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Head south for best value in property - Sth Auckland

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  • Head south for best value in property - Sth Auckland

    Head south for best value in property
    5:00AM Sunday October 28, 2007
    By Cliff Taylor

    Blue-collar suburbs might not have the glam culture appeal but some have been the hottest real estate performers in recent years.

    In the past four years, southern suburbs Papakura, Manurewa and Papatoetoe have made major gains.

    Manukau rural has shown the highest percentage price change in Auckland, rocketing by a staggering 98 per cent, and median house prices in Ellerslie-Panmure have increased by 67 per cent in the past four years.

    Real estate experts are warning the investor-led boom may be over,. but this could be a silver lining for first-home buyers, as South Auckland prices stabilise at affordable levels.

    Even though Manurewa properties have experienced a 76 per cent price rise in the past four years, the median price is still $325,000, far lower than other more affluent parts of Auckland. Papatoetoe prices have risen 63 per cent but the median price is $350,000.

    Ellerslie-Panmure has seen prices rise by 67 per cent to a median price of $454,000. In Manukau rural, the median price is up to $540,000, although some properties in the area are on the market for $1.5 million.

    Several real estate analysts believe the South Auckland boom has been caused by the "ripple effect" of price rises spreading out from more upmarket areas.

    Property market analyst Kieran Trass said South Auckland was largely investor-driven. "Investors typically buy entry-level properties - they won't buy in the better areas and spend a lot of money. You can expect the lower socio-economic areas to rise near the end of booms."

    Trass said parts of South Auckland were now looking "vulnerable" as investor interest dropped off. "They're no longer prepared to tolerate 5 per cent returns. If you take the investors out of the equation, who is buying those properties?"

    It was potentially "great news" for first-home buyers and Trass predicted an upsurge in the market in five years when KiwiSaver schemes were cashed in.

    But real estate agent Kerry Thorstensen believes the South Auckland boom is running out of steam.

    "Investors are drying up. Our business has dropped 45 per cent in the past few weeks."

    Thorstensen predicted an upsurge in mortgagee sales and an "exodus" of agents from the industry.

    In the meantime, many South Auckland residents were forced to rent because of inflated house prices. One house in Papatoetoe sold for $275,000 six years ago and sold again recently for $420,000.

    Geoff Culley, principal of Ray White Manukau, still believes South Auckland is a good place for first-home buyers. "There is a huge number of investors and it's very highly tenanted, but it's all about supply and demand. The prices should level."

    Bill Humphrey, manager of Barfoot & Thompson in Manurewa, was still optimistic. "When a good buy comes up, we have people crawling all over it."

    Lifestyle and views in rural Manukau

    Lifestyle, views of the Hauraki Gulf and soaring property values - doesn't sound much like a South Auckland image but in fact Manukau rural is becoming one of Auckland's most select addresses.

    Homes are selling for up to $1.5 million and prices have risen 40 per cent in the past year, and 98 per cent in the past four years.

    "South Auckland is an area that's been overlooked for a long time," said Jill Franklin, of Barfoot & Thompson. "Some people don't realise, but when they come up here they see it's really nice."

    Franklin specialises in an area known as Redoubt Road rural, where she recently sold a property for "just about $1.5 million". She knows of others for sale nearby for up to $1.7 million.

    She said the area was subdivided into lifestyle blocks and its selling point was the views of the Manukau Harbour and Hauraki Gulf. Waiheke Island and the Sky Tower are visible from some locations.

    "Most of the people up here now are from the Dannemora, Howick area. We get a lot of Asian buyers and some farmers downsizing," said Franklin. "We're also attracting people from the inner city."

    "There's one way to find out if a man is honest-ask him. If he says 'yes,' you know he is a crook." Groucho Marx