Buyers battle for new build in Nelson's Washington Valley | Close to Home
How a new house in a typically lower-priced Nelson suburb sold for almost half a million dollars. Jonathan Carson heads along to two house auctions as part of the Close to Home project.
'THE DREAM STARTS HERE'
Awkward eye contact, whispers in hallways, and a gathering of strangers in a Nelson backyard. Welcome to a house auction.
This one's in Westley Pl, Bishopdale, on a sunny Saturday afternoon in August. The tagline for the rear-section, three-bedroom townhouse with a double garage is, "The dream starts here!"
The Kiwi dream, that is. The dream of some day, somehow owning a home.
It's a small, tidy, 1990s house in a nice neighbourhood with a strip of grass and a covered deck out back.
About 18 people are attending.
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Summit Real Estate auctioneer Ben Nalder kicks things off with a well-rehearsed preamble. He says Nelson's experiencing "massive growth" and there's a "scramble" to buy property.
"That scramble for a property is continuing now. We're selling property to people from Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, China, There's even the odd Nelsonian purchasing a property here at the moment," Nalder says.
"It's a market I haven't seen in my entire 11 years of real estate."
He says the owners have loved their time in the house, but are ready to move on and want to see a 'sold' sign out front.
If someone wants to get their hands on this prime piece of real estate "there's one time to strike and that time is now".
He asks for an opening bid. Silence. It's a bit awkward.
He asks again. Still nothing.
Nalder says Nelson buyers can be conservative so he'll kick off the auction at $350,000.
According to property website Homes.co.nz, this house sold for $317,000 in 2009 and it's estimated worth is between $410-440,000.
A well-dressed, older man subtly puts his hand up at $360,000. This must be when the bidding war starts, I think. But this is where it ends.
Nalder takes the man away for a private talk. He raises his bid to $380,000 but Nalder says "it is certainly worth well in excess of that".
It's currently listed as offers over $429,000.
Despite the auction result, he says given the heat in the market the 'sold' sign will be up soon.
'BRAND NEW ON WASHINGTON'
On the same afternoon, close to 25 people fill the lounge area of a brand new house in Washington Rd.
They're mostly older - over 40 - but there are four or five younger people.
"The opportunity to purchase a brand new, architecturally-designed, stylish, funky, central city-located townhouse is one of the better opportunities I've seen for some months," Nalder says.
It's been built to an "absolute degree of quality" on 916 square metres of land, he says.
The house was built to kickstart a new subdivision and all of the surrounding properties have since sold.
It looks nothing like most of the houses in Washington Valley and is only a five-minute drive to the city centre.
Nalder asks for a starting bid. "Who's keen?" No one.
So he starts the bidding at $400,000, going up in rises of $10,000.
And it's off. It's between a woman, who looks to be in her 40s, and a younger woman with her parents.
The bidding gets up to $475,000 and the young woman, who has been whispering in her father's ear, pulls out.
Nalder takes the highest bidder away for a private talk. She raises her bid to $495,000 and the house is sold.
"We're on the market. The house is selling. We've got new owners here."
It's one of the most expensive houses in Washington Valley where the median value is $348,400.