Town's section sales on hold

Representatives of the groups behind the Kaitangata land-and-house package deal, from left, Big River Homes manager Mark Van Asperen, property consultants Aleisha Gutsell and Margot Berney, lawyer Carmen Jillett, Kaitangata Promotions secretary Joyce Beck
Representatives of the groups behind the Kaitangata land-and-house package deal, from left, Big River Homes manager Mark Van Asperen, property consultants Aleisha Gutsell and Margot Berney, lawyer Carmen Jillett, Kaitangata Promotions secretary Joyce Beck, lawyer Alice Sanders, and package facilitator Evan Dick meet in Balclutha yesterday to discuss how to manage their product's sudden international fame. PHOTO: SAMUEL WHITE
The sale of further Kaitangata sections has been put on hold while the overwhelmed group behind a globally popular land-and-house deal puts in place a formal application process, contract and central contact point.

Those behind the $230,000 package gathered at a special meeting in Balclutha yesterday to establish clear boundaries and criteria for buyers, following the international attention the offer has received online and in mainstream media.

Thousands of people from around the world have made inquiries about the package since details were aired a week ago.

Five of the eight packages available at present have been sold. The sellers report eight to nine serious offers for every section and a long waiting list.

Until a formal process for applying and signing up to the sites is established, however, no more sections on the market will be sold.

Another 10 sections that are "ready to go'' will also be held back until then.

A plan was formulated at yesterday's meeting of the groups behind the promotion, Clutha Development, Downie Stewart Lawyers, Big River Homes, Hoamz Realty and the Kaitangata Promotion Group.

Rules would be set including that successful buyers would need to declare their intention for the land, speculators would not be encouraged, and buyers would agree to build within two years.

Interested parties would have to fill in a formal application form, which was expected to be ready later this week.

Kaitangata Promotions public relations facilitator Evan Dick said the "thousands of messages'' prompted a need to make it clear exactly what was on offer and create a single avenue for inquiries, particularly from overseas.

The district's council, mayor, real estate agents and involved individuals had all been flooded with thousands of inquiries, making it impossible to respond with a single message.

After the meeting, the group's lawyer, Alice Sanders, said the group was working to make the application process more professional for potential buyers.

Housing sales consultant Margot Berney said she had received more than 9000 emails, about half of which could be taken seriously.Mr Dick said he was concerned some saw the offer as an investment opportunity, when the housing package was intended to encourage growth in the community.

He said, while the attention had helped put Kaitangata on the map, the group never intended to go global and ideally wanted those already living in New Zealand to come.

A lot of misinformation was being spread on the internet as more news agencies ran with the story, he said.

One United States news outlet falsely reported the Clutha District Council would pay people $US160,000 to move to the district.

The council was quick to reject the claim and said, while the international attention was exciting and positive, it was now overwhelmed with inquiries from around the world.

Kaitangata Promotions secretary Joyce Beck said the offer was a small solution to the housing crisis that did not have an impact on the taxpayer.

"It's not about people making money out of anything. It's about a community looking after one another.''

Those interested in the house and land package were asked to contact Clutha Development via the email address info@cluthanz.com or call (03) 418-4048.

Ms Sanders said a public meeting this Friday at 7.30pm at the Kaitangata Worship Centre would be held to address questions from the community.

samuel.white@odt.co.nz

 

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