The Millbrook mint still coining it as other property sales struggle

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Exclusive Millbrook Resort is something of an oasis in Queenstown’s arid real estate market. 

While Wakatipu sales levels in general have been abysmal in recent times, sales and resales – mostly in the seven-figure bracket – have been ticking along at the ever-growing golf resort, near Arrowtown. 

In the past four months, the Japanese-owned resort has sold $12.5 million of property. 

Of that, $8.27m was spent on new product at Millbrook West, surrounding the Coronet Nine extension to the original 18-hole golf course. 

Resales of Millbrook West sections have averaged $1.25m. 

“Like most people, we’re finding it reasonably tough but we’re still happy that we’re chugging on steadily,” Millbrook property and development boss Ben O’Malley says. 

“We adjusted our expectation on the basis there was a great thing called the GFC [Global Financial Crisis] going on. 

“We are pretty much on budget for the [financial] year to date – just slightly behind on resales and about right on new sales.” 

O’Malley estimates resales of Millbrook properties are at most 10 to 15 per cent down on their original pricing. 

“That’s the economy – I think Millbrook’s doing better probably than the rest of the region. 

“Just like anywhere else, if someone’s having to sell, they’re having to take a hit.” 

O’Malley says Millbrook’s responded to the trend for buyers to prefer house and land packages, rather than just bare sections. 

“They know what the end price is,” he says. “We are now concentrating on creating a menu of purchase options to appeal to the widest market cross-section.” 

At Millbrook West, 13 Coronet Square home packages have been on offer in the mid-$2m bracket. 

Six have already sold, including a show home that won the National Show Home Award at the 2010 Master Builders Awards last November – and another that was flicked on before completion. 

The five-home McEntyre’s Tarn subdivision is selling in the $1.7m-$1.9m range – one’s sold off the plans already. 

At Easter, Millbrook’s opening a McEntyre’s Tarn show home and another one at Coronet Square. 

A third house-and-land package, the 12-home Taramea Square development, will be released in spring in the early to mid-$1m bracket. 

Millbrook is currently building four homes with another four private ones under way and more due to start soon. 

“The level of detail and expense that people are putting into those homes is pleasing for us,” O’Malley says. 

The private homes average 650sq m, the largest being 880sq m. 

O’Malley expects one buyer, who’s aggregated four sites for almost $5.5m, will build a close-to-$10m home. 

Millbrook is also close to releasing its nine-lot, land-only Mill Green subdivision, though two lots have already sold. 

“They’re starting with one at $650,000 – that price hasn’t been offered at Millbrook for quite a few years,” O’Malley says. 

He estimates Millbrook West buyers comprise 60 per cent Kiwis, many of them expats. 

Of the remaining 40 per cent, he suggests 17 per cent are Aussies, followed by French Tahitians and Noumeans. 

So far, 36 out of 205 Millbrook West properties have sold, including 27 sections. 

O’Malley: “Our strategy is to release small blocks, which keeps both supply and demand and the balance of the resale and new sale market in check.”