Prices of lifestyle blocks in the Auckland area have rocketed by 26% in the past 12 months, according to the latest Real Estate Institute figures.
The figures for the three months to September show that median prices for land on the Auckland fringe hit a new record of $870,000, up from $850,000 in August - which had also been a record.
In September 2012 the median price for Auckland fringe blocks was just $689,000.
In the past three months the Auckland lifestyle block median price has surged from $793,500 to the current $870,000 - a nearly 10% rise.
The gains on lifestyle blocks are currently outstripping those even in the heated Auckland residential market.
According to REINZ's residential figures for September out earlier this week, the median price for an Auckland house rose just 10.7% in the past 12 months - but even that was to a record price of $570,000.
At least some of the lifestyle block activity in the Auckland area is likely to be so-called land-banking in anticipation of changes to Auckand's boundaries and ability to develop rural land. Simlar trends are being seen in latest farm sales figures.
The Auckland Council has recently notified its new Unitary Plan, to take effect in three years, as well as signing up for a new Auckland Housing Accord with the Government. The accord is targeting the building of 39,000 new houses within three years.
A mixture of fast-tracked "greenfield" and "brownfield" new developments are promised.
The Government and the Auckland Council recently announced the first of the "special housing areas" in the region that are to be fast-tracked for development. More of these special housing areas will be identified publicly in coming months.
REINZ rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said strong buyer interest remained in lifestyle blocks within close proximity to the major cities "with a shortage of listings starting to emerge".
In the three months to September there were 348 Auckland lifestyle blocks sold, which was a 26.5% increase compared with September 2012. However, backing up the comments about a shortage of listings starting to emerge, the three months to September figure is well down on the 372 sales recorded in the three months to August.
Nationally there doesn't appear to be a huge amount of activity in the lifestyle block sector, although the 1645 sales in the September quarter were up 23% on the figures recorded 12 months ago.
However, the national median price, at $480,000 - bearing in mind that this includes the Auckland figures - was up just 6.7% on the median of 12 months ago.
The Canterbury median of $470,000 was up just 1.1% on a year ago, while the Northland median gained 7.1% to $340,000, the Wellington median gained 5.9% to $460,000 and the Waikato median climbed 6.7% to $465,000.
Peacocke said that in the South Island, the Christchurch lifestyle market appeared to be experiencing an easing of the surge to the lifestyle areas further away from the city, "partly driven by the resulting traffic congestion at key entry points, and partly by the forthcoming availability of subdivisional land closer to the city".
Across the country 13 regions recorded increases in sales compared with September 2012 while one recorded a decrease in sales. Auckland recorded the largest increase (+73 sales), followed by Canterbury (+62 sales) and Northland (+49 sales). Compared with August 2013, three regions recorded an increase in sales with nine regions recording decreases.