Todd Property Group has conditionally sold the first 14 sections at its 160ha Long Bay housing estate, the country's largest new greenfields residential project.
Evan Davies, chief executive, said group house builders had paid deposits on the land where they would put up show homes. Section sales would settle once titles were issued.
He anticipated builders would have consents by early next year and start building what Todd calls a "parade of homes" by around February.
Stephen Martin, Todd senior development manager, said those sections sold for an average of $450,000 and Davies makes no bones about developing upmarket housing on the expensive land where 2500 houses are planned.
At Long Bay, above the regional park, Todd is not answering the call for affordable housing partly, Davies said, because the company could only build on 60ha of the 160ha site.
The rest of the land is being laid with roads - some up to 24m wide - parks, reserves, open space, buffer zones, stormwater treatment areas, wetlands and landscaped zones.
"I think it's the most spectacular residential physical environment," Davies said.
"When you've paid what we've paid for infrastructure that nobody else provided and when you've taken 13 years to get here, the possibility of providing that kind of [affordable] outcome is precluded.
"It's just taken too long and cost too much."
Martin agrees, saying affordable houses on such a site were "completely impossible".
Three-bedroom stand-alone houses could start at around $700,000, but Martin said smaller places towards the centre of the project might sell for less.
Davies said that come the end of the 2013/14 summer, around 20 to 30 houses might be up and the first residents living on the site.
Todd has the first 180 lots in zone stages two, four and seven and an open day is set for November 23.
A cafe with a sales and information suite will be finished and a scale model has been built.
Builders will be required to meet Todd development guidelines. Covenants will be put on titles so the houses meet a built form approval process for the integrated nature of the estate. Around 3 million cu m of earth will be shifted on the site.
"Unless we had that magnitude of works, we can't make the ground safe in terms of the ridges and gullies," Martin said.
A 2m diameter wastewater pipe costing $7 million has been laid and a $3 million water pumping station built, all to increase capacity in the area and prevent stormwater spillage into the Long Bay Marine Reserve.
The new Awaruku Bridge has been completed within the estate, given a farm theme with timber used from the area.
But Todd has also been working on developing a new entry into the estate, a 1km road from Glenvar Rd to near Ashley Reserve, to escape the constrained southern accessway from Beach Rd.
Davies would like to have the new road built "yesterday" but acknowledges it might not be finished until 2015 and referred to Auckland Transport funding constraints for the timing, but there was a need for the accessway because most people will be entering the estate from the south.
Todd owns a further 130ha north of its Long Bay site at Okura which Martin says is now subdivided into 30 individual titles. Davies and Martin are refusing to talk about their plans for that land.
"We have plenty to do in Long Bay," Davies said, adding that Todd has a third holding of 20ha west of Long Bay on the southern end.
Davies agreed with Finance Minister Bill English's prescription for affordable houses.
"But the challenge is more complex than simply one of land availability," Davies said.
"The challenge is to pay the right price for the land, then about efficiencies and effectiveness of processes," he said. "If you want houses to cost half as much, make them half as big. I grew up in a place with no garage. We had a carport."
At Stonefields, Todd has sold more than 20 of its 44 apartments in Saltus for around $650,000 each but is still working on concepts for its Napier Hospital site where Davies met civic officials last week.