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Increased first home buyer activity in Hamilton market suppresses median price

Buying at auction 1

Lodge Real Estate’s managing director, Jeremy O’Rourke, said today that a significant increase in the number of first home buyers entering the Hamilton residential housing market is the primary factor contributing to the median dropping to $346,500 in August from $350,000 in July.

“The slight dip in Hamilton’s median house price this month is not a signal that values are slipping.  It’s simply that the median has shifted because there were more buyers at the lower end of the market this month – primarily first home buyers and investors,” explained Mr O’Rourke.

He said Pukete, Dinsdale and Forest Lake currently represented the best suburbs for first home buyers and investors to get the best value for money.

He also said prices are shifting noticeably upward in Hillcrest, Hamilton East, Rototuna and on the city fringe.

August housing market figures were released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) and show the number of homes sold in Hamilton stayed around the same level, with 196 homes sold in August compared to 201 in July.

“We often see increased activity as spring arrives and we have started September with a greater number of appraisals and more stock being listed.  There definitely is increased demand in the market and we need more quality stock to satisfy it,” said Mr O’Rourke.

New homes listed on the Hamilton market during the month of August were up slightly to 283, from 225 in July.  Although this was a 3% decrease on August 2013 July and June were 22% and 35% down respectively from same month in 2013.

The total number of homes for sale in Hamilton has been decreasing from month to month, with 977 properties on the market in May, 917 in June, 833 in July and 883 in August.

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July Housing Report


Median house price and sales volumes slip in Hamilton housing market

 Lodge Real Estate’s managing director, Jeremy O’Rourke, said today that Hamilton’s housing market is atypical for this time of year.

 July’s figures were released this week by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) and show Hamilton’s median house price slipped from $354,000 in June to $350,000.  Only 201 homes were sold city-wide, down from 212 in June and 252 in May.

New homes listed on the Hamilton market during the month were up slightly to 225, from 203 in June.  However, Mr O’Rourke said the listings are down significantly on 2013 figures.

“During July 2013, Hamilton real estate agents saw a combined 290 listings during the month.  Last month’s listings of 203 homes is an incredible 43% fewer in number.  What will be very interesting to watch is if listings follow the normal upward rise we typically see in September, October and November.

“At this point, we are predicting listings will not rise as sharply as last year,” he explained.

The total number of homes for sale in Hamilton has been decreasing from month to month, with 977 properties on the market in May, 917 in June and 833 in July.

“Discounting January of this year, when the median was low following slow sales during the Christmas period, Hamilton’s median house price hasn’t been this low since September 2013.  For buyers, this represents better value than we’ve seen in over a year.  We would recommend buyers make a move soon as historical trends show the median will likely edge upward as we head into Spring,” said Mr O’Rourke.

Homes with a listing price of under $200,000 represented 6% of July’s sales in Hamilton, double the usual number.  Whereas homes listed between $400,000 and $500,000 only represented 16% of sales; in a typical month this bracket accounts for around 20% of Hamilton home sales.

Mr O’Rourke said although sales are slower compared to recent months, quality homes in sought-after suburbs continue to see competitive bidding at auction.


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Free wifi at 9 Hamilton branches

Event-WiFi-My-Meeting-ProfessionalEver been expecting an email or wanting to check Facebook outside your local Lodge Real Estate branch? We have some good news for you – we’ve rolled out free WiFi across our 9 branch network.

So if you’re visiting Lodge to sign a commercial sale, start the search for your next rental home, purchase a lifestyle block or a place to call home you can jump onto the WiFi to check emails, catch up on headlines, use your favourite apps or even entertain the kids for a few minutes. This service will also be handy for accessing the Lodge mobile website, you can work with one of the team to show them the properties you’ve saved in your Lodge account.

Connecting to the free Lodge WiFi is easy:

  • Select ‘Lodge Free WiFi’ from the list of available networks
  • Open your mobile internet browser and start browsing
  • Log in using your Facebook account

You should now have access to Lodge free wifi.

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NZ’s Growth Prospects Force Reserve Bank To Lift Rates

reserveThe Reserve Bank today increased the Official Cash Rate (OCR) by 25 basis points to 3.5 percent.

New Zealand’s economy is expected to grow at an annual pace of 3.7 percent over 2014. Global financial conditions remain very accommodative and are reflected in low interest rates, narrow risk spreads, and low financial market volatility. Economic growth among New Zealand’s trading partners has eased slightly in the first half of 2014, but this appears to be due to temporary factors.

Construction, particularly in Canterbury, is growing strongly. At the same time, strong net immigration is adding to housing and household demand, although house price inflation has moderated further since the June Statement.

Over recent months, export prices for dairy and timber have fallen, and these will reduce primary sector incomes over the coming year. With the exchange rate yet to adjust to weakening commodity prices, the level of the New Zealand dollar is unjustified and unsustainable and there is potential for a significant fall.

Inflation remains moderate, but strong growth in output has been absorbing spare capacity. This is expected to add to non-tradables inflation. Wage inflation is subdued, reflecting recent low inflation outcomes, increased labour force participation, and strong net immigration.

It is important that inflation expectations remain contained. Today’s move will help keep future average inflation near the 2 percent target mid-point and ensure that the economic expansion can be sustained. Encouragingly, the economy appears to be adjusting to the monetary policy tightening that has taken place since the start of the year. It is prudent that there now be a period of assessment before interest rates adjust further towards a more-neutral level.

The speed and extent to which the OCR will need to rise will depend on the assessment of the impact of the tightening in monetary policy to date, and the implications of future economic and financial data for inflationary pressures.

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Lodge Real Estate expands services to include Body Corporate

Rob Owens White

Leading Hamilton real estate company, Lodge Real Estate, has expanded its business portfolio with the launch of a body corporate management service.

The newly established service will be led by body corporate expert Rob Owens who joined Lodge Real Estate this week.

With more than 15 years’ experience in the body corporate field in both New Zealand and the United Kingdom, Rob is well placed to lead Lodge Real Estate in its new property specialty.

“Body corporate management services essentially exists to help unit-holders manage multi-unit living environments. This is an area I am passionate about and have extensive experience in,” he said.

“I am thrilled that Lodge Real Estate has branched into this area, I am excited to join the team, and I look forward helping the organisation deliver the service to the highest standard,” Rob said.

Rob has worked for some of the leading body corporate businesses overseas including Curry and Partners in Birmingham and Peverel OM situated just outside London..

His body corporate expertise includes arranging and chairing AGMs, drafting and controlling budgets, arranging relevant insurances, arranging common area maintenance and facilities capital expenditure.

Lodge Real Estate’s managing director, Jeremy O’Rourke said establishing Lodge Real Estate’s body corporate service marks an exciting time for the business.

“It is of utmost importance to us that we continually adapt our services to suit the changing nature of housing in Hamilton. We saw a gap in the market in the area of body corporate, and have adjusted our services accordingly,” he said.

“Our main goal has always been, and continues to be, to provide top-notch customer service. The addition of this service, and the addition of Rob to lead it, allows us to provide Hamilton residents with the full real estate package.

“Rob has vast experience in body corporate management, and we are delighted to have him on board. We also look forward to expanding the team in the near future,” he said.

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Are smoke alarms a landlord’s responsibility?

Smoke alarmThere is currently a great deal of discussion about ‘building warrant of fitness’ for rental properties.

Unsurprisingly, one of the common criteria on checklists has been the installation of smoke alarms: There is no question smoke alarms are a key warning device in reducing deaths or injury caused by fires at home.

According to the NZ Fire Service, smoke alarms were either not installed, or not working, in 80% of the house fires that firefighters attended last year!

The greater awareness in fire safety (and heightened sense of responsibility) has led to a number of calls from property owners, wishing to clarify their legal responsibilities in providing smoke alarms for their rental property.

Currently the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 requires a landlord to “comply with all requirements in respect of buildings, health, and safety under any enactment so far as they apply to the premises”.

In effect, this means that all houses must comply with the Building Act 2004, and this states all new houses and consented alterations must provide a “means of detection and warning” in the event of fire.

So, when it comes to existing properties, the requirement for alarms is triggered if the owner is carrying out any building works that require an application for building consent from the local council.

Once fire alarms are installed, educating tenants in utilising the effectiveness of the alarms is also important; this includes pointing to the potential outcomes if alarms are obstructed, or are not regularly checked. Alarms are also ineffective if they are not installed in the correct locations throughout the home.

Even if you, as a property owner, are not required by law to have smoke detectors installed, Lodge recommends it is done as part of your landlord responsibilities. Politically, indications are that smoke detectors will become mandatory for rental properties in the not-too-distant future.

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RBNZ raises OCR to 3.25 percent


The Reserve Bank today increased the Official Cash Rate (OCR) by 25 basis points to 3.25 percent.

New Zealand’s economic expansion has considerable momentum, with GDP estimated to have grown by around 4 percent in the year to June. Global financial conditions remain very accommodative and are reflected in low long-term interest rates and narrow risk spreads. Economic growth among New Zealand’s trading partners is gradually improving and global inflation remains low.

Prices for New Zealand’s export commodities remain historically high, but their recent falls will reduce farm incomes over the coming year. A continued acceleration in construction in Canterbury, and more broadly, is supporting growth, together with strong net immigration flows that are adding to housing and household demand. Business and consumer confidence remains buoyant, as do businesses’ reported intentions to invest and to hire.

While house price inflation remains high, the housing market has moderated since late last year when restrictions were applied to high loan-to-value ratio mortgage lending and when mortgage interest rates began rising. Fiscal consolidation continues to moderate demand growth, though by less than previously assumed. The exchange rate has not yet adjusted to weakening commodity prices, but is expected to do so. The Bank does not believe the exchange rate is sustainable at current levels.

Headline inflation remains moderate and tradables inflation is expected to be low for some time. However, above-trend growth has been absorbing spare capacity and adding pressure to non-tradables inflation. These pressures are particularly evident in construction cost increases. Nevertheless, overall wage inflation remains moderate, reflecting recent low headline inflation, increased labour force participation and strong net immigration.

Inflationary pressures are expected to increase. In this environment, it is important that inflation expectations remain contained and that interest rates return to a more neutral level. The speed and extent to which the OCR will need to rise will depend on future economic and financial data, and its implications for inflationary pressures.

By increasing the OCR as needed to keep future average inflation near the 2 percent target mid-point, the Bank is seeking to ensure that the economic expansion can be sustained.

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Rental Warrant of Fitness

Yes noRegardless of the make-up of the newly-elected Government later this year, landlords can expect some sort of minimum standard to be applied to rental properties.

Pressure is building from many groups. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has prioritised improved air quality, both inside and outside of the home. The WHO stresses that creating healthy homes through better insulation, ventilation, and heating solutions leads to a healthier population. While New Zealand boasts some of the best-quality outside air in the world, we fail on our interior air quality. A 2010 BRANZ survey found a mere 22% of rental properties were in good condition, while a whopping 44% were in poor condition.

A new study commissioned by a steering group on the subject (the group is made up of five city councils, the University of Otago, NZ Green Building Council, and ACC) applied a Warrant of Fitness test, comprising of 31 criteria, to 140 rental properties throughout Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin.

Alarmingly, 94% failed on at least one of the criteria on the checklist. However, 36% of those that failed showed only minor fixes were required, which were estimated to cost between $50 and $150 to rectify. The top 5 reasons for failure included;

  1. Water temperature
  2. Lack of smoke alarms in bedrooms
  3. Lack of code compliant hand rails and balustrades
  4. Lack of fixed-form heating
  5. Security

In a separate project, Housing New Zealand is trailing a Warrant of Fitness containing a 49-point checklist on 500 of its homes.
The Government agency will assess at the end of the trial whether the WOF was practical and cost-effective. Results are expected in July.

Finally, Labour’s Phil Twyford has introduced a member’s bill into Parliament to make every rental property in New Zealand meet minimum standards. The Residential Tenancies Act already mandates safe, sanitary, and clean properties. However, the Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill aims to amend the RTA to require that all landlords meet new standards.

Although this bill is widely expected to fail, it is almost a given that whichever Government is voted in later this year, there will follow some legislation that creates ‘a checklist’ for rental properties.

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Opportunity Knocks

StatisticsThe latest release of data from Statistics New Zealand should keep residential property investors happy.

Immigration is soaring, accelerating to a net-inflow of 4000 people during March. Hamilton typically experiences the effect of an immigration boom six to nine months after it is first reported: New migrants often settle in Auckland before moving to the provinces.

This should have a twofold effect on residential rental property in Hamilton.

Firstly, as the population increases, initial upward pressure is likely to be forced on rents.

Secondly, as new migrants move to buy property and more competition for homes hots-up, prices are likely to increase.

Could this be the perfect time to add to your property portfolio before the effects are felt?

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Hamilton Residential Property Management Review

hamilton06_creditdwRental occupancy rates throughout autumn continued at full levels, and we expect to see no change as winter takes hold. Staff are focusing on reviewing rents for all properties under management – if increases are justified and viable they will be put into effect.

The average rent increases across the portfolio have been in excess of the Consumer Price Index (CPI); these increases have been possible in all segments (with the exception of the studio market).

With 240 new studios released to the market last year, the studio segment continues to be a challenge. The new studios came on to the market at the same time CTC Aviation opened its accommodation campus, exiting about 200 studios (which the air-pilot students had occupied to that point).

Property managers have therefore been working extremely hard to attract tenants – and this will be an ongoing challenge over the short to medium term.

The rest of the market continues to experience consistent demand, with modern properties in the north-east being scarce and, therefore, attracting premium rents. It is noticeable that well-maintained properties tend to attract better-quality, higher-paying, tenants. As winter bites tenants seemingly become more discerning.

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Hamilton Housing – Volume Down, Prices Up?


Lodge Real Estate’s managing director, Jeremy O’Rourke, said the Hamilton residential real estate market can be characterised by one word: paradoxical.

“In the real estate market, a common adage is that ‘price follows volume.’  What this means is that, historically, as buyer activity tails off and the number of house sales fall, prices will steadily decrease.

“But, what we have at the moment is that buyer activity during February and March was much lower than the same months in 2013 and 2012, yet Hamilton’s median house price continues to rise,” he explained.

Mr O’Rourke said any given March normally has the highest number of sales than any other month of the year.

However, there were only 257 sales during March, when the past two years were 275 in March 2013 and 265 in March 2012. There were only 193 sales in February, when the past two years were 247 in February 2013 and 245 in February 2012.

“Despite these lower than expected sales volumes, Hamilton’s median house price held steady at $375,000 in March, up from $327,500 in August last year” explained Mr O’Rourke.  These numbers were released this morning by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ).

Mr O’Rourke said if the Reserve Bank lifts the loan-to-value (LVR) restrictions imposed in 2013, as it has indicated it may, this move could help realign volumes with prices.

“First home buyers have pulled out of the market in large numbers.  Those extra sales we were missing in February and March can be attributed to this group of buyers being absent.  If LVR restrictions are lifted, I predict we’ll see the market realigning and price following volume once again,” he said.

Mr O’Rourke said regardless of whether LVR restrictions are lifted in the near-term, he expects the number of first home buyers entering the market to steadily increase over the coming months.  “Many first home buyers are slowly finding innovative ways to finance themselves into their first home, including tapping into the goodwill of parents and grandparents.”

 Meanwhile, he said house sales at the top end of the market are very strong, with quality houses fetching top dollar.  “Buyers view Hamilton as a high value market and we’ve been surprised by the strength of sales in the over $600,000 end of the market.”

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Rents Rise As City Starts To Fill

graphic rising rentsLodge City Rentals managing director, David Kneebone, said the company’s 3000 Hamilton rental properties are almost fully occupied with demand from tenants wanting quality family and executive homes the highest he has seen since the company started managing properties in 1982.

Kneebone said in the past three years he has seen a trend emerging with tenants staying a lot longer in good quality rentals.

“The industry standard is around 80 per cent of tenants will change houses or move on within a year, but in the past three years we have seen this figure get less and less, as more people stay on in the same property for longer,’ said Kneebone.

He said Lodge’s tenant churn had reduced to around 50 per cent or less moving within a year.

“While we’ve seen this trend emerging for years, and the introduction of the LVR to first home buyers has, in the past six months, really slowed things down again, which is putting increasing pressure on occupancy rates and demand for more good quality rental accommodation,” said Kneebone.

High on the priority list are executive and quality family homes with three to four bedrooms and two bathrooms, particularly in the northern suburbs.

But he said the shortage of these homes was right across the City, with the exception of the University area where student accommodation was popular.

He also said rents, particularly for better quality homes, had risen, on average by five to seven per cent as demand continued to outweigh supply.

“Investors do have a sense of this and are entering the market in increasing numbers. Over the coming months the real estate market expects investors will place increasing competitive pressure on first home buyers.”

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Hamilton Sales Numbers Low For February

graphLodge Real Estate’s managing director, Jeremy O’Rourke, said February’s residential real estate numbers released by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (REINZ) today point to the fact buyers’ ‘fear of missing out’ is virtually gone from the Hamilton housing market.

“The number of house sales in Hamilton city during February was much lower than the past two Februaries. We only had 193 sales last month, when the past two years were 247 in February 2013 and 245 in February 2012.

“These sales numbers are down because of two factors. First of all, there has been a good amount of quality stock on the market, so buyers are content to sit back, look around and wait for the right property to come along. This is very different to six months ago when buyers were snapping up quality properties very quickly.

“Secondly, as we’ve been saying for months, first home buyers have pulled right out of the market. Those extra fifty or so sales we’re missing this past February can be attributed to this group of buyers being absent,” he explains.

Mr O’Rourke also said the lack of first home buyers if having a big effect on median house prices in Hamilton.

“The median took a jump from $350,000 in January to $375,000, which is closer to the $385,000 median in December 2013.

“You need to analyse this number carefully, however. If you are currently in the market for a new home, you won’t be seeing a huge jump in individual house sales prices.

“Rather, the jump in the median is simply a continuation of a trend that started after the Reserve Bank raised the loan-to-value (LVR) last year. Every month there are less and less sales happening at the bottom end of the market, which is causing Hamilton city’s median house price to shift upward,” he said.

However, Mr O’Rourke said that these buying conditions may be short lived.

“We expect that the number of first home buyers entering the market will increase in the coming months. We are starting to see first home buyers finding more ways to finance their entry into the market.”

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Hamilton median house price rises, sales are strong and stocks are up


housing improvement

Lodge Real Estate’s managing director, Jeremy O’Rourke, said as predicted Hamilton’s housing market continues to shows signs of strength and sustainable recovery.

“It’s all good news for the Hamilton housing market at the moment.  The median house price is up, sales are up and stocks are on the rise.

“In August, Hamilton’s median house was $327,500.  In September it increased to $355,000 which it held during October.  And now the figures released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ show a further rise to $360,600.  Based on this trend, we continue to predict prices will remain steady and strong throughout the summer.”

For three consecutive months, house prices are the highest they’ve been since the median hit $365,000 in 2007.

Throughout the past six months, a lack of quality housing stock has been an issue and has put pressure on the median house price as buyers were pushed into higher price brackets.

Mr O’Rourke said stock shortages eased in November, but didn’t bring with it an expected relief in the median price.

“Finally in November we started to see a good number of quality homes coming onto the Hamilton market.  885 homes were available for sale in Hamilton during November, which is up from 849 in October 2013.

“The increase in listings, however, did not ease pressure on prices.  That makes us wonder what could have happened to the median price rise if stocks wouldn’t have taken such a positive jump this month,” he explained.

The number of homes sold in Hamilton during October 2013 was 277, as compared to 247 sold during October 2013.

Mr O’Rourke said there continues to be high demand for quality houses in Hamilton.  “The city has continued to experience strong demand across all price segments although LVR restrictions have caused ripples for first home buyers. Demand is high and we predict it will remain high in the medium term.”


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Reserve Bank exempts lending for new construction



“The Reserve Bank has recently consulted with the building industry and banks on the impact of LVR restrictions on residential construction activity,” Mr Spencer said. “While high LVR construction lending is only around 1 percent of total residential lending, it finances around 12 percent of residential building activity.

“This exemption means that low deposit lending will fall outside the 10 percent speed limit if it is financing the construction of a new house or apartment.”

“However, any new low deposit construction loans will still need to meet the internal risk requirements of the lending banks.”

Mr Spencer said that the new exemption will apply to all qualifying construction loans from 1 October 2013.

“This exemption will help to support the supply of new housing and, in doing so, reduce some of the pressure arising from excess demand in the New Zealand housing market.

“The Reserve Bank will communicate with banks to clarify which loans will qualify for the exemption.”

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Hamilton Real Estate Market Report July 2013

gavelLodge Real Estate’s managing director, Jeremy O’Rourke said today’s Real Estate Institute report confirms that upward pressure on pricing continues to be caused by a lack of housing stock in Hamilton.  As a consequence a number of buyers are stretching into higher price brackets, pushing up the median house price.

Hamilton’s median house price has jumped $10K during July to $345,000.

O’Rourke said Hamilton needed around 150 per cent more quality houses on the market to keep up with buyer demand.

The total number of properties available for sale in Hamilton on realestate.co.nz fell a further five per cent during July as the 252 sales for the month outpaced properties listed.

“Winter is generally always slower, but this season the number of houses coming onto the market has been even less than normal. We are also experiencing an increase in buyer urgency and a lot more competition for quality houses in highly desirable suburbs.”

He said Hillcrest and Rototuna are the two most sought after suburbs in Hamilton. For instance properties were selling in Rototuna, on average, within 23 days of listing compared with the city average of 35 days.

The median house price sale in Hillcrest in July was on par with the city’s median at $345,000 – up from $312,500 in July last year. The average sale price in Rototuna last month was $475,000 compared with $447,500 a year earlier.

O’Rourke said that unlike Auckland’s market where housing affordability had peaked, Hamilton’s house prices had the capacity to increase, and Lodge was seeing buyer competition and confidence pushing up prices in the higher end of the market.

He said buyer competition meant many vendors were still choosing to sell at auction, with an average of around 20 per cent of sales in Hamilton through auctions, compared with 38 per cent in Auckland.

“Lodge listed 42 properties to sell at auction in July, and 50 per cent of them sold on the day. In the last week of July, we sold five out of five properties on auction day.”

He said the first home and investor markets continued to be strong in Hamilton in the $320,000 or less price bracket, with interest in the Forest Lake area remaining particularly strong among first home buyers.

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First home buyers showing urgency in Hamilton housing market

big_foto (Large)

  • Hamilton market sales were 251 homes in June 2013; compared with 301 in May 2013 and 248 in June 2012
  • Hamilton city median house price for June 2013 was $335,000; up from $330,600 in May 2013 and down on $349,875 in June 2012
  • Median time to sell a Hamilton home in June was 36 days; compared with 31 days in May 2013 and 33 in June 2012

Lodge Real Estate reported today that the number of homes sold by agents in Hamilton during June, 251, was down on last month’s high of 301.

Homes are also taking longer to sell, with days-to-sell during June sitting at 36 days, as compared with 31 days in May.

Lodge Real Estate Managing Director, Jeremy O’Rourke, said one segment of the Hamilton market where agents are seeing a renewed urgency is among first home buyers.

“Over the past month we have seen more and more people coming into the market who are feeling pressure to buy their first home.”

“In the discussions we’re having with these buyers, it seems they feel compelled primarily by the possibility of the Reserve Bank changing the loan-to-value ratio in the future,” he explained.

Urgency from the first home buyer segment is contributing to the demand for residential homes in Hamilton outstripping supply.  This follows the national trend as reported by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (REINZ) this afternoon.

“Although sales are down this month, the demand for houses in the Hamilton market continues to be relatively strong.  As was the issue in May, however, sales continue to outpace listings.  Two hundred and fifty-one homes were sold last month; however only 786 properties were available for sale at the end of June as opposed to 862 at the start of June,” said Mr O’Rourke.

The median house price for Hamilton city was $335,000 in June.  This compares to $330,600 in May 2013 and $349,875 in June 2012.

Mr O’Rourke said, “During the first part of the year, there were only certain suburbs that were experiencing rises in the median house price.  But we are now seeing the median house price rising in all suburbs right across the board.”

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Nobody knows Hillcrest like Hamish

IMG_1260Yes, it’s that time of year when the spotlight starts to shine on Hillcrest homes and although it’s cold outside it’s warm in here – the suburb of Hillcrest that is.

School zones are always top of mind in Hillcrest and with school visits planned at Hillcrest High and Berkley for early next term the temperature really rises.  To guarantee attendance at these top Hillcrest schools, students have to be in zone and this sparks some hot buying and prices, which we have already started to see.

As Hamilton continues to move north, Hillcrest is becoming more and more central, close to the Waikato University, shops, sport facilities, transport services, Innovation Park, Ruakura, Hamilton East village, cafes and the city centre.  Hillcrest is not only the suburb with the most schools either in or bordering it, it is perfectly located for work, leisure or play.

Currently we have very few houses to sell in Hillcrest and the surrounding suburbs but we have lots of buyers. Even though the weather is cold your home could be hot property with very little competition right now. Don’t wait until spring to list your home with everyone else, list it now and with my marketing programmes your home will shine brightest under the spotlight.

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Hamilton house sales for May 2013 highest on record since 2007


Lodge Real Estate reported today that the number of homes sold in Hamilton, as reported by the REINZ, during May – 301 – was the highest on record since March 2007.

“The housing market in Hamilton is especially buoyant.  In fact, we haven’t seen this many homes sold in one month since March 2007,” said Managing Director, Jeremy O’Rourke.

“The issue, however, is that sales are outpacing the number of homes we are listing to replenish stock.  With 301 sold last month, we believe only 310 were listed.

“In fact, inventory in the market fell five percent between the end of February and the end of April.  It shed a further ten percent during May alone.  Plus, this phenomenon is being exacerbated by the normal trend of fewer homes coming on the market during winter months.

“We continue to have a lot of keen buyers looking for quality homes, which are being bought up quickly.  What all of this means is the lack of stock coupled with strong buyer demand is putting upward pressure on Hamilton’s house prices,” Mr O’Rourke explained.

He added that the current market situation has been good for sellers who have had their homes on the market for several months, as older stock is starting to move.

Hamilton’s median house price was up on last month’s median to $330,600 for May.  This compares to $325,000 in April 2013 and $335,000 in May 2012.

Mr O’Rourke said economic forecasts indicate strong house sales are likely to continue in many areas throughout the country and Hamilton should be no exception.

“The latest ANZ Market Focus report points toward increased skilled migrants moving to New Zealand from Australia, the UK, the US and Asia.  And along with those migrants comes the need for housing.

“Hamilton’s strong economic base and more affordable prices, as compared to Auckland, are drawcards for skilled people looking for jobs.  If forecasts hold true, we expect the rising migrant numbers should help keep the city’s housing market on a positive trend for some time to come,” he said.

Mr O’Rourke said the key message for potential buyers is to get in the market now to beat price rises.  While his message to potential sellers is that homes are selling quickly and it’s a great time to list.

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Residential Rental Market Summary


The onset of winter sees most people hunkering down for the season, and this is reflected in our rental portfolio, with occupancy rates remaining solid at nearly 99% capacity.

After remaining steady over the past few years, student numbers at the University of Waikato are this year down 3.2%. This has led to some interesting dynamics; negative growth in student numbers has placed pressure on filling accommodation in suburbs that surround the tertiary campus. Older, larger, homes (1960s) in particular appear to have fallen out-of-favour with many students. The preference has turned toward smaller but warmer, modern accommodation – which developers have been furiously building in recent years. In the past year alone, about 300 new rooms have been added to the pool of student accommodation. To compete, landlords who own the older style accommodation have been forced to at least fit heat pumps and add insulation; the alternative is to suffer a major reduction in rent.

The picture is quite different in other parts of the market. For example, upward pressure is being placed on rents for city-fringe properties and executive rentals in the north-east. Traditionally, $500 per week has the rental cap for top Hamilton properties. But the $500-barrier has been well and truly breached recently, with tenants prepared to pay well in excess of historical levels in their bid to secure what they deem ‘the right property’. During May we began collecting rents of $750 per week for one property, and $1000 per week for another property.

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Hamilton Real Estate Market Report February 2013

  • Hamilton market sales were 246 homes in February 2013; compared with 180 in January 2013 and 247 in February 2012
  • Hamilton city median house price for February 2013 was $334,000; up on $320,000 in January 2013 and up on $316,000 in February 2012
  • Median time to sell a Hamilton home in February was 38 days; compared with 41 days in January 2013 and 46 in February 2012

The number of homes sold within Hamilton city during February 2013 was 246, as reported by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (REINZ) today.

This month’s sales compared to 180 homes sold in the city during January 2013 and 247 one year ago during February 2012.

Jeremy O’Rourke, Managing Director of Lodge Real Estate in Hamilton, says, “First home buyers continue to be active in the Hamilton market.  With the Reserve Bank considering using alternative tools to control the housing market, perhaps by controlling loan-to-value ratios, some of these buyers are feeling a sense of urgency to purchase now.

“Additionally, each month we’re seeing more and more investors coming back into the market.  City residential properties represent great value for money for investors at the moment.  We’re even seeing investors coming in from outside the area,” he explains.

The median house price for Hamilton city was $334,000 for February, an increase from the $320,000 recorded in January. The increase was driven by a significant increase in sales activity above $300,000 which was absent during the January holiday period.

“If you look at the past five-month period, Hamilton’s housing market statistics are the best they’ve been since the end of the real estate boom.  This proves the market continues to consolidate its recovery at a strong, steady pace,” say Mr O’Rourke.

Home prices in most Hamilton suburbs remain on par with January.  Rototuna, Flagstaff, Hamilton East, Hillcrest and the Central Business District are the exception with each seeing a slight lift in sale prices with the average price in Rototuna breaching the $500,000 mark.

Mr O’Rourke said the future of the Hamilton residential housing market is quite clear.

“Hamilton’s buyer base is strong and the number of homes being listed is also stable.  We’re seeing a lot of confidence in the market and expect this to continue as we progress into the second quarter of 2013.”

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Hamilton housing market – a boom start to 2013

The number of homes sold within Hamilton city during January 2013 was 180, as reported by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (REINZ) today.

This month’s sales compared to 190 homes sold in the city during December 2012 and 131 one year ago during January 2012.

Jeremy O’Rourke, Managing Director of Lodge Real Estate in Hamilton says, “Normally, January sales in any given year are around 50-65% of the previous December sales.  This January was 95% of December 2012 sales, with volumes up significantly on January 2012.

“Overall, total house sales for January are reflecting the recovery the city market is going through.  It is just a bit slower than previous months due to low numbers of homes being listed on the market.”

The suburbs of Hillcrest and Hamilton East experienced higher than usual sales activity.

“Normally sales in these two suburbs represent around 8% and 6% of the city’s total sales, respectively.  This month, sales in those sections of the city were higher at 10% in Hillcrest and 8% in Hamilton East.

“These two areas are traditionally strong markets for first home buyers and investors – both of which are quite active in the market at the moment,” explains Jeremy.

Conversely, Mr O’Rourke said sales in the northern suburb of Rototuna were down, representing just 12% of the city’s sales in January.   Rototuna house sales usually represent around 16% of the city’s total sales in any given month.

“The dip in Rototuna sales is primarily due to the lack of availability of homes for sale in this suburb.  It didn’t take long for buyers to snap up quality homes in Rototuna during January as there weren’t many listed over the month.”

Mr O’Rourke said there was also a lack of availability of houses being listed in the central city, which resulted in lower than normal sales in that suburb as well.

The lack of quality stock on the market led to more homes being sold at the lower end of the price range throughout Hamilton.  This was the key factor leading to a dip in the median house price for Hamilton city, which was $320,000 for January.  This compares to $337,500 in December 2012 and $315,000 in January 2012.

Mr O’Rourke said there is keen interest right through the Hamilton market.  “At the start of February, we’ve already seen more stock coming onto the market.

“Our team is performing a lot more appraisals than we have in the past several months.  Plus, there are more buyers in the market now that people are back from holiday and settled into normal routines.  So, we expect the market to pick up and to see even stronger sales within the next three to four months.”

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Hamilton Housing Outlook 2013

  • Hamilton house sales for Jan-Dec 2012 period up 22.6% on same period last year
  • Hamilton city median house price for Dec 2012 was $337,500; same as Dec 2011
  • Median time to sell a Hamilton home in December was 34 days; compared with 30 days in November 2012 and 31 in December 2011
  • Hamilton market sales were 190 homes in Dec 2012; compared with 198 in Dec 2011

Hamilton, New Zealand – Lodge Real Estate in Hamilton reported today the number of homes sold within the city during the 2012 calendar year was up 22.6% on 2011.

The median house price in Hamilton, however, hasn’t shifted.  The median house price for December 2012 was $337,500 – exactly the same median price as reported in December 2011.

The number of sales during the month of December 2012 was also on par with last year with 190 being sold this December and 198 last December.

“We were a bit surprised by the low number of house sales reported for December as it certainly doesn’t reflect the positivity and high buyer demand we’re seeing in the market.  We had a lot of active buyers in the market over the holiday period, which should reflect favourably in January’s statistics.

“The fact that Hamilton’s median house price hasn’t shifted at all from 2011 to 2012, means the city continues to provide buyers with excellent value for money.

“The days-to-sell continues to hover in the low 30s.  Historically, we normally won’t see a major upward shift in prices until that number edges closer to 25 days,” explained Jeremy O’Rourke, Managing Director.

Mr O’Rourke said the stable Hamilton market means buyers can act confidently.  “There is a good sentiment in the city.  The economy is growing and there’s a general buoyancy out there.  That, coupled with a stable housing market, means it’s a great time for buyers to make their move.”

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How stressful is that first step onto the property ladder?

Visits to the grandparents almost certainly mean two things:  One, your belly filled with English breakfast tea & two, your mind brimming with wise words & sayings.  Depending on your temperament, this advice can go in one ear and out the other or leave you pondering the meaning of life for days to come.  “Life is a journey dear..”  they say in their old cracked voice and as the years go by, each person discovers the wisdom of these words  – university, marriage, children – life changes.  Buying your first home is also part of this journey and although loading yourself with debt is not always an exciting prospect, we would suggest heeding your nana’s advice would be wise indeed.

Our own Hayley Wood appreciated this wisdom recently as she, together with her partner, took the plunge and bought a house through Lodge Real Estate.  We talked to her about her dreams and fears surrounding the purchase and any advice she would recommend to first home buyers.

Hayley & Phil bought their first home 2 months ago but began watching the property market a year earlier.  After one month of scouring the paper & traipsing to Open Homes every weekend they purchased a bright homely bungalow, being everything that Hayley had dreamt of – “Even the little bits where a window sill is lightly on an angle I still love that – I guess you get that with a first house – you just love it all!!”  The list of non-negotiables’, although short, was important to them as a couple, the only point of tension being Phil’s reining in of Hayley’s top purchasing price!

When discussing the fear of mortgages, Hayley relieves our concerns: “I’ve been paying rent for so long, it’s just another extension of that.  And when it’s going towards your future and eventually your own capital, it’s worth every cent…I just can’t believe I’m at this stage in my life having a mortgage!”  So, if the dreaded mortgage is not the big nightmare previously envisioned then the only thing to “worry” about is buying that extra lounge suite or red shag hair rug.  However, when these necessities are going towards the completion of your dream house and your capital, they are more of an investment than frivolous expenses.  This three bedroom, one bathroom, two living walled area is no longer just a house – it’s a home.

So, how stressful is that first step onto the property ladder?  Although Hayley & Phil appear to have sailed through the first home buying journey with the help of Lodge Real Estate, you too can have a similar experience with Hayley’s recommendations:

  • A short list of expectations that you and your partner can agree on – this will cut down the amount of open homes you have to visit.
  • Have patience when visiting open homes!  “Even if you get sick & tired of them it will be worth it in the end!”
  • Agree on a top purchasing price
  • Move fast when you find a house you love!

Don’t live in regret and not buy that house.  When your grandparents bought the family home 60 years ago, $10,000 was an investment – it created memories for generations.     “Life is a journey” after all – thanks Grandma.

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That “Vintage Look”

Disty florals, pretty muted pastels and nostalgic typography would seem reminiscent of a bygone era; a time before the burning of the bra’s and Minimalism.  Think Beehive hairdos, the Beatles; ubiquitous bunting, “Home sweet home” door mats & Marilyn Monroe.

The “Vintage Look” is making a comeback, but this time with a post-modernist twist, borrowing from the past to create your own personalized eclectic design.

We talked to Jenna, a local Hamilton Interior Designer about why Vintage is all the rage in house décor and some big do’s and don’ts when it comes to designing your own vintage styled home.

Interior Design, along with many other art forms, is heavily influenced and a byproduct of the social times.  During the 1930’s-1960’s, with the grim memories of the Great Depression and the general purveyance of war, the home became a beacon of comfort, a sanctuary, made to feel cosy and warm, and  to “make do” with the resources you had; money was not in endless supply.  Today’s climate follows a similar thread and has forced home owner’s to use that inherent kiwi ingenuity, combining the old with the new, sprucing up that old dining room table or armchair.

Although we still need to stay true to our post-modernist worldview, Jenna errs us on the side of caution, giving us the Ten Commandments in designing your own vintage styled home:

  1. Look at magazines
  2. Make a mood board
  3. Stick to one era i.e. 50’s or 60’s, not both
  4. Use at least one true piece of antique furniture
  5. Keep to similar toned woods
  6. Don’t be scared to paint over Rimu and Kauri
  7. Don’t be stingy – splash out on gorgeous textiles
  8. Don’t hesitate over the use of bright colours
  9. Don’t be scared of using replica designer items
  10. Don’t think in a second hand store – if you love it, impulse buy it.

With this is mind, go raid your Grandmother’s garage or your local Hospice, and grab some paint and a drop cloth to create your very own “vintage style”.

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Hamilton Residental Rentals Update

Occupancy rates have remained steady at 98% across the portfolio. As expected winter has brought the seasonal slowdown in demand for rental properties. However, there is a shortage of available properties in the Rototuna , St Andrews and Pukete markets. There is also increased demand for top end property. Rents in Hamilton traditionally hit a ceiling at $500 per week. However, within the last week a Queens Ave property has been re-rented for $700 per week, and a St Andrews property for $650 per week.

Tenants have become more selective with their choice of rental property. There is widespread understanding of the importance of insulation and heating for maintaining a healthy home. This is one of the primary questions asked of property managers when showing an empty property. Whilst we have encouraged all landlords to take advantage of the Governments insulation and heating scheme it is interesting to note that around 426,000 rental houses in New Zealand still remain inadequately insulated and poorly heated.

Properties that have been modernised and are warm and well maintained are being snapped up very quickly.

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Hamilton Residential Real Estate Update

Hamilton residential real estate is well on the way to recovery as sales have jumped 26% for the first six months of 2012 when compared to the same period a year earlier.

The pressure on prices is yet to be felt within Hamilton as the pick-up in buyer demand has so far been met with keen sellers, however, this may not last long. In recent months the number of houses available for sale has plummeted. Although this is an expected seasonal trend the limit to buyers’ choice is now beginning to place pressure on prices in some suburbs and price ranges. The effect of a lack of properties for sale in certain price ranges was most acutely reflected in the June median which jumped to $350,000 from around $330,000 in previous months. The cause was the lack of availability of properties for sale between $250,000 and $300,000 which resulted in a skew in the distribution of sales rather than a value shift.

Buyer confidence is improving shaped largely by the outlook of interest rates remaining low for an extended period and by the relative value Hamilton offers compared the rest of the country. This value gap which is represented on the accompanying graph is attracting the interest of investors who have now returned to the market. To some degree an increasing pool of rentals is abating rent rises although this may be short lived. Economic activity within the Waikato grew 5.8% last year. The likely affect is job creation and an increasing rate of population growth attracted to these jobs. The housing needs of this population will either result in increased sales or more people renting. Both scenarios place pressure on accommodation costs.



Median price (6 months)



Number of sales (6 months)



Approx houses available for sale



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Commercial & Industrial Market Update

The first half of 2012 has witnessed a revival in commercial and industrial real estate activity. A key observation within the leasing market has been the trend for businesses to consolidate into fewer buildings and upgrade accommodation. As a consequence lower grade accommodation has been somewhat marginalised particularly if the landlord is not prepared to invest to upgrade the building. Government and corporate clients have also become increasingly concerned with the seismic rating of a building and will insist on it being of a particular level prior to committing or even confirming a right of renewal of a building they may have already occupied for some years.

The number of new developments within the city which have been committed to reflects the confidence of investors and developers in the region’s economy. These developments are not simply restricted to the expansion of the Base and northern Te Rapa. Several thousand square meters of extra office space is in the throes of being developed as the CBD is starting to attract office concentrated businesses back into central Hamilton. The education and research belt through Ruakura and Hillcrest continues its expansion and may soon be joined by Tainui’s ambitious plans for an inland port and distribution hub. As with the progress of other global growth cities Hamilton is beginning to enjoy sector definition within its commercial and industrial real estate. This aids future city planning and development.

Perhaps as a consequence of these changes the Hamilton City Council is undergoing a complete review of their property holdings. The planned sell off of much of their inventory will offer an exciting opportunity for investors and developers and will also herald some exciting developments for the city. Already there are plans for a retirement village on the Sonning car park off River Road and we expect this will be only the start of some creative plans which will transform the city.

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Hamilton Quietly Achieving

The prospects for Hamilton continue to impress, though what’s bubbling away in the background tends to get largely overlooked (from a national media standpoint).

Sustained commercial activity is adding valuable floor space to the city, which only serves to further increase Hamilton’s industrial output.  This in-turn creates genuine employment and career opportunity, which has the effect of attracting both unskilled and skilled labour (people and their families) to the city.

As the city’s rental housing stock further plummets (to a point where availability is nearing critical levels), it is almost inevitable that rents will rise. This adds to the incentive for investors to enter the market. From the renters’ perspective, the rising rents will give impetus (among those who have saved a deposit) to buy rather than to continue to rent.
The graph illustrates Hamilton’s median sale price, compared the median sale price across the rest of New Zealand. Generally the two lines tend to track each other. However, you’ll notice the period in which Hamilton’s median has lagged behind the rest of the country. After one such period, the Hamilton median price underwent a rapid rise to meet the NZ median. Given the wide gap between the two currently, we anticipate another convergence of the lines may not be too far away.

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Residential Real Estate Recovering

Hamilton’s real estate recovery is well underway, as eager investors join first home owners in entering the market.

Admittedly the turnaround in Hamilton’s housing market has suffered a couple of false starts, but it now seems the city’s residential activity is genuinely heating up.

Twelve months ago the market became excited as volume increased.   First-home buyers were entering the market. And, at the time, there was a variety of investment properties available for sale; when these properties sold investors did the prudent thing in paying down debt.

However, this investment stock has now well and truly cleared. Today we’re seeing first-home buyers buying the homes of first-home sellers, who are in-turn on-buying.  We’re therefore seeing renewed activity, and momentum, across all market sectors.

There is downward pressure on the number of properties available for sale. Buyers still have choice, but they’re acutely aware that the options available to them are diminishing by the week as supply tightens. Consequently we’re noticing, among buyers, significantly more urgency to commit.

Auction clearance rates have improved markedly over recent times, with many more bidders evident in rooms. Our sales force continues to field strong enquiry from buyers when it comes to auctions; from time-to-time the price paid for some houses has surprised the team (on the upside).

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Hamilton’s rental vacancy rates lowest in 15 years, says industry veteran

David Kneebone, General Manager Lodge City Rentals, says the company’s vacancy rates in Hamilton’s rental market are sitting at 1.12% – the lowest he’s seen in 15 years.

Lodge City Rentals has the largest portfolio of rental properties in Hamilton.  It has a total of 3,288 rental properties on its books, which is around 20% of the city’s 15,200 rental properties.  The company also oversees around 40% of the city’s managed property market.

“We’re experiencing unprecedented, low vacancy rates.  In my 15 years with Lodge, I’ve never seen the market so tight and believe our situation is indicative of the wider Hamilton market.

“There are many eager renters searching for the perfect home, with few properties to choose from.  Well presented properties are being snapped up across the city with high demand starting to put upward pressure on rental rates,” says Mr Kneebone

He says Hamilton is traditionally a tight market, with vacancy rates normally sitting at around 3%.  However, in the past three to four months he says the company has experienced a dramatic shift in demand.

Managing Director of Lodge Real Estate in Hamilton, Jeremy O’Rourke, says the current market does have an upside for some.

“The good news is that this tight rental situation creates significant opportunity for investors to get back into the market.  We’re starting to see a number of our experienced landlords seizing this opportunity by adding to their portfolios.

“Investors who have been out of the market for several years during the recession are starting to make their move.  In the medium term, investors getting back into the market should help expand the number of rentals available and decrease pressure somewhat,” outlines Mr O’Rourke.

David Kneebone says Hamilton city has always had a strong rental market.  He estimates around 35% of residents rent, rather than own, the home they live in.

“During my time working in this business I’ve seen Hamilton’s population become more transient, which attributes to residents’ high demand for rentals.  There are a lot more young professionals coming to the city and knowing they are only here for a year or two, which means they opt to rent rather than buy.

“In fact, the average tenancy in New Zealand is only around 9-10 months, although Lodge City Rentals’ average tenancy is around 20 months,” explains Mr Kneebone.

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New Property Management Website

New web site propertymanagement.co.nz

The Lodge City Rentals site, www.lodgerentals.co.nz, was primarily developed to help tenants find their next home; more specifically, it was designed to help potential tenants navigate easily through the site, and to make enquiries on properties to rent (including an ability apply online). And with 80% of our enquiry coming from the web, it remains essential that we continue to provide a strong-performing site for tenants.

However, with the sole focus on tenants, we acknowledge the site has made it harder for investors/landlords to access key information they need to make good investment decisions.

The good news is that a solution is at hand: A new site, www.propertymanagement.co.nz, is designed specifically for property investors. It hosts all our latest news releases; provides case studies on ways to improve rents; shares the success stories of others; and, most usefully, has a chart section. Visitors to the site can choose from a variety of charts such as Hamilton median rents, Hamilton median prices, or the number of Hamilton sales. Another exciting feature is the ability for landlords and investors to divide one set of data over another (for example, median prices by CPI), meaning results can be ‘charted’ and analysed.

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Hamilton Residential Real Estate Report – January 2012

Increased activity can be measured by the increase in open home activity

The Hamilton residential property market continues its strong recovery. The number of properties sold during January 2012 was up 50% on the same month in 2011. Buyers are displaying improved urgency but continue being price-sensitive. As a result prices remain stable.

Low interest rates, stable prices, and improving sales numbers are among the main factors that are drawing investors back to the market. The accompanying graph, which overlays a property clock onto Hamilton sales data, indicates that the re-emergence of investors could not be timed better. Traditionally the Hamilton market lags the Auckland market by up to 12 months; given the recent improvements in Auckland’s property activity, it would be reasonable to expect Hamilton to follow suit during the year.

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Hamilton Real Estate Recovery

Property Clock overlayed onto National and Hamilton sales numbers

As we head into Christmas the Hamilton real estate market’s recovery continues to gather momentum. It is our expectation that November’s volume of 211 house sales will be bettered in December. Of greater interest is the number of contracts written in December but that will become unconditional in January is 35% higher than in the same period last year. This gives us confidence that the market will continue to improve during early 2012.

We have observed that first home buyers are particularly active in the market. Many have delayed their purchase decisions as they were concerned about job security, house price stability and wanted a bigger deposit to get started with. However, many Hamilton businesses have coped well with the recession and are now showing early signs of expansion. Hamilton house prices have also remained relatively stable over the last four years. Couple this with wage growth and bigger deposits and smart young house buyers are sensing that moving early may avoid pitting themselves in competition with a growing number of young house buyers or investors. If they have done their homework they will also be aware of the low number of housing starts Hamilton has experienced during the last few years. This undersupply of new homes looms as an inflationary threat to house prices.

Of even greater importance to the market have been the types of housing that first home buyers have been buying. Earlier in the year there was a large pool of investment housing bought by first home buyers. Investors were exiting residential rentals to rebalance their own balance sheets and therefore did not buy again. Empirical evidence suggests that recently first home buyers have been purchasing the homes of first home sellers. This is freeing these sellers to re-purchase in the city and create greater momentum through the entire Hamilton real estate market.

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Landscaping Trends

Taking care of your gardens and landscaping is one of the key ways you can add street appeal and value to your property. We recently discussed some handy tips and tricks with Lloyd from Hamilton’s Wairere Gardens to help you make the most of your grounds this summer.

Knowing what your garden needs from you in each season is vital to its upkeep. At this time of year the most important thing to remember is to mulch your garden to conserve the moisture during the hotter months and make it easier for weeding. Traditionally trees would have already been planted earlier in the year but if you’re looking to put something down now perennials are great for brightening up your garden.

One of the strongest trends we have seen in recent years has been to fill your garden with bright colours and one of the easiest ways to do this in summer is with rose bushes. Bold pops of colour and trees placed to frame your home are great ways to add street appeal to your property.

If you’re looking for a way to easily maintain your garden throughout the year mass plantings with contrasting foliages is an effective look only requiring low maintenance.

Wairere Gardens have a comprehensive website which you can view here- www.wairere.co.nz that is full of instructions and tips for everything from how to prune, spraying regimes and a catalogue of all their plants.

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Commercial Sense

In line with the economic recovery throughout New Zealand’s various business sectors, we’re now experiencing the beginning of Waikato’s commercial property recovery. The commercial property sector has seen significant change since the recession took a tight grip on our economy in 2008; vacancies increased throughout the retail office and industrial markets as many businesses either downsized, or downgraded, their accommodation.

As the recovery unfolds it is evident that some retailers and office tenants are being enticed away from the CBD to newer buildings (to Te Rapa in particular), and RD1 is a typical recent example of this trend.

In the CBD, this has led to widespread refurbishment of older, dated premises, as landlords look to retain existing tenants or attract new ones. The building on the corner of Princess and Victoria Streets is one of the latest properties to undergo such an upgrade.

Owners of retail space are conscious of the need to keep their CBD properties vibrant and competitive. Kiwi Income Properties is revamping both the Downtown Plaza and Centreplace; this includes the addition of a north-facing boutique eatery strip along Bryce St. The consolidation of retail around this area further delineates the CBD between a distinctive restaurant precinct in the south and a retail precinct in the city’s heart.

Further afield, cases of renewed confidence are evident in the city’s north. Tainui recently sold down its shareholding in Ryman Healthcare to bolster its investment in Te Awa retail, which includes funding for the planned Ruakura transport hub. The positive sentiment in Hamilton’s commercial property prospects is hugely encouraging for the local business environment.

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Residential Investing

To date in 2011, investors have re-entered residential real estate with increasing enthusiasm. Of course, individual investors approach the market in different ways – some seek higher cash flow yields, others look for potential capital gains, or they may be among those that seek to secure land for future development.

But just what is a ‘lucrative investment’? Below is the opinion one of Hamilton’s most experienced property managers (himself a ‘perennial investor of 26 years’), David Kneebone, general manager of Lodge City Rentals.

David says while yield is important the true windfall comes when you identify a ‘hyper-growth’ area through solid research, observation, and calculated risk.

David’s investment tactics:

  1. Wealth generation is a combination of capital gains and cash flow.
  2. You’re better paying fair value in a blue chip suburb than paying less for a property in a suburb that no-one wants.
  3. Buy long term – so buy when you can afford to hold on.
  4. Invest in expert advice – save on paying for mistakes.
  5. Debt magnifies returns: Unpopular today, but don’t confuse debt that used to buy consumer products with debt that is used to generate income. Manageable and prudent levels of debt will leverage your investment returns over time.
  6. Specialise in growing your portfolio – thereby growing your wealth potential. Let an expert take care of the day-to-day management.

David has helped a number of investors develop their own criteria for residential investment. If you would like to discuss your entry or expansion in the investment property market, give him a call.

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Design Direction

We asked renowned Hamilton architect Peter Chibnall where the team at  Chibnall Buckell Marovic Team Architects foresaw architectural trends progressing.  They should know having delivered projects across New Zealand from low to national high end residential and commercial, and internationally with Office, Apartment and University Design and Build in Goa, Mumbai and Pune in India.

Peter points to design sustainability (Green Design), best cost value and efficient use of building materials, clever space planning, change of building use as the occupants’ themselves change their lives, examining the life cycles of actual buildings, are all becoming more and more part of the modern architectural design “journey”.

The national and international movement in the residential design marketplace is currently progressing with a huge leap forward. Every user group situation, from young families starting out on their house “journey”, empty nesters that need to down size, family “units” who spend the weekend at the beach/lake/mountain, to the “mature” market who need comfort, security and accessibility, are part of the current design scene when working with an architect, sufficient to create the best possible residential design solution.

Building cost “control” is very important as is the onsite buildability. Council/Territorial Authority and Building Code compliance factors are becoming stricter, as are build time frames. These factors are all an essential part of the team based design approach when working with a Registered Architect. To this extent, an “Architect Design and Chosen Contractor Build” strategy is becoming a common build delivery, with agreement and parameters around a fixed lump sum and fixed time line.

The national and international movement in the commercial design real estate sector has indeed been challenging over the past years, as the recession has the recent marketplace hunkering down to ride out the economic “storm”. Recently though, the commercial marketplace has begun to move forward, with architects skilfully examining cost efficient reuse of existing building stock, creating new commercial, conceiving new and upgraded retail and tourist based spaces, and with that, has come new building forms and new material technologies inside that delivery.

These trends are reflected in CBM Architect’s recent “design joy”, which includes;

  • creating the upcoming National Velodrome near Cambridge,
  • delivering the Lake Karapiro Community Centre and Control Tower for the 2010 World Rowing Championships,
  • extending The Ferrybank for Hamilton Rowing, and
  • delivering several low and high end residential projects. More “joy” has emerged in this challenging economic recession with a new Eye Clinic in Hamilton, University of Waikato projects, a luxury car showroom in Mount Maunganui, and even a medical centre created from the conversion of an old car showroom in Takapuna, Auckland.

Part of the CBM Architect’s support system is Team Architects, www.teamarchitects.co.nz, made up of nine practices around New Zealand, with seventy skilled people, who are changing the face of New Zealand’s architectural stage.

Have a cruise through www.cbmarchitects.co.nz during your busy day, and if you are game enough, link up with them on Facebook, at www.facebook.com/ChibnallBuckellMarovicTeamArchitects, to see their many projects emerge onto the building design and delivery scene.

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Hamilton Real Estate Quarterly Review

June residential real estate sales in Hamilton show the road to recovery is well underway. The quarter averaged around 200 sales per month compared to 157 sales per month for the same quarter a year ago. First home buyers and investors are key driver in the market. Their influence, particularly in the segment under $320,000, has dropped the June quarter median price from $340,000 in 2010 to $324,500 this year. Prices remain stable and it is anticipated they will remain so in the foreseeable future. Both first home buyers and investors are price sensitive and their reluctance to be drawn into paying more has restricted the budgets of buyers as they move up the property ladder.

At first glance the median time to sell of 48 days being up on the 38 days at the start of the year might point to market weakness. However, the cause of the blowout is the decline in the number of properties available for sale. The number of properties available for sale by agents shifted from around 1300 properties at the end of March to about 1000 properties by the end of June. Typically, if a property is over priced in a market with excess listings when it is re-priced the market can fail to notice the change in value. It can get lost in the clutter as buyers focus on properties which are new to the market. However, as more properties sell and fewer properties are listed for sale all properties become more obvious to buyers. Hence, when properties that have been sitting for some time are re-priced they get noticed by the market and sell. This elongates the time on market measure yet reflects a recovering or strengthening market.

The change in the market is made obvious in the sales to month’s stock ratio which measures how many months worth of houses are on the market or how quickly the market is selling all the houses available. This has fallen from 8 months in February to 5 months by the end of June. Anecdotally, the market experiences upward price pressure when this measure reaches 3, which if the number of houses listed remained low and sales continued could conceivably occur in the next few months. However, typically the market experiences a surge in houses new to the market in the spring so pressure in the area is expected to ease.

Overall the market is well on its way to recovery. Hamilton’s population continues to grow. People new to the city, first home buyers and investors are beginning to see value, and have confidence, in the housing market.

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Colour Trends for 2011

Mel Oliver from Turton/Oliver in the Queenwood Village gives us her insight into the interior decor trends shaping Hamilton houses this winter.

This years colour trends tends to be a variation from 2010, with only a few surprises. Greys are a more neutral colour this year being used to balance deeper more saturated colour shades. Ranging from almost white to very dark and shades in between. Purples while exciting a couple of years ago have now moved into the mainstream and will be as common as blue was in the 80’s & 90’s. Lighter shades of raisin tones, darkened mauves and blue/purple tones will be standard & common in all interior decorating elements.

Making a big comeback Blues —ice blues, turquoise have been popular for a while now but the shades of moody blues are finding their way back into our décor. When it comes to interior decorating green, is taking two different directions, look for green that moves into olive hues or leans into the browns and in the opposite direction greens that head towards shades of teal. For accent colours as mentioned true purples and yellow, becoming darker and richer finds its way inside the home and pink although popular for a while is still growing in its acceptance.

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Reserve Bank Leaves OCR Unchanged

Good news for homeowners today when The Reserve Bank left the Official Cash Rate (OCR) unchanged at 2.5 percent. Homeowners and those entering the market could take confidence from the Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard’s statement that: “The outlook for the New Zealand economy has improved since the publication of the March Statement.” He went on to point out that whilst the Christchurch earthquake had been devastating for the Canterbury region economic recovery throughout the rest of the country appeared not to have been disrupted.

The strong outlook for export earnings and the associated growth in jobs and export lead recovery should serve as further encouragement for those looking to make a property decision.  Bollard did warn of impending rises in the OCR. As the recovery gathered pace he expected interest rates to rise over the next two years. He was not specific about the timing or magnitude of these increases saying that “The pace and timing of increases will be guided by the speed of recovery, but for now the OCR remains on hold.” This may provide impetus for the housing recovery as buyer urgency heightens to take advantage of traditionally low rates.

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Hamilton Real Estate Quarterly Review

Hamilton residential real estate sales over the March quarter were down 5% on the quarter ending December 2010. Whilst this might suggest a stymied recovery it is a seasonal trend whereby declines in recent years have been as much as 20% between the quarters. The quality of the sales during the quarter was the most encouraging sign. First home buyers and investors were evident within the market. This was reflected in sales below $325,000 jumping to 54% of all sales up from 46% for the previous three quarters. This shift in the distribution of sales moved the median for the quarter from $333,000 to $315,000.

Rototuna was again the top selling suburb for the quarter although its dominance fell from 16.9% of the market back to 15.5%. Sales in Hillcrest boomed as investors showed confidence in the University dominated suburb moving sales in this part of the city to 9.3% up from 8% for the previous three quarters. Nawton held steady at 7.9% of the market while Hamilton East was kicked along by first home buyer and investor interest making up 7.5% of the sales. However, the suburb shed 5.5% from its median sale price as sales were concentrated sub $300,000. Rounding out the top 5 Dinsdale again proved popular particularly with first home buyers capturing 6.7% of the market.

We expect sales numbers to continue to climb throughout 2011 as the market’s 1400 sellers are freed to buy their next home. There is a distinct shortening of available housing entering the market which is good news for current vendors. This can be evidenced from the number of houses listed for sale on realestate.co.nz which fell from 1320 properties at the beginning of March to be 1207 houses available midway through April. As sales rise and the number of properties available for sale drops there is typically talk of a price recovery. However, the market is acutely price sensitive with buyers opting not to purchase (staying put or renting) if they cannot find the right home at the right price. Therefore, there is some way to go before we expect prices will recover.

The first stage to a recovering residential real estate market is to see volumes improve. This is well under way in the Hamilton market and we expect we will see this continue throughout the year.

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January Sales Slow To Start

Promising enquiry levels in early January have been slow to materialise into sales during the month.

Most of the sales team returned from holiday in early January to strong enquiry across all property segments.   Figures released from realestate.co.nz substantiate this as unique browsers for real estate during January 2011 jumped 22% over the same period a year earlier.   This increase is consistent with activity on the lodge.co.nz website.   However, despite the improved activity sales have been markedly slower than last year.

Although there is a more cautious approach to buying much of the apathy can be attributed to a late return from holiday for many buyers rather than a systemic weakness in the market.   Already, as families settle children back into school routines, a greater level of sales is being experienced within the market.

Many people have recognised that whilst the residential and lifestyle markets have been in the doldrums for the past three years the fundamentals have improved.   According to the Roost Home Loan Affordability Index, Hamilton’s affordability has returned to the same level as that of 2005.  This gives a far greater number of buyers the opportunity to enter the market.

Many buyers suspect prices will improve from current levels and with good reason.   The primary argument being that Hamilton’s population continues to expand at a time when building consents are below par and this indicates a looming property shortage within the city.   Typically this excess in demand over supply equation puts upward pressure on prices. As a consequence investors are active within the market sensing a pay off from the mismatch.

Sales volumes are expected to rise throughout 2011 after 2010 volumes fell to their lowest levels since the REINZ started keeping records in 1992.   A surge of properties onto the market gives buyers terrific choice and emphasises the recognition of Hamiltonians that now is a great time to trade up.

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A number of people have voiced their concern that prices in Hamilton were tumbling after reading media commentary that the 2010 December median price fell 8.4% below that of the December 2009 median. We thought it important to clarify firstly what the median price is and to give a broader picture on its trend.

Firstly the median is the number separating the higher half of a sample from the lower half. The median of a list of numbers is found by arranging all the observations from lowest value to highest value and picking the middle one.

The median house price is one of the most common measurements used to compare real estate prices in different markets, areas, and periods. It is said to be less biased than the mean (average) price since it is not as heavily influenced by extremes such as a small number of very highly priced homes.

Monthly movements in the median are, however, still volatile. This is particularly true when there are fewer houses sold. When there are less sales the distribution of sales can heavily influence the median from one month to the next. Hence, when considering the median as a guide to price it is more useful to examine the trend rather than comparing one isolated month with another.

The December 2009 and December 2010 Hamilton median price is a good example. In the one month between November 2009 and December 2009 the median rose 6.5%. (shown in the accompanying graph) This was primarily the result of a drop in the relative number of properties sold under $350,000 during December rather than any price movement. During the next few months the anomaly corrected itself and the median returned to almost the identical figure by March 2010. It continued to remain at this median for much of the remainder of the year including December.

To identify the trend it is often useful to average the median over a number different periods in an attempt to understand its trend. When this is done, as is shown in green on the accompanying graph, the comparison between December 2009 and December 2010 shows a very stable median rather than one that has fallen dramatically.

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Real Estate Marketing Trends

The Hamilton market has started the year with much better enquiry than the same period last year. There are also some particularly evident trends emerging in the process that buyers are using to find property. These changes are particularly important for sellers to understand to give themselves the best possible opportunity to market their home in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

The first trend we have noticed is that buyers are far more informed than ever before when enquiring about a property. Largely due to the significance of the internet buyers now have far more access to information than ever before. They are therefore undertaking more research before contacting a salesperson. Not only are they interested in learning about the property itself they are also interested in the neighbourhood and surrounding values. Suburb profiles are draw-cards for them as are neighbourhood metrics. The more information they can glean about a property the more likely they will confidently enquire about it.

Secondly, the internet is only one source of information. Buyers use a combination of new technology with old style browsing. Lodge has well over 1000 buyers who everyday receive an email alerting them to properties which are new to the market which meet their search criteria. This service is ultra convenient for active buyers. However, our research has shown that properties that have large newspaper ads get a spike in internet viewings in the week after the ad runs. This shows that firstly there are a number of active buyers who still use the newspaper. Secondly it highlights to us that there is a significant number of buyers who are not ‘active’ but are motivated into action when casually browsing the property section of the newspaper. Hence, in this hi-tech world newspaper advertising is still a very important source of enquiry.

The third trend is linked to the lack of time people have today. In a world where often both couples are working convenience and the desire to save time has become a dominant benefit. Tools such as the Lodge open home map or internet tools whereby a custom built open home map can be constructed and optimum route plotted are a necessity for buyers with the means to buy but limited time to look.

Salespeople report that these three trends are having a significant impact on the process that buyers are going through. The buying process is an evolutionary one. Technology is improving the real estate experience for both buyers and sellers. However, it is important to understand the tools that buyers value in order to place your property on their map.

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December Sales Report

Strong sales volumes in the final month of the year herald a change in market direction.

The number of houses sold in December rose for the second consecutive month. The December tally of 175 house sales was 16% higher than the average number of properties sold per month for the previous 11 months. Market volume fell throughout the year to a low point of 138 house sales in October. Since then month on month growth and strong early January enquiry are positive indicators the market is trending towards recovery.

The median number of days a property spends on the market also fell to 38 days indicating a lift in the confidence buyers have in the market.

Hamilton’s median price consolidated at $326,750. The median price has shown volatility during the year trading in a range between $320,000 and $350,000. However, this was a side effect of the unusually light volume of sales throughout 2010.

As could be expected in a stronger selling month the number of properties available for sale fell. However, the number of properties entering the market in early January would suggest this may have been caused by the shorter month rather than by the higher sales.

The outlook for 2011 is for sales volumes to continue building. Whilst it may be some time before we see price increases the old adage that price follow volume still haunts our thinking.

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Optimistic Outlook for 2011

At the end of 2009 there was an expectation from most market commentators that there would be a lift in Hamilton residential sales during 2010. However, exactly the opposite eventuated.

The table below graphically illustrates the market’s demise:

End of Nov 09 End of Nov 10 Movement
Sales 2392 1723 28%
Median Price $328,500 $324,000 $4,500
Median Days to Sell 33 49 +16 days
Estimated properties for sale 1155 1338 16%
Top 3 suburbs by volume Rototuna






# of mortgagee sales 97 65 33%

Although for much of 2010 we witnessed market conditions deteriorate October was the bottom. Since then we have seen a strong recovery in November followed by solid sales activity during December.

Our outlook for 2011 is for volumes to continue increasing throughout the year. Our reasoning is based on the following;

  • Hamilton’s population has maintained its growth up 1.7% for the year.
  • Rental demand for accommodation is consistent with some sectors lacking properties to rent. As tenants become frustrated with the lack of choice they can often turn their attention to purchasing.
  • Business activity has lifted and Hamilton businesses are producing good wins. A prime example being WEL Networks $300 million broadband build contract.
  • Providing the rain outside my window continues farmers will benefit from an increase of 30c per kg of milk solids taking the payout into the region of $730 – $7.40 before retentions.
  • Finally, the rugby world cup will add stimulus to the entire country. However, it could also attract immigration as scores of northern hemisphere tourists sample our unique lifestyle first hand.
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Football Gets the Boot From Mangaiti Park – Huntington

Hamilton Mayor Julie Hardaker today praised Council staff, the Huntington residents association and Waikato-Bay of Plenty Football for their professionalism, co-operation and common sense approach as Council unanimously voted to look at new options for the proposed Home of Football facility in Hamilton.

The Mayor said it was an example of successful Council processes at work.

Hamilton City Council has been in consultation with Huntington residents over a proposal to locate a Home of Football at Mangaiti Sports Park.

Waikato Bay of Plenty Football (WaiBOP) originally approached Council with a request to set aside reserve land to establish a regional football facility in Hamilton to provide a much needed base for the code and an area for coaching clinics and youth development to occur.

It was also intended that the facility would act as an important community hub in the neighbourhood it is located in.

Mangaiti Sports Park was proposed as an option as it met the criteria needed to accommodate a regional football facility.

Community consultation was recently undertaken on the proposal including a call for public submissions, the development of a revised proposal to mitigate issues raised and a public open day.

The process drew together a number of Huntington residents who raised concerns over the ‘scale and intensity’ of the proposal and presented Council with an alternative for the development of the park.

The vision for the facility as a community hub rests on the backing of local residents and Council and WaiBOP worked with residents to hear concerns raised and respond to them..

As a result a number of alternative locations will now be considered, with the North City Road Reserve being the preferred alternative site for exploration. This site provides a number of benefits which were not available at the time Mangaiti Sports Park became a proposed location – including the attraction of a road reserve site and potential integration with a proposed swimming pool and new schools in the area.

Mayor Hardaker described recent engagement with Huntington residents as “A shining example of what can be achieved when you are solution focussed.

“Community consultation is really an opportunity for Council to be directed to what the community feels it is important Council should consider. And that is what has happened here.”

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Lifestyle Sales Steady

The lifestyle sector is seeing an explosion in activity as buyers rediscover enthusiasm for the rural option (and sodden, water-logged blocks dry-out!). The sales team report that interest in lifestyle sections is undergoing a dramatic upturn as buyers acknowledge and recognise the terrific selection available to them. A lack of development could, however, result in a sudden narrowing of choice. The only portion of the market that has been relatively soft has been where properties are priced between $500,000 and $1 million. However, recent enquiry suggests this sleepy market segment may quickly wake up.

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Hamilton Real Estate Report – July 2010

Although sales of Hamilton residential property remained low during July there was increased activity in the lower quartile of the market. Both investors and first home buyers have started to appreciate the value which exists in some of these properties. Sales of properties priced between $200,000 and $300,000 have grown from 28% of the market in April to 35% of the market in July. Interestingly enough there has been strong competition for some properties in this price range. Good examples include Debbie Prime attracting 9 bidders to a property in Chequers Ave which sold for $276,100 while Brian Kneebone had 4 offers on a property in Myrlene Place which sold for $218,000.

The median price drifted back to $335,000 from $350,00 in June reflecting the interest in the market below $300,000.

Despite the falling number of sales the median time it takes to sell a house is also falling. Buyers are showing good interest for properties new to the market. However, much less interest is being given to properties which have spent some time on the market.  To capture this interest it is imperative a property is priced close to market from the outset or a non price marketing strategy such as auction is adopted.

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QV Downplays Hamilton Real Estate

Valuation agency QV released its July data that journalists immediately seized upon to sensationalise. Essentially QV’s House Price Index for Hamilton has remained relatively flat over the past year, up only 0.3%. In addition the city’s average price for July was $352,576 up only 2.3% on a year earlier. This was in contrast to the House Price index for New Zealand rising 4.1%. Good news if you have been saving a deposit to enter the market.

However, the news gets better. What the QV figures haven’t yet reflected is that sales have been slowest in the segments that have suffered the biggest price decreases. This has opened terrific buying opportunities in certain sectors. Overseas investors have recognised the value in the market. Wall Street Journal Asia reported last Wednesday that specialist real estate fund manager Du Val Group has launched a $180 million fund to cash in on the depressed property prices in New Zealand.

Contrary to what was reported listings have remained stable over the winter. The market has reacted to well priced listings and salespeople have reported multiple offers on a number of these properties. What QV have highlighted is that now is a good time to consider entering the market.

However, despite the doomy reporting the city’s prospects are thought to be good. Witness the amount of redevelopment in the city.

  • New Zealand Home Loans stunning refit on the corner of Prince’s and Victoria Sts.
  • SBS Bank’s new premises on the corner of Bryce and Victoria St’s.
  • Ricoh copier’s new building on the corner of Anglesea Street and London Street.
  • The expansion of Westfield Chartwell only a short time after the mall was expanded last time.
  • Momento Cafe moving into the refitted 7 Ulster Street.
  • The new BNZ store in Frankton on the Commerce Street / Lake Road corner.
  • The opening of Te Awa to extend the shopping experience of The Base.

The investment in these buildings by their landlords and the confidence of the tenants to secure bigger and better premises is a mark of confidence in the city by some of its most astute business people. This at a time when prospects for Hamilton seem at their worst.

Markets don’t move when economists expect them to. If they did economists would forecast downturns and therefore  avoid recessions. Markets move with peoples’ confidence. Over the past two years home owners have consolidated balance sheets and retired debt as many were fearful of their job prospects. However, as businesses take on new leases and commit to longer term projects confidence will return to employees. This is most likely when we will see an improvement in housing confidence. Given the behavior of businesses recently that may not be that far away.

Traditionally, Hamilton median prices track the New Zealand median. Whenever, there has been a difference between the two the Hamilton median has quickly caught the national median up. Perhaps this is an indicator buyers should be wary of.

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Hamilton Real Estate December Report

The Hamilton residential real estate median price soared to new heights during December which, at first glance, indicated that real estate prices in Hamilton were on the way up. However, closer analysis of the REINZ statistics reveals that there was a lack of property available for sale under $250,000. This lead to less properties being sold at this level whilst sales remained strong in other price segments and ultimately had the effect of driving the median price up although house values may not have changed much.

The median time a property remained on the market rose again for the fourth consecutive month. From 27 days in August the days on market median climbed to 35 days by year end. Coupled with falling sales volumes and increased availability of properties for sale buyers took their time deciding on a purchase and focused on value selections. Sellers who may have been a little bullish with their pricing in large were overlooked by buyers until they readjusted their expectations.

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