If you were New Zealand's wealthiest person, where would you buy houses in Auckland?
Maybe Remuera or Epsom for school zones? Mission Bay for the waterfront? The CBD for convenience?
How about Mt Wellington?
Because that's where Graeme Hart has been buying lately.
The new residential properties he's bought lately for up to $2.7 million are a group of fairly ordinary-looking run-down houses on flat sites in some of Auckland's poorer areas, with weatherboards in need of paint and driveways which have seen better times.
Yet they've caught Hart's eye.
What does he see in what some would call old dungers? What can we learn from his choice of properties?
Companies connected to his Rank Group have bought a number of houses lately.
Fernbrook was his company of choice last year in buying a number of industrial South Auckland properties worth just under $200m.
Last year, one property expert referred to Hart's activity as "lockdown projects".
Last October, the Herald reported how companies connected to him were buying industrial properties in five deals worth $189m which took the sector by surprise.
"Lockdown project, I suspect," said one industry leader of Hart's sudden buying burst.
New Zealand's richest man has bought four multimillion-dollar properties in the last few months, capitalising on the rising fortunes of a sector that just saw giant Goodman Property Trust pile $500m on to its portfolio value.
So now for those residential properties he has bought lately.
Fernbrook Property (No.7) has bought 233 Penrose Rd, Mt Wellington. That isn't the most attractive place, yellow weatherboards and a driveway which looks like it needs some anti-algae and anti-moss treatment.
The property was sold in October last year.
Agents Harcourts said in marketing: "Developers check this out and do your homework for this 823sq m land area with a three-bedroom family home in excellent location. Great corner site with driveway possible from two sides, this property is zoned terrace housing and apartment building thus opportunity knocking. Great upmarket location where properties are in great demand, close to shops, supermarket, bus routes and schools, the good thing is it's only minutes' drive to Auckland CBD."
So could Hart be considering taking advantage of the Government/National agreement to upsize Auckland development? That is a strong possibility being speculated on.
But Hart's most recent activities in buying Mt Wellington houses have been to form individual stand-alone companies named after each address the companies connected to him have bought.
Take for example 12 Mataroa Rd, Mt Wellington. Companies Office records show 12 Mataroa Road Limited was incorporated on August 10. Its registered address is the offices of Rank Group on Quay St in Auckland CBD. The company is wholly owned by Fernbrook Investments, making it a subsidiary.
So why buy that place?
Harcourts said: "12 Mataroa holds a few tricks up its sleeve with its 1330sq m king-sized piece of land and the chance to make something special out of the convenient, family-friendly location and the sunlit elevated site. With so much land to play with, the avenues of opportunity include potential sub-division (with relevant services at the top of the driveway), extending or further up-styling the current three-bedroom home, or simply sitting back and letting the market take you on a capital-raising journey. Whichever way you slice this pie, it's a goody."
Kelvin Davidson, CoreLogic's chief property economist, said median values in Mt Wellington had risen by 22.7 per cent in the past 12 months, versus neighbouring Ellerslie (16.9 per cent) and Panmure (20.5 per cent).
Compared to Auckland as a whole with growth of 22.5 per cent, Mt Wellington had been bang on the norm.
Median values there are now $1,135,300, against Auckland's figure of $1,238,000.
"More generally, we know that the Unitary Plan encourages this type of thing, and it's been a very popular path in recent years – just look at all the townhouses within overall Auckland dwelling consents, presumably in a lot of cases for infill housing on large maybe ex-state sections," Davidson said.
"I guess it's just about finding the sites and suburbs where the sums still stack up, and from his perspective they obviously do so in Mt Wellington."
Sharon Cullwick, NZ Property Investors Federation executive officer, said she could understand why Hart was buying in Mt Wellington.
"You've got Sylvia Park there, so it's definitely a growth area. The more homes built to resolve the housing crisis is definitely a plus. Because there's potential there, it would be Hart's main motivation and it used to be seen as a long way from the city but now it's not considered like that. It's got its own hub there," she said.
Ikea will be built at Sylvia Park soon too.
"There's big infrastructure like that going in to attract more people to the area. It is already desirable. It has good transport connections with buses and trains," Cullwick said.
So all that could give an insight into why Hart has bought here although some in the real estate industry were surprised the sites are so scattered and not adjoining.
Attempts to reach Hart to ask him about the purchases were unsuccessful.