Aucklanders are snapping up apartments and townhouses in a $50 million Tauranga development near the beach, with almost half the buyers seeking relief from Auckland's frantic lifestyle.
Forty-five dwellings have so far been sold off the plans for the 71-unit Salt Residential Community on Girven Rd.
News that independent hearings commissioner David Hill had this week granted resource consent for the development was welcomed by developer Paul Spillane of SNG Investments.
"This will be one of the biggest construction projects in the Bay," he said.
Mr Spillane said the developers were now ready get on with final planning approvals and building consents for the higher-density development on the former Golden Grove Holiday Park site.
Completion was expected by the end of next year. He said almost half of the 45 buyers were Aucklanders making the choice for a slower, quieter lifestyle with a little less traffic.
Grant White of Colliers International said about half of the Auckland buyers were what the trade called "bounce-backs" - former Tauranga people who had shifted to Auckland and now wanted to come home.
Most buyers were in the 45 to 65 age group. "A lot know the area very well and want to come back to live here."
Early inquiries included a lot of people in their 70s and early 80s but many fell by the wayside when they thought about the advantages of the hospital care available in retirement villages if their health deteriorated.
Instead of an older demographic, the age mix was more across the board with some younger couples, older working-age couples, holidaymakers and retirees. The remainder of the buyers came from the Waikato and Bay of Plenty.
"Buyers like that it's brand new, well designed and has a good body corporate."
The development included a cafe and childcare centre for 85 children. The developer already had building consent for the childcare centre and would be the first out of the blocks.
Realty Services chief executive Simon Anderson was "a bit surprised" by the large number of Aucklanders, saying Eves and Bayleys had seen a bit of a drop since the heyday a year ago when 50 per cent of sales were to Aucklanders.
There were still good inquiries from Auckland for Papamoa and mid-Mount Maunganui but there were fewer cash buyers and more conditional buyers waiting for their houses to be sold.
"They are not transacting as quickly as they used to."
Mr Anderson said they were also seeing more inquiries from outside the traditional areas of the Bay, Waikato and Auckland, and into areas like Christchurch and Wellington.
"It is how the Bay is perceived because of the things that are happening here and more jobs."'
The Salt development by the numbers
Area of development: 1.02 hectares
Prices: $435,000 to $950,000
An Auckland family has finally secured an affordable bolt hole in Mount Maunganui thanks to a big development on a former camping ground.
''It provided us with a realistic option in a quality development,'' Cameron White said.
Together with wife Sarah and children Georgia and Tom, Mr White has bought their little bit of paradise off Girven Rd, close to the beach and the Bayfair Shopping Centre.
The family has joined at least 20 other Aucklanders who have signed up for The Salt Development.
Mr White said it would be a bit like coming home for his wife who went to Otumoetai College.
''We have that attraction for the Mount, it is a great place.''
Their apartment was affordable compared to Auckland and other stand-alone dwellings closer to central Mount Maunganui, and had all the advantages of proximity to the shops and beach, he said.
Their corner two-bedroom apartment cost $695,000.