While Hamilton remains a hot favorite for home buyers, Huntly’s prices and Te Awamutu lifestyle are becoming more and more popular with would-be homeowners.
Also, flexible operating options in more remote Waikato satellite towns have put them on buyers’ radars.
REINZ chief executive Jen Baird says one of the benefits of Hamilton is that people can have a country life or choose to live in a small town, and still have all the benefits of living in one of the largest cities in New Zealand.
Baird doesn’t think buyers working in Hamilton and looking for housing options outside the city is a new trend.
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For first-time home buyers, the price pressure group is always driven and tossed between the idea of a dream home versus a real estate deposit and salary at the time, Baird said.
“They are doing business, it can be a much smaller house right in the city or a bigger house that is in a commuting area.
“What we’re all seeing across the country is that more and more people are having some flexibility working in their jobs and commuting longer, now it’s doable if you only have to do it twice or three times a week.
“That puts some of those towns, so some people feel a little bit far back in the grind from a buying perspective.”
However, the ongoing increase in OCR and interest rates will continue to dampen buying decisions in the market, Baird said.
“Uncertain and their upward trajectory has seen the market somewhat tough.”
Over the next three years, Te Awamutu, Huntly, Morrinsville, Matamata, Leamington and Te Aroha saw the highest residential sales in 2020, coinciding with the lowest median price over the same period.
Sales in Te Awamutu dropped from 316 in 2020 to 288 (8%) in 2021 and 204 in 2022 (35%). At the same time, median home prices increased from $579,000 in 2020 to $685,000 in 2021 and $750,000 last year.
Huntingly offered the lowest median price of $585,000 in 2022, an almost 43% increase from 2020, but the highest decrease in sales in the Waikato period was posted at 71 (from 163 in 2020).
While Hamilton made 2,411 home sales in 2022, Whangamatā was second with 236, and Cambridge took third place with 217 sales.
Cambridge saw an 11% decrease in sales in 2021, but a 14% increase last year, compared to 2020.
Median house prices have increased by approximately 53% by 2020 in Taupiri.
Harcourts Hamilton director Campbell Scott said the majority of requests for Taupiri had come from Hamilton.
“People saw that there was an opportunity to buy and build a new home for a couple of thousand dollars less than what you want to have in Hamilton.”
Scott’s lifestyle was more of an incentive for buyers to buy outside of Hamilton and still continue to work in the city.
“Cambridge is a good example because prices in Cambridge are compared to prices in Hamilton, and Te Awamutu might be a little less, newer homes in Morrinsville are comparable to Hamilton, the further north you go the wider the gap gets.”
As for Huntly’s low sales, Scott said, “it’s probably one of those places, the majority of it hasn’t been kicked around enough.”
“There was a great progress there between the haupō and Te Awamutu marching,” I think apart from perhaps heading west towards Raglan; [development] this kind of thing is happening around us, which is good.
Huntly real estate company Century 21 owner Barbara Craig said there was a mix of people interested in the small town including first home buyers and young people moving into a second home who couldn’t afford Hamilton or Auckland.
“Bang you more for your goat here.
“Some people like it here because they like small towns, and the price is a big incentive.”
The low price, despite a 43% increase from 2020, could be attributed to the size of the town and the population being neglected over the years, Craig said.
“More people are thinking about it now, and prices are constantly rising.”
For people moving south to Hamilton, it’s for the lifestyle, said Ray White Hamilton and Cambridge director Mark Keesom.
“Te Awamutu is one of the best towns to buy, where buyers can get a really good bang for their buck.
“The incentive to enter those small areas is a combination of value for money and lifestyle.
“People don’t go out to buy better satellite towns, they do it for a better life.”
For Hamilton’s struggling first-time home buyers, the city is still a priority, Keesom said.