Rampant speculators are cashing in big on Auckland's property market, with one house sold five times in just nine months.
The humble three-bedroom home in Papakura was repeatedly flipped between February and November last year, its price spiralling from $335,000 to $590,000 - a capital gain of $870 a day.
Two of the transactions were settled on the same day, giving the seller an instant $80,000 profit without ever taking possession.
"This is frenzied activity," Labour's housing spokesman, Phil Twyford, told the Weekend Herald. "These people are making massive tax-free gains at the expense of 'Generation Rent'."
The property's former owner, widowed pensioner Mihi Sillick, decided to sell early last year to move closer to family in Hastings. Rather than paying a big agency commission, she contacted PatMat Property Solutions, which specialises in "quick and hassle free" private sales.
Mrs Sillick's daughter Mary Edmonds said they eventually signed a sale-and-purchase agreement with PatMat on February 3 for $335,000. The property was immediately listed for rent before being onsold for $390,000 just 11 days after it was purchased - a $55,000 profit.
Property records supplied to the Weekend Herald by CoreLogic show the buyer was Ashutosh Dhir. He onsold the house on April 16 for $470,000, making an instant profit of $80,000 when the deal went through on the day he was due to take possession.
The joint purchasers were Shailendra Singh and Anjina Devi. Auckland Council records show they obtained resource consent to subdivide the property before flipping it on September 25 for $560,000 - a $90,000 profit.
The new buyers were seasoned traders Muhammad Sulayman and Mehwish Riaz, who listed the property for sale just two days after taking possession. It was onsold on November 23 for $590,000 - a $30,000 profit.
The current owner is property company MJ99 Ltd. Subdivision work appears to be under way.
Mrs Edmonds said she was certain no one had lived in the house since her mother sold it. Yesterday, her mother's clock was still lying on the lounge floor.
"They didn't buy that house to rent it out."
It was unfair that speculators were making huge profits by trading properties that could otherwise be purchased by families.
"I just don't think it's right," Mrs Edmonds said. "She lived there for almost 50 years, sold her property and these people then came through, sold it and kept selling it for money.
"Had we had more money to market it, then I think it probably would have been sold to a family who would have lived in there."
Mr Twyford said the dizzying sequence of purchases showed current measures to crack down on speculators hadn't worked.
"What it shows is that in Auckland today, housing's not something for people to live in. It's basically a tradeable commodity."
The extreme speculative activity was also behind an estimated 15,000 "ghost houses" across Auckland that sat empty "because speculators can't be bothered renting them out", the MP said.
Building and Housing Minister Nick Smith labelled the turnover "exceptional". But he said it was impossible to ban speculation on property as there was no way to differentiate between speculators and genuine investors.
"The best way to stop speculation is to grow supply, dampen house-price increases and remove the incentives for speculation."
Dr Smith said it was wrong to claim property traders were making tax-free gains. The law had always required those who traded in property to pay tax on profits.