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Rural Insight: Lifestyle blocks draw interest over spring

Tags: Rural Rural Insight

Once the domain of retiring farmers who can’t quite leave their rural roots behind, the lifestyle block is growing in appeal to a wider range of people across both the North and South Islands.

Once the domain of retiring farmers who can’t quite leave their rural roots behind, the lifestyle block is growing in appeal to a wider range of people across both the North and South Islands.

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) data reinforces just how strong the lifestyle block market is, alongside an equally buoyant pastoral farm sales market.

Data for the three months ended October show a 2.5% lift in lifestyle block sales compared to the same period last year, with 2,175 properties selling nationally. Year to date figures give an even more buoyant picture, with sales of 9,115 properties up 17% on the year before, totalling a massive $6.91 billion of sales for the year.

Bayleys country manager Simon Anderson said agents continue to struggle to match demand to quality rural lifestyle blocks around the country.

“The number of people looking for a slice of country, whether it is to raise their children in a more traditional country environment or just have some space around themselves, continues to create huge demands across most of our market places. This is more prevalent around major metropolitan areas but in no way just restricted to here.”

Regional highlights for lifestyle block sales include good demand in the Waikato region, particularly to the south and east of Hamilton, with the region sharing Auckland buyers’ interest with neighbouring Bay of Plenty – Taupo region. Further south the Lakes District in Otago continues to experience tight supply and firm demand from buyers from outside the region.

Bayleys Tauranga residential and lifestyle block consultant Jeremy Pryor said demand in his area had been driven strongly from buyers coming out of Auckland, seeking some space, peace and spare change after the big city’s stresses.

“The demand was pretty much unconditional early on when people were quite confident about selling their property there for a certain price or above. More recently they have become a bit more cautious, prices are still high but have plateaued, but the interest is certainly still there.”

He has noticed a change in the variety and demographics of lifestyle block purchasers in recent years.

“We used to primarily see retired farmers from the Waikato come over. Now though, there are not so many single operator dairy farms around for people to retire off, so that’s dropped away.”

Instead he is observing a mix of baby boomers keen to exit Auckland before they are too old to enjoy a larger block of land, and younger families who may have been fortunate enough to own a house early, enjoy the gain in value and have now decided to exit city life while the family is still young.

“The older buyers tend to prefer a property that has the ability to earn them some income, while younger families may be looking for some space for the kids to have a motorbike or horse, maybe Dad was brought up on a farm and wanted them to have a taste of that.”

While loathe to pin a price on blocks given their significant variety, he said typically most would now be selling for $1million plus.

“In context of even an averaged priced house in Auckland that represents a good buy for these people seeking space and privacy they struggle with in the city now and they can receive a return.”

In Canterbury the lifestyle block market has surged, from more people moving out of the city, and more people relocating to work in earthquake recovery related industries including construction.

Bayleys agent Mark Pringle said he was seeing good interest from people moving here for work from both Auckland and Australia.

“The Waimakariri district is an increasingly appealing place to settle, in part thanks to the infrastructural work being carried out in the post-earthquake expansion.

Towns like Rangiora are now particularly appealing, with new buildings constructed after many were ruined in the earthquake, and upgraded facilities.

“We have the Western bypass going in, and work has just started on the Northern Corridor, and both will mean traffic issues are dealt with.”

Typically buyers are looking in the $700,000-$900,000 range on blocks typically in the 4ha size.

He said there has also been steady demand for lifestyle blocks around Christchurch’s satellite towns including Oxford and Lincoln.

Typically buyers are using the land to have some privacy and space, and to run horses or grazing cattle, rather than seeking a steady income from their land purchase.

“As spring kicks along we are finding there is a pretty good balance in terms of both demand for lifestyle blocks, and supply of them.”

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