Wanaka property market heats up, homes near $1 million mark

By Simon Hartley

Wanaka's resident population rose 28.4pc between the censuses of 2006 and 2013. Photo / Getty Images
Wanaka's resident population rose 28.4pc between the censuses of 2006 and 2013. Photo / Getty Images

Wanaka's exceptional, almost 30 per cent, population gain in recent years has underpinned a boom in house prices and the Central Otago resort town is heading towards $1 million homes.

Despite Wanaka having an estimated 3000 sections in the pipeline, demand from the local population and absentee holiday homeowners - the latter representing 38 per cent of housing stock - mean construction is not keeping up and ''tight conditions'' are expected to continue.

The number of section sales for the year to June was four times more than for the same period in 2011, growing from 46 to 184.

Research released yesterday by Bayleys said the median house value was up 8.4 per cent in the quarter to June to a record $840,000, after rising in the previous quarter by almost 17 per cent.

''The Wanaka residential market experienced unprecedented value growth over the first half of the year with median values eclipsing previous records,'' the research said.

Wanaka is also making inroads into other, separate, real estate data.

Last week, Frankton and Arrowtown became the two Queenstown Lakes areas with $1 million median values, according to Quotable Value, while Wanaka had gained 20 per cent during the past year, just nudging past $900,000.

QV national spokeswoman Andrea Rush said ''Wanaka has also seen strong growth, particularly over the past two years. If values keep rising at the same rate it may not be long before the median there also tops $1 million,'' she said.

In separate Real Estate Institute data a month ago, the Central Otago/Lakes region booked the largest housing median house-price gain in the country, up 32 per cent to $660,000.

While the Reserve Bank has imposed increased loan to value ratio (LVR) restrictions across the country, making housing investors put down a minimum 40 per cent deposit, commentators say the impact is not yet showing up in any data.

The Bayleys research said the new record of $840,000 meant values had lifted by $190,000, or 29.2 per cent, against the same quarter last year.

For the first six months of 2016 there were 280 sales, maintaining the record transaction volume levels seen in recent years.

''The Wanaka residential market is driven by both the permanent local population, currently being bolstered by strong population growth, and the holiday home market,'' the research said.

Section prices have also spiralled, up 30 per cent, or $90,000, to $370,000 in the June 2016 quarter from the same period last year.

Reports suggest the 3000 sections in the pipeline are theoretically enough to meet Wanaka's needs for years, but there is a shortage of construction resources.

The Wanaka residential market is driven by both the permanent local population, currently being bolstered by strong population growth, and the holiday home market.

Wanaka's resident population rose 28.4 per cent between the censuses of 2006 and 2013 to 6471, a rate of growth almost six times that of the entire country.

However, the ratio of unoccupied dwellings to total Wanaka houses was 38.4 per cent in the 2006 census, largely reflecting the share of holiday homes, and was largely unchanged at 38.7 per cent in the 2013 census.

''The fact that the holiday home sector has maintained its relative share of the total inventory, despite the rapid population growth, suggests vacation home demand in Wanaka is increasing at a similar rate and is an equally important factor in driving growth in the Wanaka market,'' the Bayleys data said.

Bayleys said while demand had put upward pressure on residential prices, the supply response had so far been ''limited'', meaning tightening market conditions.

Further compounding the issue was the national construction resource pressures from the Canterbury rebuild and heightened Auckland activity.

''The lack of appropriately priced accommodation for tradesmen in Wanaka is a further impediment to stepping up construction,'' Bayleys said.

- Otago Daily Times

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