5 Jul 2016

Kaitangata comes up with plan to prevent land-bankers

5:12 pm on 5 July 2016

The group behind a house-and-section offer in Kaitangata that has caught global attention is drawing up contracts to make sure land is sold to people who'll actually live in the town.

Kaitangata town.

Kaitangata, South Otago Photo: RNZ/ Ian Telfer

Leaders of the South Otago town, which has a population of about 800, have been sent thousands of messages since international media picked up stories of the $230,000 new-house-and-section package.

The plan was designed to attract new residents and families to the town by offering relatively affordable homes.

Somewhere along the way through global media, the story morphed to include a $160,000 cash payment along with the package - which was not true.

Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan said he had been inundated with people messaging him on Facebook and calling from the UK, US, Poland and Ghana, among other places.

Downie Stewart lawyer Alice Sanders said some sections had attracted at least eight firm offers, so the organising group was working out a way to ensure they did not just get land-banked.

"The point is to try and attract, you know, people to live there, families to come down, people who want that better slice of life - not people who think 'ooh, here's a bit of an investment opportunity, I'll buy this piece of land and we'll sit on it for however long'."

The group, which met last night, had decided to stop all section sales while a new process was drawn up to vet the buyers and make sure their intentions were right, Ms Sanders said.

They were trying to create a fair process for buyers involving a form to get more information about them, as well as a contract clause stating they must build a house within two years, she said.

There would be an application form for all offers, so the group could decide between them without a bidding war.

Ms Sanders said the key would be making sure people had the resources to purchase both the section and the house and enter into a building contract - or, if they wanted to put a relocatable house there, that it was approved by the council.

The point was still to offer the spare sections in Kaitangata at a cheap price to attract families to come and build in the town as soon as possible, she said.

The group was very excited but overwhelmed by the international response, she added.