Friday, 4 Dec 2020

Remuera residential sales tipped to hit $1 billion as housing market booms

More than $1 billion worth of Remuera homes are expected to sell this year as Auckland’s red-hot housing market soars to heights not seen since the boom years.

The last time so many homes sold in the suburb was 2016, exclusive new Real Estate Institute data shows.

It’s a buying and selling frenzy that has helped push property values to record highs – with Herald readers able to check out the latest house prices in Monday’s OneRoof Property Report.

To hit the magic $1b mark, a further $183 million of Remuera homes would need to sell in October, November and December.

And, with an average $90m so far selling each month this year, that was likely to happen, the Real Estate Institute said.

Ray White Remuera owner Megan Jaffe said she expected her agency to end up selling close to $140m worth of properties in October in alone.

Bayleys head of residential sales for the Eastern Bays Rachel Dovey, meanwhile, said her team had 30 per cent more sales campaigns booked for November than the same month last year.

A new Remuera total sales record was “possibly on the cards”, she said.

Yet Remuera wasn’t alone in minting money. Its golden glow appeared to reflect what many real estate agents were calling a “crazier” housing market than the 2016-era boom years.

Auckland’s median sales price had now leapt to a record $955,000, the Real Estate Institute’s September data showed.

And 41,000 homes sold across the country during the September quarter – the highest number in any quarter during the past four years, Stats NZ said.

Record low-interest rates that made home loans cheaper and a “fear of missing out” among buyers – who earlier watched as house prices even rose during March and April’s Covid-19 lockdown – seemed to be propelling values to new heights.

Economist Tony Alexander also pointed to how Kiwis were redirecting some of the $10b they normally spent on overseas trips each year into housing.

Bayleys’ Dovey said that rather than derail the housing market, the Covid-19 pandemic had had the opposite effect.

Her agents had found Kiwis were instead “accelerating” their plans.

That meant those who had planned to buy a new home in two years’ time, for instance, were increasingly acting now.

Part of the reason seemed to be due to people spending extra time at home considering their futures, she said.

In Remuera, that meant the $816m worth of homes sold during the first nine months of 2020 was well up on the $599m sold during the same period last year.

“Despite the country going into lockdown for 33 days, the total value of residential properties sold in Remuera increased by 36.1 per cent,” said Real Estate Institute chief executive Bindi Norwell.

Median sales price in the suburb hit $1.85m during the first nine months of this year – 19 per cent higher than the $1.55m sales price during the same period last year.

The shock of the booming market has led to calls from economists for the Reserve Bank to reinstate lending restrictions, warning the housing market is spiralling out of control.

In May, the Reserve Bank temporarily removed loan to value ratio (LVR) restrictions, freeing banks to sell mortgages to buyers with small deposits. It said that suspension would be for a year.

But speculation is mounting that it will renege on that and move sooner to rein in the frenzy – since June, lending to investors has tripled and last month banks lent an all-time record $7.3b to house buyers.

Returning expatriates were among those helping drive up prices, Norwell said.

“For those looking to return home over the last few months Remuera has been towards the top of the list thanks to its close proximity to the CBD, the good school zones, views of the Waitematā and extensive grounds many of Remuera’s properties offer,” Norwell said.

And while apartments had made up 16 per cent of all residential sales in Remuera in 2019, that dropped to 6 per cent this year as buyers sought out bigger homes.

“While some of this is likely attributed to new apartments coming onto the market and build time being impacted by Covid, some of it may be due to the increased demand we’re seeing for more space, pools, spas and backyards should another lockdown be imminent,” Norwell said.

Owen Vaughan, editor of NZME-owned property website OneRoof, said even though there were more luxurious suburbs and others in good school zones, Remuera had an iconic appeal.

“It is just one of those addresses that Kiwis equate with making it,” he said.

All this meant Remuera was clearly the best-selling suburb in the country this year ahead of Auckland Central, Flat Bush and then Tauranga’s Pāpāmoa Beach and Mt Maunganui, the Real Estate Institute said.

Yet for all that, Remuera still had some way to go to reach its towering heights of 2016.

Back then a total of $1.17b worth of homes, apartments and units sold in the suburb with the most expensive sale being the $18m purchase of 13 Burwood Cres, the institute said.

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