A fast-moving property market in New Zealand which has accelerated since the Covid-19 lockdown last year has seen New Zealand Sotheby’s International Realty achieve 1.6 billion dollars in sales across the country, according to owner Mark Harris.
“When New Zealand went into lockdown we didn’t know if we would have a business afterwards. In fact, the opposite happened and we have accomplished record sales every month since September 2020. Added to that the median house price across the country was up in January this year by 19 per cent which is phenomenal.”
Mark says whether the trend continues will depend on supply with a shortage of listings being experienced particularly in popular lifestyle areas such as Queenstown, Tauranga, Hawkes Bay and Nelson.
“The market is largely driven by interest rates and while they remain low buyers are going to want to take advantage of that and I can’t see the current rates moving significantly over the next 12 to 18 months.”
He believes some consideration towards altering negative gearing rules should be given to slow the investor market.
“I am sure this will be weighing on the Government’s mind. We have seen the Reserve Bank increasing LVRs in a bid to slow things down which is good, but it doesn’t help first home buyers.”
Mark says brand New Zealand is very shiny at the moment, particularly because of the country’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, which is adding to its international appeal.
“Enquiries are being received from interested buyers all over the world but only Australians and Singaporeans can presently purchase properties in New Zealand. We are actually turning away a lot of wealthy investors from places like the US and the UK when New Zealand could do with that level of investment.”
“I would like to see thought given to lifting the restrictions on international buyers and introducing a foreign buyer stamp duty for properties above $1 million dollar. That income could contribute towards increasing the supply of affordable homes for Kiwis, helping to address the current issues.”
The first office which today remains the headquarters of New Zealand Sotheby’s International Realty opened in Queenstown in 2005. Today there are 18 offices across the country with more planned to open this year.
Co-founders Mark Harris and Julian Brown own ten offices with the remainder franchised.
“This year we will open offices in Cambridge and Mount Maunganui and have a bigger presence in the Britomart area in Auckland,” says Mark. “We have around 250 staff including 150 high performance agents working with us and while real estate is an individualistic industry we try and breed a culture of people working and performing well together.”
The company has been in the spotlight internationally being named the Best International Real Estate Agency Worldwide at the International Property Awards in 2019.
“We were also recognised for selling the two highest priced residential properties in New Zealand in 2019 and recorded the highest price for a property again in 2020,” says Mark. “These results reflect the hard work and commitment of our agents and the way we trade properties. We are focused on quality listings and working to get the best maximum result for our vendors.”
Advantage is being taken of the latest technology to provide clients with the best possible service.
“ Covid-19 lockdown forced us and our clients to rely on live video tours of properties rather than physically viewing them. With today’s technology a buyer sitting in Sydney can feel as if they are actually in the property and I think that’s a glimpse into the future of real estate.”
Mark says while the company is delighted with its current success, they are aware that other sectors in the community are not faring as well.
“For this reason we are presently in talks with a Queenstown based charity as to how we can make a positive contribution and provide support to those who need it.”