Carmen is a social issues and rural reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Tauranga's commercial sites coveted by big city investors

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Auctioneer John Bowring in action on Friday for Colliers International Tauranga which sold five out of six commercial sites for more than $15 million. Photo / John Borren
Auctioneer John Bowring in action on Friday for Colliers International Tauranga which sold five out of six commercial sites for more than $15 million. Photo / John Borren

Tauranga's commercial property market is being touted as the next big location out of Auckland for investors - with one agency recording $85 million worth of sales this year, or 74 per cent of its entire turnover for last year.

New figures showed commercial building consents had also skyrocketed in the city, jumping 87 per cent in 2015 compared to 2014. This reflected "confidence by investors, a strong business community and job growth", business leaders said.

Colliers International Tauranga managing director Simon Clark said national investors felt Tauranga was experiencing significant population and economic growth and had affordable properties with good tenants, leases and yields.

Simon Clark from Colliers International believes Tauranga is now one of the top places for national investors to come for commercial property. Photo / George Novak
Simon Clark from Colliers International believes Tauranga is now one of the top places for national investors to come for commercial property. Photo / George Novak

"I think Tauranga is now one of the top locations for our national investors to come...

we are probably the next alternative out of Auckland."

Last year was a record with $115 million worth of commercial sales but the company had already reached $85 million this year - with at least another $10 million under contract, he said.

Record low interest rates were also driving the trend.

On Friday, Colliers International Tauranga sold five out of six properties at auction for more than $15 million - with two sold prior to auction - and fielded over 150 enquiries from around New Zealand, Mr Clark said.

Dickie Burman, Bayleys Tauranga commercial manager, said at the lower price range of up to $2 million, commercial properties were highly sought after and buyers were on waiting lists.

"As the investments get more expensive, the number of people looking gets a bit thinner, but we are seeing a slight change in buyer behaviour where small private syndicates pooling their money are starting to show up."

Mr Burman said owners were holding on to more expensive commercial property as, if they sold up, they would get less money from their bank with the current low interest rates.

"There's certainly a lot of activity in the market place. If we get good stock, it's well competed for and good prices are made."

An out-of-town property investor, who spoke to the Bay of Plenty Times on the condition he was not named, paid $4 million at the auction on Friday for 66-68 Portside Drive at Mount Maunganui. The purchase was about future proofing, he said.

"There is growth in the area, which will result in increasing land and property prices."

Auctioneer John Bowring said the commercial market was strong across the board in Tauranga with some "amazing activity".

"Those yields today were strong... the market is good and that was evident today when we sold five out of six properties."

Priority One projects manager Annie Hill said the commercial real estate sector was a good indicator of economic growth, reflecting confidence by investors and a strong, and expanding business community and job growth.

According to its data in 2015, the number of commercial consents issued were 87 per cent higher than 2014 which was also a year of good growth, she said. "Compared to the whole of 2009, 2015 saw a 427 per cent increase in the value of commercial consents issued."

Strong growth in commercial building consents was a reflection of a more productive economy, she said.

Meanwhile, the Bay had positioned itself well for the future. "Through SmartGrowth, the sub-region's growth management strategy, our local authorities have planned very well for growth for the past 10 years and over the next 50 years. We have around 600ha of commercially zoned land available for development, and it is well placed in terms of access into the region and to Port of Tauranga.

"There are also a number of planned large scale office developments in the city centre to service the corporate market."

Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stan Gregec said Tauranga "is still humming, and business confidence remains high".

"We're seeing good demand for commercial property. In one instance I understand there were six tenders on a single Mount property last week - which indicates demand is exceeding supply, which is a very good indicator."

"We could be on the cusp of another growth spurt which will bring us not only new buildings but contribute to a more liveable city environment."

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