A two bedroom unit in Whangārei and an apartment with water views in Paihia made the OneRoof list this year.
New data from OneRoof shows buyers were on the hunt for bargains with a touch of luxury in real estate's wildest year, searching far and wide for just the right home.
Quirk was also factor as was zoning, with two of the most viewed properties pitched as development opportunities. The heat in the market played its part, with all but one of the top 10 listings selling, with one property selling twice.
The most viewed listing was a two-bedroom apartment with water views at 15/10 Marsden Rd in the Edgewater Palms complex in Pahia, Northland. Offered at a fixed price of $428,000 at end of last year, it sold for $419,000 in May, just as the country was coming out of lockdown.
The listing agent, Dianne Quinn, of Northland Circle Real Estate, told OneRoof: "It took a while to sell, but apartments go in cycles. There is a lot of interest in apartments now - in fact, all property types. There's just not enough stock."
Another waterfront apartment in another tourist hot-spot made the top 10. No 203/424 Maunganui Rd, in Mount Maunganui, Tauranga, was OneRoof's ninth most viewed listing.
The refurbished two-bedroom unit came with a shared swimming pool, spa, sauna and gym and was listed at the start of the year with Chris Brennan, from Powers Realty, with a fixed price of $659,000 – a relative bargain for the beach suburb.
Interest really took off in lockdown, with Brennan telling OneRoof that re-positioning the property as the "best bang for buck in The Mount" brought in huge interest, particularly from Auckland and Waikato, but also from overseas viewers. It sold in July to a Waikato investor for $615,000.
"There's not a lot in the Mount for under $1 million. A house you'd be lucky to get under $1.5 million now. The apartment market hasn't moved as fast as houses, but in the last three weeks as house prices go up, apartments have started to catch up," Brennan said.
The market was just picking up heat in the Hawke's Bay town of Waipukurau, when Property Brokers' Jane Hamilton put up a listing at the start of the year with an asking price of $419,000.
OneRoof's second most viewed listing this year, 23 Freyberg Tce, was a freshly renovated three-bedroom home in a quiet cul-de-sac. It sold in July for $417,000.
"Our photographs showed the deck and the pool, and that had huge interest. Ten or 12 groups came through, which is a lot for us," Hamilton said.
Hamilton reckoned that if the house was listed now it would fetch another $50,000 as "the market has gone mad".
"Our prices have climbed to the same level as prices in Napier and Hastings, and we've sold them all. You used to be able to buy $300,000 house here, but not anymore."
Another sign of the fast-rising provincial markets was the interest in a cross lease two-bedroom unit at 3/25 Churchill St, in Kensington, Whangārei. The fifth most viewed listing on OneRoof was sold twice this year - by the same agency.
Listed with Barfoot and Thompson, the property was bought for $375,000 in March after sitting on the market for some time. Following a smart renovation, it was relisted in October and sold under the hammer for $463,000 at the end of November.
This time it attracted more than 40 groups at the open homes and three registered bidders at the auction.
The third most popular home of 2020 was a standout in lots of ways. No 39 Moxham Rd, in Te Awamutu, Waipa, was a five-bedroom castle built by bricklayer Howard Bright and his wife Helen Bright. Both have a passion for out of the ordinary architecture and told OneRoof back in January, when the house was listed, that they put their heart and soul into the project.
"Kiwis are very boring when it comes to their houses, but everyone is entitled to their own. With the castles – a lot of people love it, but a large portion of people are not brave enough to step outside the box," Helen Bright said.
The Brights had sold the home in 2017 to a couple who were running it as a B&B but decided to sell due to a change in lifestyle. The castle was listed with Powerhouse Realty agent Peter Fox-Worthington, who told OneRoof he didn't run any open homes as they would have been over-run by tourists.
"People loved it. I got way more calls for it than I did for anything else. It was definitely popular because it was so different," he said.
Fox-Worthington had a good offer from a buyer who wanted to rent it out to tourists on Airbnb but the deal fell through as lockdown hit. "We waited another month or so and it sold to a different buyer for $1.1 million cash."
The buyer was a castle-lover from Taupo, who missed out on purchasing the house in 2017.
Reflecting the surge in interest in development sites this year were 6 Robins Way, in Pokeno, Auckland, and 128 and 132 Gordonton Rd, in Puketaha, Hamilton, number four and number six on most viewed list.
No 6 Robins Way was a 2576sq m piece of dirt in the fast-growing southern edge of Auckland. It had a fixed price of $360,000, which would have attracted interest from buyers used to much higher land prices in the city, said LJ Hooker's Vicky Ward, one of the three agents who listed the property.
The low price was driven by the fact it was on the rural eastern side of the Expressway, not the burgeoning suburban subdivision on the western side, and its rural zoning means it needed septic tanks and had a restricted building envelope.
"The [suburban] sections are at least $300,000 to $320,000 for only 600sq m to 700sq m. And you won't get a house and land package for much under $650,000 now," Ward explained.
She added that properties in the main part of Pokeno were selling in days, with buyers coming from all over Auckland to find affordable homes.
"It's going crazy. We're all picking our jaws up," she said.
The other development opportunity, 128 and 132 Gordonton Rd, offered buyers a combined 2382sqnm site with future development potential. Both properties had houses on them that were rented out for a total of $75,000 a year.
The listing agent Glenn Collins, from Lodge Real Estate, said the properties hadn't sold yet but an offer was being negotiated.
Collins was surprised by the interest in the listing as it was pitched at developers not owner-occupiers. "There are a lot of dreamers out there," he said.
Two lifestyle properties aimed at retirees also attracted a lot of attention.
No 12/14 Terry Came Drive, in Cambridge, Waikato, was the first of the popular Freedom Lifestyle Village in Cambridge Oaks to go back on the market after the new build village of 204 sold out.
The listing agent, Peter Matthews, from Powerhouse Realty, said interest in the three-bedroom standalone house was very high, mostly from Auckland retirees wanting to settle in the country town.
"That was a good price of $685,000. Since then, we've sold some with even more spectacular gains, it's quite remarkable," he said.
Another popular retiree home was the two-bed unit at 1/5 Kea St, in Riccarton, Canterbury. Ray White agent Rebecca Toone was not sure why the property attracted so much interest, saying the fixed price of $360,000 was "average, not spectacular".
The 10th most viewed listing this year was a five-bedroom home at 9 Pickaberry Ave, in Karaka, Auckland, which sold in November for $1.16 million.
Barfoot and Thompson agent Tommy Fernandez told OneRoof the house was in a popular area.
"A lot of properties are getting built here now but the older ones are bigger and better, so that's why the first and second stages of the development are more desirable," he said.
Sitting on the 446sq m freehold site, the property was sold to a Manukau homeowner who was looking to upsize.
10 most viewed homes of 2020
1. 15/10 Marsden Rd, in Paihia, Northland.
2. 23 Freyberg Tce, in Waipukurau and Surrounds, Hawke's Bay.
3. 39 Moxham Rd, in Te Awamutu, Waipa.
4. 6 Robins Way, in Pokeno, South Auckland.
5. 3/25 Churchill St, in Kensington, Whangarei, Northland.
6. 128 and 132 Gordonton Rd, in Puketaha, Hamilton.
7. 12/14 Terry Came Drive, in Cambridge, Waikato.
8. 1/5 Kea St, in Riccarton, Canterbury.
9. 203/424 Maunganui Rd, in Mount Maunganui, Tauranga.
10. 9 Pickaberry Ave, in Karaka, Auckland.