Record median house prices in Taranaki for March added more pressure on first home buyers keen to get a foot inside the front door.
Latest figures from the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand showed median house prices in the region reached $370,000, a record increase of 18 per cent for March.
The province had the third highest regional rise, excluding Auckland, behind Northland (27 per cent), and Hawkes Bay (24 per cent).
In New Plymouth the median house price for March was higher at $470,000, partly due to three properties selling for more than $1 million.
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In March 2016 the median price in New Plymouth was $357,000.
The national median house price reached a record $546,000.
March was normally the seasonal peak for house sales around the country, with both the largest number of houses sold and the month-on-month median price increase, REINZ chief executive Bindi Norwell said.
After a mixed market in February, there were traditional lifts of median price, activity and volume levels in March, Nowell said.
A total of 199 properties sold in Taranaki last month, including 96 in New Plymouth, which had a drop of seven from 103 from the previous month in February.
First National New Plymouth sales manager Alex McDougall said the market was still buoyant but remained difficult for first home buyers to break into.
“We’re very, very short of stock in the lower end of the market, between $300,000 and $400,000,” he said.
“The competition is very strong and it makes it tough for first home buyers to purchase but you can’t make people sell their homes.
There was strong interest in houses priced in the $500,000 bracket, he said.
Purchasers were also becoming more prepared to buy out of town and commute to work, he said.
“We see people choosing to get into the market by buying a lower price home in Waitara, or Inglewood, and driving to New Plymouth to work.”
REINZ Taranaki spokesman Garry Malcolm said there had been record sales in the region during the past two months.
“There were six houses sold in the region between $900,000 and $2 million, and half the total sales were between the $400,000 and $600,000 range,” he said.
“The median sales price has significantly increased and there have been good sales in outlying towns, such as Waitara and Hawera, which have seen substantial growth.”
Malcolm said buying a house in the region was still in the range for many purchasers.
”The market in Taranaki is still very affordable although first home buyers relying on the loan-to-value bank loan can struggle to find properties.
“The first home buyer is being beaten to the gun from buyers cashed up from selling their previous house.
“New Plymouth is still an affordable place however to buy a house compared to other cities.”
Bayleys Taranaki shareholder Neale Parkinson said first home buyers were still looking for properties in spite of the increases.
“It’s a good, strong active market and we are continuing to deal with first home buyers,’ he said.