Auckland can get a tough run from the rest of New Zealand, accused of being congested, expensive and over-rated, but ask most Aucklanders and you’ll hear there’s simply nowhere better to live.
So just what keeps attracting half the country’s new entrants to its most populated city? Asks Bayleys property reporter Katharina Charles.
“Employment opportunities, schooling, medical care and transport hubs are all big factors, but proximity to the city’s natural wonders – beaches, parks and outdoor pursuits are consistent key drivers for buyers,” says Bayleys regional manager for Auckland’s eastern bays Rachel Dovey.
“We are fortunate to have in abundance of options to enjoy a fantastic lifestyle which are easily accessible from the majority of the city’s urban areas. These suburbs keep Auckland at the top of the list for many buyers.
“Auckland is centered around two of the country’s most notable harbours and no matter where in the city you are it’s rarely more than a 25 minute drive to get to a sprawling sandy beach.
“Piha, Long Bay, Maraetai and Mission Bay are just a few, but any area with outdoor and lifestyle activities rate highly with buyers.
“We simply can’t underestimate the appeal beach access has across the entire spectrum of residential property purchasers,” she adds.
“Property sales across the eastern bay suburbs of Orakei, Mission Bay, Kohimarama and St Heliers have increased by nearly 46 percent in just five years – growth which anecdotal evidence tells us is thanks in-part to the postcode’s proximity to arguably some of the city’s most popular golden sand beaches.
“And it’s not just a trend visible in the upscale suburbs of Auckland’s eastern bays – one quick scan of sales data across the region reveals that beaches across the city are aiding capital growth.
“Take a trip out to Auckland’s west where buyers have become enamoured with the coastline made famous for its moody seascapes, huge swells and rugged beauty.
“Spanning some 50 kilometres from the western side of the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, beach-lovers can take their pick with Karekare, Piha, Anawhata, Bethells and Muriwai Beaches spilling north one after the other.
“A popular attraction with visiting tourists and day trippers, Auckland’s western coastline has had a profound effect on local property prices, with data from the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) showing that the median sale price has increased 75 percent in the last five years alone.
“It’s a trend echoed again and again, on Waiheke Island in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf, property prices have exploded since 2012, and perhaps not surprisingly it’s the addresses adjacent to some of the island’s most coveted beaches which have reported the most significant median price gains.
“Jumping a whopping 138 percent since 2012, popular north-facing Oneroa Beach leads the charge, with nearby Onetangi jumping by 103 percent compared to with the average for the entire island area, which has risen approximately 83 percent in five years,” Dovey explains.
“Across the city, you’ll find more than 100 suburbs which currently report a median sale value in excess of $1 million.
“While the connection between beach accessibility and higher demand for adjacent properties is clear, there are a number of factors which we’re seeing buyers prioritise when looking to purchase a new home.
“Features such as the ability to hook into ultra-fast broadband (UFB), utilise nearby parks and recreational facilities or send children to reputable schools, coupled with a comparatively preferable purchasing climate all have a bearing on the city’s continued appeal to aspiring residents,” Dovey adds.
It’s a sentiment Mike Bayley, managing director of Bayleys agrees with, adding that the city’s favourable economic condition is also a contributing factor to its popularity.
“Auckland’s economy is firing on all cylinders, contributing to 38 percent of the country’s economic output, employment levels are high and population growth continues to out-strip growth in housing supply.
“In addition to this, mortgage rates – although marginally higher than a year ago, remain low by historical standards and are unlikely to jump with the Official Cash Rate (OCR) projected to remain flat through to year-end,” he says.
“Despite its growing pains which have been profiled extensively in the media – traffic, lacking infrastructure and a significant undersupply of ‘affordable’ housing, buyers are still moving to Auckland, willing to trade in the ‘big city’ commute for improved lifestyle options,” Dovey explains.
“Auckland’s appeal continues to grow despite these growing pains because residential property buyers can see a direct return on investment - be it in lifestyle, business and employment opportunities or simply taking heed from its prolific growth as a clear indication of capital growth.
“Now ranked amongst the world’s most liveable cities, it’s pleasing to see plans for both local and central Government working more closely together to enhance this reputation,” Dovey says.
“Auckland’s ambition and growth have made it a world class city,” Bayley says.
“There are costs to this, but factors such as quality schooling, safety, the friendliness of locals, job prospects and a better all-round quality of life will support ongoing demand for residential property,” he adds.