It's a buyers' market in Tauranga, a local QV valuer says.
"I would have thought you could probably hunt out a good bargain at the moment, there's definitely an amount of people who want to get rid of their property," QV valuer for Tauranga Paul Thomas said.
"It's definitely better to buy than to sell."
The QV Quarterly Property Report, released yesterday, shows the Auckland property market is again leading the way nationwide.
However, sale prices in the provinces, with the exception of Canterbury and Hamilton, have been stagnant or declining, with some prices down by more than 20 per cent compared to 2007.
Mr Thomas said things had been fairly flat over the past quarter in Tauranga.
"In the last month, prices have gone down half a per cent."
Prices were 10 per cent behind the peak of 2007/08, Mr Thomas said.
"If you bought in 07/08 you're basically going to lose 10-15 per cent of what you paid - that's definitely what I've been seeing as far as people selling.
"It's not a bad time to sell if you're buying and selling in the same market."
Nationally, 65 of the 118 towns and suburbs north of Turangi declined in the last quarter, with Hamilton providing the only encouragement.
The soft regional market reflects weak demand from buyers and inflated prices in some areas.
Auckland has been described as a "sellers' market" with sale volumes over winter - traditionally a flat time for sales and prices - back at peak 2007 levels.
ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley said the housing market was seeing gradual improvement.
"A lot of the improvement has been in terms of sales turnover increasing and prices increasing out of Canterbury and Auckland.
"There's a degree of stabilisation in the wider market but what we've seen in those two regions is a lot more heat coming through."
That "heat" was driven by supply shortages and surging demand, Mr Tuffley said.
"Starting with Auckland ... building activity has been relatively moderate but the population has continued to gradually grow. Auckland tends to be the dominant destination for a lot of immigrants and there's often a degree of urban drift as well."
The population in Auckland had been growing, but house construction had not kept pace with demand. "We've got too many people chasing too few homes."
Mortgage rates are currently at record lows. Mr Tuffley said they were likely to remain low if the situation in Europe did not spark any spectacular crises with global implications. There was limited scope for interest rates to fall any further, however a rise was not expected until mid next year.
Meanwhile, time-strapped house-hunters looking to cash in on the low mortgage rates are turning to specialised buyer's agents to secure their property investments.
Auckland-based Erskine+Owen, which specialises in finding and negotiating properties for buyers, has doubled its client base in the past eight to 12 months.
The company charges about $11,000 for a comprehensive package which includes arranging finance.
By the numbers
- $360,000 - median sale price in Tauranga for the second quarter of 2012
- $383,000 - median sale price in Tauranga for the first quarter of 2012
- -6.0 - percentage change
- $494,944 - average value of properties in Waihi Beach, the Western Bay of Plenty's most expensive suburb
- $237,889 - average value of properties in Parkvale, the Western Bay of Plenty's most affordable suburb