Alanah Eriksen

Alanah Eriksen is the New Zealand Herald's property reporter, and assistant chief reporter.

First-home hit: How city compares

Auckland's population growth and lack of house building were behind the difference in house prices. Photo / APN
Auckland's population growth and lack of house building were behind the difference in house prices. Photo / APN

First-home buyers in Auckland pay almost $200 more a week in mortgage repayments than those starting on the property ladder nationally.

New figures show the gap between what young house-hunters in the city face and what the rest of the country will pay for a first house is widening.

The data, provided by CoreLogic, shows the median price a first-home buyer in Auckland paid in the first three months of the year was $520,000 - a jump of $233,000, or 81 per cent, since 2004.

Nationally, it was $376,000 - a jump of $161,000 or 75 per cent. The national figure is $144,000 less than for Auckland.

CoreLogic defined a first-home-buyer transaction as one where none of the new owners has owned property in New Zealand previously, and has also taken out a mortgage.

Using sorted.co.nz's mortgage calculator on the current floating interest rate of 6.24, and assuming the buyer had a 20 per cent deposit, the prices equate to weekly repayments of $700 for a 20-year mortgage in Auckland.

Nationally, it is a $506 weekly repayment.

The Reserve Bank's requirement banks limit their lending to buyers without a 20 per cent deposit was not in place in 2004, but announced to start on October 1 last year as a way to cool the skyrocketing market.

Despite the big rises in Auckland house prices, incomes nationally have risen at a higher rate than the city's. But neither area has seen incomes rise at the same rate as house prices.

The median weekly income in Auckland was $453 in 2004, and $575 last year (up 27 per cent). Nationally it was $422 in 2004 and also $575 last year (up 36 per cent).

Real Estate Institute chief executive Helen O'Sullivan said the difference would be a lot for some households.

"You work out $200 a week at 52 weeks a year, it's going to mount up pretty quickly. The reality is, Auckland house prices are well in advance of the rest of the country."

She said Auckland's population growth and lack of house building were behind the difference.

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Harcourts chief executive Hayden Duncan said the upper range of incomes had been growing considerably in the past 10 years, making it more affordable for people who otherwise would not have bought in those price brackets.

Mortgage broker Bruce Patten, of Loan Market, who is based in east Auckland, said some buyers might need to adjust their expectations and start with an apartment.


Nicola Ryan.

Rotorua market a good bet

Nicola Ryan is happy with her new four-bedroom home in Rotorua.

The 27-year-old paid less than $300,000 for the property and said she would never get something of the same size at the same price in Auckland.

"I have friends living up there and I hear what they're paying in rent and I can just imagine what houses are going for," she said.

Miss Ryan bought a 111sq m fibre cement home on a 599sq m section built in 1998 in Pukehangi.

"When I walked in I said, 'Yes, this is it'. It doesn't need any work, apart from a bit outside ... just some gardening, not building a new fence or anything."

She had a 20 per cent deposit, but got her mortgage before the new loan-to-value ratio limits came in in October. She settled and moved in in March.

Her mortgage repayments are just $300 a week, which she splits with her boyfriend Hamish Hunt.

The pharmacist technician also checked out the Tauranga market but found it was more expensive there.

- NZ Herald

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