Sunday, 23 September 2018

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Still a sellers market

By Stephan Bosman

The wider Mercury Bay property market remains a seller’s market. Sales volumes for the first six months of this year (1 January to 30 June) are similar to the number of sales during the same period last year. The increase in property values have slowed down compared to 2016, when market activity was the highest since the property boom immediately before the onset of the global financial crisis in 2008.

“We thought Thames Coromandel District Council was right on the money when they released the new rateable values of properties on the Coromandel late last year,” says Marlene Nash of Beach Realty in Whitianga. “But what we have seen so far this year is properties selling somewhat above their CVs.”

During the first six months of this year, 125 properties have sold in Whitianga – 13 more than the same period last year. In Tairua, 23 properties have sold for the same period, compared to 27 in 2017.

Cooks Beach has had 25 properties change hands during the first six months of this year, compared to 35 last year. In Hahei, 16 properties have sold between 1 January and 30 June this year, six more than this time last year. Matarangi has seen 43 sales from 1 January to 30 June, compared to 67 sales last year.

“When comparing sales volumes to previous periods of time, it’s important to keep in mind that subdivisions tend to skew the numbers somewhat,” says Shane Rasmusen of Townsend Cullen Valuers in Whitianga. “New section sales are only included in the statistics when titles for the sections are issued.”

The subdivisions in the wider Mercury Bay area are continuing to attract a significant amount of buyer interest. Off-plan sales on the second residential island and Kupe Drive extension of Whitianga Waterways are exceeding expectations. The release of stage two of the Wharekaho subdivision, branded ‘North Beach Whitianga’, has been brought forward, and nearly 40 per cent of the sections in the Opito Sands subdivision in Opito Bay have been sold.

Stage two of the Azimuth estate development in Tairua has been released, and in Cooks Beach stages one and two of the Longreach subdivision have sold out. Very few sections are still available in the Beaches Matarangi subdivision.

John Hunt of Richardsons Whitianga says a lack of stock is the only thing holding sales volumes back. “The legitimate buyers are out there who are committed to buying a property in the area,” he says. “The only problem is that there isn’t a lot to show to them.”

“In 2013, if you looked on Trade Me, there would have been 300 plus properties for sale in Whitianga. If you look today, just over 100 properties are for sale. In places like Cooks beach there is virtually nothing.”

Rob Ball of Harcourts Whitianga agrees. “Stock is an issue,” he says. “If a property is realistically priced, it doesn’t stay on the market for very long. Interestingly, we see more local buyers wanting to buy bigger or trade down to a smaller property. Previously about 70 per cent of our buyers came from outside the Mercury Bay area, but that’s easily down to 50 per cent now.”

The upper end of the market has seen a fair proportion of activity in the first six months of this year. “In Whitianga two properties have sold in the past three months in excess of $2 million,” says Shane Rasmusen. “That’s unprecedented. Properties are moving right across the board. Lifestyle blocks remain popular, but there’s not a lot available for purchasers to choose from.”

Tara Corley from Ray White Whitianga also agrees with the lack of stock, but remains positive about the future of Whitianga’s property market. “I am finding the market is quite flat, stock is short and at this stages prices are at a plateau,” says Tara. “The town still feels quite confident, more houses are being built, new commercial development is on the horizon and we keep on growing.”

The availability of rental properties remains a problem. Krissie Brand, the Richardsons Whitianga property manager, says there are very few three bedroom, two bathroom properties available for rent in Whitianga. “People who are in the market to rent mostly have to settle for apartments now,” she says. “And when a good quality home becomes available, the rent will be somewhere between $420 and $450 per week. That’s a lot of money for working families to come up with.”

On 29 June this year, 506 properties were listed for sale on the Peninsula. That’s 2.3 per cent less than the number of properties that were available for sale on the same day last year.

If no new listings were to come onto the market on the Coromandel Peninsula, it would take 40 weeks to sell all the properties that are currently for sale. A total of 89 properties were listed for sale on the Peninsula during the course of last month. That’s close on 26 per cent less than the number of properties that were listed for sale in June 2017.

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The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.