Lockdown interest in lifestyle properties turns into deals

Lockdown gave Aucklanders a taste for flexible working, leading to increased buyer action in lifestyle properties.

16 July 2020

66 Mahoenui Valley Road, Coatesville, Rodney, Auckland

The online buyer interest flagged by Trade Me Property during lockdown in lifestyle properties is translating into deals as more Aucklanders confirm remote working arrangements with employers.

Bayleys’ lifestyle property specialist, Ailsa McArthur, who covers Coatesville, Albany and Dairy Flat among other Rodney District hotspots, says business has “been crazy” since Alert Level 3 as new groups of buyers enter her markets. She’s working with one company manager who currently lives on the North Shore and commutes to his office in east Auckland. He told Ms McArthur he’s negotiated working three long days a week and then two days from home, so he’s moving ahead on his dream to buy a lifestyle property.

The ability to work remotely has opened a whole new pool of buyers to the lifestyle property market, says Ms McArthur, who has seen some swift action from this group in recent weeks. Half the buyers she's meeting are new to the lifestyle property market, coming out to view homes in earnest from Alert Level 3.

One couple from Pt Chevalier only started looking seriously in Level 3 and have already bought.

“Lifestyle property wasn’t even on their radar until Level 4,” says the Bayleys agent. They’re planning to start a family and don’t want to be in the city should the country ever return to Level 4. Another two or three sales have happened like this, she says.

The working from home trend has become “massive,” adds the agent, and it’s always been very popular in places like Coatesville. According to the 2018 Census, just over 20% of Coatesville residents work from home but this is expected to have increased in recent months, according to Stats NZ.

Working from home here to stay

Fundamentally, the lifestyle property market is benefitting from a sea change discussed by business advisers, according to a recent KPMG report. The company noted, in Australia, that the workforce would increasingly work remotely as corporate real estate was repurposed or reduced.

“This will see people choosing larger residential properties with space for work and home offices, rather than smaller inner-city dwellings,” it predicts.

142 Coatesville Riverhead Highway, Coatesville, Rodney, Auckland

Ms McArthur says buyers of lifestyle properties are often looking for five bedroom homes. “They don’t need five bedrooms, they want that fifth bedroom to be a proper room they can work from,” says the agent, who’s marketing a Coatesville home likely to appeal to this group.

Some buyers are relocating their businesses with them to the house, says Ms McArthur. “We’ve had a lot of that. If they live in Coatesville and work over the hill in Albany, they’re saying: “Why pay commercial leasing rates in Albany?” By putting a large shed or barn up on the property, that problem is solved.

Sections getting snapped up for dream homes

Precision Real Estate’s Suzie Eade, meanwhile is seeing an increase in demand from every aspect, she says. Even bare land that normally wouldn’t draw a lot of buyers, is attracting attention as people look to build their own homes, she adds.

Ms Eade says she’s seen a significant lift in sales activity of lifestyle properties since lockdown. “These are genuine buyers who are actively looking and purchasing property. Multiple offers are going in on many of these homes,” she says.

“I think a lot of people definitely have the flexibility to work more from home, it’s now been proven it works,” says the Precision agent, who deals with many business owners who can design how they want to work and live.

Buyers want the ability to live off the land, says Ms Eade. They want a vege garden, and they like having the space for adding a minor dwelling for family to stay, or to use as a home office or kids’ sleepout.

“People are looking for privacy over and above everything. They want quiet and space, the freedom of space, and to be self-sufficient,” she says.

Returning Kiwis are keen lifestyle property buyers

The Precision agent says she’s seeing lots of expats snapping up lifestyle properties, Kiwis returning from London and the US. “They’re returning and looking for lifestyle and security for their family,” says Ms Eade.

Some in this group have been through quarantine over the last few weeks, but normally one partner has been to view the property while the other partner has been through the home virtually and the decision is then being made to buy.

And a number of buyers are cash buyers, adds Bayleys’ agent Travis Morgan.

310 Rapson Road, Kaukapakapa, Rodney, Auckland

Lifestyle property specialists are reporting seeing strong interest in places that have been on the market for some time. Mr Morgan says he’s had a property on the market for nine months and since lockdown lifted he’s been inundated. The large home with an office space and on just .34ha is helped by its location, in a favourite lifestyle area between Kaukapakapa and Waitoki.

Family groups pooling resources to buy

An attractive selling point with lifestyle properties is they work well for generations of families wanting to live together, something many are seeking after being apart from loved ones during the COVID-19 lockdown.

296 Old North Road, Kumeu, Rodney, Auckland

Harcourts’ agent, Katherine Binning, has her Kumeu property under contract, and the buyers are family members who are going to pool their resources. They want the option of living together, says Ms Binning. With two master bedrooms and two ensuites, one on each level, it works well for a couple of generations, she says.

The pool house at 66 Mahoenui Valley Road, Coatesville, Rodney, Auckland

The COVID-19 lockdown gave many families a chance to really think about the way they want to live. NZ Sotheby’s International Real Estate’s Aaron Reid is showing a Ponsonby family through his high end Coatesville property. They would like to keep a couple of cows, a couple of sheep at their lifestyle property and are just at the early stages of their search, says Mr Reid.

The luxurious Coatesville home, with a separate pool house, could work well for teens wanting separate space for guests, or could be a nice space to work from.


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