No overseas holidays, Kiwis buy baches instead

No overseas travel for a while and low-interest rates have well-off Kiwis buying holiday houses at favourite hotspots.

2 September 2020

309A Wentworth Valley Road, Whangamata, Coromandel - For sale by Lindsay Turnbull

A two bedroom, one bathroom home on a back half section in Whangamata in late August had 14 bidders at auction and went for $1 million.

“We’ve got way more buyers than stock at the moment, it’s a sellers’ market,” says Ray White agent Lindsay Turnbull.

The most active house hunters are coming from places like Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga to the popular surf beach destination, says Ms Turnbull, who’s currently harnessing both a lifestyle property and beach location description in her marketing of a home five minutes out of Whangamata. 

People are ideally looking for three bedroom, two bathroom homes close to the beach, she says. Properties in these locations would go for as much as $2 million, if further back from the beach, they’d be more like $800,000, she says.

Trade Me Property has seen searches in the entire Thames-Coromandel region increase by 111% in August compared with the same time last year.

In the pretty Coromandel town of Matarangi, meanwhile, as soon as a bach comes up in the $500,000 to $700,000 range, the busiest part of the market, it’s gone in a few days, says Keith Goodall from Richardsons.

“People can’t travel overseas and money’s cheap to borrow,” he explains. And they’re making big life decisions as a consequence. Mr Goodall recently helped a couple who were living in Gulf Harbour and commuting into Auckland. They’ve decided to buy an apartment in Auckland and a beach house in the Coromandel instead.

Ray White Whitianga agent, Louise Bradley, who’s selling a beautiful Matarangi home perfect for family get togethers, says property sales are regularly going to multiple offers, and it’s usually Aucklanders dominating the bidding. 

117 Pacific Parade, Matarangi

Aucklanders out of Level 3 lockdown head straight for Bay of Islands

The trend for Kiwi families living in the larger cities snapping up holiday homes is being repeated in a number of tourism hotspots around the country.

The Bay of Islands, a beloved playground for international tourists, is at the top of the shopping list for a number of well financed Kiwis. In hotspots including Russell, Paihia and Kerikeri, property searches on Trade Me Property were up 87% in August this year compared to the same time last year.

Pete Bestwick from Real Property Kerikeri, says it’s been a very busy last three months and Kerikeri was expecting “a huge influx of people” after Level 3 was lifted in Auckland.

“Kerikeri has a micro market,” he says. And his office is getting a steady flow of listings.

Quite a number of smaller properties have sold in recent weeks and a couple of high value homes too.

“What we’re saying to people is ‘it’s a great time to list, you don’t know what it’s going to be like here in six months,’” he says.

For Russell agent, Bayleys’ Irene Bremner, one Auckland buyer was so keen to see a holiday home listing of hers, they were driving up at 6 am on the first day of Auckland going to Level 2.5 to arrive in time for a 10 am viewing.

“There’s lots of activity in the marketplace,” she says.

Hawkes Bay properties offer a variety of options

The Hawke’s Bay property market, meanwhile, is receiving a big boost from Aucklanders and Wellingtonians looking for a second home. Hawke’s Bay searches in August this year were up 70% to a hefty 1.8 million.

Harcourts’ agent, Nicky Berry has had 85 groups through a newly listed Ahuriri, Napier character home, equating to 180 people in recent days.

6 Battery Road, Ahuriri, Napier

There’s interest from Auckland, Wellington and from farming families wanting a holiday home by the beach, she says. One Auckland buyer is thinking she’ll rent the home out on Airbnb until she’s able to live in it full time, while others are seeing it as a holiday home for the family.

The three bedroom, two bathroom home, close to the sandy beach, will be auctioned and is likely to go for over $700,000 she says, which is still pretty reasonable as far as some Aucklanders are concerned.

Darryl Buckley, NZ Sotheby’s International agent, says he and his business partner are very busy in the Waimarama and Te Awanga coastal markets. “A lot of New Zealanders are thinking they can’t possibly travel for a few years so they’re investing in something more local and coastal,” he says.

Aucklanders are especially interested in Te Awanga, he says. Trade Me Property data supported this, showing more than a 200% increase in Trade Me searches for the beach location this August compared with last August.

“Some will Airbnb the property throughout the year then block out Christmas and the New Year, and they’ll still get enough income from it during the year,” he says.

Havelock North, meanwhile, is “going crazy” at the high end of the market, he says, with people moving their retirements forward to move to this pretty Hawke’s Bay town.

Nelson a favourite for Kiwis seeking holiday homes and retiring there in the future

Other markets like Nelson are also seeing strong interest from New Zealanders living in the country’s larger cities, with Trade Me data showing a 60% increase in searches in the city and its environs this August compared with the same time last year. There are “significant amounts” of Auckanders looking at Nelson, says Bayleys’ agent Michelle Sowman.

Some are looking for second homes, some to move there permanently. Nelson is changing as a city, the town gentrifying and the inner city extremely popular with out of towners, says the agent who’s getting strong interest on this pretty Nelson home which is an easy walk into town.

1/5 Wainui Street, The Wood, Nelson

Buyers from Auckland and Wellington looking for homes in the Nelson area are considering a number of options. It might be that they keep their home in a main city but spend more time at their second home in Nelson, working from there part of the week, for instance.

“One thing Covid’s done is it’s made people and corporates realise that they can work from home,” says Ms Sowman. The fact that Nelson has a new airport is helping too, adds the agent.

Local Kiwis buying holiday homes competing with those overseas

And as if the buyers’ market wasn’t competitive enough in these favourite holiday spots, as local Kiwis are competing with well-heeled Kiwis overseas wanting to buy a piece of home.

Ms Sowman says she’s seeing a spike of interest from expat Kiwis in her Nelson homes especially from Kiwis living in the United States.

Russell-based Bayleys’ agent, Irene Bremner says she’s receiving inquiries from Kiwis overseas as well as Australians to buy residential property here.

“A lot of them are looking to buy a home to get out of where they are now,” she says.

Sotheby’s Darryl Buckley says he’s finding a lot of returning New Zealanders are planning on coming back to the Hawke’s Bay rather than going to one of the larger cities.

“They’re deciding we’re living in a digital world so people are looking to the Hawke’s Bay as a good central destination for the North Island,” he says.

Getting to Auckland or Wellington from the Hawke’s Bay is just a 45 to 55 minute flight, he adds.


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