Blair Haddow: Top-end property sales remain resilient to vagaries of the wider market

The top end of Auckland’s residential real estate scene – encompassing homes selling in the $5million-$10million range – remains largely immune to trends being seen across the rest of the market, according to a leading real estate agent.

Blair Haddow from Bayleys Ponsonby said that while much of the city’s residential property market was now softening, the extremely tight supply of homes in the upper value echelon across suburbs such as Herne Bay, St Mary’s Bay, and Westmere, meant the balance in setting pricing levels was still firmly tilted towards vendors.

Blair Haddow said the resilience of the top-end city-fringe residential property market could be showcased by two of his high-end auction sales achieved this year - 3A Hope Street in Westmere which sold under the hammer for $5.85million, and 48B Sunny Brae Crescent in Westmere which sold under the hammer for $6.2million. Both had multiple bidders vying for ownership in the auction room.

“I could sell another half-a-dozen $5million-plus homes in a week… if they were out there for sale,” he said. “But people in that pricing bracket tend to hold onto their homes tightly – simply because they don’t come onto the market that often for them to move. Which is why, when they do, my buyer database is quick to act.

“I even have quite a few buyers in the $15million-plus price bracket waiting patiently for the right property to come onto the market.”

Blair Haddow’s analysis is supported by property sales data firm Valocity, which broke down the number and value of high-end transactions in New Zealand over recent years.

Between 2015 and 2019, the average number of residential properties selling annually for $5million-$10million was 100, while the annual average number of $10m-plus sales was 11.

By 2020, the number of $5million-plus sales hit 211 - 16 of which were in the $10million-plus bracket.

The top end did even better in 2021 - with the number of $5million-plus sales jumping 51 percent to 334, and the number of $10million-plus sales reaching 32. This represented 0.3 percent of the greater residential real estate market in 2021.

Property news website reported that Auckland coastal suburbs such as Herne Bay, St Mary’s Bay and Westmere were justifiably seen as a safe and solid investment locations for high-end home buyers - with entry level alone to some streets in those locations now sitting at around the $5million mark.

Mirroring Blair Haddow’s sales experiences in the Herne Bay, St Mary’s Bay and Westmere locales, noted that more top-end homes were going to auction than in previous years.

Adding more clarity to the trend, Blair Haddow added: “The buyers I work with in this niche portion of the market are very experienced property owners. They know exactly what they want, they are well funded, they usually have a background in business operations, so they know about financial aspects, and they are prepared – at least to some degree – to wait until the right opportunity comes along.”

James Wilson, head of valuations for Valocity, acknowledges that several years of inflation in Auckland’s property market had an influence on the number of properties selling in the $5million-$10million price range.

"They are not your clifftop mansion that once upon a time $5million property would have been,” he said.

However, James Wilson did point out that historical sales values were a good indicator of where suburbs such as Herne Bay, St Mary’s Bay and Westmere – all within in Blair Haddow’s field of sales expertise – would sit in the broader value ‘pecking order.’

"Where the high value housing stock typically sits is relatively consistent over time, and that's one of the reasons why high net worth buyers like that stock - it's almost like an asset they can trade and transact relatively liquidly because it's always going to be maintained by being in those locations," Wilson said.

Blair Haddow agrees.

“You’re buying into a premium location, with premium homes, and wealthy homeowner neighbours who understand the value of maintaining – or even adding to – the value of their real estate asset,” said Blair Haddow.