Annemarie Quill: Bay pretty good place to buy

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Location, Location, Location.

I was watching this show this week with the kids. The format is a couple of real estate agents Kirstie Allsopp and Phil Spencer find fussy house buyers their dream homes.

In this week's episode a first-time buying couple was searching for a pad in London.

Showing them one in a relatively rough area of South London for almost half a million pounds (more than $1 million) Phil commented on how spacious it was.

"Spacious," laughed my daughter. "You could sit on the couch doing the cooking."

The living space was a galley kitchen and barely a metre away was the "lounge". The bedroom was only just larger than our linen cupboard.

The agent warned the couple if they didn't move fast it would get snapped up. The agent didn't have to worry. They loved it.

So when people moan about house prices here, I think, that houses here are still relatively cheap.

This week we reported the average house value in Tauranga has jumped more than $100,000 year-on-year and now stands at $571,872.

The QV House Price Index revealed average values in Tauranga continued to rise in March, increasing 5.5 per cent over the past three months and 22.6 per cent year-on-year.

The average house value in March 2015 was $466,378.

QV Homevalue Tauranga registered valuer David Hume said the Tauranga market showed no signs of slowing with a large number of out-of-town buyers. This is borne out in Carmen Hall and Anna Whyte's reports today show how Aucklanders are buying in the Bay.

As a homeowner I think this is great news.

What homeowner does not want their house to go up in value? It is our biggest investment.

When people moan about affordability, it is not the fact that the house prices are too high but the fact that New Zealand wages are relatively lower than in Europe and in Australia. Within New Zealand, Tauranga wages are less than our Auckland counterparts.

It has always puzzled me why Kiwis seem so accepting of these low wages as the status quo, and that in the housing debate, there is more focus on stopping house prices going up than in being paid fairly for what you do.

Low wages cannot be solved overnight, so first-time buyers lament that they cannot afford a home.

Perhaps they need to shift their focus and put things in perspective.

As the TV programme revealed to my daughter, what people think of as a tiny unit here might be a dream home by London standards. Perhaps some first-time buyers who want a one or two-bedroom house with a garage who complain they cannot afford it are setting their sights too high.

Unless you are wealthy, home ownership comes with a lot of sacrifice and compromise. My first property was 56sq m on top of a supermarket with views over an eight-lane motorway.

The only outside space it had fitted a pot plant which soon died due to the traffic fumes. I didn't have blinds or curtains because I couldn't afford them and I got used to sleeping bathed in the neon lights from the huge billboards lining the highway, to the sound of sirens and screeching brakes. But I loved that place as it was my first home and I worked hard for it.

My colleague, who is similar in age to what I was when I bought my first home, has saved for years with her husband.

They both work long hours. She brings her lunch everyday and says she rarely goes clothes shopping.

After several years they have bought their first home; a do-up, and every weekend she has free she is painting, sanding and fixing, doing the work themselves to save money.

Another colleague moved in with her partner's parents to save on rent.

They soon amassed a deposit on their first home, a new build in the Lakes.

For those of us who have done the hard yards, compromised, sacrificed the holidays, the treats, the luxuries, we hope our sacrifices pay off in the form of house price increases. Long may they continue.

$581,872 can still get you a good home in Tauranga. Londoners would think it was a mansion.

The fact you might be a short walk or drive to some of the best beaches in the world means that "mansion" might just be located in paradise.

Location, location, location. If you live in the Bay, that location is pretty good.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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