There are 226 older-style apartments in central Auckland, some of which are nearing the 100-year mark. They're much sought-after by owner occupiers.
What's more, developers have taken the bare bones of old commercial buildings and converted them into apartments, with tried and tested exteriors and modern interiors.
Auckland's old apartment buildings that were once considered an oddity, says real estate agent Martin Dunn of City Sales, are in eight buildings located across the central city from Newton Road to Emily Place and can be found tucked in behind St Kevin's Arcade.
Many have classic features, such as the Spanish Mission design of the Ascot Apartments in Newton Road, the concertina lift at Shortland Flats, or the New York-style loft apartments at Hampton Court on the corner of Wellesley and Federal Streets. Wooden floors are de rigueur and some of these apartments even have open fires.
The culture in these buildings, says Dunn, is quite different to modern purpose-built apartment blocks, which have a greater proportion of renters.
In some of the older buildings, such as the Shortland Flats, you're buying a share in the company that owns the building and the existing owners can veto buyers they don't feel are appropriate.
These apartments may be old. But they don't come cheap.
Dunn says expect to pay about $400,000 minimum for a 50 to 60sq m apartment.
Living in and owning one of them has its pros and cons. Carly Edwards, a body corporate team leader at Crockers Property Group says that the annual operational costs can be significantly lower in an older building because they have fewer features such as fire protection systems, mechanical ventilation and lifts.
"These features add significant maintenance and compliance costs to an annual budget," says Edwards.
Conversely, she adds, the lack of features such as fire protection and lifts can be seen as a negative thanks to reduced personal safety and the challenge of moving your furniture to upstairs apartments in blocks such as Brooklyn in Emily Place that don't have lifts.
They are also likely to be constructed with unreinforced masonry if they were built before the 1950s, so won't match modern building standards.
Another issue to consider is that buildings with low seismic performance scores will be more expensive to insure than newer buildings.
"In some cases that can mean that the only cover offered is indemnity value not replacement," says Edwards.
The other option for people who prefer the older style is a conversion such as the Silo (former Roller Mills building), Kingsbridge Apartments (the old Auckland Regional Authority headquarters) or the Park Lane (ACC's former offices).
Dunn says apartments in the Kingsbridge sell for about $8000 a square metre.
Erstwhile commercial buildings have some advantages over apartment blocks built around the same time as the conversions were undertaken.
For example the ceiling heights of these old commercial buildings are often higher than the 2.4m that was common in apartment buildings constructed over the past 30 years.
What's more, says Dunn, they are typically cheaper to buy than the equivalent new build. The only proviso is that because conversion apartments are often bigger, you're paying the same total cost for say a two-bedroom apartment in either.
Buyers do need to be a little wary.
Owners of apartments in the 100-year-old Railway Campus were landed with a huge bill to re-clad a modern, but leaky extension that was part of the same complex, even though the historic building was watertight.
It's an extension that was built from substandard building materials, says Dunn.
All apartment and carpark owners in the complex had to pay a share of the remediation.
It's important, therefore, to look closely at old converted buildings to ensure the new construction is quality.
Having said that, neither Dunn, nor architect Natasha Cockerell, a director at Prendos, are aware of other conversions with leaky building syndrome.
An issue says Cockerell for all apartment buildings built before the Christchurch earthquakes is that Auckland Council now has higher seismic standards.
Should any of these buildings need building consent for major work, it can trigger a requirement by council to upgrade the fire protection and earthquake strengthening to meet a percentage of the current regulations.
That can be expensive for any building, says Cockerell. But the older the building, the more costly.
When buying older apartments it's especially important to review historical annual general meeting minutes and financial statements from the body corporate to determine if there is a pattern of regular maintenance being carried out, says Edwards.