Buyers nervous of brick homes

AUDREY MALONE
Last updated 12:15 19/03/2014

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A drop in demand for two-storey brick houses appears to be due to perceived issues after the Canterbury earthquakes, rather than reality.

Mike Pero Real Estate's Graeme Wilson said they were slow to sell, in his area of South Canterbury.

"My experience is people don't seem to want to buy two-storied brick houses at the moment.

"People seem to be nervous about the perception of potential earthquake damage."

Wilson believed there was no substantial evidence that two-storey brick houses were structurally any less safe than other houses in the region.

Harcourts Real Estate agent Roger Holding said he noticed people from Christchurch were influencing the property market across the country.

He said brick houses, especially the two-storey ones, were not as desirable as they used to be.

"There is actually nothing wrong with them. The value has gone from them, which is driven from Christchurch.

"We are hearing the same thing from our Harcourts offices across New Zealand," Holding said.

However, Professionals Timaru director Carl Slade said it would be irresponsible to say the reason that type of house was taking longer to sell was because people were wary of structure strength.

"Ten to 15 years ago there was a great demand for those houses, but people who are now wanting to spend $600,000 on a house have a larger range of options."

Meanwhile, builder Rickie Shore said he had not come across any structural issues as a result of the earthquakes in two-storey brick houses, only minor hairline cracking.

"People are running a bit scared at the moment, but I think it's because they aren't getting the right information," Shore said.

Consulting engineer Gary Littler said two-storey brick houses were not as safe as single-storey brick houses, which were not as safe as light timber-framed houses, but there was no need to be concerned about the structural safety of the brick houses.

"Everything I have seen seems to be secure.

"The only thing is to have a good look at the chimney and make sure it is secure; otherwise there is nothing for people to be worried about," Littler said.

The housing comments come on the day Labour promises tax breaks for wood processors as part of its package to boost the forestry and timber sector.

It would run alongside a 'pro-wood" procurement policy for government-funded buildings up to four storeys high that would require departments to "please explain" if they chose other products when there was a wood option.

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- The Timaru Herald

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