Buyers race to snap up Christchurch apartments – 344 offers for 37 units in one day

The demand for planned Christchurch apartments in the city’s eastern seaside, even though none has a carpark or garage, has taken developers by surprise.

The allure of the as-yet-unbuilt block of 37 units was so strong that 344 offers were made within a day of their going on sale.

They are planned to be built in a rundown area of the city hardest hit by the 2011 earthquakes, where dozens of hectares are red-zoned and many heavily damaged properties had to be demolished.

All 37 units were pre-sold in contracts struck on Wednesday.

Matthew Horncastle, managing director and co-founder of Williams Corporation, said buyer appetite for the north New Brighton places was so strong when pre-sales opened that day that many buyers had to be turned away.

“Sold out in one day,” Horncastle said of the places at 180-183 Marine Pde and 19 Keppei St, near the Beach Rd intersection.

“Within 24 hours of releasing these 37 townhouses, we received a total of 344 conditional contracts and 231 unconditional contracts, all from 81 buyers. This makes this our most successful development release to date,” Horncastle said.

One-bedroom units started at $449,000 and two bedrooms from $629,000. All up, 29 units are one-bedroom and only eight are two-bedroom.

Eight buildings are planned. Those facing the street are three-level. Some units are just 55sq m but others are a little over 90sq m. Communal outdoor space is planned for a central area of the intense housing project.

“We love the demand for our homes and we can’t wait to continue to provide new and affordable housing. Keep your eyes peeled for more developments like this coming soon,” Horncastle told buyers who missed out this week.

So how did Williams decide who could buy and who couldn’t?

Horncastle said it was a ranking system: Company directors got first priority, then staff.

“Directors and staff purchased around five,” he said.

Repeat buyers making unconditional offers were ranked third, he said, followed by repeat buyers with conditional contracts. They might need to get finance approved or even sell another property to buy.

Then came conditional buyers who had not bought from Williams before.

Conditional new buyers were ranked by those who sought to do due diligence and those who didn’t need to.

Williams pitched the small units to landlords and first-home buyers, saying its project was within walking distance of the relatively new He Puna Taimoana hot pools and many other amenities.

Fisher & Paykel ovens, hobs and dishwashers are offered with Haier fridge/freezers and LG microwaves.

Landlords were one target of the sales campaign.

A Harcourts rent appraisal on the apartments assesses one-bedroom unfurnished units could be rented for up to $465/week and two bedrooms for up to $540/week.

Williams says it strips soil down on its sites and replaces that with compacted gravel.

An engineered concrete slab is poured on top of that containing steel and polystyrene pods for strength.

Laminated veneer lumber frames are erected, insulation is Fletcher’s Pink Batts fibreglass and walls have solid air barriers as stipulated by the building code.

Williams is New Zealand’s busiest privately owned non-franchised builder.

The company was named by BCI Central as second only to the franchised national housebuilder G.J. Gardner.

Williams built 761 homes in the year to October 2021 for $107 million, selling houses for what might seem like an unbelievably low average $141,164. That low price doesn’t include the land.

In 2019, Williams Corporation Capital was founded and now has $145m funds of which around $130m is drawn. Qualifying wholesale investors are drawn to a 10 per cent guaranteed return.

Williams is soon planning to launch a property-owning syndicate and raise millions more from investors.

Williams builds apartments and townhouses.

G.J. Gardner built 1645 homes in the October year. Although Williams’ output is less than half that of the largest builder, its numbers are rising fast.

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