Prospective buyers in new Takanini development McLennan can pop on a virtual reality headset to experience home layouts, comforted by the reality that the new neighbourhood favours owner-occupiers over investors.
McLennan offers a range of architecturally designed homes in a development which Housing New Zealand is behind.
In a new move for Housing New Zealand, the housing project's initial sale and purchase agreements stipulate buyers must be owner-occupiers prepared to live in their home for at least a year.
(Although first home buyers using KiwiSaver to buy through the HomeStart programme have the usual requirement to live in their home for at least 36 months).
Housing New Zealand senior development manager Giles Tait says: "As well as providing some social housing and some affordable housing, we wanted to offer a development which would allow owner-occupiers to buy, as a lot of houses around this area are bought by investors."
Many stage one homes are completed and stage two of four is now being sold off the plans with projected nine- to 12-month build times.
When completed, the development's approximately 600 homes will have its proportion of affordable housing under $650,000, some bought as first home buyer HomeStart properties, and a target of 25 per cent managed social housing spread throughout.
Barfoot & Thompson has adopted virtual reality to help potential buyers struggling to envisage the detail of yet-to-be-built homes.
By popping on a headset they can explore some of stage two's key home layouts and understand outlooks, outdoor areas and typical proximity to neighbours.
Architects Studio Pacific planned the community featuring several pocket parks where children can play. Housing New Zealand sold land portions to various build partners, which build the homes.
McLennan takes its name from three Scottish brothers who bought the land to farm in the mid-1800s.
The NZ Defence Force bought it for a military camp before World War II, onselling it decades later to Housing New Zealand while retaining a facility alongside it.
Five architectural practices, Context Architects, Sills van Bohemen, Monk MacKenzie, ASC and Brewer, designed stage two's homes.
Giles says: "This means there's a really nice level of diversity and contrast between homes, rather than them looking like similar boxes all lined up."
Price tags aren't upper end. Stage two includes smaller two-bedroom adjoining terrace homes but also encompasses four- and five-bedroom stand-alone homes, all currently priced under $1 million.
Seventy stage one McLennan homes are already being lived in. No Housing New Zealand tenants are here yet but the target is 25 per cent social housing managed by Housing New Zealand (with one block bought by community housing provider Cort).
Buyers can find out whether an address they're considering neighbours a social housing residence.
Deputy principal at Manurewa Intermediate, 32-year-old Sam Holt, is a first home buyer already living here.
Sam likes the design of the buildings and the whole subdivision. "It's not cramped or claustrophobic like other developments I'd seen, and the houses have some proper style," he says.
"I love our house because it's good to look at, it's north facing and opens up to a big open space - the main park-playground space.
"I'd spent quite some time looking at an array of houses on offer all around South Auckland, and you could tell that the McLennan houses were more thoughtfully designed."
Takanini Village is a 10-minute walk and includes a healthcare centre and The Warehouse, Papakura train station (56 minutes commute to Britomart), Southgate Shopping Centre, a supermarket and Massey Park Pool.
Papakura Normal School and Kauri Flats School are within walking distance, there are two high schools nearby and a third proposed to be built adjacent to McLennan.
• McLennan is holding a family fun day today (Sat 22 July) at 75 Walters Rd, offering first home buying seminars, sausage sizzle, the VR experience and a bouncy castle for the children.