The average house price in Queenstown-Lakes was above the $ 1 million mark for the first time last month. Photo / Getty Images
Queenstown’s exorbitant property prices are driven by Australians and overseas Kiwis buying homes without setting foot in resorts.
In December, the median house price in Queenstown-Lakes hit $ 1 million for the first time, an 8.2 percent increase from the previous year, according to the New Zealand Real Estate Institute.
That means Queenstown remains one of the most expensive places in the country to buy a home – well above the $ 675,000 national average.
Local agents say expats have sent proxies to watch, because they want to go home earlier than planned or make a good investment in a world ravaged by the pandemic.
Colliers’ director of residential sales Fred Bramwell said demand from Auckland-based buyers was also up, about 10-12 percent compared with last year.
Some are looking for second homes, while others are first-time buyers or looking to move to resorts and away from urban life.
“I think there is a mix of people who now no longer have to work in offices … Covid has kept us going 10 years,” he said.
In recent weeks he has had conversations with New Zealanders in the United Kingdom, United States, Switzerland and Hong Kong about purchasing at resorts.
“Some of these people are buying without looking, getting friends and family to do due diligence.”
He said that many plots, such as in Kelvin Heights, proved popular with absent buyers.
But he doesn’t believe these are speculators looking to flip property – but rather long-term investments.
Both Bramwell and Bas Smith, from Ray White, say Australians are eager to buy property in Queenstown.
The latter said his company had struck some “impressive” deals with Australians with knowledge of the resort.
Smith said there was a general feeling that “the world’s eyes” were on New Zealand for investment opportunities.
“Obviously we have a ban on foreign buyers … but there is a feeling in Queenstown there will be an influx of Australian buyers once the border opens.”
He said about 50 percent of inquiries came from outside the city, but it was not limited to Auckland, as there were people from Christchurch and Dunedin also looking to invest in Queenstown.
“Kiwis are in love with their country and I think people who have money and vice versa will be traveling … looking at real estate.”
Smith pointed to Fernhill to be the next up-and-coming suburb for the housing market, as some landlords leave the rental market due to tougher demands on housing quality.
“You kind of forget how, you could say, this place has some of the best views in the world, with a lake and The Remarkables.”
He said people could combine multiple units to create newer, bigger homes.
The Real Estate Institute of New Zealand reported that the median house price in Queenstown rose from $ 970,000 in December 2019 to $ 1,050,000 last month, as properties sold faster than before.
The average home price in Queenstown-Lakes is $ 10,000 higher than in Auckland, although some suburbs such as the CBD and North Shore are starting at $ 1.3 million.
Dunedin has seen a sharp rise in house prices, although the average holds nearly half of Queenstown’s values.
The institute’s regional commentator, Liz Nidd, said median prices had risen 18.8 percent from $ 492,000 to $ 585,000 in the past 12 months.