Hutt Valley Housing Boom has Wellingtonians liking Upper Hutt
One word sums up why Radhika Gowdra moved from Johnsonville to Upper Hutt - affordability. Gowdra and her husband moved in to a $620,000 new build after renting in Johnsonville for four years.
"The most important reason was affordability. Houses here are definitely more affordable than in Wellington and we liked that Upper Hutt has flat land."
She lives in a development being driven by realtor Malcolm Gillies who has seen a significant shift in the market.
Upper Hutt realtor Malcolm Gillies is delighted that Wellingtonians have discovered Upper Hutt.
"When I started here 12 years ago, you had to give homes away and bribe people with the deal to make it attractive."
His Wallaceville development has about 700 sections and of the last 18 homes sold, six went to Wellingtonians, six to Lower Hutt residents and the remainder to locals.
Until recently it was rare for a buyer to come from Wellington but residents in the capital were no longer ignoring Upper Hutt, he said.
The development is part of a bigger picture that has seen a huge change in the Hutt Valley economy.
For many years the economy relied on large employers like the Dunlop Tyre Factory, the Ford Motor Company and the Petone Gear Meat Company.
The closure of those businesses led to decades of economic and population stagnation that kept house prices low.
Lower Hutt realtor John Ross said 1200 to1500 new builds were planned or underway in the Hutt Valley.
After 38 years selling homes, the boom he always hoped for had arrived.
He estimated the economic benefit of the new homes to the Valley at $1.5 billion and, like Gillies, believed it was Wellingtonians who were driving the increase in new builds.
His firm had about 500 new builds, including a 270-home development in Kelson.
Lower Hutt is undergoing a boom in housing, keeping building officer Phil Boyle and builder Hamish McNeil busy. The boom has resulted in the first significant increase in population for decades.
Traditionally Wellingtonians would not look further north than Petone and were only interested in new homes, he said. Now about 25 per cent of buyers of new builds, especially in Wainuiomata, were from Wellington.
Ross wants the Hutt City Council to do more to free up land, especially in Wainuiomata.
Wallaceville Estate was a paddock 18 months ago, now it is a major subdivision. One third of the homes in the Upper Hutt development are being sold to Wellingtonians.
City transformation manager Kim Kelly, who has spent 18 years with the council, said the current housing boom was unprecedented.
The council introduced an urban growth strategy in 2012 to boost the stagnating population. In the previous five years just 350 new houses were built in the city.
In the year to the end of June 2018 there were 397 new builds. The council runs a rates remission scheme and, based on applications, it was expecting a huge surge over the next few years.
"It's likely an additional 1535 new dwellings will be built within the next 2-3 years".
The majority will be in Wainuiomata, Petone and Central Hutt.
After decades of static population growth, the last two years had seen Lower Hutt's population increase by 2.6 per cent to 106,000, making it the seventh largest city in New Zealand.
Gillies predicted the boom in Upper Hutt would continue as long as land was available and, as well as affordability, he said there was another reason why Wellingtonians were heading north.
"Upper Hutt, geotechnically, is very solid. There is no liquefaction and there is no tsunami risk."
Source - Nicholas Boyack – Dominion Post Jan 18 2019