Home truths: Our house hunters - in their own words

By Andrew Laxon

At the end of our two-week Home Truths series, the three would-be buyers who invited readers to follow their journey tell Andrew Laxon how they found the experience.
At the end of Home Truths series, the three would-be buyers who invited readers to follow their journey tell Andrew Laxon how they found the experience. Photo / Michael Craig
At the end of Home Truths series, the three would-be buyers who invited readers to follow their journey tell Andrew Laxon how they found the experience. Photo / Michael Craig

Cecile Bourgeois

Video

Aged 39

School teacher, Western Springs College

Price cap: $480,000

Deposit: $48,000

Income: $74,000

Living in: Hillcrest, North Shore

Looking in: North Shore, West Auckland

Why did you agree to take part in the series?

I wanted to share how hard it was for a teacher, and as a single person, and to open up some minds regarding a teacher's situation. I wanted people to understand my problem was more with the banks that give high rates and not much choice in properties to a person who has a satisfying regular income and a job for life. I also wanted people to understand that as a teacher, I am limited as I cannot go to auctions, and most houses on sale now get sold in an auction. I cannot just leave 30 kids with a relief teacher while I go to an auction for a house that I might not get. I wanted people to understand that I am faced with hard choices when I live in a city I chose and therefore like, where I have started from scratch again in my early thirties, made new friends that have become family, and that I am not willing to leave everything behind just because I want to own a property, I love my job and my school and I do not want to have to leave that either, just to say that I own a house.

How have people reacted to the problems you had finding a home?

I feel that people have been very judgmental very fast, making their own opinion about a person they do not know after watching a one minute video. Some have been very supportive, but others have acted like they know it all without looking at the facts. How many times was I told to buy and rent out, when I cannot do that when using my KiwiSaver? How many times was I told to get an apartment, when I cannot do that with a 10 per cent deposit? How many times have I been told that south is not bad, when I have lived in the south and felt isolated, and as long as public transport or the motorway and the traffic do not improve it is not a place I want to live in on my own. Of course there are questions I should have answered better, if I had had more time to think, instead of just saying "I don't like it" when referring to South Auckland - when I meant I didn't like the isolation, travelling far to go to the city, using unreliable public transport to go to work, and finding some parts unsafe to live on my own.

What did you think of the articles and public debate that unfolded in the Herald?

I agree the advice given by John Bolton of Squirrel Mortgages (who said first home buyers should ditch the Sky TV subscription and learn to save harder, prompting a torrent of responses for and against) is useful to some and can definitely help some to save better and faster. I am not sure if John Key is going to actually do something instead of just throwing an idea (land tax on foreigners) in the air.

Has anything we talked about actually helped you to find an affordable house?

No. The experts have not been helpful at all. I received links of houses on auction, some maybe leaky, one was a 25 square metre place when I was very specific and mentioned I wanted a two-bedroom house and I could not go to auctions. The experts have suggested to leave Auckland. Well that was not news to me, but the point was to find a place in Auckland! And they have not even given me areas I had not thought of that were not further out west. And suggesting to buy with a friend? I do not believe it is fair to put that responsibility of buying a house for myself on to one of my friends.

What are your feelings now about your chances of buying here in Auckland?

Mixed. It's not over but I will not get tied up with a mortgage that is going to take me 30 years to repay for a property I am not happy with.

Gemma and Mike

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Gemma: Aged 28, pre-school teacher

Mike: Aged 28, cabinetmaker

Price cap: $600,000

Deposit: $90,000 (with Kiwisaver)

Income: $110,000-$120,000

Living in: Te Atatu, West Auckland

Looking in: West Auckland

Why did you agree to take part in the series?

We felt that it was an important issue facing young first home buyers. We thought that our story was so similar to many young couples and wanted to help make the challenges facing first home buyers public. Personally we were unsure about whether it was the right time to purchase our first home and thought that the experts' opinions might offer us some clarity.

How have people reacted to the problems you had finding a home?

For the most part Mike and I have received really positive feedback from the people we meet. Many sympathise with us, and say how grateful they are to not be in our situation, but like us hope for the best that we might just find our first home. What I have found really sad is some of the other responses. It saddens me that people can sit behind a keyboard and say hurtful and unnecessary comments towards other human beings, who are just trying to do their best to put down roots in the country they call home.

What did you think of the articles and public debate that unfolded in the Herald?

We think that having a debate about the state of the Auckland house market is healthy and highlights the issues that are facing first home buyers. Reading the comments on the Facebook page just goes to show that there are so many people who are in the same boat, and, like us, work hard and are saving with the goal of getting their first home. Although we are not looking for a handout as such, I think that all this press around the issue might just encourage the Government or those who are able to make changes to consider looking at the issue and discussing whether there are strategies that could be put in place to support the younger generation to get into the crazy Auckland market.

Has anything we talked about actually helped you to find an affordable house? What are your feelings now about your chances of buying here in Auckland?

As yet Mike and I have not found our first home, but we are confident that with time we will be able to find a place. I think this series has highlighted the unaffordability of the Auckland housing market, and the need to be realistic with your budget and what your money will get you.

Bharat and Lovely

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Bharat: Aged 31, IT worker

Lovely: Aged 27, early childhood worker

Price cap: $600,000

Deposit: $60,000

Income: $110,000

Living in: Auckland CBD

Looking in: Central and West Auckland

Why did you agree to take part in the series?

We were finding it really hard to get into the market for buying a house in Auckland. We have lost the hopes of our first dream home. We wanted to share our views on a big platform like Herald, so that we could get some advice from the Herald's expert team.

How have people reacted to the problems you had finding a home?

Some people believe it's a matter of high concern and found our issues genuine. We got so many calls and texts saying "don't lose hope", followed by encouragement and appreciation. A few people have shown racism and made offensive comments.

What did you think of the articles and public debate that unfolded in the Herald?

It's so good to know that John Key is thinking of imposing a land tax on foreign buyers. We have high expectations from this ongoing discussion and it may reduce the pain for first home buyers, including us. We believe everyone deserves a dream home, no matter how big or small.

Has anything we talked about actually helped you to find an affordable house?

Honestly, at this stage we are not able to find anything, but we have enough ideas and this Home Truths series has given us confidence to continue our search.

What are your feelings now about your chances of buying here in Auckland?

We feel we cannot buy in the Auckland central suburbs. We have to look 25-30 kilometres outside of the city.

- NZ Herald

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