Auction sales post-Covid have yielded some spectacular results for Auckland homeowners, with one grand home recently fetching almost $10 million under the hammer.
But away from the auction rooms, a small but growing number of property deals are being brokered off-market. High-end deals, mostly.
"If I had 10 properties worth $10 million, I could sell them, but the stock is not there," Bayleys agent Gary Wallace told OneRoof. "I've got people who've sold who want to buy at that level."
Wallace, who mainly works in Auckland's prized Remuera market with his wife Vicki and son Andrew, said that while more mainstream properties in the $3m to $6m price range would go to auction, to "let the market dynamics play out", off-market deals were increasingly used for $8m to $20m properties.
Unlike 20 years ago, when "Auckland was a village" and the rich all knew each other, wealth today was more invisible and buyers at the top end of the market wanted more privacy. "The people who've done well, they'd rather fly under the radar," he said.
Wallace said wealthy buyers would typically have property in mind and get the agent to "shoulder-tap the owner and ask if they're interested". For sellers who don't want the attention, the same applies. "They'll shoulder tap me and say, 'This is the price we'd be happy at.' So, when we introduce the buyer, we'd say somewhere from this level and above, that leaves room to negotiate."
Last month Ray White agent Ross Hawkins and his team of three racked up more than $34m in sales, a number of which were off-market.
"Off-market sales have been on the increase in recent months due to the market conditions and FOMO created by the amazing auction activity we have been experiencing," Hawkins said.
"We have buyers who are just waiting for the right thing. So, when something pops up we think ticks their boxes we give them an opportunity to stop the marketing process by giving us a good strong realistic offer and they can own it there and then."
Last week, Hawkins sold a stunning home in St Marys Bay for an undisclosed sum in an off-market deal. He said the house met the buyers' specific requirements: a lift, harbour views and close proximity to the city, Ponsonby and transport routes.
Other off-market deals Hawkins has recently brokered include $10.5m for a six-bedroom modern home in one of Remuera's most exclusive streets; $8.6m for a traditional four-bedroom manor on a 2565sqm section nearby; and $3.6m for a townhouse in Parnell.
"Vendors like to deal that way. They're very private people, and would rather not compete at auction, [although] they don't mind paying good money," Hawkins said.
"But it has to be a show-stopping offer to take a property off the market."
Hawkins said buyers would act with speed if the property was one they wanted. "For the right property, they're very decisive - they'll move very quickly, within two to five days."
Auckland's off-market sales are not restricted to high end homes. Developers looking for building sites in desirable parts of Auckland are also working with agents to locate properties to buy.
Harcourts agent Aman Gulia, who has closed nearly $20m in sales in the past two months, with another $20m under contract, said vendors often liked the longer settlement periods developers offered.
"This makes it ideal for [sellers] who need to spend more time looking for their next place or are waiting for a new build or a retirement village to come available. This gives a huge amount of comfort to them."