Auckland's apartment market has become a clear buyer's market for the first time in over six years, says Stuart Robertson, sales manager, Bayleys City Living Apartments.

He says 2017 was a year of change and uncertainty in the real estate environment across New Zealand, and the Auckland apartment market has not been immune to this.

"With financial constraints, a new government, and restrictions on investor and overseas buyers impacting on the market, we have seen a market swing to a clear buyer's market for the first time in over six years," he says.

But he adds that while there have been mixed messages in reporting on the changing market, it is worthwhile noting that, unlike markets across the Tasman, Auckland's apartment market continues to enjoy steady activity, with demand for quality, well-priced property still exceeding demand.

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"While less-experienced investors seem to have been hampered by recent financial and legislative changes, there is pleasing activity from the more seasoned investors, and owner occupiers who are taking the opportunity to snap up quality property where available."

Stuart says owner occupiers — looking to downsize from the traditional stand-alone family home — tend to favour boutique developments, opting for a functional design-conscious lifestyle that involves minimum maintenance, and the ability to lock up and leave.

"And first home buyers are also seeing their chance to secure a footing in the property market with affordable apartment options.

"With the pendulum swinging in favour of buyers, this puts an onus on those wishing to sell to ensure that they profile their properties showing that they are seriously for sale, highlighting motivation as a seller, clearly targeting the correct buyer groups, and gathering all the information and feedback available on buyer perception of value.

"Gone are the days when 'fear of loss' meant that owners could demand increasing premiums. Buyers in this market are well researched and can obtain ample information of recent sales of comparable properties on which to base value."

Also, the Auckland apartment market has matured significantly in recent years compared with previous buyer periods of the property cycle. This cushions the market from any material swings in value performance given more discerning buyer behaviour. Stuart advises buyers to do their research.

"Have a clear idea about what you need from your purchase, and target a property that suits your lifestyle and budget.

"If you are new to buying an apartment, take the time to consult with a sales agent who is an expert in the market, can match a home to suit your needs/budget, assist with your due diligence, provide detailed information on the property and local market, and assist you to be in the best position come sale day.

"The Auckland apartment scene is as diverse as its more traditional residential cousins, from the charm of character buildings, downtown waterfront leasehold complexes, commercial conversions, central city living, through to luxury owner-occupied residences in the fringe suburbs such as Ponsonby, Herne Bay and Parnell.

"With the increasing popularity of smaller space living, the main drivers for new owners are location that suits your lifestyle, well thought-out, multifunctional spaces, proximity to recreational areas, and buildings that are free from issues.

"For families thinking of apartment living, additional bathrooms, ample storage, and adequate parking are high on the wish list.

"We expect apartment values to hold well, especially boutique complexes that have been built to high specifications, capitalising on the growing popularity of an ageing population looking for a more compact, smarter lifestyle outside of the traditional Kiwi stand-alone home."