New York Times eyes NZ real estate

New Zealand's rebounding property market has captured the attention of the New York Times, which features a $1.8 million home overlooking Mahurangi Harbour.

Real estate prices are 0.5 per cent above their 2007 high, partly driven by strong markets in Auckland and Christchurch.

But rural properties lag behind urban growth and have been slower to recover, says Helen O'Sullivan, chief executive officer of the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand.

"Today, median prices for these properties are still down 11 per cent from 2007," she told the International Real Estate section.

The four-bedroom home featured in the NYT was built in 1980 by New Zealand architect Simon Carnachan, as a series of overlapping semicircles, covering 353 square metres on 5.3ha of land.

Auckland's CBD is about a 30-minute drive from the house.

Bill Sandston, a real estate lawyer with national law firm Chapman Tripp, told the NYT that foreign buyers are mostly drawn to Auckland or to the Queenstown region.

They come from Australia, the US and Europe with recent increased buyers from China, Korea, and other Asian countries with robust economies, he said.

Foreign buyers face some restrictions.

Purchases over $82 million, for example, require approval from the Overseas Investment Office.

Transactions involving large tracts of rural land, or land bordering on nature preserves and bodies of water, require approval.

The process is mostly a formality, but still takes about three months and can cost $40,000 to $50,000 including legal fees, Mr Sandston said.

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