By Kelvin Collins, CEO, Harcourts Highland Real Estate Group.
2016 has been a great year for New Zealand and Dunedin has benefited from that.
Although we’re not moving as quickly as other regions, Dunedin property investment has never been more attractive and our market this year was extremely fast-moving.
The conservative culture equals slower growth
Here in the provincial South Island we have a reputation for being overly conservative. We’re cautious and reserved with our investments — relatively unwilling to spend and highly responsive to reports of bad news in the economy.
There’s nothing wrong with this, but a dated approach of just taking what you’re given and being happy with it is something I see as a contributing factor for slower growth here than similar places around the country. As a township, we’re generally concerned that our investments won’t be worthwhile, that the costs of our homes will deteriorate and we’ll end up losing money.
A new lease of life
But recently we’re seeing a wave of positivity as people are starting to draw confidence from the strength of our national economy and take heed from the unrestrained growth in other regions.
Places such as Central Otago and Canterbury adapted two years ago but here, we’re cautious. It’s great that we’re slowly taking steps to capture a bit of their success for ourselves and I expect we’ll soon start reaping great rewards.
Dunedin property really is reasonably priced and, with low interest rates and inflation, local people are coming out from under their shells and readjusting to the affordability. Investors from around the country are also realising the benefits of investment here, especially with the new LVR restrictions which require a 40 per cent deposit.
As of October, the median price of Dunedin property was 48 per cent lower than the Central Otago Lakes region and 24 per cent lower than Christchurch. With a lot of older and smaller property we can’t be expected to achieve similar prices — for now we need to concentrate on letting people know that they can afford a good modern Dunedin home without compromise or settling for more inadequate property.
The authorities could be doing more
Despite this collectively fresh attitude, I think the council for one could do more to encourage positivity and liberality. It needs to be mindful that the economy works off confidence and that we have an extremely reactive population. Reinforce the true notion that we’re in a strong place — people will continue to spend, the town will benefit and things will improve even further.
The mood of local officials, however, seems to be that they’re happy with the way things are — when they should be shouting from the rooftops about all the brilliant things Dunedin has to offer.
The university brings young, motivated people to the city and fosters some of the best technological and scientific developments in the country. We’re a hub of innovation and creativity that could make Dunedin a driving force nationally and even globally.
Our history and heritage is unique and intriguing and Dunedin is the home of some of the best Victorian and Edwardian buildings in the Southern Hemisphere. Add that to our coastal location and abundance of wildlife and it’s more than enough to fuel a real push in tourism.
We need to create jobs
But to expand our township and create a lively culture that inspires further growth, we need to turn students and tourists into residents: we must create employment opportunities.
We know that the town is a fantastic place to live, but we need to ensure it continues to thrive and that bright and talented young people choose to remain here after finishing their studies. There must be more we can do to make Dunedin one of the best places to live in the South Island.
Our approach in 2017
On a personal note, we’re adapting the way we work at Harcourts to cater to a more informed and aware clientele. 20 years ago, real estate consultants operated in the vein of “knowledge is power” — but in today’s digital world, knowledge is available to everyone. We see ourselves as more of a consultancy service, helping to decipher the language, patterns and laws of the real estate world. We want to help you make the emotional and important decision of real estate buying or selling and end up with the best results for you. It’s a way of working that’s more advice-giving and ultimately more enjoyable for all parties involved.
Dunedin is one of the most interesting and innovative places in New Zealand and the people are starting to realise that our economy is strong and investment in property is worthwhile. But as a town we need to capitalise on this steady growth and make it tangible and sustainable. We must encourage spend through the creation of jobs — confidence will rise, we’ll see more investment in Dunedin property and the town will flourish.
And if you’re looking to buy here, take a look at our wide range of property.