Replica Town In New Zealand Put Up For Sale Attracting Investors From US And Hong Kong

While many with money would want to shift and move to stay in New Zealand, the current novel coornavirus pandemic and strict rules about who can buy property there currently prevents most from settling in the country.

However, if one has $11.6m in their pockets and is willing to become the sheriff of a wild west replica “town”, such a dream cold be possible.

Mellonsfolly Ranch, a near perfect reproduction of the 1860s Wyoming frontier town, was established in 2006 and is out of bounds for most locals.

“We’ve even had comments the past couple of weeks from people who live 20, 30, 40 minutes down the road and weren’t even aware of it,” said Glen Jones, a spokesman for New Zealand Sotheby’s International Realty, which is selling the 360-hectare property.

This replica town has been constructed in a rugged part of the North Island’s Central Plateau, which is better known for the snow-capped peaks, native bush and ski slopes. The 10-building old west-style “main street” is now attracting attention globally.

This new replica town comprises of a saloon, courthouse, billiards lounge, sheriff’s office, and accommodation for 22 people. Purchasing this property will not only satisfy the love of western movies but will also enable a new foreign owner to bypass a ban on foreigners purchasing existing homes in the country.

This is because this property is also a business as it is occasionally rented out for accommodation and functions. It also has a 450-hive manuka honey business. It constitutes more than a $10m investment in New Zealand.

The current owner of the property is a local car parts manufacturer who reportedly purchased the property from a friend in a handshake deal in 2012.

At a time when New Zealand has made global headlines because of the successful manner in which the government has managed the pandemic in the country, interest in the property has been expressed mostly from the United States and Hong Kong, Jones said.

The New Zealand government has managed to contain all current cases of the novel coronavirus infection in border quarantine facilities and currently there is no community transfer of the pandemic.

Therefore, it is not possible for any foreigner to get a physical view of the property. Only New Zealanders, their families, and certain essential workers are allowed to enter the country under the strict border controls measures imposed there.

In 2018, the New Zealand government put a ban on purchasing of existing homes in the country by foreigners except for certain exemptions for Australians and Singaporeans because of the existing free trade agreements. This measure was taken by the government to tackle a situation of very high prices of houses in the country.

The buyer of the ranch would be qualified to seek an “Investor 1” visa form New Zealand because of the price tag of the property, said Jones, from Sothebys. This visa gives permission to foreigners to stay bank back in New Zealand if they make investments of $10m (NZ) or more in the country. This would therefore help anyone purchasing the property bypass the house buying bans on foreigners.

(Adapted from TheGuardian.com)

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