The last remaining blocks of bare land part of a Rotorua residential subdivision built over the last 40 years are up for auction.
Millions of dollars worth of land as part of the Baxendale subdivision, off Pukehangi Rd, will go under the hammer today. Owned for generations by the Hunt family, the land was once one of Rotorua's biggest dairy farms and has been gradually sold off during the past four decades.
The first subdivision of the Hunt farm empire in the 1970s saw homes built in Buchanan Pl, at Matipo Heights along Cobbe Pl in the 1990s, followed by Matipo Cl.
Baxendale was developed in the early 2000s.
It took less than 90 minutes for all 24 sections of Rotorua's Baxendale subdivision to be sold in May 2017, netting its developers almost $6.2 million.
Today, the last 30 sections ranging from 766sq m to 1504sq m with access off Baxendale Dr or Great West Rd will be auctioned through Bayleys Rotorua.
Civil earthworks creating the roading and utility extensions to Baxendale Dr and Great West Rd have already started in advance of the sell-down. Power, water, telco, sewerage and gas connections are in the process of being installed.
The Real Estate Institute of New Zealand data showed the median residential sale price for Rotorua houses in May 2017 was $353,000. Now, median sale prices have reached a record $520,000.
Bayleys Rotorua branch manager Beth Millard had been involved in the development since about 2012.
Millard said the development was "extremely special" because the land had been in the Hunt family for decades.
"It has been farmed, camped on by many, the fond memories of the Hunt family with this last remaining piece of subdividable land is indescribable.
"So for people buying in Baxendale they are not just buying a premier piece of dirt to build a house they are buying a piece of history..."
She said the development had provided the opportunity for Rotorua folk to be able to build their dream home.
The excitement, hype and energy in the auction room back in 2017 was "amazing". "The last one sold so fast."
But she said anticipating how the auction will go was the million-dollar question.
"Depending on bidding and whether or not there is any on floor negotiations, which can make a big difference to timing in the room, it is impossible to predict timing on how long the auction will take."
Millard said the decision to subdivide the premier piece of land into individual sections was hugely beneficial to the Rotorua residential market in the midst of a housing crisis.
"With supply well-outstripping demand, the timing of this subdivision is perfect ... The vast majority of people buying sections in Baxendale have a home to sell – so in turn this opens up huge opportunities for the property market as a whole.
"Theoretically, this means that come time when the purchasers of Baxendale come to start building 30 existing homes will come to the market."
Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick said there was a critical housing shortage in Rotorua and "we need all types of homes".
"Opening up of sections like those at Baxendale will, once homes are built, free up others down the chain, so these types of developments are welcome and play a role in ensuring we have enough homes across the housing spectrum."
Bishop Architecture managing director Aaron Thomsen said the company had been involved with Baxendale since the beginning and had designed "dozens" of homes there.
"It is a good opportunity for the Rotorua housing stock to increase," he said.
"We are looking forward to those extra sections coming onto the market."
Master Builders Association Rotorua president Bill Clement said the Baxendale subdivision had done a lot to lift Rotorua's profile.
"It has brought a lot more people into town who are looking for a nice place to retire and some of those sections are ideal."
Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Bryce Heard said it was good news for Rotorua and believed there would be good demand for houses there.
"It is a good area and will attract high calibre houses. Hopefully, it will bring more people in and help keep property prices at manageable levels.
"We have got to keep bringing new subdivisions in to maintain that. If we get in short [housing] supply, prices will go up."