A former Shortland Street star and pop musician was the country's most prolific house flipper of the property housing boom - trading an astonishing 70 homes in short-term sales in a single year.

Paul Reid, who initially hit the limelight when he played troubled teen Marshall Heywood on Shortland Street from 2001 and was a member of pop punk band Rubicon, is now the owner of an Auckland property management company Iconicity.

A Weekend Herald investigation into professional trading found Reid, through both Iconicity and in other deals, flipped more properties than any other speculator during the six years to 2018.

He closed at least 130 trades.

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Read more: Inside the world of New Zealand's most prolific house flippers

Flipping is when houses are bought and sold for profit - with or without renovation - usually within six months.

The top 10 New Zealand traders investigated by the Herald were making an average $70,000 per deal, holding the properties for just 70 days.

Paul Reid played Shortland St bad boy Marshall Heywood. Photo / File
Paul Reid played Shortland St bad boy Marshall Heywood. Photo / File

In total during the boom years, all speculators brought in $1.2 billion off flips, with more than 14,000 such sales nationwide.

Most of Reid's activity was in 2013, just as house prices began to skyrocket, when he flipped an estimated 70 apartments in Auckland.

The 39-year-old made an average $55,000 per sale, according to available price data. The Herald on Sunday estimated he brought in at least $4.5 million in the timeframe analysed.

Reid declined to be interviewed, however his path to professional property speculation is well-documented.

In 2016 he told Metro how his career began age 21, after he picked up a book by "property prosperity" guru Dolf de Roos. "It inspired me. It made sense. So I read a lot and took a bit of action," he told the magazine.

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Reid's first investment was a one-bedroom unit in Pt Chevalier, which he bought for $125,000. By 2003, he owned six properties. In 2009, he set up Iconicity.

By 2012, the company had grown so much it was placed 13th in the Deloitte Fast 50 awards. Its website boasts it is the "largest private buyer and seller of secondhand apartments in Auckland".

Reid's activity went hand-in-hand with the market's dizzying rise, although he pulled back from apartment trading before many of the other investors the Herald looked in to, who tended to be most active in 2015.

Targeting the apartment market was a common tactic, however, given the rate of foreign investment in that area.

Auckland Council chief economist David Norman said that was because they were considered a "safe" place for investors to park money.

Data showed as recently as December 2018 - even after the foreign buyer ban came in during October that year - almost 1 in 6 sales in the central city were to foreign buyers.

Paul Reid with Rubicon bandmates Jon Corker and Gene Bennett. Photo / File
Paul Reid with Rubicon bandmates Jon Corker and Gene Bennett. Photo / File

However, Norman said that number is dropping and is expected to step down further.

Other policies affecting speculator activity were loan-to-value ratios and tighter bank lending, with incoming loss ring fencing also expected to deter some investors - particularly in the current flat market.

OneRoof editor Owen Vaughan said in general, investors were much less active now compared with the market's 2015 peak.

He said data released just this week showed investors bought almost 1000 fewer properties this quarter than they did in 2015 - 1837 compared with 2809.

However, while rampant investor activity has cooled, officials are warning New Zealand still faces supply and affordability issues.

In its most recent briefing to the new Housing Minister Megan Woods, Treasury warned that it expected house and rent prices in New Zealand to keep rising, leading to "increased hardship, homelessness, public housing demand and fiscal costs".

Treasury said New Zealand already had the highest housing costs compared with income in the OECD. Median-priced homes were out of reach not only for lower-income but middle-income households, and rental payments were also unaffordable for many.

HOW WE DID IT

The Weekend Herald created a complete list of "flips" from property data held by Land Information NZ. LINZ does not hold historical ownership changes for properties, but we were able to use weekly backup of the data (provided by LINZ) to reconstruct a timeline for these properties, showing how their ownership changed over time.

The data goes from December 2012, when digital versions of the records began, to the present day.

We searched this timeline for every property in New Zealand that changed hands twice or more within 180 days. For our definition of flipping, we excluded all the partial ownership changes, where some of the same owners remained. For example, joint ownership situations where owners were added or removed were not counted as having changed hands.

After excluding some special cases, such as Housing New Zealand or construction or trustee companies, we ranked the owners based on the number of flips they participated in as the flipper. These are the companies that have done the most flipping since January 2013.

We then used QV data to analyse the difference between the purchase price and subsequent sale price to calculate the flippers' "gain". This does not include any fees paid to agents or lawyers, or renovation cost. Some sales didn't have price data available. Averages rely on known prices.

Other data provided by Valocity and Corelogic.