Millions of dollars are being spent on high-end southern houses by purchasers who have never set foot on the property, real estate brokers report.
The tendency accelerated during the most recent Covid-19 shutdown, when travel restrictions prevented anyone from seeing property in person.
N.Z. Sotheby’s International Realty has accounted for three of the top five home sales in New Zealand so far this year, with one in Closeburn fetching $16.1 million and two in Jacks Point and Lakes Hayes fetching $14.5 million apiece.
Closeburn and Jacks Point homes were completely sold online, according to Sotheby’s managing director Mark Harris.
Due to Covid-19, the number of individuals purchasing property online has “substantially risen” during the last six months.
Buyers placed their trust in online technologies such as Zoom or Facetime to the extent that they were willing to purchase a home without personally examining it, Mr Harris said.
“People seem to be overcoming their mistrust of technology and depending on it much more.”
There has been a significant surge in buyers seeking to relocate from places like as Auckland or Wellington to the southern lakes area’s lifestyle homes.
There had also been interest in the Queenstown market from Sydney and the east coast of Australia.
“We’ve always had a high level of interest from those regions, but Covid-19 has expedited it,” he said.
Listings in the region had been relatively low for the previous six months, owing mainly to the usual winter slowdown, but now that spring had arrived and homes were beginning to be constructed again, Mr Harris predicted that more properties will come on the market.
Gail Hudson, manager of Bayley’s Cromwell office, said there had been an increase in prospective buyers from Alert Level 3 regions seeking to relocate south using internet resources.
“They are not just asking about them; they are purchasing them.
“Two years ago, or even 18 months ago, we would not have believed it was conceivable,” she added.
Mrs Hudson said that housing demand was “very high” and was constantly rising.
Purchasing a Dunedin home online is also getting more common. John Cutler, principal of Cutlers Real Estate, said that many enquiries had been received online, especially from those seeking for investment homes.
“People may now get a great deal more information about the condition of a home online than they could before.”
Mr Cutler said there was a lot of demand for homes in Dunedin at the present but not enough supply to satisfy it.