Normally, a house like this would sell before you'd seen the newspaper ad. You'll not often find a five-double-bedroom, two-bathroom home in Auckland for this price.

The house has potential - there's space for a wrap-around deck. The land has potential - 1200sq m will subdivide nicely. And the sellers only want around $600,000.

In Auckland, that's a bargain.Yet the estate agent reckons not one person turned up to the open home last weekend. What's the catch?

It's in Otara - the suburb Auckland's housing crisis forgot.

Advertisement
Normally, a house like this would sell before you'd seen the newspaper ad, writes Heather du Plessis-Allan. Photo: First National Papakura
Normally, a house like this would sell before you'd seen the newspaper ad, writes Heather du Plessis-Allan. Photo: First National Papakura

This is hardly a national poll, but I asked around my friends to see if any would buy in Otara. Not one would. One is moving to Wellington to escape Auckland's housing crisis, ending up in a smaller house, further away from his work than if he'd bought the place in Otara.

The problem's in the name.

For inner-city young people, Otara conjures images of hooded thugs looking for trouble.

And then there's the traffic.

Getting in from Otara would take at least 40 minutes at rush hour.

Quite frankly, inner-city kids sound like a bunch of snobs.

Not one person turned up to the open home last weekend. Photo: First National Papakura
Not one person turned up to the open home last weekend. Photo: First National Papakura

If an inner-Aucklander around the 30-year-old mark is complaining about Auckland's housing crisis, give that person a slap. There's nothing as unattractive as a millennial playing the stereotype of a spoiled generation, feeling entitled to the good life, and unable to bear buying a house in that part of town. That person deserves a housing crisis.

If they have to live a car's drive from work, they'd rather live in West Auckland, with its big malls, brick-and-tile homes and gigantic spiders that breed in the never-ending rain.

West Auckland doesn't have a patch on South Auckland.

Down south they bred OMC and Joseph Parker. Even further south they raised Edmund Hillary and - for their sins - me.

They have street markets and wide streets and even wider open fields.

There's always something interesting going on: that unsold house once housed the Oracle of God religion, and later a bankrupt.

Sure, South Auckland can be rough, but Auckland City is worse. The last round of crime stats show for every 10,000 people in South Auckland, police recorded 800 crimes. In Auckland City, police recorded close to 940.

The backyard. Photo: First National Papakura
The backyard. Photo: First National Papakura

Otara is 18km from town. The train station is nine minutes' drive from the house with five bedrooms.

It's not long since our most desirable suburbs were like Otara. Before the expensive bars and restaurants and designer clothing stores arrived in the late 1980s, Ponsonby Rd was a strip lined with junk shops, cheap food joints and places to buy second-hand furniture.

Fifty years ago, Parnell was run down. Eighty years ago, Freemans Bay was full of prostitutes and law-breakers. In 20 years Otara will be a city-fringe suburb with renovated state homes just a stroll away from fancy cafes.

For the $1.6 million it costs for an average house in Ponsonby, investors can snap up three in Otara and pocket spare change. Instead of banking $780 in rent in Ponsonby, they can rake in nearly $1300 from their Otara property portfolio.

We could rename Otara something ending with Heights or Park. The young people would move in, gentrify the area, ease the housing crisis and contain the urban sprawl.

The only trouble is the locals would have to deal with droves of fussy Auckland millennials.

The details

• Sandbrook Avenue, Otara NZ
• 5 bed, 2 bath
• 1158m2 section, 140m2 floor space
• Vendors want low to mid $600,000
• Offers before May 10

Debate on this article is now closed.