Nikki Preston

Nikki Preston is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Quake exiles look north

Hamilton housing market holds appeal for shaken Cantabrians looking for fresh start.

Photo / Brett Phibbs
Photo / Brett Phibbs

Cantabrians are setting their sights on Hamilton's housing market as they look to spend their newly received insurance payouts from properties damaged in the 2010 and 2011 quakes.

Lodge Real Estate chief Jeremy O'Rourke said some Christchurch residents were sick of the shaky city and were showing interest in Hamilton's housing market, which was still relatively stable.

The median house price last month was $332,750, slightly down from $337,000 in September 2011.

This made more attractive buying than Auckland and Christchurch's burgeoning markets, with Auckland reporting a median house price of $515,000 in September, up from $475,000 at the same time last year, and Canterbury/Westland up to $330,000 from $311,500, according to the latest Real Estate Institute of New Zealand figures.

"We've had buyers who have poked around from Christchurch before. Now all of a sudden we've got people who are getting real about it because they are about to get paid out. So the insurance payout - we are starting to see some activity because of that in our market," Mr O'Rourke said.

Christchurch couple Peter and Avril Donnelly decided they could not handle their city's constant shakes and moved to Hamilton in April. Mr Donnelly had secured a job as an electrical project engineer after applying for several jobs in the North Island.

"I didn't enjoy living in the city any longer. I had lost that feeling for the city, I didn't feel safe," Mr Donnelly said.

Another couple received their insurance payout of about $100,000 in March for their house, which had been situated in the red zone.

They bought a property in Western Heights and felt they had got better value for money, swapping their near-new three-bedroom home near the QEII Stadium in Christchurch for a well-established four-bedroom home in Hamilton.

Ray White saleswoman Sue Hall said she had received 12 inquiries from Cantabrians looking to relocate.

"I think they are coming here mainly because we are affordable. So what we've got is industry and we are a close proximity to Auckland if they are commuting."

- NZ Herald

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