Blue sky boy


New resort realtor brings Positive Mental Attitude with him.

A hotshot Christchurch realtor shifting to Queenstown believes the resort could lead New Zealand out of the property slump.

After 30 years in Christchurch real estate, latterly as chairman of Bayleys Canterbury, David Murray heads here in the New Year with his wife Anne Rattray, who’s one of the franchise’s top residential sellers.

After diluting their Christchurch stake, the couple now has a majority shareholding in Bayleys Queenstown after first coming onboard two years ago.

“I see the sun rising over Queenstown earlier than anywhere else,” Murray says.

Not that he’s blind to market conditions: “Anyone is in denial who says there aren’t problems at the moment – we all know that.

“I think there’s some more pain to go yet with mortgagee sales starting to crystallise.

“But once that’s washed through the system…”

He cites the example of swanky Lake Hayes subdivision Bendemeer, which was snapped up last month by new investors after a development company went into liquidation.

“Undeniably, quality properties like this now need to get into the custody of people who know what to do with them, and that is starting to happen.”

Canny developers are also repricing to meet the market.

“One has to keep one’s feet on the ground, and the realty is we’re in a tough market and the probability is that will continue for some time.

“But I’ve been in the business long enough to know that nothing lasts forever and you have to look around the corner.”

What Murray sees is both the NZ dollar and interest rates falling. “We’re getting renewed inquiry from the United States, Australia, Dubai.”

And then there’s the Queenstown factor.

“I think Queenstown is one location in NZ that has international recognition as a place of interest on the worldwide scene.”

Murray says his franchise can tap into that through an affiliation he set up with the worldwide Christie’s Great Estates group – a subsidiary of Christie’s fine art auction house.

While Murray and his wife join Queenstown’s sales industry, local Real Estate Institute chairman Adrian Snow admits some consultants are leaving it – from a pool of about 140 – though nothing like the national average of about 25 per cent.

Snow notes this year’s drop in local sales volumes of about 40 per cent is still better than average – in Auckland it’s almost 60 per cent.

Murray says his shift here ties in with his franchise’s wish to grow its business in Queenstown and throughout rural Otago and Southland.

“It was an opportunity that I really just couldn’t let go.”

After an executive role in recent years – controlling 70-plus staff in five branches – he’s also looking forward to more hands-on involvement again.

“I just really enjoy working with sellers and buyers and working with the sales team in the trenches.

“As next year unfolds, we will really see some big things happening in Queenstown and we plan to be there for it.
“I come here hugely optimistic – and it ain’t my first picnic.”