In 2017, figures from QV show the South Wairarapa district has had a 51 per cent increase in average house values since 2013, and Featherston has become a sought-after town for new home buyers and families relocating from Wellington and elsewhere. Demand has been outstripping the housing supply for well over a year now. While the Auckland market might be on the downturn, demand for properties in Featherston, Martinborough and Greytown is still strong.
With a population around 2250 and about 1200 dwellings, this rural township has had many economic ups and downs in its history. At different times it has had both the highest and the lowest employment rates, and the highest and lowest average household incomes. Things really have been boom and bust over the years.
When we moved to Martinborough in 2005 you could buy a house in Featherston for $100K. I know of a 100-year-old cottage that sold just two years ago for under $70K; today, and with $80K spent on it, the value is in excess of $300K and climbing. Rents were affordable back in 2005 as well, with $150pw getting you a nice three-bedroom home, no problem. Today, with many of those rentals having been sold, the diminished rental housing and increasing demand now has the average rent sitting at $350pw and climbing, as rental property in the South Wairarapa is as scarce as hen’s teeth. This is a concern for businesses in the region as workers, often on the lower pay rate, can’t get affordable accommodation to live in.
There are some fantastic older historical homes in the Featherston area, many of them still sitting on larger half- and full-acre blocks; other parts of the town are a mix of decades right up to brand-new subdivisions opening this year. These are bringing a new wave of people to the town, and a walk down the main street reveals the change in dynamics and energy in the shop fronts. Those who stop and shop will be amazed at the variety of shops to explore, right from the start of Fitzherbert Street (at the bottom of the Rimutaka Hill road) to the memorial garden at the eastern end.
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