Anne Gibson

Property editor of the NZ Herald

Best buys in Auckland's 'hidden-gem' suburbs

The potential savings resulting from choosing a hidden-gem suburb could be enhanced by shortening the term of the mortgage. Photo / APN
The potential savings resulting from choosing a hidden-gem suburb could be enhanced by shortening the term of the mortgage. Photo / APN

People wanting to pay less interest and shave years off their mortgages are being advised to buy homes in "hidden-gem" suburbs.

They are close to Auckland's fastest-selling homes but are substantially cheaper. As a result, buyers can save themselves up to eight years' worth of mortgage payments.

The "hidden-gem" suburbs have been identified by Westpac in its new housing report released today.

Ian Blair, Westpac's retail general manager, said his organisation had pinpointed the city's fastest-selling suburbs, then located nearby areas where places were more affordable.

By looking at the neighbours of Kingsland, Ponsonby and Point Chevalier, buyers can save themselves six to eight years on a standard mortgage, the research showed. Buying in these hidden-gem suburbs could mean buyers pay less interest and become mortgage free earlier, he said.

"For example, Ponsonby is one of the fastest-selling suburbs in Auckland but by buying in nearby Grey Lynn the median price is 22 per cent cheaper and you could be freehold eight years sooner," Mr Blair said.

"Kingsland is becoming a popular suburb but if it's a stretch, buying in nearby Mt Albert where the median price is $122,500 less, there's the chance of owning your home mortgage free nearly seven years earlier," he said.

Similar scenarios had been identified by Westpac all over the country where buyers who want to own their home faster may find real reward and value by considering a suburb close to the one that might be their first preference.

The potential savings resulting from choosing a hidden-gem suburb could be enhanced by shortening the term of the mortgage and slightly increasing the regular amount being repaid.

Popularity ranks of Auckland suburbs was based on the average days on the market for all sales during the 12 months to September this year.

Peter Thompson, Barfoot & Thompson managing director, has encouraged first-home buyers to scale back expectations. "Westmere not Ponsonby, Meadowbank not Remuera, Glenfield not Takapuna, Goodwood Heights not Hill Park, Glen Eden not Titirangi," are areas he recommends they consider.

'Free pass' for overseas buyers

Opposition parties have criticised the Reserve Bank's loan-to-value ratio home loan restrictions, saying they have opened the market to exploitation by foreign speculators.

The bank yesterday issued its twice yearly Financial Stability Report in which governor Graeme Wheeler warned of the risks of a correction or sharp fall in house prices - a risk that prompted the introduction of the restrictions.

However, speaking to MPs at Parliament yesterday, Mr Wheeler confirmed the restriction does not apply to foreign buyers who borrow from banks in their home markets.

"LVRs have constrained lending to young New Zealand families looking to buy their first home but failed to stop overseas buyers, who are driving up house prices," Green Party co-leader Russel Norman said.

Labour housing spokesman Phil Twyford said foreign speculators now had "a free pass".

However, the Reserve Bank yesterday said there was nothing to prevent local buyers from accessing finance from overseas banks themselves.

But Bruce Patten, a director of mortgage broking firm Loan Market, said there was little sign of that yet.

Mr Twyford said the availability of home loans from overseas lenders was "one of the reasons why a lot of commentators think the LVRs may have an immediate effect but the market will find ways around this".

The restrictions were "looking more and more like a Swiss cheese", he said.

"LVRs are only a temporary solution."

- NZ Herald

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