Up to seven annual Auckland incomes would now be needed to buy a property in the city for its median house price.
Property prices for the region have rocketed by 118 per cent in the past 14 years to $504,142 last year, but wages have only gone up 57 per cent to a median of $73,372.
In 1998, between four or five Auckland incomes (which were $46,800 at the time) would have been needed to buy a house for the city's average median price of $230,958, according to a new interactive graphic on housing affordability, compiled by nzherald.co.nz.
But from 2006 until last year six or seven incomes would have been needed. Even then, the money would likely only buy a small home on the city fringe. The central city median was much higher.
The income data is taken from Statistics NZ's New Zealand Income Survey which provides a snapshot of wages and salaries for the June quarter of each year.
Figures for this year are expected to be released in October and it is likely more incomes would be needed to buy a property at the median price, which was $555,000 last month and expected to be higher by the end of the year.
Northland was the only place that came close to battling Auckland in terms of property prices outstripping wages. In 2008, six or seven of the region's median incomes were needed to buy a home there. But it dropped off again and over the past four years, five or six incomes were needed.
Real Estate Institute chief executive Helen O'Sullivan said the main way to cool the market was to build more houses. There were signs of this happening.
"There are developers re-entering the market ... you go out to Karaka, there is quite a bit of building going on and there are quite interest. But everybody's telling me that listings are in really short supply."
She said the market may be reaching a point where the "steam releases a little bit" and buyers stop paying top prices.
The number of transactions usually slowed down in winter, but last winter it didn't tail off and Ms O'Sullivan expected the same this year.
House sales in Auckland continue to surprise real estate agents and the vendors.
Auctions for cramped homes in the city see bidding started at prices well above valuations with some house-hunters pushed out before the first bid. The price soon escalates as dozens of investors and overseas buyers battle against each other.
Last week, bidding started at $1 million for a three bedroom, one bathroom home at 3 Baildon Rd in Grey Lynn on a 480 sq m section. It sold for $1.317 million. The property had a valuation of $850,000.
Last month, a three-bedroom 1900s bungalow on Grey Lynn's Stanmore Rd, untouched from its last update in the 1950s, sold for $1.115 million.
ASB economist Jane Turner said house prices had been higher, relative to incomes, since before the global financial crisis in 2008 because of supply constraints.
The lack of housing was more evident in Auckland than in the rest of the country.
Actions by the Reserve Bank would likely dampen the market, Ms Turner said. It has moved on the four big banks so they will need more capital to back mortgages with smaller deposits.
In last week's Budget the Government gave itself power to award resource consents if councils did not act quickly enough to free up land for houses.
A week earlier, the Government and Auckland Council signed a housing accord, which sets a target of 39,000 new homes through a fast-track planning process.
Also in Budget announcements, private sector groups will now be allowed to replace Housing New Zealand as providers of social housing. Their tenants will receive the same taxpayer subsidies as state housing tenants, who pay no more than 25 per cent of their incomes in rent. The Government will pay the rest of the rent to the private providers, who will also be helped to buy houses for their portfolios.
The council's proposed Unitary Plan, which has sparked a series of public meeting across the city, has created mixed housing zones in over half of Auckland that allows for terraced housing and apartment buildings.
Meanwhile, in the areas of Wellington, Canterbury and Tasman/Nelson/Marlborough/West Coast, figures show five or six incomes were needed to buy a house for the median price last year.
Bay of Plenty, Waikato and Otago were slightly behind, with four or five incomes needed.
Southland's wages were more relative to its house prices than any other place. It was the only region over the past 14 years where at one stage, just one or two yearly incomes were needed to buy a house. That lasted from 1998 to 2002 and for the next 10 years, just two or three incomes were needed. Last year three or four were needed.
But the area also had the biggest percentage rise difference between income and house prices. Wages rose at just 54 per cent while house prices rose 196 per cent - a difference of 142 percentage points. The figure reflected the low house price in 1998 ($65,125). Rising to just $192,983 last year, the area was still the cheapest in the country.
Gisborne/Hawkes Bay was the only area where wages rose at a similar pace to the house price rate - 86 and 102 per cent respectively, a difference of just 16 percentage points.
In the areas of Taranaki, Manawatu/Wanganui and Gisborne/Hawkes Bay, three or four incomes were needed.
Country living just fine for commuters
Brock and Vanessa Nash wouldn't dream of living anywhere else but in the country.
The couple work in Auckland where house prices are skyrocketing but are happy to commute from their four bedroom home in Pukekohe every day.
They are selling the house after six years but are still looking to build on the fringe of Auckland where several new developments offering large sections are taking shape.
Mr Nash, 31, works in East Tamaki, about 40km away from his home, and leaves about 6am for the 45 minute trip.
Mrs Nash, 27, worked in Newmarket in central Auckland before she had her son, Caleb, now 3, with commutes taking up to an hour and a half.
"I just got used to it," she said.
"They have an excellent train into town ... the people are just so much nicer out here, we'd stay with friends if we needed to go into town. Pukekohe now has a big Farmers and other retail shops, you don't need to go all the way into town to buy things."
She now works as a personal assistant in Papakura, and takes about 40 minutes to get to work, which she said she had no problem with.
"Once you get off the motorway the speed limit is 100 kilometres to everywhere, so it only takes about 10 or 15 minutes home.
"I want my son to go to a country primary school. It's the whole feel of the community - they have agricultural days, the classes are smaller and some are really high deciles."
The couple have set their sights on the new Seagrove Landing development in Waiau Pa, about 51km from central Auckland and overlooking the Manukau Harbour.
Plots of land ranging in size from 2500sq m to 3950sq m are priced from $380,000 to $455,000.
The Nashes bought their current brick and tile home during the 2007 property boom for $465,000. The current median house price for Auckland city is $618,000, compared with $383,787 in the Franklin district, which Pukekohe falls under.
In 1998, between four or five Auckland incomes (which were $46,800 at the time) would have been needed to buy a house for the city's average median price of $230,958.
By 2004 it had jumped to five or six incomes but from 2006 until last year - when the Auckland wage was $73,372 - six or seven incomes would have been needed. It was the only region where this many were needed last year. The median was $504,142 last year.
The wage rose at a rate of 57 per cent while the house price rose at a rate of 118 per cent - a difference of 61 percentage points.
Bay of Plenty
In 1998, four or five Bay of Plenty incomes - which were $36,452 - were needed to buy a house for the city's average median price of $159,780.
By 2004, it had shot up to five or six incomes until dropping last year back to four or five. The wage was $63,076 and the house price was $316,500, rising at 73 per cent and 98 per cent respectively - a difference of 25 percentage points.
In the Waikato, four or five incomes were needed to buy a home in 1998 and 2000. By 2002 it had dropped to three or four, then for the next 10 years stayed at five or six, before dropping again last year to four or five.
In 1998, the wage was $38,376, while the house price was $157,825. That rose to $66,612 and $319,300 last year.
That was percentage rise of 74 per cent and 102 per cent - a difference of 28 points.
For the first six years, three or four yearly incomes were needed to purchase a home in Wellington. By 2004, it had increased to four or five and rose again in 2006 to five or six, staying at that rate til last year.
The median wage was $47,320 in 1998, while the median house price was $163,731, compared with $76,700 and $389,573 last year.
That was a rate of 62 per cent and 138 per cent - a difference of 76 percentage points.
For the first eight years, four or five incomes were needed to buy a home in Northland, before it rose to five or six in 2006.
The area was the only place that came close to battling Auckland in the expensive stakes.
In 2008, six or seven of the region's median incomes were needed to buy a home there. But it dropped off again and over the past four years, five or six incomes were needed.
The median wage was $29,900 in 1998, while the median house price was $143,625, compared with $50,128 and $296,479 last year.
That was a rate increase of 68 per cent and 106 per cent - a difference of 38 percentage points.
Gisborne/Hawkes Bay wages rose at a rate closer to house prices than any other area.
In 1998, three of four incomes were needed to buy a home for the median house price. It dropped down to two or three incomes over the next four years before rising again to four or five incomes and dropping last year back to three or four incomes.
The median wage in 1998 was $33,176 and the median house price was $106,850, compared with $61,828 and $216,250 last year.
That was a rate increase of 86 and 102 percent - a difference of just 16 percentage points.
For the first four years, three or four incomes were needed to buy a home for the median house price. It had risen to five or six incomes by last year.
In 1998, the median wage was $34,528 while the median house price was $134,906, compared with $67,132 and $342,406.
That was an increase of 94 per cent and 153 per cent - a difference of 60 percentage points.
In Taranaki, two or three incomes were needed for the first four years and by last year, it was at three or four incomes.
In 1998, the median wage was $35,776 while the median house price was $96,333, compared with $68,068 and $273,421 last year.
That was an increase of 90 per cent and 184 per cent - a difference of 94 percentage points.
For the first eight years, two or three incomes were needed to buy a house for the median price in the Manawatu/Wanganui region. By 2006 and up until last year it was up to three or four.
In 1998, the median wage was $31,772 while the median house price was $78,557, compared with $56,472 and $195,545 last year.
That was an increase of 78 and 149 per cent - a difference of 71 percentage points.
For the first four years, three or four incomes were needed to buy a home in Canterbury for the median house price. By last year that had jumped to five or six times with a lack of supply following the Christchurch earthquake driving prices.
In 1998, the median wage was $36,452 while the median house price was $147,134, compared with $66,196 and $340,734 last year.
That was a rate increase of 82 per cent and 132 per cent - a difference of 50 percentage points.
For the first year, just two or three incomes were needed to buy a house for the median price in Otago. But that quickly escalated, peaking during the property boom years of 2006 and 2008 at five or six incomes, before dropping and was at four or five incomes last year.
In 1998, the median wage was $35,880 while the median house price was $103,082, compared with $61,412 and $302,425 last year.
That was at a rate increase of 71 and 193 per cent - a difference of 122 percentage points.
Southland's wages were more relative to its house prices than any other place. It was the only region over the past 14 years where at one stage, just one or two yearly incomes were needed to buy a house. That lasted from 1998 to 2002.
For the next 10 years, just two or three incomes were needed. Last year three or four were needed.
In 1998, the wage was $40,872 and the house price $65,125, compared with $63,076 and $192,983 last year.
That was a rise of 54 per cent and 1996 per cent respectively.
The area had the biggest gap between percentage rises with a difference of 142 points, reflecting the fact house prices were the lowest of every region in 1998. The area was still the cheapest in the country.