Property agents are predicting a tightening of real estate vacancies in Hamilton's central business district.

Despite large scale defections from the CBD with the likes of the IRD and others moving to new and purpose-built Te Rapa locations, agents say they are feeling the winds of change.

They now say it is time the city council displayed some leadership and started creating incentives for CBD development instead of facilitating the loss of people, the lifeblood of the central city.

Recent figures revealed about 950 commercial leases on offer city-wide with about 50 per cent of those in the central business district. Seven major commercial buildings were on the market.


Commercial Property Brokers' Allan Marx said the tide has turned in central Hamilton.

"The last two years have been the toughest trading conditions I have experienced in the past 25 years.

"The past few years have been hard for commercial realtors; but 2010 to 2012 were the worst. It was a headwind all the way."

He says a combination of the "double whammy" Christchurch earthquakes, the global financial meltdown and snail-paced recovery, despite declining interest rates, drove people away from commercial investment and saw the demise of many small to medium sized businesses.

Mark Brunton, director of Colliers International, says the current snapshot of the Hamilton central property scene shows a "heap" of vacancies.

"But the outlook is brighter now than it has been over the past three years.

"Major corporates have forsaken the CBD for Te Rapa - it has been a lot easier to erect large office buildings in the suburban areas. They would have been compromised in their footprints in the CBD.

"However, office staff are better served in the CBD as far as shopping and lunching is concerned."


Mr Brunton says retail is looking better in the city centre and he wouldn't expect a further downturn.

"There are some opportunities. Farmers moving to Centre Place could create huge prospects."

Both men see new earthquake regulations and strengthening requirements as a developing issue. They say car parking needs attention but is not the only obstacle for re-populating the CBD. But generally they agree Hamilton's centre is finally moving ahead.