Sales and royalties from hit mean 18-year-old can be mortgage-free

All it takes for young people to get a foot on the Auckland property ladder is, it seems, hard work, determination - and months-long domination of the US music charts.

Ella Yelich-O'Connor, more popularly known as the artist Lorde, has become a first-home buyer after paying nearly $3 million for a villa on a quiet street on the border of Herne Bay, Ponsonby and Grey Lynn. The singer-songwriter became internationally famous in 2013 after her single Royals topped the United States music charts for nine straight weeks. The single went on to sell more than 17 million copies worldwide and win two Grammy Awards.

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It's a sign of Auckland's booming housing market that her new house, a four-bedroom 182sq m property only slightly larger than the average New Zealand home, sold in August to the then 18-year-old for $2.84 million. The tidy villa, built in 1900 and on a 447sq m section, has a heated swimming pool and a rateable value of $1.9 million. It is understood, following renovations, the property will be home for the singer who has until now lived with her family in Devonport.


The house had also been extensively renovated by previous owners and, for a decade prior, had been home to a family of five. According to real estate documents the sale settled last month and the property is mortgage-free. The unusual debt-free purchase, in the hottest city in a country which ratings agency Fitch this week said was the most expensive housing market in the world, was made possible by the staggering success of Yelich-O'Connor's album Pure Heroine.

A Herald analysis of sales and streaming numbers conducted in December 2014 suggested - after her song-writing partner, then-manager and record label took their cuts - Yelich-O'Connor had earned over $11 million from Pure Heroine.

Gross revenues from the sales of physical and electronic copies of songs from the album - which are also split with retailers, labels, Apple and the taxman - was close to $100 million. In the year since she turned 18, becoming legally able to take direct control of her business affairs, she has become a director of companies managing her assets and split from manager Scott MacLachlan.

She still remains free of a manager - and the typical manager's 20 per cent cut of her income.

Questions to the singer about the purchase and future music and investment plans, sent through her record label Universal Music NZ, were met with a polite "no comment".

Last year she returned to the studio to begin work on her second album.