Job losses blamed for property sales in Westport

By Ben Aulakh

A total of 610 properties and subdivisions are listed on the Trade Me property website. Photo / Supplied
A total of 610 properties and subdivisions are listed on the Trade Me property website. Photo / Supplied

Big job losses in the "depressed" Buller economy have been blamed for a glut of hundreds of properties currently for sale in Westport and surrounding areas.

A total of 610 properties and subdivisions are listed on the Trade Me property website.

Property Brokers Greymouth executive Charlie Elley said 30 per cent more properties were for sale than the company would expect to see, due mainly to the flood of mining redundancies.

"With almost 900 jobs gone from the Buller economy over the past two years, we have seen a gradual build-up in the number of vendors putting their properties up for sale," Mr Elley said.

"There are also quite a few individuals and developers who had started projects during the boom period but are now left with either no or little market for their properties, or insufficient funding to complete them.

"With no new employment opportunities of note in Buller, it's simply a matter of oversupply and lack of demand."

Mr Elley said sales volumes were running at less than a third of what he had expected.

"The property market is definitely depressed as a result of the depressed economy, and will stay that way until the economy improves.

"To the best of my knowledge, this is probably the most sustained lull in the market, but there have certainly been similar times in the past."

Buller people were doing "whatever they could" to stay in their homes, Mr Elley said.

"The build-up of the number of properties has been and continues to be a gradual process ... and obviously the lay-offs at the mines have been carried out in a gradual manner, as well."

Ray White Westport property consultant Graeme Walsh agreed that the number of listings had gradually built up over time.

"I think historically there is a lot of stuff that's been here for a long time. There have been subdivisions, a lot of land ... that by the time they have come through, the demand hasn't been there. I can think of 50 to 60 sections created (and) the demand for it hasn't been there," Mr Walsh said.

Properties just "weren't moving" through the market as they used to.

"The average days on the market are more than they used to be, on the back of the slowdown in Buller. We don't sell the same amount of stock -- there's more coming on than going off."

In other parts of the country, most agents would have 10 or 11 listings "if they were lucky" Mr Walsh said.

"It's not unusual for agents, especially in places like Buller, to have more than 100."

Elsewhere on the West Coast, Trade Me has 272 listings in Westland district and 225 in Grey district.

Property Brokers Hokitika executive Antoni Houston said a lot of the listings could be sections.

"If there is anything we have noticed, it's that a number of lifestyle and rural landowners have said they might be selling up and putting their land on the market. That may be due to an increase in rates more than anything."

Property Brokers Greymouth consultant Gail Dyeming said 300 listings would be about "average".

"Lots have been on for quite some years ... I think it would be a good representation of the market. It's been up and down (and) prices are certainly down."

-Greymouth Star

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