Quake money flowing south

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Quake-stricken Christ­church people are starting to make a big impact on the Queenstown property and business scene. 

Wakatipu real estate agencies are getting daily enquiries from Christchurch property owners looking to relocate.
Agents, who’ve seen a sales surge in recent months, say that will increase as more Christchurch people get quake insurance payouts. 

Already, their buying activity is contributing to a big rise in residential sales, Locations Realty director Greg Ross says. 

“I think a lot of people buying here don’t even need a payout, they’re just saying, ‘Let’s spread our risk’.” 

Ross’ firm presented local properties and businesses for sale at a three-day ‘Make Queens­­town Yours’ expo in Christchurch early this month. 

“There was some very positive feedback and it led to definite enquiries. I’m sure within the next week it will lead to definite sales.” 

Queenstown isn’t too far for Christchurch people to travel and they can see opportunities here, Ross says. 

Ross predicts increased buying by Christchurch residents: “But we don’t gloat about the fact – it’s an awful thing for people to go through.” 

Local Ray White agent Bas Smith says: “There’s certainly some money starting to flow through. 

“People are enquiring on a daily basis from Christchurch.” 

Smith has also received a lot of interest about small business opportunities. 

“We’ve had really good enquiry in the last couple of weeks about cafe-type businesses.” 

Queenstown Bayleys owner David Murray also says his office is receiving daily enquiries out of Christchurch. 

“It’s not an avalanche because the process of people, particularly homeowners, extricating themselves from Christchurch has been drawn-out.” 

Murray notes there’s been interest especially from those with roots down here or parents who’ve retired here earlier. 

Hoamz agent Graeme Jackson knows of two or three people who “had a look at properties, like what they see and now they’re waiting for payments”. 

Harcourts director Kelvin Collins says Christchurch buyers so far have been mainly self-employed or semi-retired people who have flexibility in where they live.

“The momentum from Christ­church will increase in the next six months,” he says. 

Steve McIsaac, general manager of Jack’s Point, predicts quake-affected Christchurch people will snap up about 15 sections this year in his large subdivision. 

Three families have moved into Jack’s Point homes and another two have bought land. 

McIsaac also points to the example of one Christchurch homeowner who lets out his home there for good money because of a tight rental market while renting at Jack’s Point. 

The quakes are also responsible for some new Queenstown businesses. 

The quakes hastened Green Cabs’ plans to open a taxi operation in the resort, whilst Christchurch’s Simon Ford has opened two convenience stores in the CBD. 

“We were unable to get business insurance after the quakes so we were basically forced to look elsewhere and Queenstown seemed like a good location,” Ford says.