Barfoot and Thompson managing director Peter Thompson says Auckland's rapid growth is putting pressure on housing and infrastructure.
"By 2025 one-in-three New Zealanders will call Auckland home."
The population is expanding faster than officials expected. Thompson says five years ago mayor Len Brown issued figures projecting growth until 2030.
"The actual growth has been ahead of those numbers in every one of the past five years and there's no indication that it will slow down. Auckland has become an international city; like other international cities it attracts people from elsewhere in the home country and from overseas.
"Net immigration is running a high levels and the city is where most migrants start out. We've woken a quiet giant."
Rapid growth has already changed the property market so much that someone from a generation ago might struggle to recognise the today's real estate scene. This isn't just about house prices. Thompson says 25 years ago the most desirable and sought-after property was the family home set on a quarter-acre block. There are few of these in the city today. Many of the quarter-acre blocks that sold then now house two or three homes.
There are lifestyle changes. Thompson says in the days of the quarter-acre block, people had time to maintain the property and the grounds. That took time and energy. Today, thanks to larger mortgages, house owners work extra hours, even take second jobs, to pay for their homes. The last thing they want is to mow lawns in the few hours they are not working. Nor do most people want to spend hours commuting to distant subdivisions on crowded roads.
"The trend over the last 25 years has seen a shift towards apartments. In the 1990s a first wave of apartments was built in and around the CBD. They were largely high-rise buildings with small dwellings -- mainly one or two bedrooms for renters or for young people starting on the property ladder.
"Now we are seeing the development of low-rise apartment buildings, maybe six floors and they are spreading to the city fringe and beyond. In some cases, they have more bedrooms and internal space -- increasingly they might include an office so that people can work from home.
"There are now developments along the Great North Rd ridge and in transport hubs like New Lynn and Albany with more to follow," he says.
As well as apartments there are new developments with terraces and other styles of more intensive housing than we have seen in the past.
Thompson says its not just young people and transient renters who are choosing these properties.
"We sell many to first home buyers, but there are now more upmarket complexes with facilities. They may be built above restaurants and shops; they may have gyms or swimming pools. People increasingly prefer to live near where they work, preferably within walking distance."
The projects under way in the Wynyard Quarter are typical of this trend. "Auckland Council has been promoting development in the area. There are plans for a new hotel and arts centres.
"It will be a mix of residential, business and retail along with facilities and open spaces where children will be able to play. It's going to create an interesting hub and will show what Auckland's future may look like."
Though Wynyard Quarter is close to the city centre, that's not the only place where intensive developments are under way.
"If you go to the large McLennan Park site at Papakura, or Hobsonville, you'll find developments with a mix of properties for first home buyers as well as more upmarket properties for the better-off. There are new schools and other facilities. This is important, we need to work to build communities with a mix of people. Some good work has been done on community building in the new intensive Talbot Park development at Glenn Innes."
Thompson says technology is starting to have an impact on the way people view housing. Increasingly people shuttle between working in offices and working from home. There's an increasing demand for homes with an extra bedroom that can be used as a home office or even a specially designed work space.
Auckland's emergence as an international city has seen it flower with more and better entertainment and cultural activities. This along with the development of other facilities has triggered a secondary housing market trend. Auckland isn't just attracting new residents; it is making it harder for existing ones to leave. Thompson says in the past many older homeowners would sell up in the city then move back to their original home regions, perhaps banking the difference in house prices for a retirement nest egg along the way.
"We're finding that is happening less. More people are choosing to stay in Auckland for longer.
"I've noticed some older people have moved away from Auckland, perhaps to a quiet town on the coast, then realise that after the excitement of Auckland it is too sleepy. They miss their flat whites and the city buzz.
"By the time they realise this, it is too late to return to Auckland because price have moved up. My advice for people thinking of such a move is to go and rent first, keep their Auckland property until they are sure they won't move back."
The ageing population is another aspect of the same trend. By 2025 more than half of all New Zealanders will be over 45. At the same time, fewer people now choose to retire at 65. They may not work full time, but they will work longer. "We don't really know yet what this will mean for the property market, but we think it means fewer people will be downsizing and they will put off moving to retirement-style accommodation," says Thompson. "On the other hand, they could choose to move to apartments. In many cases they will prefer to stay in the suburbs and areas where they already have friends and connections."