pressure on prices.
"Essentially the problem in Rotorua is we have more people than we have houses - we're more attractive than we've been for a long time – but we have very little land to develop and most of the tradies are booked out."
He believed as well as first-home buyers and investors, holiday-home buyers were impacting on stock levels.
"In addition, properties bought for short-term accommodation have begun to chew into the supply of permanent homes. Queenstown is experiencing a similar situation.
"Buyers are becoming more and more frustrated at not being able to find what they are looking for and most people are now aware that bargains are not happening in Rotorua any longer."
Simon Anderson, chief executive of Realty Services which operates Eves and Bayleys, said the hard work carried out by Rotorua Lakes Council and the business community to lift the city's profile to a new level and to ensure Rotorua was an attractive place to live, had contributed to the population growth and, in turn, stock shortage.
"For a long time Rotorua was on the back burner for many New Zealanders, now it has come of age and is seen as a desirable place to live.
"June is traditionally a month when we see a drop of 60 per cent in listings compared with the previous month as people believe it's too cold to list and prefer to hibernate."
"Unless they have to sell, they generally won't. However this will change as the weather, and temperature, improve."
He said Rotorua was on the move and it was a good thing to see.