An almost daily barrage of housing headlines – swinging between crisis and boom – have made real estate the top topic of conversation round any table. So how is this issue affecting the Bay? We asked four property experts for their views.
Their answers may surprise in some cases, con rm in others. But the overall agreement is – Hawke’s Bay is buoyant as buyers realise this is the place to find their own slice of heaven.
OF THE VAST AND BEAUTIFUL PANORAMA that is New Zealand, Hawke’s Bay has arguably the cream of the crop when it comes to property. From traditional country homesteads to modern luxury apartments, all set in a superb scenic landscape offering anything from lakes, rivers, beaches, rural or urban living – this is the lifestyle of dreams. And, most importantly, without big city build-up.
Over the past eighteen months, however, a definite buyer demographic along with specific trends have emerged, significantly impacting our housing market.
“Aucklanders are fl ocking,” says Christine Thomas of Harcourts. “Cashed-up retirees and the disaffected who can’t afford to live there. Investors are moving and bringing their businesses or aspirations of new start-ups with them. Havelock North is popular and there has been an increase in enquiries from the US, particularly since Trump took office.”
Sotheby’s Fraser Holland has a similar view. “Baby boomers are getting out of the larger NZ cities or returning from overseas, and Gen X families are looking for a better balance and quality of life. They get more property for their money and more in scale. Over 50% of our buyers are from out of the region, not only from Auckland but also international buyers. We’ve seen a significant increase in people wanting a safer, more politically-settled lifestyle from America and the UK and Europe.”
He also notes that couples with young families from Auckland are certainly on the increase. “When they are tired of the struggle with traffic and commuting, they sell up then realise that to buy in the same market is going to be unaffordable. So they look out of Auckland, find a four-bedroom home in Havelock North on a much larger section; reduce their mortgage, if not get rid of it, and absolutely love Hawke’s Bay.”
Jill Baddeley from Tremains comments that she has a lot of clients moving back to their hometown to bring up young families or parents moving to join their children and their families. Retirees too, particularly to Havelock North and Hastings for the slower pace and great weather. “Buyers from overseas want a new way of life and a bit of land to call their own. They don’t mind being 15 minutes out because they are used to commuting. Also professionals are moving for jobs as well as the lifestyle.”
She also says that the 22-35 year age group wanting to purchase a first home has become a much stronger demographic in the past two years. “The fact they have saved enough and can access their Kiwi Saver account helps with the deposit.”
All say the subject of schools and their proximity is high on the want list.
Fraser observes, “Havelock North with its wide range of good schools plays a vital role attracting families from Auckland where zoning can be very restrictive for education needs and wants. In fact, Havelock North is certainly the most talked up suburb of choice which I think is due to a combination of factors – the country surround, Tuki Valley has branded itself well over the years; it is a higher socio-economic compared to other suburbs and not only the great range of schools but also the Village Hub is immensely attractive. And there are a larger number of more modern, bigger homes. On the Napier side, Ahuriri and Westshore are the hot spots. And coastal properties with views have increased in value at a faster rate recently.”
Christine has noticed that out-of-town buyers who are used to long commutes to work are not put o by properties a little further out. ‘’The Kahuranaki area is one of the region’s best kept secrets with many properties enjoying glorious views over the Tukituki River and back to Te Mata Peak, Mt Kahuranaki and Mt Erin. It’s within 15 to 20 minutes drive to Havelock North and an easy drive to Waimarama and Ocean beaches. And the hills behind Havelock North have never been so popular. Lifestyle properties in areas such as Whakapirau Rd and the hills above State Highway 50 – the west of the province – still o er great value for money. Many have fabulous views, great architectural features and often a stylish swimming pool. All within twenty minutes of Hastings and Taradale.”
As Jill comments, “you can get a long way in 15 minutes on the open road. It is the distance that should be considered, not the time. I am finding people are buying the coastal properties quickly despite the coastal hazard zones. But it appears that the outdoor beach lifestyle is pulling out- of-towners to the Bay. And our locals are also buying in Te Awanga and Haumoana for both holiday homes and permanent residences.”
Needs vs wants
Facades aside, all endorse that internally great indoor-outdoor flow is top priority. As are fabulous views, a north facing aspect and a generous kitchen with scullery – open plan preferably – is seen as the social hub of the home. In real estate the saying goes, “kitchens sell houses” but it has to be a good one, or the possibilities of a do-up recognised as easily achievable. Bathrooms too are on most clients’ hit lists – usually two; with the word “bath” being the operative word. As these two rooms are the most expensive to modernize, most buyers go for a home with these already done. The general view is that some may want to renovate and make it their own so long as the location is good, there is enough land and schools are near.
Interestingly, Jill has noticed that it is not the needs so much as the wants that have changed significantly in the past eighteen months. “We as a society now want more. When I was growing up a family of five was content with one bathroom and a separate toilet, but today that family would require two bathrooms and two toilets, if not three. Plus two living areas and a study along with a bedroom for each child. But of course as we get older our needs are less, so it depends on what stage buyers are at that determines the want list.
And there is no particular swing for an interior designer home as opposed to those who want to do up themselves. If colours and carpet are pleasing they can influence.” Architectural homes appeal to those who not only appreciate design and form, but also the architect – “John Scott and Peter Holland homes sell very quickly to those who understand the meaning behind them,” she remarks.
The general consensus too is that though initially a home in a new development (of which there are many) around the Bay may not be first preference, the fact is that the perfect home in the perfect location at the perfect price is probably not easily procurable. So buyers compromise. “And new homes are attractive … full stop,” says Fraser. “Warm, insulated and eco-friendly with double glazing – all features every buyer desires. Single level too. They are specially appealing for retiree buyers who want low maintenance.”
Jill adds that with the amount of sales in new homes they can’t keep up with demand. New specs, double glazing (top of the list), multiple bathrooms and larger sections make them sought after by all generations. Purchasers seem happy to landscape their own properties, but laying lawns is a big concern in new builds. Gardens come lower on the list of wants, though many buyers of established properties do prefer a planned landscape.
That said, Brendan Williams, whose company Vortex Design and Build specialises in new builds, unsurprisingly says there has been a dramatic increase in building.
“In the fifteen years we have been based in the Bay it is the busiest time we have had.” A fact he puts down quite simply to a lack of available good quality housing due to “a lot of people moving to the Bay. The resulting big increase in population has put definite pressure on the property market. Especially lately. Prices have gone up and the choice has reduced. And for those moving from the bigger cities – a new home rather than buying an existing one is becoming an increasingly popular option. There is no particular demographic, but they look to build because of over-pricing in the existing range of homes for sale.”
He notes that land is at a premium and developers have complete control; high prices are the result. “Great indoor-outdoor flow continues to be the national obsession, specially with our wonderful climate,” Brendan explains, confirming that some things are paramount across the board, new or old.
Of course, with a new build, the scope to have more of what has been on the ‘dream’ list for home owners is a lot wider. And Brendan observes that there is a variety of trends in style and aesthetics. “It’s more about quality, comfort and energy efficiency. In terms of the look, we’ve seen a decline in mono-pitched roofs and a resurgence of gable-formed homes. Multi-clad builds are on the rise and darker colours are being used to provide contrast and a dramatic effect for an enhanced streetscape design. Colour steel is the most popular roofing option because its durable and clean.”
“And the same cladding can be used for both interior and exterior. Large sculleries are a standard part of the modern kitchen. Four bedrooms, two living areas, a media room and an office too. Internal garages are practical and o er storage space as is roof space in the garage being quite common.”
“Single level, whether a new build or a purchase, has hit the high popularity stakes. But with the land reaching premium availability, often the smaller sections are dictating multi-level builds and do o er a good option. This question of land availability is also opening up the possibilities of subdividing,” notes Brendan, “it means desirable land usually close to a centre can be built on and an extra section sold on, which has the added plus of often funding the original build.”
Naturally with a new home – the scope is wide for choice of colours and finishes for exteriors and interiors. And Brendan says black, white and grey exteriors are top of the list. Natural, coloured, raw finish and engineered stone for bathrooms are favourites and are found in slabs or tiles of rust, blackened and washed concrete and coloured marble of deep inky purple and lime yellow. Timber look tiles are commonly used for floors and shower walls with vanity units incorporating timber with seamless finishes in dark walnut and chestnut shades.
“Fresh elegance is the preference so textured pale timbers with a lot of metals such as rose gold, copper, pewter, brass and now even rust are not only in basic hardware and plumbing but also in tiles, wallpapers and paints to impart that glamorous yet rustic tone. And recently I’ve seen a trend to coloured and laser-printed glass walls, splash backs and mirrors.”
The hike in prices has been high. “Many examples of homes bought within the last four years are being resold with a 20% increase in value,” comments Fraser. And Christine says, “right now there is a shortage of both houses and sections specially in Havelock North, fuelling high prices. So of course sellers are asking more, especially in the hot spots like Havelock North, Taradale and Napier. Increased asking prices have been supported in the Hastings District Council’s area by the increases in Rateable Values last October across much of the province. But already agents are regularly seeing property selling for up to 20% more than these new RVs.”
New build, established homestead, lifestyle block or minimal land upkeep – irrespective, there is definitely pressure on the Hastings District Council to release new green field sites for homes. Specially for the fringe, unproductive or hilly land on the urban edges which is unsuitable for horticulture. And there is also pressure being put on infrastructure in the province with new buyers demanding fibre, high speed internet, reliable and sustainable water supplies and tar-sealed roads.
But though some of these factors may be shorter in supply than we would wish, the market in the Bay is hot. And the increase of no-price marketing is a strong indication of this with Tender being the preference. All concur that such a sales method allows due diligence to be completed with a better chance of being unconditional before submitting an o er. And it’s private.
So, predictions are that the region will remain a seller’s market despite the seasonal change and the 20% value increase over the past four years. It looks as if the Bay is set to reign as the region of choice for anyone wanting a place to call home.
Left: natural look modernity in a new build with outdoor living; top right: the fresh elegant look with texture and the priority indoor-outdoor flow; bottom right: gabled roof, outdoor living and views as far as the eye can see.