Anne Gibson

Property editor of the NZ Herald

Super City ... with pricetag that matches

Survey shows Auckland is sliding further down world ranks of housing affordability.

Last year, Auckland was the world's 313th most unaffordable place out of 337 cities but now it is the world's 347th most unaffordable out of 360 cities. Photo / Chris Gorman
Last year, Auckland was the world's 313th most unaffordable place out of 337 cities but now it is the world's 347th most unaffordable out of 360 cities. Photo / Chris Gorman

Housing is increasingly out of Aucklanders' reach as incomes drop and house prices rocket, an annual global study shows.

The Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey out today showed prices up $54,900 annually and median household incomes falling by $4700.

Last year, the survey pegged Aucklanders as having a median household income of $75,200 and a median house price of $506,800, giving the city a total median multiple of 6.7 (house prices divided by incomes) when anything more than 3 is regarded as unaffordable.

But now Auckland's median house prices are $561,700 and median household incomes $70,500, the city has been pegged as having a median multiple of 8. The survey concluded Auckland had slipped further in its ranking as one of the world's most severely unaffordable places to live.

Last year, Auckland was the world's 313th most unaffordable place out of 337 cities but now it is the world's 347th most unaffordable out of 360 cities.

Christchurch-based survey co-author Hugh Pavletich said the trend was extremely worrying.

Our next most unaffordable urban area is Tauranga/Western Bay of Plenty where median house prices are $364,800 and median incomes are $55,000. Last year, houses there were lower-priced at $349,100 and incomes were also higher at $59,600.

Demographia sourced its New Zealand housing data from the Real Estate Institute and the incomes from Statistics New Zealand.

Mr Pavletich said income figures were projected on Census 2006, until Census 2013 when the latest figure was used.

"So the income figures from last year were estimates," he said.

The easiest place to buy a house in New Zealand remains Palmerston North/Manawatu but incomes have slipped there too, from $55,100 last year to $50,900 this year, although house prices have dropped from $240,700 to $231,100.

Christchurch households are richer, with annual incomes rising $12,300 from $54,200 to $66,500.

"It's an abnormal situation," Mr Pavletich said.

"The number of houses here has dropped because we had at least 10,000 knocked out by the earthquakes. Secondly, there are greater numbers of people in each house so more incomes per house. And third, the low-paying tourism sector has been hit and the higher paying construction sector has taken off - unemployment has also dropped significantly in the Christchurch area."

So although Christchurch house prices rose from $358,800 to $388,200, incomes offset that to some extent, Mr Pavletich said.

Geoff Cooper, Auckland Council's chief economist, had some reservations about the Auckland conclusions.

"Wage growth and the job market have been slow so that makes sense, as well as taking into account inflation. But I'm a little surprised at the fall," he said of the median household income figures.

ANZ chief economist Cameron Bagrie also had reservations.

"I think the spirit of what they are saying is right because house prices are up and incomes are not going up anywhere near as fast.

"So what you're seeing is a deterioration in affordability. But those [income] figures for Auckland don't pass the smell test," he said.

The Demographia survey has been running for a decade, examining New Zealand, Australia, Canada, China, Ireland, Britain and the United States.

Hong Kong remains the world's least affordable place, with a median price of HKD$4 million ($624,000) but incomes of only HKD$270,000, giving it a multiple of 14.9.

Rockford and Utica in the United States are ranked as the world's most affordable with houses costing US$88,900 ($107,000) and US$80,000 but incomes US$51,600 and US$47,500.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n6 at 21 Oct 2014 11:11:16 Processing Time: 468ms