John is a senior reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Eastern Link drives housing boom

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BUSY TIMES: Te Puke developer John Dohnt at his Paengaroa subdivision which has surged ahead since the Tauranga Eastern Link opened. PHOTO/GEORGE NOVAK
BUSY TIMES: Te Puke developer John Dohnt at his Paengaroa subdivision which has surged ahead since the Tauranga Eastern Link opened. PHOTO/GEORGE NOVAK

The opening of the Tauranga Eastern Link has witnessed a surge of buyer interest in houses previously considered too distant from jobs in the city.

Shortening the commute by about 15 minutes each way has resulted in boom times for residential areas such as Paengaroa, Pongakawa and Pukehina.

Fears that Te Puke retailers would suffer from the bypass, taking thousands of vehicles a day out of the town centre, have proved largely unfounded.

People are getting an understanding of how good the road is and how easy it is to commute.
Mark Spitz, Bayleys Country agent

The developer of a 35-lot subdivision in Paengaroa said sales took off when the motorway opened seven months ago.

John Dohnt said it was the last residential-zoned greenfield area to be developed in the village, and would lift Paengaroa's population by about 9 per cent once finished.

He was impressed how quickly the last 18 lots sold after the Eastern Link opened: "It is affordable rural living rather than paying top prices in Tauranga."

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Prices for the 800sq m sections moved from $91,000 three years ago to $125,000.

A 20-lot subdivision at Pongakawa was also cashing in.

"Inquiries are really lifting. People are getting an understanding of how good the road is and how easy it is to commute," Bayleys Country agent Mark Spitz said.

Interest for open homes in the area had lifted from one or two people per showing before the road opening, to six or seven now. More people were seeing opportunities to sell their homes.

Countrywide's Te Puke Real Estate manager Russell Doughty said prices were lifting as these areas became more popular: "There is quite a shortage of listings.

"The new road has made living out there more convenient."

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It was a 16-minute drive from Paengaroa to Baypark whereas it used to take at least 25 minutes.

Professionals sales consultant for Pukehina Alex White said it took about eight weeks after the road opened for the lift in demand to be felt. The Eastern Link had cut 17 minutes off the travel time between Pukehina and Mount Maunganui.

Tauranga Eastern Link. Photo/file
Tauranga Eastern Link. Photo/file

"It has gone from a sleepy area to quite an exclusive area. I am getting a lot more people through open homes," Mr White said.

More Aucklanders were showing an interest in Pukehina, with prices taking a "nice little hike", he said.

Tauranga Harcourts managing director Simon Martin said a subdivision in the Paengaroa area had gone really well since the Eastern Link opened. "Five years ago people would not have considered it but now the new road has made it a viable option for people to commute into town"

Another new link road helping to boost section sales was Papamoa's Sandhurst Drive extension to the Eastern Link.

He said there had been a huge uptake in The Coast subdivision, with 15 sections sold last weekend.

The Coast was beside Sandhurst Drive and Mr Martin said it had become a "wicked commute" instead of the former slow haul via Papamoa Beach Rd and Girven Rd.

Four years ago houses on the beachfront side of the road were selling for $600,000 to $650,00. They were now fetching up to $800,000, with prices on the other side of the road fetching half this amount.

Bayleys and Eves chief executive Ross Stanway agreed the commute to those outlying areas was now much easier thanks to the new highway.

"There's a trend now that people are looking in outlying areas because of the ease of getting into the city and because of the value for money that's in those areas. That's now happening in Paengaroa and Pongakawa just as it is in the northern areas like Katikati."

Ray White Te Puke owner Rochelle Carter said Pukehina had been a bit of a secret but the 30-minute travel time to Tauranga had changed all that. A beachfront property that could have been secured in the $500,000s price bracket had lifted to the $700,000s.

Buyer interest was from much further afield, including overseas.

"We are very busy," Ms Carter said. Property buyers on the other side of the road included families pooling their money to buy a bach.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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