Lifestyle Blocks are there enough around? (December 2020)

Lifestyle Blocks – are there enough to go around?

Most real estate has been unaffected by the recession following COVID-19. In fact, the lifestyle block market has seen a huge surge in both the number of sales and the median sale price.  With the current inability to travel overseas, many people seem to have taken the opportunity to escape the city for a lifestyle block.  People fast-forwarding their plans to retire or work from home in a safe environment is one issue fuelling this migration.  Another is people’s ability to borrow at a more reasonable interest rate than in previous years.

According to a recent article published by REINZ, the Lifestyle Market saw a 70% increase in sales volume for the three-month period to October 2020 compared with the same period last year. Over the intervening twelve months the median sale price rose by over 11%. Time will tell whether there are enough properties out there to continually satisfy this hot market.  My guess is that there are not, and therefore prices will continue to rise. This because, at a time when more and more Kiwis are flying home to live the lifestyle that they remember growing up with, the rural subdivision rules are continually tightening up. If the predictions of half a million Kiwis returning home in the next three years comes to fruition, there simply must be a shortage.  You can bet that quite a few of them will want to live that rural lifestyle dream.   

A case in point for rules tightening is Waikato District, where ten years ago the rules changed to limit qualifying farms to only subdividing one lifestyle block off the farm, rather than two.  With the rules now up for review again they are destined to probably restrict such lifestyle subdivision only to blocks of 40ha or more.  That means that if you have a title between 20 ha and 40 ha, you may have a limited opportunity to subdivide before the rule changes come in, unless you are lucky enough to be sitting on a city or town boundary. So, what you have seen your neighbour do in recent years may no longer be possible on your side of the fence.

Other districts in this region such as Hauraki, Thames-Coromandel, Matamata-Piako, Western Bay, Otorohanga, South Waikato and Waitomo still offer some opportunities for subdivision and there appears to be demand for the right blocks.

With a COVID-19 vaccine perhaps not being able to offer the population complete coverage for twelve months or more, the demand for lifestyle blocks is bound to stay strong, I believe.  Another year or two with low interest rates, and more money being spent at home, will likely see even more investment in this sector of the housing market.  And if you are a landowner with an ability to subdivide, you still have a chance to join in and profit from this movement.  It can take some time to get the necessary work done and have titles available for sale but there is no time like the present to get started and seek advice from the experts. Should you wish to explore your potential to subdivide, please feel free to call me and have a chat about the process.

Brent Trail, Managing Director of Surveying Services, specialises in resource consent applications for subdivisions across the Waikato, Hauraki, Coromandel and Bay of Plenty.  For further information call 027 499 3778 or email

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