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The Results are In - Who's the Fastest and Who's the Slowest?

22nd Jan 20

You've got to move quickly in Invercargill if you want to buy a home.  Real estate in the southern-most city is among the fastest selling in the country, due to increased demand from first home buyers, real estate experts say.

Of the 12 suburbs where houses spent the shortest time on the market last year, all but three had median property values of less than $500,000.  Invercargill dominated the list, with homes in four of the city's suburbs typically selling within 20 days or less.

According to data from REINZ, the fastest selling suburbs were Fitzroy in Hamilton and Hawthorndale in Invercargill, where the median selling period was a superfast 16 days - Well below the 31 days for the whole of the country.

Fitzroy's median property value for the last quarter of 2019 was $580,000, according to OneRoof data - Up 8% on the same period the year before, reflecting strong demand for property there.

OneRoof editor Owen Vaughan said the riverside suburb had been previously overlooked but its proximity to the central city and airport had put it on the radar of buyers looking for housing at an affordable price point.

"Also in Fitzroy's favour is that it has a large amount of stock that's ripe for renovation and new developments coming on stream.  It is very much a value-add location."

Vaughan said the driving factor in Invercargill's was affordability - The suburbs that made the top 12 boasted some the lowest median property values in the country.  Hawthorndale has a median property value of $325,000, while Strathern, where the median selling period was 19.5 days, properties typically sold for $235,000.  And properties in Georgetown and Kingswell, where the median selling period was 20 days, typically sold for between $230,000 and $240,000.

Bindi Norwell, chief executive of Real Estate Institute of New Zealand, said many of the homes in the fast selling Invercargill suburbs "are built in the 1960’s and 70’s, are passing through building inspections more quickly and banks are happy to provide lending on these properties given that they are solid, dependable homes”.

Fast sellers from Palmerston North to Auckland and Wellington

Other suburbs selling in less than 20 days are Kelvin Grove, Takaro and Terrace End in Palmerston North, Mosgiel, on the edge of Dunedin, Winton, in Southland; plus Grafton in central Auckland, and Oriental Bay in Wellington.

Vaughan said "As sales volumes and property prices gathered steam through 2019, the time it has taken to sell properties has edged down.  Smart first home buyers and investors know what places are worth, so when you get the combination of good value and locations close to the centre of town, they’re going for it.”

Norwell said that the drop in median days to sell across the country was the result of increasing confidence, low interest rates and demand for good properties outstripping supply.

“In 2019 we saw many parts of the country with median days to sell decreasing as the year progressed.  There are a number of reasons – Increasing consumer confidence, low interest rates and demand for good properties outstripping supply," she said.

“As a result of this decreasing trend across the country we looked at suburbs that had the longest and shortest median days to sell in 2019 and found some really interesting results."

Oriental Bay is the sole exception to the affordability trend – Buyers there move quickly when properties come to market, as the prestige and easy access to the city outweigh the $1.88m median value.

Two of the fastest selling Palmerston North suburbs had median property values of between $385,000 and $430,000 and are also at the lower end of that city’s price scale, both handy to the city centre and amenities.  Kelvin Grove, which sits at the upper end of the market, has seen lots of new homes come to the market which have been snapped up quickly.

David Klue, Property Brokers branch manager in Palmerston North, said demand for property in the city was outstripping listings.

“It’s just pumping.  We’re having to tell vendors to keep their place on the market for at least 10 days and do at least one open home to get exposure to all the buyers, but there’s just not enough stock.

“A lovely bungalow we listed last week around $600,000 has 16 offers on it with more coming in. Buyers have made offers on at least five properties before they succeed.”

Klue says that volumes of properties for sale have been dropping steadily – Back in 2010, he recalls, there would be up to 1200 properties listed.  Today that figure has dropped below 200 at any one time.

“It’s hopeless. People are moving into the city, but vendors aren’t listing because they’ve got nowhere to go.”

Head to Hamilton

Hamilton real estate agent Sue Hall of Lodge Real Estate, says buyers are finally waking up to the benefits of living in Fitzroy.  Former farmland in the suburb is being redeveloped, with the first homes in the new subdivisions there now re-selling well for good prices.

So far, the developments offer only single family homes, but Hall says more infill density, mainly duplexes, is on the way.

Hall expects the new bridge that will connect the area to the south of Hamilton city, planned for completion in 2023, will make the suburb even more attractive.  She says that while the neighbouring Hamilton Central has one of the longest selling periods in the country - At 98 days - That was due to slow title transfers for the new apartments.

“There’s never been anything in the central city, but it’s just coming into play.  It’s finally grown up in the city and it’ll only get better,” says Hall.

The fastest selling suburb in Auckland is Grafton, which is in the city's much sought after “Double Grammar Zone”, has strong transport links and is close to the CBD.  It is also one of the cheapest places to buy a home in the city - The median property value is $475,000, mainly due to the large number of apartments in the suburb.

The driving factor in Mosgiel, where the median days to sell is 20 days, is shortage of land.

LJ Hooker’s Dunedin boss Wayne Graham, said “Mosgiel has 4000 to 5000 houses, it did have room to spread but it’s gradually getting infilled.  It used to be $650,000 for new house, now it’s up to $850,000 to $900,000.

“In the last two or three years, the price of land has gone up $100,000 to $250,000 for a smaller section.”

Graham says that the town has moved from retirees to young families or investors, as a nicely done up brick former state house can be snapped up for $550,000 and there’ll be five offers on it.

The data also identified the slowest selling suburbs.

Slow down on the Coast

Westport had longest time to sell at 106 days, while another West Coast town, Cobden averaged between 90 days.

Property in Taihape, Manawatu, is the second slowest in the country to sell, at 99 days.  As well as Hamilton Central at 98 days.  Also taking longer than 77 days are the beach towns of Mangawhai, Tairura, Matarangi, Waihi Beach, Army Bay, Surfdale and Huapai, on the outskirts of Auckland taking between 78 and 91 days to sell.

Norwell says that despite its affordability, finance from larger banks continues to prove extremely difficult in Taihepe with agents report a “significant number of deals” being declined for finance reasons.

Huapai on Auckland’s western fringes had one of the longest days to sell at 83 days.

Wallace Stratton agent Wesley Gerber, puts the blame squarely on traffic congestion, caused when the sleepy rural town was suddenly densely developed after its special housing area designation in 2013.  While Auckland Transport has plans to start highway access improvements in 2020, the road works will probably make things worse in the short term.

“It was hard hit, from a lifestyle area to now a Special Housing Area,” says Gerber.

“It’s hard to sell, as there’s no [public] transport and congestion.  They did all that new housing and nothing for all the vehicles.”

Gerber says that the inconvenience is reflected in prices – In an area with median value of $915,000 two bedroom duplexes in the new developments are asking $639,000, so that stock is gradually whittling down.


*  For more information, visit One Roof for the original article.

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