The number of smallholdings (also known as hobby farms, or more commonly in New Zealand as ‘lifestyle blocks’) sold in New Zealand increased by 14% in 2014 compared to 2013.

NZR real estate salesman Peter Barnett says the figures reflect increasing demand from buyers to combine country living with proximity to cities and towns. Certainty in employment and interest rates, as well as confidence in the likelihood of selling an existing property, have all contributed to the trend.

Barnett said last year in the Manawatu District, on the North Island, 150 lifestyle properties were sold, typically between one and four hectares in size.

“Sales in the NZ$300,000 to NZ$600,000 range have been brisk – that’s the middle of the market. And there are fewer people chasing the tops of NZ$900,000 to a million.”

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) figures show the median price across the country for lifestyle sales is NZ$552,500. Prices are highest in Auckland, followed by Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Matawatu/Whanganui.

Barnett remarks that there is “a definite increase in buyer enquiry and sales activity in the past month or six weeks”.

They were highest in the Auckland region, followed by Waikato, then Bay of Plenty, and Manawatu/Whanganui followed them in fourth place.