Cleaned-up units pitched at buyers priced out of Auckland market.

A set of four run-down pensioner flats have been spruced up in a $350,000 renovation which is expected to attract first-home buyers trying to escape Auckland's soaring property prices.

Owner Garry Danswan hopes the flats could also lure landlord investors to Helensville's Nelson Mews on the city's rural fringe.

The tired one-bedroom Nelson St former council flats have been "transformed into modern townhouses set in a boutique residential development", a sales brochure says.

Mr Danswan is a retired motel, hotel and tourism real estate broker, who has been confined to a wheelchair since suffering a stroke. But that didn't stop him buying the properties in 2013 and spending $350,000 doing them up.

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Each unit has a 2014 CV of $210,000. QV records show the four flats sold for $565,000 in September 2013.

Though no fan of TV home renovation programmes - "because it's not real and you can't beat practical experience" - he bought the flats as a retirement project to add "flair".

They go to auction on April 18, first as a whole block fully tenanted as an investment package, and if that fails to sell, as separately titled units.

Mary Massara, of Bayleys North West real estate agency, believed similar conversions would become common in the town as developers looked to capitalise on home buyers seeking to escape the overheated central Auckland property market.

"Helensville is absorbing the overflow of buyers unable to afford property in the city but wanting to remain within commuting distance of work."

The town is one of a number on the city fringe earmarked for future residential growth by zoning changes in the draft Auckland Unitary Plan, with resource consent for a 60-lot subdivision already granted.

Ms Massara said it was difficult to say what the flats would fetch, but no residential property changed hands for less than $300,000.

Mr Danswan said he got the run-down flats at auction from a landlord who had bought them a decade earlier from Rodney District Council.

Each unit was now fenced with its own front and back garden, laundry and clothesline.

"They are well built because it was council-built, brick and strong, so it had very good bones to start with but no flair.

"I added the flair; new carpets, drapes and ... painted the exterior my choice of colours, a cool black roof and walls to reflect the heat, and louvre shutters on the sliding doors."

Helensville Havens

• 40km from Auckland city centre

• 1-bedroom units (former council pensioner housing)

• 43sq m floor area

• $210,000 CV for each unit (July 2014)

• $350,000 spent on four-unit renovation by owner