Million-dollar property sales double and triple in Bay of Plenty seaside towns

Sales of $1 million-plus properties in small Bay of Plenty seaside towns have doubled and even tripled in some areas as city-dwellers seek the coastal lifestyle and work-life balance.

Real estate agents say the beachside boom is being fuelled by big city residents seeking holiday homes. But in one seaside spot baches that have been in families for years are becoming scarce as they are snapped up for permanent homes.

The number of $1 million-plus properties sold in Waihi Beach has more than tripled in a year, climbing to 43 sales in 2020 from 13 sales in 2019, according to the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand.

In the same period, seven-figure sales in Pukehina doubled from 10 to 20 and further east in Ōhope – recently crowned New Zealand’s best beach – the increase was 28 per cent from 14 to 18.

In all three towns, the median property price increased by over 20 per cent in the year.

REINZ chief executive Bindi Norwell said seaside locations had always been popular with Kiwis, particularly during summer as people head to the beach.

“Since we went into lockdown in the early part of 2020, the importance that people have placed on lifestyle and being able to get outdoors seems to have shifted significantly.

“With that, we’ve seen more people interested in baches or holiday homes in seaside towns around the country – particularly as people have diverted spending on overseas holidays into residential property.”

Norwell said therefore median prices have increased much more than expected in 12 months in many parts of the country, even more so in popular beach destinations.

“With no immediate indications as to when the borders will open for international travel again, we would expect that properties that are beachside, or even within close proximity to the beach, will continue to remain popular in the coming months.

“Additionally, if we don’t see an increase in new listings in these areas and in many parts of the country, we would expect to see increasing pressure placed on house prices while demand continues to outstrip supply.”

Managing director of the Realty Group Ltd, which operates Eves and Bayleys, Simon Anderson, said people were seeking out lifestyle living by the beach.

Anderson said people were also looking to buy outside popular areas such as Mount Maunganui and seeing value in nearby smaller beach towns such as Pukehina, Waihi Beach and Ōhope.

There were also some “huge sales” at Ohiwa Harbour in Whakatāne, he said.

“Most of our sales are still with locals but a high percentage are people moving from bigger cities like Tauranga and Auckland.

“What Covid has taught us is we can work remotely from home.”

First National Paradise Coast owner and director Gordon Turner said his team at Waihi Beach was now specialising in beachfront property due to its popularity.

Turner said most of the beachfront properties were selling under $3m. One bach a road back from the beach sold on the weekend for $1.425m, he said.

“Shaw Rd is where everyone wants to be.”

Turner said the popularity of beachside homes had been building since October/November last year.

He said most people investing in the beachside town were from Auckland and about 60 per cent were buying with the intent of using it as a holiday home.

More people were also visiting their baches during the week, he said.

“I think it’s the flee-to factor. People need somewhere to flee to. That’s what it’s all about.”

Ray White Pukehina owner Rochelle Carter said Pukehina had changed from a sleepy town with 80 per cent rental and holiday homes to a desirable place to live permanently.

“What we are seeing is the family beach houses are now becoming permanent residences after they are sold.

“Baches that have been in the same family for over 30 years, these are now becoming scarce.”

Carter said recent sales had been people moving from Auckland, Waikato, Huntly, Christchurch, Whangamatā and overseas including Australia and Dubai – including many Kiwi expats choosing to call Pukehina home.

“We also have some holiday homes that are owned by families in Auckland.”

OneRoof editor Owen Vaughan said OneRoof’s figures also reflected a big lift in the coastal beach town market.

“Our sales in the last three months indicate there’s been a big rush to spend post-lockdown savings on holiday homes,” he said.

“Kiwis are venturing further afield outside traditional bach locations and moving to places like Ōhope and smaller coastal towns in the Bay of Plenty, even lakeside destinations like Taupō and Rotorua.”

OneRoof figures show house prices in Ōhope have jumped $140,000 in the last 12 months, as buyers made the most of low-interest rates.

A two-bedroom 1950s-build bach at 225 Pohutukawa Ave sold under the hammer last month for $1.615m – more than double its 2019 rating valuation.

Vaughan said a lack of stock was driving up median prices.

“The tightness has meant a lot more competition. Properties that weren’t selling close to their rateable valuation a year or two years ago are now exceeding that by half a million to a million.”

Living by the beach

Keita Durie and her partner Richie Martin bought a home in Pukehina just before Christmas.

The couple moved from the bustling city of Tauranga to the small beachside town in Pukehina in search of a coastal lifestyle.

“We wanted to have a bit more of a work-life balance, and what better way to do that than to move out here,” Durie said. “We’ve always loved the beach.”

The pair moved to Pukehina with their two children, aged 3 and 1, and their dog.

“You don’t really have to leave. It’s all here,” Durie said. “Plus Pukehina still has that beachy vibe to it.”

They paid $865,000 for a four-bedroom, two-storey, two-bathroom home just one street back from the beach, with ocean views on one side and farm views on the other.

“It’s got that real coastal lifestyle. There’s so much to love,” Durie said.

“We love that it’s not too far to commute. We are a lot more relaxed. It feels like we’re on a never-ending holiday. I don’t think there’s been a day when we haven’t been to the beach.”

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