Special report: Auckland v the rest - Centres away from the big smoke are cheaper options for home-buyers, but there can be snags.

The average house price in central Auckland will buy a five-bedroom home on more than 2ha in Feilding, or a four-bedroom property with a pool in Tauranga.

But in the country's largest city, for the average sale price of $663,169, you would be lucky to get a three-bedroom house on a small piece of land in the city fringe suburbs.

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand chief executive Helen O'Sullivan said people were realistic about what their money would buy them in Auckland as opposed to other areas in New Zealand.

"At least as soon as people start checking out the market, you quite quickly work out what you're likely to get for their mortgage."


Ms O'Sullivan said Auckland was more expensive than anywhere else in New Zealand because the number of people living or wanting to in the region didn't match the number of houses convenient to the city centre.

"It just costs so much more; it's sad but true, it's simple supply and demand," she said.

Real estate agent Sharon Lodge, of LJ Hooker's Kerikeri office, which has a four-bedroom, two-bathroom house for $650,000 on its books, said that in the past four to six months her company had noticed an increase of interest from Aucklanders, particularly retirees.

"They believe Kerikeri's a lot more affordable," Mrs Lodge said.

"And we're getting some of the younger ones coming up and having a look but with regards to work, they're a lot more careful. There's a lot of study from those guys at the moment, but not much buying."

Lower wages was one of the factors stopping younger buyers putting down roots in Northland.

But Mrs Lodge said there was "something special" about living in Kerikeri, as well as the cheaper houses. "It's got a great atmosphere and it's got a lot going for it if you're into community life."

But Ms O'Sullivan said living in central Auckland in a smaller house has its benefits, especially as it's where a lot of the work is.

"That beautiful house with 2ha and a pool and rolling countryside around it ... the issue with that is convenience and the commute to somewhere you can get regular employment to pay the mortgage."

She'd heard rumblings of people starting to look outside of Auckland for houses, but the job factor often kept people tied to the city.

Ms O'Sullivan said if people were open to looking outside of the city-fringe suburbs or other areas that are in high demand, there was still the opportunity to get a great house for $660,000.

"If you go out to a place like Karaka, for $650,000 you can get some really awesome, big, newly built homes with all sorts of lovely features.

"Some people seem to focus on the glamorous areas and go, 'my God, I can't afford to buy in Westmere or Ponsonby', but you can still afford to buy in other parts of Auckland."