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Successful selling in a resort market: what you need to know

  • Chris Jones
  • 22nd Feb 2024

Chris Jones understands the Waiheke Island property market better than most.

As a 25-year resident of the island and owner of NZSIR’s Waiheke Island office along with wife Michelle, he has a well-honed insider’s perspective of real estate in this resort market. Here, Chris shares his wealth of knowledge on what you need to know when selling or buying a home on Waiheke or other resort markets like it.

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The unique appeal of resort living

Waiheke Island, much like other resort locations around New Zealand such as the Coromandel, Bay of Plenty or Queenstown, has an enduring appeal. With its laidback lifestyle, beautiful coastal setting and air of exclusivity, Waiheke will always be an appealing real estate offering. 

This same effect is seen in holiday hotspots around the country like Marlborough Sounds, Tasman Bay and parts of Northland and Hawke’s Bay. 


While property on Waiheke Island is impacted by external market factors such as inflation, interest rates and foreign buyers, there are also many aspects that are unique to buying or selling here. Over the many years I have been on Waiheke Island, there has been a noticeable shift in the demographic. These days, buyers are just as likely to be locals looking to upsize or downsize as they are to be from mainland New Zealand or overseas looking for a lifestyle change or a secure bolthole. 

With a broad range of buyers, sellers, and motivations, it’s important to work with an experienced agent who knows how to capitalise on the unique aspects of a resort location.

Holiday time is prime time

In contrast to big-city markets, resort markets often pick up steam over the holiday period. And on Waiheke, this means the Christmas summer holiday break when tourism is at its peak. It’s at this time of year that holidaymakers or visitors experience the destination first hand and are therefore more inclined to make enquiries. In Auckland, we may see a flurry of activity over the Waitangi or Auckland Anniversary long weekends, however, in resort markets a high level of interest can last throughout the entire holiday break.

In recent years, there has been an increase in sales activity during shoulder periods, as city-leavers look to take advantage of island life full-time. 

Waiheke Island Life

First impressions count

Holidaymakers may just become motivated buyers if they have a positive experience and can imagine themselves enjoying life in a charming coastal town. This summer, Waiheke Island has experienced far better weather than 2023 and we are already starting to see that impact the marketplace. Stunning sunny days showcasing those dazzling sea views and island charm are exactly what is needed to impress buyers considering their next move.

Scarcity boosts resilience

Resort destinations will often face geographic and infrastructure constraints that limit housing supply despite the vigorous demand. With finite existing stock and barriers to adding density, oversupply is rarely an issue. Scarcity enables values to stay resilient. There are around 4,500 dwellings on Waiheke Island, and it’s unlikely there will be many more. The new builds that we do see here are often replacing existing homes. We see similar effects replicated in resort markets further south, such as the Queenstown-Lakes region where demand for housing is outstripping housing supply.

Buying into the lifestyle 

While price always matters, arguably, the top motivation for buying in a resort market is lifestyle. The chance to live the leisurely pace of island living (or life in the mountains if winter sports is more your thing) is what ultimately drives demand. Of course, investors and second home purchasers may be impervious to such sentiment, but the emotional tug of an idyllic life hugely affects purchasing decisions for most buyers. Now that we are seeing more certainty around factors such as the new Government, interest rates and overall consumer confidence, people are starting to act on their lifestyle desires. This is a marked difference from what we saw 12 months ago.

Waiheke Island

The Importance of seasons

In my experience, resort property markets are often sensitive to seasonality. It’s important to understand the selling windows relevant to the location and the lifestyle offering. On Waiheke Island, we often see a quiet winter period with a good spring and autumn window and a strong summer season. For this reason, we often look at sales results in quarters rather than months.

This effect isn’t feel as keenly in mountain resort markets like Queenstown and Wānaka as there’s buyer interest across the seasons; winter and autumn for the snow-seekers, summer and spring for the outdoor leisure seekers and everybody else. 

Resort Markets: What do vendors need to know?

When selling a property in a resort market, it's essential to keep in mind that finding the right buyer may take a bit longer. An experienced agent will understand the unique offerings of both the property and the lifestyle that need to be highlighted in the marketing. 

From a marketing standpoint, it’s important to cast a wide net geographically to reach buyers from out of the region and internationally. This is where a real estate agency with a strong national and international network delivers a significant advantage. It also pays to work with an agent with a strong client base as they may have a buyer waiting for the perfect property to come along in those sought-after resort locations. 

Resort Markets: What do buyers need to know

In smaller communities, there are often factors to consider that aren’t relevant to big-city living. On Waiheke Island, all properties rely on water tanks and septic systems, an important consideration for those looking to buy or renovate. Finding reliable and skilled local tradespeople may require some extra effort. And as an island, you must be okay with the ferry commute. For most, this isn’t a negative. The regular ferry service gives Waiheke residents the best of both worlds: the peaceful island lifestyle and the convenience of downtown Auckland close by.

Seats With a View

What’s in store for 2024?

While we can agree that 2023 was a slower year for the Waiheke market, we are certainly starting to see a different picture in 2024. The pent-up demand has quickly materialised into action from buyers previously waiting on the sidelines. This influx of buyers chasing limited inventory has set the stage for a more active market in 2024.

When a market recovers from price corrections, we often see entry-level homes bouncing back first. We saw this in Auckland and other major cities last year. This year, we can expect to see properties priced just above entry-level - such as those in the late $1M range - become more active. This is a healthy trend, and we anticipate it will be observed not only in Auckland but also in resort markets like Waiheke, the Coromandel, and Bay of Plenty. Therefore, we can look forward to a strong start to 2024 in these resort markets. It is a good time for buyers and sellers to move decisively on improving conditions. 

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