Divorce, disgruntled, decamping, downsizing: Why 100 Auckland houses were sold this month

Divorce, disgruntled landlords, decamping and downsizing were principal reasons for 100 Auckland houses being sold this month by one agency.

Fortunately, the fifth obvious D – death – wasn’t on the list.

Martin Cooper, the owner of Harcourts Cooper & Co of the North Shore and Upper Harbour, studied vendor motivation and indicated four D words emerged strongly in the results.

“I asked our managers to look at the first 100 sales this month. These are just facts of life, it’s the evolution of families when their circumstances change – and humanity,” Cooper said, disembarking the packed 9.30am Auckland-Queenstown flight to meet his parents.

The 107 days in lockdown resulted in some Auckland couples splitting and perhaps eventually resulting in divorce, motivating them to sell.

“Relationship breakdowns were a reason for selling at 6 per cent. We had anecdotal evidence of couples during lockdown realising their bubble was not for them,” Cooper said.

The Herald has already reported on divorce lawyers facing a surge in demand as couples separate. One says his Auckland firm has had to “close the doors” as they can’t take on any more cases.

More than a quarter or 27 sales were by investors or landlords, expressing disgust with a number of changes.

Cooper didn’t say it but their sales could be fulfilling Government hopes that landlords would stop and let first home buyers have a go, particularly for lower-priced places.

“These people cited compliance hassles with the new healthy homes standards, tougher tenancy laws, new interest deductibility rules and increasing interest rates as reasons why they have listed and sold,” Cooper said of landlord sales.

Seventeen vendors were motivated by moving to regional New Zealand and five were moving overseas.

“We are seeing many people leaving the city, with Hawke’s Bay being a popular location, followed by the South Island,” Cooper said.

A further 11 vendors were downsizing – but some were also wanting to upsize.

“With Auckland’s recent 107-day lockdown where people were confined to their bubbles at home, they found these were not fit for purpose,” he said.

But Cooper, whose company has around 300 agents, expressed concern about families selling homes for development sites.

“With the unitary plan allowing for higher density housing, we will see this reason for selling increase substantially in the months ahead,” he said.

“A recent example of this was the sale of four neighbouring family homes held for 30 years in Unsworth Heights and 26 new three-bedroomed homes planned in their place. This shows just how dramatically the suburban landscape is changing,” he said.

Unlike Auckland Council and the Government, he is not an intensification fan.

“This intensification creates more and more pressure on the city’s infrastructure, traffic, parking amenities and schools, to accommodate all the new families moving in. The changing times of where we live and how we live will certainly challenge our city leaders and decision-makers over the years ahead,” Cooper said.

The Real Estate Institute said this week the median national house price reached $925,000, up 23.8 per cent annually.

That begs the question about when the $1 million threshold might be reached.

National prices shot from $747,000 last November to $925,000 last month. Auckland’s median rose 26 per cent annually from $1,030,000 last November to $1.3m last month – another record median.

Of the 24 territorial authorities with median prices, a quarter were in Auckland, REINZ said.

And if you’re wondering about Cooper’s Queenstown trip, he travelled with a son and grandson to visit his folks who were just arriving to pick them up for his first trip out of Auckland in more than 107 days.

“Feels good,” Cooper concluded.

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