Alanah Eriksen

Alanah Eriksen is the New Zealand Herald's property reporter, and assistant chief reporter.

Soldier's hotshot property deals reap $7m

Investment of £450 'in the sticks' brings a handsome return at auction for children.

One of Doug Miller's homes on Towai St, St Heliers. Photo / Getty Images
One of Doug Miller's homes on Towai St, St Heliers. Photo / Getty Images

A World War II soldier's smart investment in prime Auckland land has provided a windfall for his family 80 years later.

Doug Miller's four sections in Towai St in the booming suburb of St Heliers sold at auction for $7.035 million, a figure well above his two children's expectations and the current valuation of $5.02 million.

Mr Miller, who died four years ago, and his wife, Mavis, bought the section at No 21 for £450, with money borrowed from her parents, before he went off to fight in Egypt and Libya in 1939. The area, 10km east of central Auckland, was at the time considered to be on the outskirts of the city, but is now a central suburb with an average house price of $963,899.

Mr Miller's son John told the Herald: "Dad's brothers asked him why he had bought in the sticks."

When he came home in the 1940s, Mr Miller built the home that still stands on the land today and over the years bought three neighbouring sites at numbers 23, 25 and 29.

Public records do not hold information on the sale prices for 23 and 25 as they are historic, but Quotable Value shows No 29 was bought in 1987 for $205,000. It was sold at auction this month for $1.275 million to a developer, who also bought 25 and 23, which were sold as a parcel, for $4.4 million.

Mr Miller's daughter Lester bought her former childhood home at 21 for $1.36 million to keep in the family. A witness inside the Bayleys auction room said the developer also bid on the family home but when Lester won, the room applauded and she burst into tears and hugged family members.

The neighbouring houses had been rented out over the years, often by various members of the family, John Miller said.

The total area of the land was 6051sq m, with the section at 23 having the biggest share at 3478sq m. It had a valuation of $2.25 million alone.

Towai St

* 21 sold $1.36 million, CV $980,000, 919sq m section

* 23 sold (with 25) $4.4 million, CV $2,250,000, 3478sq m section

* 25 sold (with 23) $4.4 million, CV $900,000, 827sq m section

* 29 sold $1.275 million, CV $890,000, 827sq m

TOTAL: CV $5.02 million, 6051sq m One of the Towai St homes.

* Read the Herald's live news blog here.

- NZ Herald

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