Auckland couple Simon and Paula Herbert have just sold one of New Zealand's most stately city mansions for $25.5 million, understood to set this year's record for the most expensive residential sale.
Ollie Wall, of Ponsonby agent Grahamwall.com, said the 6105sq m properties in two titles at 542 and 538 Remuera Rd had been sold to a family who came here from China.
The record deal comes just as the Government is poised to pass its Overseas Investment Amendment Bill, banning New Zealand residential and lifestyle property sales to non-citizens and non-residents.
Ollie Wall said of the man from the family who bought the Herbert's house: "He's in the online tech industry in China and they're a family with children of primary school age. They're going to live in New Zealand, send their kids to local schools. They're not just land banking. They are looking for a beautiful family home."
The house itself is about 900sq m, was previously owned by businessmen David Richwhite then John Sanders and is set in park-like grounds of just over half a hectare.
The residence was designed by renowned architect Roy Binny from the arts and crafts architectural movement.
The Herberts bought in 2009 and listed in 2015, although Ollie Wall said they had taken it off the market and only re-listed it recently.
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Under Mrs Herbert's hand, the almost century-old house was given a delightfully contemporary twist, enhancing outstanding, eye-catching elements. Stark, glossy, black-and-white interior decor was brought to the house. Major renovations were carried out to both house and gardens in 2010 after the Herberts first moved in.
They opened up the interior spaces and improved the indoor/outdoor flow with new French doors and outdoor terraces. She wanted people to be impressed by each area of the home as they moved through it.
Large, tiered, ultra-modern chandeliers were installed and dark wood was painted glossy white in the home which has extensive views over the harbour towards Devonport.
Air-conditioning controls allow for different settings in each room and parties can be held in the swimming pool and tennis court areas simultaneously because both have gazebos with bathrooms and full kitchens.
The 1920s brick house behind a high wall at the end of Greenlane Rd is surrounded by English-style landscaping, with a knot garden, walled orchard, 6m high hedges, brick archways and rose garden off the media room and gymnasium near the seven-car garages. The house also has its own large staff quarters above the extensive garaging staff.
Simon Herbert hit the headlines two years ago when he showed off plans for his Bayswater Marina Village. On Friday, he said he had increased density plans from about 100 homes. He is now seeking to turn his 3.34ha reclaimed site into a $500m project, developing 280 apartments, all above shops and cafes.
Paula Herbert was crowned Mrs New Zealand 2009, representing the country in Vietnam.
Simon Herbert said: "The house is fantastic. We've loved being there but we're onto new and different things and looking forward to going somewhere different. We will probably end up going to Herne Bay or around there. We just feel like going across the other side.
"The sale settled on Wednesday so we're gone. Some things have gone into storage and some to the beach," he said referring to the stylishly modern Bay of Islands waterfront retreat they bought about four years ago from fellow multi-millionaires Cameron and Tracey Gregory of Metro Glass fame.
"We bought their place in Paroa Bay," he said, referring to the location on the other side of the ocean from Russell. "They had built a beautiful André Hodgskin design 10 to 12 years ago and we bought that. We put in the pool in the last year and did our own things up there. We're very happy with it and built a big jetty."
In 2015, the Gregory couple sought around $35m for their fortress-style Auckland home at Hauraki near Takapuna, on a clifftop site of nearly a half-hectare with a 1730sq m house, crouched behind a high fence with tall metal gates.