New Zealand Property Market Zeal

16.08.16

New Zealand’s twin isles are as incredible as the hit fantasy films shot in its verdant landscape, finds Cheryl Markosky

Hobbit Frodo Baggins and his travelling companions went on a quest to destroy the One Ring in the Lord of the Rings films set in producer Peter Jackson’s native land.

Today, the equivalent mission’s by purchasers seeking luxury homes in the Middle-earth of their dreams, where epic illusory properties are not a figment of the imagination – but lauded reality.

Jacqui Spice of Touch of Spice, a Queenstown firm providing curated experiences and opulent rentals accommodation, argues that today visitors and potential buyers want to enjoy an attractive, untouched environment ‘in style’.

“When I started this job, it was unheard of to let a villa at $1,500 a night. Now, it’s the norm to charge $3,000 a night to clientele that can afford that price level,” she says.

Jacqui describes hip Queenstown as “an affluent playground where people want to catch-and-cook crayfish, jump out of planes and be helicoptered over to Milford Sound. Frequently, tourists come on holiday, and then they decide to buy a home and live here.”

For anyone thinking this former British colony’s a provincial place where very little happens, Jacqui disabuses him of this notion. “The islands are increasingly sophisticated, with fabulous places to eat, shop and drink. New Zealand’s not just about sheep and rolling hills anymore.”

Enlightened home-hunters from Australia, China, America and Europe wanting good value and a safe haven are buoying up values. Many are drawn to larger family homes with grounds where they can reside, or investment apartments purely for yield, according to Chris Barnes of Bayleys Wellington on the north island.

“Some come over with retirement in scope, while others see real opportunity in luxurious homes with half an acre,” he says.

Chris believes that Wellington’s undervalued compared to some of the other major cities, and money’s still cheap to borrow (a 4% fixed rate for two to three years). Although a recent announcement that lending’s being tightened for foreigners to aid locals being priced out of the market, he says reassuringly that “some banks will always lend, so buyers from abroad shouldn’t be concerned”.

British purchasers are still keen to pick up villas and refurbished turn-of-the-century homes in the “character suburbs,” observes Premium’s Alison Parker in Takapuna on Auckland’s North Shore, where wonderful schools and beaches are as prized as Tolkien’s all-important ring.

Those desiring a villa with a section of land pay around $2-$2.5 million. It costs more – about $4 million plus – for a big home with terrific views. And high-end beachfront property can fetch over $10 million, Alison reveals.

Takapuna’s also regarded as an apartment hub, with prices ranging from $850,000-$2.5 million. Alison recently sold a well-appointed penthouse at $7 million. “Retirees like a lock-up-and-leave base they can use for the New Zealand summer and younger couples enjoy the yachting and water sports lifestyle,” she comments.

Jim Rohrstaff (CORRECT) at Legacy Realty Partners in Auckland says international buyers typically home in on suburbs, such as Remuera, Herne Bay, Parnell and St Mary’s Bay, close to excellent schools, restaurants and the central business district.

“They’re also focusing on the coast for beach properties in places like Te Arai, home of the new Tara Iti Golf Club and only a 90-minute drive from Auckland,” he notes. “You can pick up a site for $2-$4 million and then you’re free to create your dream home on a great New Zealand beach.”

Daniel Coulson from Bayleys’ Auckland office tips Waiheke Island, roughly 40 minutes by ferry to the central business area. “It’s on the city’s doorstep, yet feels a world away. Due to a sheltered position in the Hauraki Gulf, the island enjoys its own microclimate with “a plethora of vineyards, beaches, cafes and year-round festivals”.

Those put off by Christchurch, the east coast town hit by an earthquake five years ago, will be heartened to hear that people finding Auckland too expensive are gravitating to this regenerating town.

“You get more for your money here than on the north island,” says Rosemarie de Jong of Bayleys. “A good family home in premium suburbs costs just under $2 million.”

And if the odd crack in the wall that can be repaired under insurance doesn’t bother you, then you might consider a bargain earthquake-damaged property.

Before setting out on a Middle-Earth-style expedition, however, British purchasers must get used to New Zealand’s sales process. About 60% of homes go to auction, which means little gazumping or changing of minds at the last minute. “You put down a 10% deposit on the day, and all sales are cash and unconditional,” remarks Daniel.

A magical procedure worthy of the wizard Gandalf himself – and a happy ending in the silver screen version of luxury living in New Zealand.

www.touchofspice.co.nz, www.bayleys.co.nz, www.premium.co.nz, www.legacypartners.co.nz

 

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