Property market stirs
The Hamilton house market is stirring on the first day of spring, as a powerful sense of growth in the city is reinforced by a jump in sales and a tightening rental market.
Lodge Real Estate managing director Jeremy O'Rourke said residential property sales for last month are still to be finalised but he is picking they will hit 250-260, compared with 181 in August last year.
In the boom years before the 2007 global financial crisis, 350-400 sales a month were not unusual, city agents recall.
Lugton Real Estate principal David Lugton says those days are gone but he predicts the city could post 300 sales a month in October or November.
Mr O'Rourke attributes the increase to fresh buyer confidence.
"Interest rates haven't shifted that much so it's largely because buyers are a lot more confident than they were last year.
"It feels like Hamilton is growing. I know there has been a lot [of reports] about job losses but we keep hearing about people shifting into the Waikato.
"It's coming from everywhere, we keep hearing about this consolidation [of companies] in the Waikato. We are also full in our rental occupancy - in many cases we are struggling to find people accommodation."
Lodge is the biggest rental agency in the city.
Realtors say homeowner requests for market appraisals have also jumped in the past two weeks. An uplift in these requests was expected in a "normal" market at this time of the year, they said, but the market had not been normal for a long time.
Mr O'Rourke said Lodge in the past two weeks had experienced a 30 per cent increase in requests for appraisals. The company was taking on extra salespeople to meet the demand.
Hamilton is "definitely" a growing city, said Employers and Manufacturers Association Waikato chairman Jack Ninnes.
The city's business sector was severely impacted by the recession but with companies now expanding in the commercial sector, people generally feel more positive about going forward, he said.
"If commercial and business and industry are going well, that attracts people into the area for employment which leads to home buying, not only in Hamilton but in the outlying areas too.
"That growth keeps people positive, even through tough times," Mr Ninnes said.
Mr Lugton said the market was "very solid".
Sales were slightly constrained by a lack of stock on the market, but listings were picking up, he said.
August sales for Hamilton city would "easily" hit 250.
Harcourts Hamilton co-owner Brian King agreed the market was crimped by a shortage of "good listings" but a rash of homeowner requests for market appraisals suggested that could change soon, he said.
Sections are scarce and there is "heat" in the market for lifestyle properties on the fringes of the city, he said.
Lodge's Mr O'Rourke said a concrete example of the improving market was an auction last week of a property with a house and two flats and development room between Waikato Hospital and the city. Bidding rivalry between an investor and a developer saw the property fetching more than $471,000 - 20 per cent more than had been considered a fair market value, he said.
"That's a really good sign."
Agency principals said homes in city fringe suburbs such as Hillcrest and Hamilton East are still in demand, but there is no slowing of demand for properties in the burgeoning northern suburbs of Rototuna and Flagstaff, as buyers chased modern house comforts, outdoor flow and new primary schools.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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