Surge in high-end property sales bolster Queenstown market

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Sales of million dollar-plus properties are lifting Queenstown’s sluggish real estate market. 

Local agents report a mini-boom in high-end sales and enquiries, particularly from Australians, Singaporeans and expat Kiwis in those countries. 

Hoamz sold four Queenstown properties between $1 m and $1.54 m in just two weeks last month. 

By contrast, there were only five $1m-plus sales across all the resort agencies in March and the same in April 2010. 

“It’s a high-end bonanza,” Hoamz managing partner Fred Bramwell says. 

A favourable exchange rate is attracting Aussies, he believes. 

“And the optimism created by Singapore’s buoyant real estate market has led to people looking further afield for investments. 

“Queenstown lifestyle property is seriously popular.” 

Harcourts manager Kelvin Collins believes the upswing in high-end sales, including $2m-plus properties, started six months ago. 

“There’s obviously an affluent sector that has cash sitting in their pockets and they’re picking up stuff that’s unique. 

“If it’s a little bit special, they’ll get in and buy it.” 

He cites a lakefront block at Wilson’s Bay that recently went at auction for $1.25 m to a Singapore-based expat. 

“We are very happy with the price we got,” Collins adds. 

There were 70 $1 m-plus sales in the Wakatipu in the 12 months to March, according to Real Estate Institute of New Zealand figures. 

Sales comprised 47 dwellings, 15 lifestyle blocks, including houses, and eight sections. 

“Those sales would be well up on the year before,” Locations director Greg Ross says. 

He believes reasons include ease of access via Queenstown Airport and the exchange rate. 

“A lot of those places have probably been selling for less than replacement cost so they represent good value. 

“Probably there’s a perception that Queenstown’s at the bottom of the property cycle.” 

High net-worth individuals, especially in tough times, look for outstanding properties that have quality, position and privacy, Ross maintains. 

“Traditionally, there haven’t been as many nice houses being built – but you’ve now got some leading-edge architects and building methods.” 

Queenstown property is still cheap on an international scale, Ross also states. 

“You get a guy that comes from Sydney. He looks at properties on the waterfront in Sydney and says, ‘Well, I can’t find anything under $20 m’. 

“Take a zero off the end and you’ve got it here in Queenstown.” 

Ross also believes high-end buyers are more turned on to Queenstown since “bad news” stories on resort developers going bust have receded. 

“It was just terrible news coming out for 18 months.” 

Terry Spice and Nick Horton, the local owners of website-based Luxuryrealestate.co.nz, add: “The qualified enquiry we are receiving from offshore out of our luxury website portals is of a very high calibre. 

“It seems to be that Queenstown is back on the map for the wealthy international property investor.”