Posh properties get biggest pounding

By Andrea Milner

Some of the nation's poshest property proved the biggest casualty of the market slump that's pounded values everywhere.

The upmarket Auckland suburb of Remuera is among those hardest hit by falling prices.

Real Estate Institute figures place Remuera almost at the bottom of 41 suburbs ranked according to how far their median sale prices had dropped as at May this year compared with the same time in 2007.

The results show the median price for property in the swanky suburb has dropped by nearly 20 per cent, between May 2007 and May this year, from $1.02 million to $819,691.

The only area to fare worse than Remuera was Central Auckland, where the median plummeted more than 27 per cent, from $275,000 to $199,200, dragged down by the weak CBD apartment market.

Other spots to show big slides were Levin, down 18.18 per cent, Onehunga in Auckland, 14.19 per cent, and Manurewa in Manukau, 12.83 per cent.

The Nelson suburb of Stoke pipped the rest of the country, sailing through the slump with a 3.66 per cent price growth. Vaughan Borcovsky, general manager of Summit Real Estate in Stoke, says the suburb has always been popular with its "great climate, good-sized flat sections, easy access to schools and affordable properties", so demand had stayed high over the past two years.

Boat builder Graham Reynolds and wife Ros bought their Taunton Rd home in Stoke after moving from Wellington about 10 years ago.

Ros says they wanted to "chill out" and enjoy a slower lifestyle, and describes Stoke as a good place to raise their two children, being "handy to everywhere" and with good schools.

She doubts they'll ever sell, despite having enjoyed strong value growth in their three-bedroom weatherboard home on its 600sq m section.

People are drawn to the area in increasing numbers, which Ros puts down to the lifestyle and weather - Nelson enjoys the most sunshine hours in the country. And she says the real estate offers comparative value for money.

Another strong showing came from Pukekohe, up 1.51 per cent from $362,000 to $367,500, with Wellington Central also making a slight gain and Papakura staying static.

Meanwhile, Remuera residents may be relieved that market analysts like QV's Glenda Whitehead are now hailing a stabilised property market.

Vendors have typically adjusted their price expectations to meet the present market, she says, and buyers are presenting reasonable offers, knowing they have some competition. Whitehead says a lack of new listings in some areas creates higher demand, helping to steady values.

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