The Auckland property market is forecast to romp ahead again this year, yet some of our city's finest homes are failing to sell, despite months - sometimes years - of high-profile marketing.
Mansions in the $10 million-$20m league with views, expansive pools and tennis courts are something most of us could only dream of.
So why no buyers? Is it the foreign buyer ban? High price tags? A paucity of buyers in this league?
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To be in the top price-bracket, the property must be completely renovated and ready to live in, agents say. Millionaires don't want to have to lift a finger.
It must also be in the right suburb, have wide appeal and great views.
"There's lots of Aucklanders with $20 million in their pockets just waiting for the right place to come up," says one top agent.
"They'll move fast once it's for sale."
Other agents say they're close to closing deals and sale announcements are forthcoming - or their buyers are in no hurry and are sticking to their asking prices.
But Overseas Investment Act changes in October 2018, which ban most non-residents from buying houses, are certainly being felt: "Before then, these places would have been snapped up like that," said one agent.
Barfoot & Thompson agent Leila MacDonald said: "Places don't sell mostly because the vendors don't get what they want and they don't need to sell. They don't have to and they don't care if the place sells or not."
Graham Wall, who sold New Zealand's most expensive house for $39m - a Paritai Drive home partly financed by former Hanover Finance director Mark Hotchin - said places often languished when buyers held out for big numbers.
"If something hangs around too long, someone might want too much."
OneRoof editor Owen Vaughan said big historic family mansions were usually bought by New Zealanders returning home after overseas business careers.
"Heritage homes in Remuera can bring back childhood memories to potential buyers. And these types of homes never go out of style," he said.
• Pakatoa Island, Hauraki Gulf - 14 years
For 14 years, the island's owner, Crusader Meats' founder John Ramsey has been seeking $40m for the 24ha island he bought for only $4.25m in 1994. One of the few privately-owned Hauraki Gulf islands is off the east coast of Waiheke's Cowes Bay, south of Waiheke's Man O' War Bay.
The Salvation Army owned it in the early 1900s for an alcohol treatment centre for women, isolated from its Rotoroa Island male rehabilitation base.
Ramsey had agents first advertise this place for sale in 2006. He remains relaxed about the non-sale, telling the Weekend Herald if someone wanted to front up with the full asking price, he'd sell. Offers under that, or for him to leave in vendor finance, he rejects.
• 306 Cowes Bay Rd, Waiheke Island - 14 years
In 2006, the Herald featured this place as being for sale.
The 31ha home and farm estate on four separate titles has been towards the top of the most expensive for-sale list for years, advertised at $28m with a 700m beachfront, promoted with its "sweeping Gone With the Wind style of grandeur, particularly with a spacious foyer and wide staircase. The owner is listed as Beverley Donnelly although Sean Donnelly also appeared on records previously.
The sale has been with many agencies but with Waiheke First National since 2017. Principal Malcolm Croawell said the "big boys" in town had listed it without any result: "It has been on the market a while but we have been instructed by the vendor just to get on with the job and not to worry about anything else."
The $28m asking price, Overseas Investment Act restrictions and further tightening of that legislation had taken a toll.
Michael Boulgaris said he got an offer of $26m "a good few years ago" but it was rejected.
• 20 Rawene Ave, Westmere - four years
The home, owned by Sharon Hunter and Tauranga Mayor Tenby Powell, has been on and off the market for four years.
Powell said it wasn't listed all that time - on in 2016, then off and now on again.
Back in May 2016, Graham and Ollie Wall listed the home, expected to fetch around $20m.
Although Powell and Hunter had received "an excellent" offer back in 2016, he told the Weekend Herald they had later withdrawn it from the market because they didn't need to sell.
"It's somewhere around there," he said when asked if they were still expecting around $20m.
"We've had offers around there. But there's also big interest in long-term rentals of about two years. Frankly we don't want to sell it. We've got a very good offer on it right now but in reality, if we can keep it, we will."
Powell said wealthy overseas buyers were keen "and we've had a tremendous amount of interest. We have an offer and we're not sure whether we're going to accept it."
• 6 Garden Rd, Remuera - two years
The market estimated value of this five-bedroom four-bathroom home on an impressive half-hectare of 5109sq m is $25m. It was listed in 2018 by Boulgaris but two years later, still has no takers.
The colonial-style home has an in-ground pool, extensive Waitemata and Rangitoto Island views, a wine cellar, tennis court and Boulgaris claimed the site was "one of the largest landholdings" in Remuera. It is owned by Stephen Allen, Donella Parker and Shortland Trustees.
"We listed it when the market was a little flat and new legislation came in with the foreign buyers," Boulgaris said.
"Once upon a time that would have been snapped up. We've had a couple of nibbles but the market was against us so the owners are in no hurry to sell. The right buyer will come along."
• 57 Portland Rd, Remuera - a year
Early last year, this five-bedroom six-bathroom home of former Saatchi and Saatchi boss Kevin Roberts was being marketed as multi-level luxury perched on a 3565sq m site of lush gardens, tennis court and even an indoor squash court.
The place has a CV of more than $12m, designed to be a "resort where we could bring up three teenage kids, host our hoped-for grandchildren, entertain friends, host business events and enjoy New Zealand's four seasons," Roberts said last year.
MacDonald of Barfoot & Thompson said: "We're not doing anything just now on it but we will after the holidays. We have had some cash offers but the vendors didn't accept them."
• 43 Arney Rd, Remuera - a year
The six-bedroom is a heritage home on 3062sq m of land in one of the city's best streets. It has a CV of $12m and a protected 1914 character home, owned by Walter and Katherine Strevens and Arney Trustee Services. It is said to have the flattest piece of residential land in the upmarket area, meticulously maintained gardens and could take a pool as well as tennis court.
Last March, that featured as for sale with Graham and Ollie Wall saying it was "an absolute one-off".
Of the wait for a buyer, Graham Wall said: "It takes an incredibly creative person to buy an old house, knowing they could well have to spend money to bring it up-to-date on the inside."
Such classic beauties sometimes presented somewhat of a challenge for those seeking modern kitchen, bathroom and laundry facilities, he indicated.
"If they're considering buying, they might be adding up what they might have to spend to update it and wondering if they would get that money back once they sold it," he said. Yet he remains confident of a buyer, and not that far away.
• 12, 12a Aldred Rd, Remuera - five months
The six-bedroom two-level home on its big 3915sq m site is owned by Kim and Rob Hamilton, who is SkyCity's chief financial officer. It was listed in September. Boulgaris was last year anticipating around $20m.
"I am close," he said of an imminent sale.
"The top-end buyers who were in negotiations naturally went on holiday over the festive season and viewings are scheduled for the end of the month."
• 99 Arney Rd and 66 Bell Rd, Remuera - three months
Briscoes' boss Rod and Patricia Duke's six-bedroom home has not been on the market that long, only listed late last year. The couple moved to the renovated and vastly extended St Mary's Bay waterfront home with its controversial boatshed/helicopter landing pad.
The section of their old place is 3650sq m. It has six bathrooms and garaging for six vehicles, a pool, outdoor entertaining areas and is being marketed as "northern slopes ultimate grand estate".
Agent Graham Wall described the home with two street entries as "beautiful, beautiful, beautiful", set in stunning surrounds, private and peaceful, a city haven. Age was a factor in how people viewed such a home.
"A 2020 house has brilliant bathroom and kitchen amenities. Yet most of the older houses have not had a birthday recently."
Again, he remains very confident of an imminent sale, saying the property offered a certain magic few others had and certainly had the X factor.