Aucklanders wanting to free up capital and cut mortgage costs are increasingly eyeing up properties in the Waikato, a real estate firm says.
October REINZ figures show the median house price in the Waikato region is $655,000, up 15.9 percent year-on-year. It’s the fifth most expensive region in the country and had a record 961 houses sold over the last year. By comparison, Auckland’s median house price is $1 million ($1.2 million for Auckland city), increasing 16.3 percent over the year, with 3140 homes sold.
Owner of Century 21 Derryn Mayne said after COVID-19 lockdown, local agents have seen an influx of Aucklanders, particularly families wanting a lifestyle change. She puts this down to lower house prices, employers embracing flexible work arrangements and commuter improvements bringing Hamilton and Auckland closer together.
Driving from central Auckland to The Base shopping centre in Te Rapa takes around one-and-a-half hours. Developments to the Waikato Expressway completed in March allow commuters to bypass Huntly. A spokesperson for Waikato Regional Council confirmed work on the Te Huia passenger rail service will start from early 2021. It will allow commuters to travel from Hamilton to Auckland in around 88 minutes, stopping in Huntly and finishing in Papakura.
"Waikato is giving many Auckland families the opportunity to free up some capital, or reduce their mortgage, while still being in striking distance to the super city for the likes of weekly meetings," Mayne said.
She said that Century 21 offices in Huntly, Tuakau and Te Awamutu were fielding more enquiries, both from people moving out of Hamilton city and down from Auckland. People were looking in places like Mangakino and Turangi, for both homes and batches.
REINZ sales data shows the median selling price in Huntly is currently $385,000 (down 6.1 percent from October 2019). In Tuakau, it is $590,000 (up 3.1 percent) and in Te Awamutu, it is $588,500 (up 27.9 percent).
Century 21 Te Awamutu owner Rebecca Fraser told Newshub that although property prices in Te Awamutu seem to be higher by the week, those with a budget of just over $500,000 were able to get onto the property ladder.
“It’s getting harder and harder to find a home under $500,000 and near impossible for under $400,000 in the Te Awamutu, Kihikihi, Pirongia area...first home buyers are often having to stretch to just over the $500,000 to secure their first home,” Fraser said.
A budget of $600,000 would buy a two-to-three bedroom home with some work needed. Those curious to find out what the Auckland median house price of $1 million buys Te Awamutu could expect a large parcel of land - and extras.
“We have several homes in Te Awamutu area for $1.1 million to $1.5 million. In this bracket, you’re normally getting a pool and a substantial size section, often up to or around 4000 to 5000m2. The homes are generally beautifully renovated and have a great outlook whether that being elevated with views or rural outlook,” Fraser added.
REINZ chief executive Bindi Norwell said a shortage of new listings combined with low overall housing supply is expected to put pressure on house prices in the short-to-medium term. Anecdotal evidence shows people were moving to the regions for affordability and lifestyle.
“We would expect to see a greater increase in the number of people looking to regional options in the future,” Norwell said.
But REINZ also said for first home buyers with a budget of $600,000 to $750,000 wanting a standalone house closer to Auckland, there were still options around.
Papakura and Franklin are among the 10 districts with the highest percentage of standalone homes in this price-range. The Papakura district includes places like Ardmore, Takanini and Alfriston and the Franklin district includes Hunua, Wattle Bay, Graham’s Beach, Waiuku, Patumahoe, Ramarama, Bombay and Ti Hihi.