The sale of more than 2000 properties in Hawke's Bay - eight over the $1 million mark - ended a buoyant year for the market.
Buyers snapped up 2355 Bay properties during 2012, setting an annual median sale price of $270,000.
Property Brokers Hawke's Bay regional manager Paul Whitaker said that towards the end of 2012 there was more activity at the higher end of the market, which in part was sparked by more movement at the bottom end of the "property ladder".
"The bottom end of the market is continuing to get busier and busier and that enables the whole chain of properties right through to be able to sell," Mr Whitaker said.
"The more properties we have selling at the bottom enables the next person up the ladder to sell theirs and thereby buy something a bit dearer."
The highest median sale price last year was in April, and the lowest in August.
Mr Whitaker said the median was easily distorted by sales at one end.
The sale of state-housing properties heavily distorted the median in the second half of the year, he said. While that brought the median sale price down at the end of the year, prices had actually firmed.
January was the quietest month - determined by the number of sales - while May was the busiest.
Mr Whitaker said the adage of well-presented, three to four bedroom properties with good garaging, in a decent area had proved true, and they were selling well.
"We're definitely seeing more competition now than what we were at the beginning of last year."
Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) chief executive Helen O'Sullivan said the median Bay sale price had "bounced around" in 2012 and the overall trend was "steady, to gently improving". The median price reflected the disparate areas in the Bay, she said.
While the December median sale price for Napier City was $312,500, it dropped to $128,000 in Dannevirke.
Napier's December median was not far off the national figure, Ms O'Sullivan said.
The national real estate market closed last year with a new median house price record of $389,000, up 9.6 per cent on December 2011.
A total of 74,000 houses sold during 2012, a 21 per cent increase on the previous year and the highest annual total since 2007.
Ms O'Sullivan said Auckland and Christchurch notched up strong growth and the real-estate market posted big gains nationwide last year, particularly with the number of sales by auction.
"That's probably reflective of broader trends in the property market. Auckland and Christchurch are the two markets where supply is tightest so it's more of a sellers' market."
The total number of auctions reached 11,950 last year, or 16.1 per cent of all sales, compared to 7101 auctions or 11.6 per cent of all sales during 2011.
Hawke's Bay by the numbers
- $270,000 - median sale price for 2012
- 2355 properties sold
- Eight properties sold for more than $1m each
- Month of highest median sale price - April
- Month of lowest median sale price - August
- Quietest month - January
- Busiest month - May