By John Pryor
So what do we know about Kawau real estate? How much of it is there? Who owns it? How often does it sell? Who buys it and what is it worth? At the risk of boring you with too much information and not enough entertainment, I will try to answer all these questions briefly in the following paragraphs.
Most properties on Kawau Island are purchased primarily because the buyers like the island, rather than because they are looking for a good investment. However, property on the island has shown itself to be one of the best monetary investments that most of us have ever made - a very nice bonus on top of the immense pleasure and enjoyment that we receive from our little pieces of island paradise.
In total, there are 430 separate properties (titles) on the island, ranging in size from 150 square metres up to 714 hectares (714,000 square metres). While there are a number of traditional quarter acre (1012 Sq.M.) sections, most properties are nearer 1 acre (c. 4000sq. m.) with an average size of 5642 square metres.
Because of our maritime situation, all the original titles had water access, but with the advent of roads at School House Bay and South Cove, there are now 115 properties with road access rather than water access.
'Riparian rights' is a sometimes misunderstood term and, because of our situation, perhaps deserves some explanation. Older titles virtually all had riparian rights, meaning that ownership extends to the mean high water mark. Subsequent legislation has amended this to 'mean high water springs' which in effect slightly raises the high water line.
When a property with riparian rights is subdivided, the local district council takes a 20-metre-wide strip along the waterfront which becomes an esplanade reserve, owned by the council (commonly known as the Queens Chain). In some cases the width of this can be reduced by negotiation - say, where there is an existing building within the 20 metre zone.
There is a common public perception, from outsiders, that Kawau is a publicly-owned island. While we as owners know better, Rodney District Council advises that the actual ownership figures are as follows;
Many private owners own more than one property and the actual number of private owners recorded is only 276. In contrast, a few properties are shared by multiple owners. Many Kawau properties are held by family trusts and while I don't have actual numbers, I would estimate that around one third of properties are in trust ownership.
National statistics show that, on average, New Zealand properties change hands every 7 years, which equates to 14% each year. On Kawau, 163 properties have sold over the last 10 years (some more than once) equating to an annual rate of 3.8% It is obvious from this that properties on the island tend to stay in the same ownership for considerable periods. Also of interest: during the last 10 years, 61% of road access properties have sold, while only 42% of water access properties changed hands during that same period.
The type of person buying property has changed quite significantly over the last 10 years. At about the time I purchased my own property, there were over 100 permanent residents living on the island and newcomers (including myself) were buying with the intention of living there permanently. Since that time, not only have a number of permanent residents left, but most, if not all, new owners have purchased for holiday use rather than permanent living. The number of permanent residents living on the island is now down to about 65. Probably the most significant group of people buying now are ex-pat Kiwis, living and working overseas. This group, not only appreciate all the island has to offer, but are also able to afford to purchase now, ready to enjoy in a few years time when they return home.
In terms of market prices, the highest residential sale over the last 5 years was $3,000.000. On average, market values are increasing by around 35% per year, with the greatest percentage increases being shown by the lower priced sections and somewhat lower figures for the higher priced houses. It is not uncommon for sections to sell for four times their price of 5 years ago .To get an idea of prices have a look at my web site: www.kawau.co.nz
So in summary, not only is Kawau Island a great place to live and holiday, but it is also a great place to invest.
Winter and Spring 2013 issues are on the site.
Posted is a 3-page pdf file showing the proposed SEA zones (Special Environmental Area).