Alanah Eriksen

Alanah Eriksen is the New Zealand Herald's property reporter, and assistant chief reporter.

Remote two-bedroom home a snip at $20,000

Bargains are still out there if you don't mind isolation - and having to roll your sleeves up.

The cheapest homes were all in small rural towns. Photograph / Christine Cornege
The cheapest homes were all in small rural towns. Photograph / Christine Cornege

It's in a village of about 165 people and the closest town is a 45 minutes' drive. But for $20,000, a house in Ohura doesn't sound so bad.

The property at 37 Taranui St was one of three homes that sold for $20,000 last year. It tops a list - released to the Herald by PropertyIQ - of the 10 cheapest sales last year.

The 1920s weatherboard home sits on a 1318m2 section and has two bedrooms and one bathroom.

Ohura, about 50km west of Taumarunui in King Country, is flood-prone, but the home was on high ground, said real estate agent Peter Newman, of First National in New Plymouth.

It was originally on the market for $16,000 so was sold for $4000 over the asking price. It had a capital value of $36,000.

Mr Newman said he had had about 20 inquiries in the four months the home was on the market, and four offers.

A Kiwi woman bought the house after making an offer from Brisbane, where she was living. She was moving back to New Zealand and had asked a friend to look through the property in her absence.

The home was one of two being used as rental properties by the same owner. A family had been living there but it had been vacant for a while, Mr Newman said.

Marketed with the headline "handyman required", the house needed extensive renovations inside.

"It needed re-doing inside completely," Mr Newman said.

"It was basically a shell of a house. It had some nice bathroom fittings in it, they were new, but the rest of it was pretty basic.

"Because of its price it went quick."

Residents of Ohura, an old mining town, have left in the hundreds over the past few years. The local dairy - kept afloat by inmates from Ohura Prison buying cigarettes - shut down when the facility closed in 2005.

The prison has since been turned into a backpackers.

"It's very remote, Ohura, no work there," Mr Newman said.

"There are no shops. There's no garage. There's a Cosmopolitan Club and there's a pre-school and a primary school."

But more tours were running down the "Forgotten World Highway", the 150km stretch of road close to Ohura that runs between Taumarunui and Stratford. "There is a bit of tourism just starting to get in there," Mr Newman said.

"I say to people 'Ohura just went to sleep and it's only just starting to wake up'. But great people live there, they'll go out of their way to help you."

He said fibre-optic cable was installed in the town while the prison was open and many home-buyers chose to live in the village as they could work from home.

"They could get all their internet through the cables. They just wanted somewhere quiet, away from the hustle and bustle."

Sales for the 10 cheapest houses last year totalled just $282,000 - which would hardly buy one home in Auckland. The total was $253,000 below the city's median house price of $535,000.

Five of the homes were in the North Island and five in the South Island. They were all in small rural towns. Murupara had the most homes at three.

PropertyIQ research director Jonno Ingerson said the information only covered sales that had settled and registered with the local council so it was possible there were sales that could still make the list for 2012 but were yet to settle.

The cheapest homes sold last year were $10,000 more expensive than 2011's cheapest sale. A home at 15 Milton St in the Southland town of Ohai sold for $10,000. The 10 cheapest for 2011 totalled $207,000.

Paul McKenzie of realestate.co.nz said there were currently more than 13,000 homes across the country with an asking price of lower than $300,000, including 2000 in Auckland.

"While the housing market in Auckland is especially tight - in terms of low numbers of listings and high demand for homes - there are still opportunities to step on to the property ladder with a variety of reasonably priced homes. The reality is that there are plenty of homes in New Zealand that are well below the record high national averages that we've been seeing in recent times.

"First-home buyers who are looking for a home in Auckland should consider houses, units, or townhouses in lower-priced suburbs, which are further away from Central Auckland. If you are keen to be close to the central city, an apartment would be your best option."

He said there were still plenty of homes that were low-priced as they required some renovation.

"If you are prepared to put some work into it - even doing something as simple as giving it a fresh coat of paint - you can find a cheaper do-up home can be just as good as a new one, and even increase its value."

Move to Clinton, where houses still go cheap

Homes in Clinton, South Otago, can sell for as little as $25,000.

First home buyers who feel locked out of the country's city housing markets may want to try the South Otago town of Clinton, where they can pick up a home for $25,000.

The weatherboard house at 22 Main Rd currently has New Zealand's lowest asking price for a standalone home that is not for removal or on leasehold land, according to listings on realestate.co.nz.

Listed last week with the title "DIY'ers Opportunity Here", it sits on a 1,012sqm section with two bedrooms, one bathroom and a car space.

There were 57 homes listed for less than $50,000 around the country, with most in small rural towns, including five in Murupara, 62km southeast of Rotorua.

Avid skiiers may prefer one of five cabins scattered around Queenstown.

The cheapest, on Glasgow St, has an asking price of $17,000. It boasts sweeping views of the Remarkables and has three bedrooms and one bathroom.

There were a handful of houses for removal, including 1008 Cowper Rd in Dannevirke, which has an asking price of $14,500. There was also an 802sqm section at 3B Paraone St in Taumaranui for $25,000.

CHEAPEST HOUSE SALES OF 2012

- NZ Herald

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