House prices: Cheap homes on the market in Hamilton appealing to big-city buyers - real estate agent

Affordable house prices in Hamilton are gaining interest from across the country, a local real estate agent says.

People in New Zealand's largest cities are headed for Hamilton, due to cheap houses being on the real estate market.

Located on the banks of the Waikato river, Hamilton has gained a bad rap over the years, but that isn’t stopping those from big cities buying homes there. 

Homes in the $500,000 to $600,000 price range are in hot demand, making up 20 percent of total sales.

Lodge Real Estate managing director Jeremy O'Rourke said this is a marked increase from the 10-12 percent of the market this price bracket usually accounts for, with people returning from their summer holiday and looking to settle down.

The attendance number for open homes is up by 40 percent compared to early December. 

He said the increase is due to a significant rise in first-home buyer and investor activity.

"There's really strong interest in the market, and they're not just looking; they're ready to transact," O'Rourke said.

Lodge City Rentals had its biggest leasing month in its 40-year history in December - they signed 175 tenancies, O'Rourke said.

O'Rourke said 38 percent of those tenancies were people coming from outside the city and looking to rent before potentially buying property. 

He said this movement is helpful to the rest of the market, as "first-home buyers release first-home sellers further up the ladder to upgrade and buy their next home".

"It would have been a challenge to find a decent property in the $500,000-$600,000 bracket 18 months ago, but with the considerable price adjustments buyers have recognised that they can now find good value in this segment of the market."

There are now only 30 available properties out of a total of over 3700 properties under management at Lodge City Rentals.

He said he expects to see more competition between investors and first-home buyers.

"We could find competition ramps up, as the stock in the $500,000 to $600,000 price bracket gets snapped up within the next few months," O'Rourke said.

Despite ANZ cutting its home loan rates by 55 basis points from February 2, after the news that unemployment rose to 3.4 percent, O'Rourke said "it's still hard to predict how interest rates and inflation will track over the next 12 months".

He believes most factors point to the Hamilton market picking up due to city growth and pressure on accommodation not slowing.

"More people are seeing Hamilton as a great lifestyle choice, with major events,” said O'Rourke, giving the example of the FIFA Women's World Cup set to "invigorate" the city.