Nearly a year after the first Covid lockdown, Gisborne has emerged as New Zealand's hottest property market, with nine suburbs making the top 10 list for median house price growth nationwide.
Research from property website OneRoof comparing pre-Covid lockdown prices with figures from mid-February shows Gisborne is the strongest performing region overall.
The median property value is 35 percent up on pre-Covid levels — almost 14 percentage points ahead of the next highest territorial authority.
Value growth at a suburb level has been strongest in inner Kaiti.
Prices in the suburb are 43.1 percent up on pre-Covid levels, with the median value sitting at $410,000.
A year ago it was $290,000.
Outer Kaiti is up 35 percent to $375,000 — the only Gisborne suburb with a value below the affordable $400,000 line.
Before Covid, nine Gisborne suburbs were in that bracket. Five years ago there were 15.
OneRoof figures show medians rose 37.5 percent to $715,000 in Whautopoko and 38 percent to $490,000 in Te Hapara.
Up 35 percent are Elgin ($440,000), Gisborne central ($480,000), Mangapapa ($540,000), inner Kaiti ($620,000) and Riverdale ($645,000).
In the more expensive parts of town, the 35 percent increase has taken the median value at Okitu to just short of $1 million while Lytton West jumped to $880,000.
The analysis does not include suburbs with fewer than 10 sales in a year when Waerenaga-a-Hika recorded a top sale price of $2.15 million.
Bayleys Gisborne, Hawke's Bay and Wairarapa principal James Macpherson told OneRoof: “Gisborne is catching up. There will be million-dollar suburbs soon.
“Now the population is growing after dropping in the 1990s, there's a shortage of good housing and there have been no major new subdivisions for 15 or 20 years.”
Mr Macpherson sees people “escaping from Auckland and Wellington” for jobs in the booming forestry and horticulture sectors.
“There's significant work across all the professional spectrum, not just minimum wage labour.
“They love Gisborne. They can surf at Wainui Beach and still work.”
Mr Macpherson also attributes the significant up-tick in values to the high proportion of homes selling by auction in the area — the highest in the country, according to Real Estate of New Zealand data.
“That allows the market to find its own level, instead of just taking a price. It's a clear and transparent process. You can have up to 10 bidders on a property,” he said.
While not universal, Macpherson said there were million-dollar-plus sales in beach-side suburbs, with top sales over $1.3 million in Riverdale and Whataupoko.
A renaissance around the inner city area had arisen with new builds of four or five townhouses within walking distance of the city centre.
Property Brokers regional manager Joe Snee estimated around 30 percent of sales wre to non-locals — “drift from Auckland or ex-pats who want to come home”.
Some were bidding from Australia or the UK before they moved back after realising working remotely was a viable option.
But despite listings being up on last year, Mr Snee said there were not enough houses for buyers across the board.
The company had only 25 properties for sale at their end-of-February auction, down on 30 for the same month last year and 28 properties in their first post-lockdown auction in May of last year.
“Investors were definitely active before Christmas but first-home buyers aren't missing out to them.
“They're missing out because there are 10 offers on a house that used to get two or three.”