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According to property data company CoreLogic's House Price Index, the year finished with the average price at $1,006,632 and record-breaking annual market growth of 27.4 percent.
This surpasses the previous record of 24.4 percent set in 2003.
CoreLogic head of research Nick Goodall said there was a persistently strong demand for residential property last year.
"Generally, we are seeing strong growth across the country," he said.
All major centres saw their property values increase by at least 20 percent, with Christchurch having the highest rate, a new regional record of 38 percent.
"Christchurch is one that really stands out right now, after years of relatively flat or minimal growth. (But) even 20-odd percent growth is an exceptional rate," Goodall said.
Auckland is the most expensive place to buy with the average price at $1.42m, closely followed by Tauranga and Wellington which also have six-figure averages: at $1,139,186 and $1,125,729 respectively.
Goodall said early indications showed the market would slow down this year, though a drop in house prices was not likely.
He said prospective first-home buyers may wish to try provincial centres, which have a lower range of average property values.
"The likes of Invercargill, the average price there is still under $500,000."
"Whanganui has seen exceptional growth but the average house price is still sitting under $600,000."
Goodall reminded buyers that these figures were averages and there were still $400,000 properties in the main centres.
"There's a lot of information and it does pay to do your research and then look into what's happening in your local market.
"The key is to understand your own finances."
Goodall said talking to the bank or broker early would help potential buyers see whether they could be pre-approved.
"You can see where you sit in the market and then go out and start looking at properties."