By DAVID HILL
Covid-19 uncertainty is creating a building boom in North Canterbury.
North Islanders looking for a change of lifestyle in the wake of Covid-19, are showing a lot of interest in the region, with Aucklanders, in particular, leading the charge, according to real estate agents.
Bayleys Rangiora manager Ross Ditmer says around 25 percent of enquiries to his office are from North Islanders, while overseas enquiries have dropped in the last 12 months.
“Section sales have gone through the roof. In Ravenswood, every time there’s another release, there’s people already on the books.”
Harcourts Four Seasons sales consultant Christine Tallot says Rangiora’s Townsend Fields sub-division is attracting a range of people from first home buyers in their mid-30s to retirees.
“We’ve had people from Auckland coming here for the lifestyle,” she says.
“They see Canterbury as offering a lot more. One couple said Auckland too much happening’.”
Working from home, lifestyle and proximity to Christchurch are among the key drivers, Mr Ditmer says.
Affordability is another factor, because while median house prices are at a record high in Canterbury, it is still much cheaper than in Auckland.
Last year the Waimakariri District Council issued 928 consents for new houses, up from less than 600 in 2020.
Planning and regulation manager Tracy Tierney says 2021 was the busiest year since post-earthquake, when more than 1000 consents a year were issued in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
She expects the growth to continue this year.
The Hurunui district has seen a similar jump, with 175 consents for new houses issued last year compared to 104 in 2020.
Hurunui District Council building and property manager Kerry Walsh says holiday homes are the main driver in Hanmer Springs, while Amberley has a new sub-division and a retirement village. He expects the numbers to decrease this year.
Kaikoura has had a quieter year, with just 14 consents issued for new houses. But there is still plenty of interest in holiday homes, a Kaikoura District Council spokesperson says.
Woodend is leading Waimakariri’s building boom with 214 consents, on the back of the growing Ravenswood sub-division.
Kaiapoi was not far behind with 194 consents as the Silverstream sub-division continues to attract buyers.
A further 161 consents were issued in Rangiora, led by Townsend Fields, 147 in Pegasus and 155 in rural areas.
Just three consents were issued in While there is a building boom, it is not getting any easier for people on low incomes and those stuck in the ‘‘rental trap’’.
Mr Ditmer says Canterbury’s housing stock is ‘‘very low’’, with only a third of the property listings there were a few years ago.
Properties are scarce in the Hurunui district, with just three properties for sale in Hanmer Springs last week, he says.
Rental properties are also scarce.
Last week there were just five rental properties listed in Rangiora, and 23 across the Waimakariri district, Mr Ditmer says.
Just a few years ago there were regularly up to 50 rental properties listed in Rangiora alone.
Waimakariri Deputy Mayor Neville Atkinson says the council will be taking a closer look at the rental market this year.
‘‘Anecdotally I have heard of someone who applied for 34 rentals before finally getting one and I’ve had another two or three asking questions, so we need to do some work to find out what’s changed in the last few months.’’