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Property prices going from boom to “Zoom”


An emerging trend in residential property markets across the United States of America hasn’t yet made its way to New Zealand – but Quotable Value (QV) property experts think it’s just a matter of time before it does.

Popular US holiday destinations such as the Hamptons, Cape Cod, Aspen, and Lake Tahoe are quickly becoming what real estate agents and journalists have dubbed as “Zoom Towns” for remote workers seeking better work-life balance and often cheaper property than in the major American cities.

As remote working continues to gather pace amidst the global Covid-19 pandemic, experts agree that this trend is only likely to continue.

QV general manager David Nagel commented: “In New Zealand, we have beautiful beaches, lakes, forests and mountains on our doorstep, so you can certainly see the appeal of escaping city life for a quieter or more scenic existence somewhere else, especially if you don’t have to give up any career opportunities to make that move.”

Although QV property consultants and valuers across New Zealand have reported only anecdotal evidence so far of people leaving the cities to live and work remotely in places such as Orewa, Matakana, Raglan, Mount Maunganui and the Coromandel, he said the normalisation of remote working was bound to have an effect on the property market.

“In Auckland right now, North Shore residents are being encouraged to work from home to avoid taking the damaged harbour bridge. If their employers don’t see any drop in their output as a result of working from home, then why wouldn’t they also be open to more permanent remote-working arrangements?

“As house prices in Auckland and Wellington continue to hold up, even under the enormous amount of economic uncertainty that we’re seeing now, relocating to a more affordable area of the country where you’re still able to work remotely might be one way that young people will be able to get on the property ladder in the future.”

In fact, almost all of QV’s more than 120 property consultants and valuers regularly work from home – including the company’s chief operating officer, Mel Lewis, who frequently works remotely from her home in Papamoa.

“I was already lucky enough to be able to be based here for my role because QV is so flexible, but I was travelling a lot,” she said. “Now I use Zoom for almost all my meetings and actually feel like I’m seeing QV people more than I did previously. The market here is incredibly buoyant with supply outstripping demand, so I’m sure there are a few people in the same boat.”

Another remote worker we spoke to was New Plymouth valuer Danny Grace, who said he seldom visited the office any more. “My support people at QV work in other regions, and QV’s information technology is good enough to allow me to work seamlessly at home and in the field. It’s the ultimate work/lifestyle balance.”

He said remote working arrangements were more common than many people realised and were only likely to become more common in the future – especially as the Covid-19 pandemic dragged on.