Increasing numbers of Asian house buyers are looking at New Zealand property after new taxes cooled buoyant Hong Kong and Singapore markets.
David Bayley, Bayleys Real Estate director, said his firm had six Asian group bookings for Auckland visits.
"We first began seeing the impact of Hong Kong's new property investment tax restructuring in mid-December when we fielded a 12.2 per cent spike in the number of inquiry calls from the region, and the number of website hits emanating from the area jumped 17.3 per cent," he said.
As a result Asian buyer numbers were rising. "Our apartment group for example is now regularly hosting families coming down to Auckland from Southeast Asia with the sole intention of buying CBD units for their children to live in while they attend university here," Mr Bayley said.
Others have questioned the wisdom of New Zealand not discouraging house sales to foreigners, saying residents were being outpriced.
Real estate agents and those attending Barfoot & Thompson Shortland St house auctions expressed dismay at the number of Asian buyers in the room but managing director Peter Thompson said many of these people could be residents.
BNZ economist Tony Alexander found only 9 per cent of monthly house sales were to foreigners, after surveying 10,000 agents in the monthly BNZ-Reinz Residential Survey.
Bayley said record low mortgage rates, an influx of buyers from other parts of China and a lack of new supply had been underpinning the Hong Kong property market since 2010.
In February, Singapore's Government raised the tax, or stamp duty, on residential property purchases by up to 7 per cent, limited the amount of cash buyers could get, and tightened loan-to-value ratios between 10 and 20 per cent.
A new property tax was introduced for overseas buyers in Hong Kong just before Christmas to cool home prices. Non-local and corporate buyers must pay a 15 per cent tax.
Asian buyers were keener on New Zealand than many other countries, Bayley said. Australia was overdue for a price correction, the US was seen as fragile and Europe seemed unstable.
"For many Singaporean and Hong Kong investors, they're back looking at New Zealand, which is a location that may well have fallen off their portfolio over the past few years," he said.
NZ house sales
• 24 per cent - First home buyers
• 19 per cent - Investors
• 9 per cent - Offshore
• 48 per cent - Others