Home truths: Can you afford to buy in New Zealand?

By Andrew Laxon

Runaway house prices have put almost 90 per cent of the Auckland housing market out of reach for typical first home buyers.

Exclusive figures supplied to the Herald by property data company Core Logic show buyers can afford only 11 per cent of all houses in the region at the traditional affordable housing benchmark of about $450,000.

Even if a couple could raise a $120,000 deposit for a $600,000 home - just under the new official "affordable" price - they would still be able to afford only 30 per cent of properties in the city.

With the same money, they could afford to buy 89 per cent of homes in Hamilton, 77 per cent of Tauranga, 70 per cent of Wellington and 84 per cent of Christchurch.

TELL US YOUR STORY

The Herald is running a two-week series, Home Truths: NZ's unaffordable housing crisis, which will examine the causes of our growing housing unaffordability crisis and explore possible solutions.

The series also features:

• Video and print interviews with three house hunters struggling to find a home within their price range, plus a Herald panel of property experts who give them advice.

• Daily features investigating the supply and demand problems behind the crisis, from house building shortfalls to market speculation by local and foreign investors.

• An animated video giving you an instant overview of the affordable housing crisis in less than two minutes.

Watch: Affordable housing explained

Video

The series, which continues in the Weekend Herald, comes as Auckland's median house price hit an $820,000 all-time high this week. In the last year the city's house prices have jumped 14 per cent, making New Zealand the most expensive country in the world to buy a home when prices are compared to incomes, according to a Fitch Ratings report in January.

The struggle to find an affordable home feels very unfair to one of our three househunters, 28-year-old Gemma Mann, who is battling to buy at $600,000 in west Auckland, along with her husband Mike and their seven-month-old baby Harper.

"I think definitely for our generation it is really difficult to buy a house," she said.

"I worry about Harper's generation of children. If it's so hard for us, is it going to mean they won't have a home?"

French teacher Cecile Bourgeois, aged 39, said she was really struggling to find a $500,000 home on her $74,000 annual salary.

"It's not fun. I'm over it, seriously. I feel poor.

"It's just the increase in the prices in Auckland... I can't save enough if it keeps increasing."

Our third set of house hunters, Bharat Bhushan and Lovely Garg, felt they had no choice but to buy now.

"If we don't enter the market now then I think we'll be too late," said Mr Bhushan.

"Because I think the market is already burning... if it remains like this, (the average) will touch a million."

- NZ Herald

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