Alanah Eriksen is the New Zealand Herald's deputy chief of staff

13 Auckland suburbs in $1m club

Two newest areas to join are Freemans Bay and Mt Eden with Herne Bay expected to hit $2m soon.

Auckland now has 13 suburbs with an average house value of $1 million or more, property figures released to the Herald show.

Herne Bay is well on its way to becoming the country's first $2 million suburb at $1,913,333 and St Marys Bay is next in line at $1,566,889.

The Herald asked PropertyIQ for a list of the country's top 20 areas. It valued every house in each suburb based on recent sales of nearby comparable properties to find an average, although there are many properties that would fall below the figure.

They were all in Auckland - 13 had an average value of $1 million or more and figures are now higher than ever.

Three of the 13 areas were on the North Shore - Stanley Bay, Takapuna and Devonport - while the rest were in Auckland city, including Parnell, Epsom, Remuera, Ponsonby, Westmere and Mission Bay.

The two newest suburbs to join the $1 million club were Freemans Bay, with an average value of $1,008,389, and Mt Eden at $1,001,667.

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand chief executive Helen O'Sullivan said parts of Mt Eden appealed to young families as it was in the "triple grammar zone" for Epsom Girls' Grammar, Auckland Grammar and Mt Albert Grammar.

"But it's not just the schools. It's a nice part of town, it's close to Mt Eden village, which has lovely cafes and shops which appeal to the urban professional."

She said Freemans Bay had risen in price as it was close to top suburbs Herne Bay and St Marys Bay.

"You do see this a lot with the suburbs that border on the popular suburbs - you can get a big place in Meadowbank, the equivalent of what you could get in Remuera - for cheaper."

Other suburbs just below the threshold were Campbells Bay, St Heliers, Kohimarama, Grey Lynn, Castor Bay, Eastern Beach and Narrow Neck.

The Herald revealed in September that 11 suburbs had reached the $1 million mark, with Herne Bay top with an average value of about $1.8 million.

It was predicted New Zealand might have its first $2 million suburb by Christmas, but PropertyIQ research director Jonno Ingerson said many of the top suburbs had levelled or decreased slightly over the past few months.

Herne Bay values had increased 0.4 per cent in the past three months, compared with an increase of more than 6.5 per cent over the first three months of this year.

Over the past three months Mt Eden, Parnell, Pt England and St Johns had dropped slightly in value.

Herne Bay became Auckland's first million-dollar suburb in 2003.

No Wellington suburbs feature in the top 20. Seaside Lowry Bay broke the mark in early 2008 but slipped down again.

Mr Ingerson said he was unable to get a recent figure because of insufficient sales activity in the area. The last value was $929,444 a couple of months ago but it had been trending down. Of the Wellington suburbs PropertyIQ could assess, the highest value was Seatoun at $845,000.

REINZ has also given figures for the 13 top suburbs for the past year.

Using a median sale price it calculated that three suburbs were in the $1 million-plus bracket - Herne Bay, Remuera and Stanley Bay - in the year to October 31, which meant half the homes had sold for more than $1 million.

Stanley Bay had seen the biggest growth at 39 per cent, from $1,182,000 to $1,642,500, followed by St Marys Bay at 27.9 per cent, from $617,500 to $790,000. Ponsonby was the slowest moving at 3.1 per cent - a rise from $875,000 to 902,000.

Remuera had the biggest number of sales at 582 but the biggest rise was Stanley Bay at 100 per cent - from seven sales in 2011 to 14 in 2012.

Freemans Bay had the biggest drop at minus 20.4 per cent - from 113 sales to 90.

Buyers snap up houses without a look through

Some buyers are making offers on houses in Auckland's million-dollar suburbs without having stepped foot inside as competition in the market heats up.

Margaret Meyer and her son Chris put in an offer on 319 Mt Eden Rd - in the city's newest suburb to join the $1 million club - after Bayleys real estate agent Kitty Rothschild phoned her by mistake.

The pair had missed out on a house in Parnell at auction and Ms Rothschild had taken her number from that register. So when she called, Ms Meyer didn't want to miss another opportunity.

"She called me completely by accident," Ms Meyer said. "But I asked her about the other house and if it had gone. She said no, so I asked if I could put an offer in."

The home, on a 551sq m section and with a council valuation of $1,050,000, is split into three apartments. The mother and son, who work as a nurse and landscaper respectively, are planning to rent out two apartments and live in the third.

Ms Meyer would not reveal what she had paid but it is understood to be just over $1.3 million.

She said the building needed renovating but was worth the price.

"It's all about location, location, location. We're very central, it's in the triple grammar zone. It's a miracle, I didn't think I'd ever be able to live here."

Meanwhile, a Kiwi couple living in London bought 44a Prospect Terrace in Mt Eden for $1.3 million.

They saw the six-bedroom home, which sits on a 400sq m section, advertised on the Bayleys website and contacted real estate agent Keith Ward, who filmed a "walk-through" and put it on YouTube.

After seeing the video, the husband arranged to come to Auckland to finalise the offer.

- NZ Herald

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