Financially strapped home buyers are looking to Auckland's city fringes for affordable properties.
Latest figures from the Real Estate Institute (REINZ) show the number of sales in Waitakere and Manukau jumped in the past year and local agents say buyers are choosing those areas after being priced out of traditionally desirable suburbs.
According to latest REINZ figures, the median house price in the region reached $563,000 last month, up 11.4 per cent on the same time last year.
Harcourts Henderson Blue Fern Realty owner Phil Freeman said several buyers from Howick and the North Shore were eyeing Waitakere.
"They have been pretty unsuccessful finding what they want in their price range in those two areas and they suddenly find they get quite a bit more for their money in the old Waitakere City Council area."
First-time homeowners and established property-holders alike had found getting into West Auckland a lot easier than in "the Ponsonbys and the Freemans Bays and places like that", he said.
"In Waitakere and probably South Auckland, you can probably pick something up for $350,00 to $400,000."
Bayleys Northwest franchise director Angela Little said population growth in the Auckland region, combined with the proposed Unitary Plan, had resulted in noticeable expansion around the Kumeu, Huapai and Riverhead areas. "We are seeing urban intensification around the fringes of these town centres, as well as greater development of lifestyle blocks in the 1ha size range."
Institute figures show 359 homes were sold in Waitakere last month - 11.5 per cent more than in August last year. The median house price jumped 24.4 per cent to $510,000.
LJ Hooker Manukau director Colin Varney said housing affordability in the south was a major drawcard.
"We are getting more buyers that are either from Auckland, or have been looking at Ellerslie north" who had decided on Manukau because it was either more affordable or better value for their money, he said.
REINZ said 568 homes were sold in Manukau last month - 41 per cent more than in August last year.
Nationally, property prices were up $5000 between July and August, taking the national median to $390,000 - slightly lower than the national record median of $400,000 set in March.
Institute chief executive Helen O'Sullivan said while agents nationwide were reporting strong activity from first-home buyers, analysis suggested this was focused "more in the regions, rather than in Auckland and Christchurch where we are seeing greatest price pressure".