Premium estate agent says rich homeowners are leaving for Australia and taking their businesses with them

New sales data shows the luxury house market is in a slump, and one premium real estate agent says some wealthy Kiwis are taking their money and their businesses to Australia.

Caleb Paterson, of Paterson Luxury, has just sold a 440-square-metre, five-bedroom, four-bathroom luxury home in the north Auckland suburb of Dairy Flat.

He won't reveal the exact sale price, except to say it was between $4 million and $5 million and the owners are selling to retire across the ditch.

"They have sold their whole portfolio of properties because they feel retirement in Australia is going to be better than what it would be here," he told Newshub.

Paterson said he has sold seven similar properties this year and four of those clients are not only moving to Australia, but taking their businesses with them.

"They're taking about $50 million worth of equity out of our economy and taking it to the Australian economy," he said.

"Their long-term plan is to actually shut their companies down here, so we'll see some of those companies close."

New Zealand doesn't record occupations or net assets when people leave, so there is no data to support Paterson's experience.

However, annual migration statistics show many Kiwis in general are leaving, with Australia a favourite destination.

"Probably at least around half of them are heading off to Australia," said Infometrics principal economist Brad Olsen. 

"Obviously times are tough for everyone's economy, but especially in the New Zealand economy at the moment, that seems to be prompting more people to head across the ditch."

The housing market is reflecting the tough times and the luxury segment is no different.

New data from the Real Estate Insitute of New Zealand shows the number of sales in 2023 of homes worth $4 million or more dropped by  26 percent in Auckland. 

Nationally, the number of sales was down 30 percent as compared to 2022.

Estate agents also say there are more listings and properties are taking longer to sell.

Ollie Wall works for Wall Estate Agents, an agency which sells the very top end of the luxury market in suburbs like Auckland's Herne Bay.

"I don't think the demand is less, but I think people are a little bit more discerning and they're taking their time to make a decision," Wall told Newshub.

"There's just less pressure on buyers at the moment because there's that sort-of fear of missing out that has disappeared."

Wall is currently marketing a 900-square-metre Herne Bay home which the owners bought for about $23 million, spent another $7 million renovating the property, but have now relocated to Queenstown.

Wall said he hasn't noticed a trend of rich people leaving as his clients move all the time.

"Their business is all around the world and they're always moving around the world. And interestingly, we're seeing a bit of an influx the other way, too."

Wall said those buyers are wealthy Kiwi expats who want to return for the lifestyle.

"They've noticed that it's not quite as crazy as it has been. So they think that maybe now's the time to make the move."

While rich Kiwis, Australians and Singaporeans can buy property in New Zealand, there does not appear to be many other wealthy foreigners moving here as investors.

A new visa called Active Investor Plus was introduced in September 2022 by the New Zealand Government. It allows foreign nationals to live, work and study in New Zealand as long as they have the equivalent of $15 million to invest.

Data supplied to Newshub shows that since it was introduced in September 2022, 81 visas have been granted, although some of these include wives, partners and children.

However, since the beginning of 2024 there have been 16 applications of which six have been granted, all of them from Hong Kong.

That means one thing according to premium real estate agents, like Paterson.

"If you're a buyer, it's a really good opportunity to get into a luxury home."