The tiny town of Pokeno is fast becoming the jewel of north Waikato as Aucklanders rush to buy cheap property just outside the city boundary.
The town has seen an influx of buyers either capitalising on or being pushed out by high house prices on the other side of the Bombay Hills.
Pokeno is famous for its bacon and big icecreams. Prices for a house and section in the town start at $100,000 below the median property price in Auckland.
Hamiltonians looking to live closer to jobs in Auckland are also snapping up homes in the township.
Pokeno Village Estate salesman Otto Veltman said of the 110 properties made available last year, 77 were already gone.
"Last week I sold five properties, and I will sell another five this week if everything goes according to plan."
"Sales have been very positive. Very good."
He said around three-quarters of sales had been to Aucklanders. The rest had primarily been sold to people from Waikato and the Bay of Plenty. The first residents had started to move in and work was under way on expanding the number of sections ready for sale.
Mr Veltman said 13 of the 25 sections to be opened up in the next phase of development had already been booked.
Developer Kerry Dines has 1500 residential properties available in Pokeno, and said initial interest came from young couples or families looking to get into the housing market, but finding Auckland prices too high.
"Lately we have had second or third-home owners looking for a better lifestyle and a lower cost.
"People from Auckland, Franklin and Hamilton bought a house at $650,000 and it is now worth $950,000, and they can buy a house of the same quality here for $500,000, so it is way, way more secure financially."
He said proximity to major centres, where family might be located, as well as to beaches in Raglan and Tauranga made it an attractive area for many buyers.
Hamiltonian George De Bruyn bought a section in Pokeno last year after he decided house prices in Auckland were too high.
"I looked around in Auckland and the house prices were unaffordable. In Pokeno the price of land is pretty good for the size of land you get."
Mr De Bruyn accepted a new job in Auckland seven months ago which required him to start at 7am.
That means waking up at 4.15am to get there on time.
He said the proximity to his workplace from Pokeno was a big incentive in convincing him to make the move.
"My brother lives in Eastern Beach and works near One Tree Hill, and it takes him half an hour just in town.
"I thought half an hour from Pokeno was not too bad."
Commercial sales in the town have also been on the increase, with the announcement that Chinese dairy company Yashili International intends to build a milk-processing plant in the area.
Barfoot and Thompson's Scott McElhinney said he had sold two commercial properties to an Auckland investor who was "very, very pleased to be buying in Pokeno".
"It is really going ahead in leaps and bounds.
"All of a sudden there has been a big flurry of interest."
Mr McElhinney said he was eager for more listings in Pokeno.
Pokeno Business owners are looking forward to increased patronage, with 6000 people estimated to move to the town in the next few years.
Industrial land is also going fast. All of Mr Dines' sites are booked or bought, and he hopes to have a further eight out of 16 hectares of land ready to be built on by the middle of next year.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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