A jump in the number of Auckland land sales to offshore developers and investors - especially from China - has been a feature of the New Zealand property market over the past six months, says Chris Bayley, international commercial and industrial director for Bayleys.
Bayley says there has been a significant lift in land sales across all sectors of the Auckland market on the back of the region's strong economic recovery, future growth projections and the opportunities that will open up under the proposed Auckland Unitary Plan.
"New Zealand developers pretty much have the smaller end of the land sales market to themselves, but for site sales over $5 million they now face increasing competition from offshore parties.
"These are mostly buyers out of China who have access to significant amounts of capital and in a number of cases they are working with local Chinese parties who are managing the projects for them," Bayley says.
"They are generally looking for add-value opportunities where they can undertake varying degrees of subdivision and development work and then on-sell the end product to New Zealand buyers.
"Their capital is making a significant contribution to the future development of Auckland, particularly in terms of creating much needed housing stock for the city."
Recent land sales that Bayleys has been involved in to Chinese investors include three development sites in Flat Bush ranging from $4.6 million for 2.4ha to $38 million for 110ha; and two sites on the North Shore and in West Auckland with residential and mixed use zonings which sold for a total of $47.8 million.
Bayley says a number of other large land holdings under sales contracts to local and offshore buyers are due to go unconditional over the next few months.
He says there also continues to be strong interest in investment properties from Southeast Asia given New Zealand's strong economic performance, stable investment environment and attractive property yields.
As a consequence, Bayleys is making two marketing trips to the region this month to promote its latest Investment New Zealand magazine, which contains a selection of 15 larger investment and development offerings, and to meet existing and prospective investors.
Next week, Bayley and James Chan, Bayleys' Asian sales director, will visit Hong Kong and Guangzhou, 130km to the northwest. Chan says the cities are located in the Pearl River Delta - also known as the Golden Delta of Guangdong - one of the most densely urbanised regions in the world, with a population of over 100 million people. It is a big contributor to China's economic growth.
"Hong Kong is still a major international hub for Chinese investment money going offshore with all the major Chinese banks and international banks based there.
"We will be meeting a number of high net worth individuals, major banks and private bank clients on an individual basis while we are there. These will include investors who are looking to expand on their existing New Zealand holdings or who want to diversify out of Hong Kong because of high property prices and new property taxes there."
Chan says Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province (formerly known as Canton) and home to 14 million people, is also one of southern China's economic powerhouses and the source of a growing amount of investment capital in New Zealand.
"There is no doubt that the daily flights China Southern Airlines is running between Guangzhou and Auckland have lifted New Zealand's profile and accessibility considerably and are contributing to the increase in investment activity out of China.
"The Chinese Government is also grappling with inflationary pressures as a result of the country's surging economic growth and encouraging offshore investment is seen as helping to defuse this."
Later in the month, Bayley will also be heading Bayleys' participation in New Zealand investment and immigration seminars in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur being run in conjunction with consultancy company EuroAsia, ANZ, PwC and Malcolm Pacific immigration consultants.
"This is the third year we have participated in these seminars and they have produced a number of strong leads," Bayley says.
"Attendees are prequalified and must have a significant amount of capital to invest. Many have expressed interest in moving to New Zealand.
"The seminars are then followed by one-on-one meetings with investors who have a particular interest in acquiring property."
Bayley says a broadening of New Zealand's immigration criteria in recent years has resulted in substantial numbers of Southeast Asians securing permanent residency here many of whom are active participants in the property market, particularly in the retail sector.
"We have focused on building up New Zealand's largest international sales and leasing team to promote Bayleys' vendors' properties to these new New Zealand citizens as well as offshore domiciled investors.
"We now have a team of 16 agents and support staff fluent in Chinese, Indian and Korean languages spread across our Auckland, Manukau and North Shore offices."
Bayleys Property Services also provides property and facilities management and project management and consultancy services for a substantial number of offshore-based clients. General manager Nicholas Piper says over 50 retail, office, industrial and mixed-use properties, with a total value of more than $220 million are managed on behalf of Southeast Asian investors.