Huge loss as gloss goes off

An Auckland couple have just had 83% wiped off the value of a property after selling in one of the city's best urban precincts.

As the gloss goes off the Auckland housing market, the Mt Albert pair, who paid $349,000 three years ago for a Beaumont Quarter apartment, have just quit at the bargain price of $58,600.

The couple bought the Freemans Bay unit in July 2005 through now-collapsed property investment business Blue Chip.

The sale is one of the worst to emerge from the current residential downturn, which has seen sale volumes slide, prices flatten or fall and places take longer to sell.

Nationally, house sales dropped to unprecedented levels last month and the median price has slipped to $349,000.

Auckland, New Zealand's largest housing market, is in the grip of a slowdown, suffering a two-thirds sales volume drop in the last year.

Last month, just 1621 houses sold in the Auckland area, down on the 3884 houses which sold in March last year, according to the Real Estate Institute.

The level-two 42sq m one-bedroom Beaumont unit in the award-winning estate was auctioned on Wednesday, drawing bargain hunters to the unit off Beaumont St opposite Victoria Park.

Agent Matt Jones of Ray White said some bidders arrived at his firm's Lorne St offices expecting to pay just $10,000 or $20,000 because ground rents at Beaumont are about to go sky-high. Bidding opened at just $30,000.

The despairing vendors decided to auction the place fast without any reserve just before ground rents rocketed.

‘‘They were pretty devastated. They accepted it but they were not happy. They didn't want to come to the auction,'' Mr Jones said.

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