Residential property sales in Whanganui have returned to pre-Covid levels and median property values have increased by almost 50 per cent in some areas.
OneRoof editor Owen Vaughan said Whanganui property values were fast approaching the $500,000 median value mark.
"House prices have continued to climb through real estate's traditional quiet period, with buyers hitting the market in the first two months of 2021 in force," Vaughan said.
"Investors rushed to beat the March 1 return of the loan-to-value ratio (LVR) and 40 per cent deposits while first home buyers stretched themselves to secure a home in one of the property market's hottest runs."
Property Brokers Whanganui manager Ritesh Verma said the number of January and February sales had been higher than usual this year.
"It is usually a quiet time, but we had a busy two months," he said.
"At a recent auction, the bidders were a mix of first-home buyers, investors and people wanting to move to Whanganui. The secret is out and more people want to live here."
Verma said first-home buyers who could relocate from larger cities found Whanganui a desirable location despite the rising house prices.
"Obviously they don't need to raise the kind of deposit they would need to buy in Auckland.
"In the current climate, it is really important for first-time buyers to make sure they have their ducks in a row and be sure they have the ability to be cash buyers if they are bidding at auction."
Verma said Whanganui property values were about 55 per cent higher than Government valuation (GV).
Bayleys Whanganui agent Ananda de Koning said it was very much a vendor's market in Whanganui and there were not enough listings to meet buyer demand.
"We have buyers coming from all over New Zealand and some have already sold their properties in places like Wellington or Nelson. There are also local buyers wanting to downsize to smaller properties and there is a shortage of low-maintenance two-bedroom properties available.
"There are investors wanting to buy before the LVR restrictions and we are also seeing a lot of Whanganuians wanting to return from overseas and buy a home."
Many potential out-of-town buyers had been inspired to move here since the Covid-19 lockdown last year, de Koning said.
"It changed people's thinking and those who are able to work remotely see this as an excellent place to base themselves.
"There is quite an age range as well - young couples and families as well as people who are retired or about to retire and want a nice lifestyle."
Ray White Whanganui general manager Phillipa Ivory said the supply of houses for sale was not meeting the demand in Whanganui.
"I can't recall a time when we had so few listings," Ivory said.
"Properties are still selling over list and buyers are offering anything from $2000 to $100,000 over the listed price.
"We are employed by the vendor but we also have a duty of care to the buyer so we make sure to let people know when we advertise what the realistic offer price is."
Ivory said the agency had made some conditional sales recently but it was a hard time for potential buyers.
The latest OneRoof estimate of median property values in Whanganui rates Westmere as the highest at $845,000, which represents an increase of 17.4 per cent since March 2020 (post-Covid) and an increased value of $180,000 in 12 months.
At the other end of the scale, central Whanganui median property values are at $355,000, which represents an increase of 6.3 per cent and an increased value of $105,000.
Median values for other suburbs are St John's Hill $610,000 (up 22.5 per cent since March 2020), Castlecliff $345,000 (up 21 per cent), College Estate $550,000 (up 17.4 per cent), Marybank$627,500 (up 17.4 per cent), Springvale $515,000 (up 17 per cent), Aramoho$415,000 (up 16.1 per cent), Whanganui East $415,000 (up 14.5), Otamatea $755,000 (up 14.2 per cent), Gonville $395,000 (up 13.2 per cent), Tawhero $485,000 (up 8.2 per cent), Durie Hill $545,000 (no change).