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Employment Trends Factor in Brisk Property Market

Employment trends a factor in brisk autumn property market

Northland and Auckland house prices continued to surge ahead in April, after a slight setback in February and quick recovery in March, say Professional real estate agents.

"Remnants of the market's mixed messages over the past two months seem to be the only factor holding back sales, with plenty of serious buyers and stock levels building up again," says Professionals Regional Chairman for Auckland/Northland, Gary Murphy.

That view is consistent with Real Estate Institute of New Zealand figures for March, which show Auckland's median selling price in March as $372,000, up from $347,500 in February. Auckland property sales rebuilt from 5494 in February to 5554 in March, and the average number of days on the market shortened from 36 in February to 28 in March.

A similar picture emerges in Northland with properties being snapped up within 36 days in March, after a more reticent February when the average was 48 days.

Raewyn Wilson, owner of Star Realty The Professionals, at Howick, says the market is definitely lively. The agency is opening a new branch in Botany South to cater for rapid growth in Howick and the South East.

"With the prediction of interest rates to remain stable, I can't see the market slowing, as might otherwise be expected after a boom market," says Raewyn. "The traditional peaks and troughs are evening out in Auckland, compared with the old seven-year boom and bust cycle."

Smaller-sized households are continuing to create a high demand for high-density properties. But that is not the only trend, she says.

"A new residential subdivision is released at least twice a year, creating massive employment in the building trade - and these people, too, have to be housed."

Osborne Realty The Professionals owner Brian Barrett says Clarks Beach on the Manukau Harbour's southern shores is experiencing a mini-boom, with waterfront properties up 55-65 per cent and those one block back up by 30-35 per cent compared with prices 18 months ago.

Overall, he judges the market in his area as steadier than in early- to mid-2004, with properties now taking slightly longer to sell.

"First-time buyers are particularly interested in our Waiuku sections of 600-750 square metres," says Brian. "These buyers are building their own homes after spending $120,000-$130,000 on the land."

In the north, Barry Joblin, owner of five Professionals offices between Tutukaka and Warkworth on the east coast of Northland and Rodney, reports that buyer interest is still keen. About 20 per cent of properties under negotiation attract more than one offer.

The median house price for Whangarei is about $180,000; Bream Bay's is between $300,000 and $350,000, Mangawhai is $350,000-plus, and the median price for a Warkworth house property is now between $350,000 and $400,000.

Barry believes Auckland/Northland may experience the traditional winter lull in real estate in 2005. A consequence of shorter days and wet weekends keeping buyers at home, it has been missing for the past two heady years.

Aucklanders have a major impact on Whangarei region's real estate, as they invest in holiday properties or buy sections on which to build a home for their retirement years. That trend is not slowing off at all yet, says Barry, but he expects that when the Auckland market cools down, so will the North.

"Having said that, there are many different factors driving the Whangarei market - most of them relating to infrastructure.

"The deep water port is in - which will bring in more investment, more jobs, more and more residents - and many of Northland's pine forests are coming on stream, which will also increase employment and demand for housing in this area."


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