First-home buyers in Auckland are flocking to the west, where there are more new buyers than anywhere else in the country, latest data shows.
The analysis by PropertyIQ is the first to look at first-home buyer numbers since new bank lending restrictions were introduced on October 1.
The research company looked at every property transaction over the last 10 years to determine whether sales were to first-home buyers, movers or property investors.
It found 20 per cent of national sales of houses, flats and apartments since the start of 2012 were to first-home buyers.
The analysis also found a slight increase in first-home buyer activity in the two months since the Reserve Bank's lending restrictions came in.
Critics believe the restrictions will make it harder for first-time buyers to get onto the property ladder.
The area with the highest proportion of new buyers nationally was west Auckland, where 29 per cent were first-home buyers.
South Auckland was in the mid 20s, while North Shore was slightly above the national average, on 22 per cent, and central Auckland was slightly below, on 18 per cent.
The Auckland suburbs with the most new buyers were Birkdale, Beach Haven and Bayview on the North Shore, and Sunnyvale and Kelston in the west.
Also popular were Glenfield, Glen Eden, Glendene, Massey, Avondale, Mangere East and Clendon Park.
Many of those areas had also increased the most in value over the past year.
Real Estate Institute chief executive Helen O'Sullivan said some of the biggest increases were in up-and-coming suburbs that bordered on traditionally more expensive areas, including Avondale and Te Atatu Peninsula in the west.
``As people find the affordability is really good in those parts of town, you get a concentration of first-home buyers.''
Harcourts' chief executive Hayden Duncan said while houses were cheaper in other parts of the country, the proximity to jobs made west Auckland an affordable place to live and an up-and-coming area.
Mortgage broker John Bolton of Squirrel said overlooked fringe suburbs in the west and on the North Shore had become better value for money as the central city got more expensive.
"Those suburbs have started to gentrify - they've become more and more attractive, and then you've seen a mad rush of first-home buyers going into those areas.''
Gentrification was pushing up prices in those suburbs, Mr Bolton said. The average house price in Avondale was now in the mid-$500,000s compared with mid-$400,000s several years ago.
It was too soon to see the impact of the Reserve Bank's cap on high loan to value ratio lending by banks, but there was likely to be a slight spike in first-home activity around October as some people rushed to buy, he said.
Labour housing spokesman Phil Twyford said reports had indicated first-home buyers had all but disappeared from the market, so the new analysis was timely.
West Auckland and some North Shore suburbs were areas where first-home buyers cold still buy properties that offered value for money, he said.