'Low-cost' housing ready to hit market

By Abby Gillies

Hobsonville Pt homes offer a lot for families, but the first home buyer can also pick up a bargain further south of the city

The site in Hobsonville Point, where Axis Series homes are being built as part of the affordable housing initiative. Photo / Dean Purcell
The site in Hobsonville Point, where Axis Series homes are being built as part of the affordable housing initiative. Photo / Dean Purcell

The first homes from one of the country's biggest "affordable" housing projects go on sale this weekend at Hobsonville Pt, Auckland.

The marketing material for the Government scheme aimed at aspiring first-time buyers promises a life "moments away, a world apart" for houses costing over $400,000.

Add in the site's rich history as one of New Zealand's key airbases and plans for schools, parks, a farmers' market and cafe and you can just hear the developer's vision of a "world-class township for Aucklanders of all ages and stages".

The development aims to be one of the country's biggest "affordable" housing projects. Of the 3,000 homes to be built in the next 10 to 15 years, 300 will cost $400,000 or less and another 600 will have a price tag of between $400,000 and $485,000.

After the collapse of the Government's Gateway scheme - just 17 of the 100 affordable homes promised in 2009 were built - the first properties in the next batch of cheap housing go on sale this weekend.

Construction of the 11 two- and three-bedroom homes built by Hobsonville Lane Company, a subsidiary of Housing New Zealand, is due to be completed by August. They include terraced and standalone homes and all cost between $465,000 and $485,000.

Hobsonville Land Company commercial manager Mark Fraser said the prices were competitive without compromising on quality.

"We're trying to prove to the market we can build affordable, good quality homes that are efficient and good to live in," he said during a tour of the site yesterday. "We're not taking any shortcuts."

But just how affordable are they - and will they solve a housing shortage that's forced Auckland Council to propose rezoning more than half the city's residential land for multi-storey apartment blocks in a bid to squeeze in an extra million people by 2040?

Real Estate Institute chief executive Helen O'Sullivan said the project was a "piece of the puzzle" but other aspects had to be considered when it came to planning affordable housing.

"We've got a real lack of supply, and that is translating to upwards price pressure. There's no quick fix."

But Hobsonville Pt prices might not even be enough to sway would-be buyers. Real Estate Institute figures showed that in the year to February 12,959 properties in Auckland sold for less than $485,000.

Two properties south of urban Auckland sold by Bayleys recently went for well below that mark - a four-bedroom home in Glenbrook Beach for $390,000 and a three-bedroom house in Pukekohe for $380,000. Those prices - and the Hobsonville development - showed there was affordable housing available across the region if buyers were realistic about location, said Ms O'Sullivan. "They're all very liveable, which is great news."

The Hobsonville home was the most modern, but the Pukekohe house appeared to have been renovated and the Glenbrook property was bigger and on a large section.

Determining the best value for money came down to buyer preference. "It does show if you're prepared to be a bit flexible with your choices there are still houses available in this price range, just not necessarily close to the city."

The Hobsonville properties defined "modern, compact housing", said Ms O'Sullivan, who urged buyers to consider what was most important to them, such as how modern the house is, section size, proximity to the city and transport options.

Hobsonville Land Company chief executive Chris Aiken said there had been considerable interest and the first 11 homes were likely to be sold off the plans.

Who can buy

• Household income must be under $120,000
• Owners must live in the house for at least two years
• Must be over 18 and NZ residents
• Homes cannot be bought by family trust or company


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