The expansion of North Canterbury’s top real estate firm southwest of Christchurch is fast closing the divide between two of the region’s most prized lifestyle areas.
Twiss Keir Realty bought fellow Harcourts franchise Four Seasons in November 2017, incorporating offices in Rolleston and Hornby into a long-running operation that now has eight branches reaching as far north as Hanmer Springs. It is the largest and busiest real estate team in Canterbury, with 100 salespeople, 40 office support staff and 12 in the property management division.
Harcourts Four Seasons co-owner James Twiss says the expansion was designed to help the business better weather periodic slowdowns in the market, with the Harcourts model providing strength in numbers by letting salespeople show or sell any property listed with the company. This emphasis on networking gives sellers the greatest possible reach and lets home buyers access a vast market through a single point of contact.
However, Twiss says it quickly became apparent that connecting North Canterbury with the fastgrowing Selwyn District had a value greater than the sum of its parts. In both markets, people were essentially looking for the same thing, he says; modern, spacious homes in safe communities within an easy commuting distance of town. People looking in Rolleston were often looking north of Christchurch, too.
“It’s eerie how similar it is. It’s like we’re discovering a new market where we’re able to transfer buyers and sellers across the city. With our structure of offices, we’ve got both sides covered. We’re the only company doing that.”
Twiss says the success of this crossover was made possible “almost overnight” by the Western Corridor motorway, which takes people from Belfast to Hornby and beyond on high-speed roads that are collapsing traditional notions of distance. “There is really good value in North Canterbury and people are realising that. Prices haven’t spiralled out of control, so you might be saving $100,000,” he says.
“We’ve been surprised how decent these markets have been when all indicators suggest it should have been slowing down.” Listing numbers have been “solid without being spectacular” and it should remain a seller’s market a while longer, he says.
Harcourts has 470 real estate agents working cooperatively across Canterbury, and Twiss says while this network helps, the emphasis on Twiss’s father, Geoffrey Twiss, who founded the business in the mid-1980s and co-owner Greg Roberts also has numerous family members on the team.
Harcourts Four Seasons Realty 2017 Ltd has offices in Rangiora, Kaiapoi, Hanmer Springs, Belfast, The Palms, Hornby, Rolleston and a new branch in Lincoln.