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House hunting in the Super City can leave many feeling despondent about their chances of ever owning a home - but as these Auckland millennials show it's not impossible. Tony Misa bought his first property at 21. Now at 29 he owns two homes, is married, has a baby on the way and plans to buy a third property. Steven 28, and Megan Palmer, 27, bought their first home three years ago and still managed to do an OE. The trio talk to Corazon Miller about how they managed to get into an Auckland home - all before turning 30.


Tradesman lived with parents

Owning a home on the western outskirts of the city was always a dream for one Auckland couple - one they managed to achieve in their mid-twenties. Today, 30 minutes out of the central city, in Titirangi, is the three-bedroom house that Steven, 28 and Megan Palmer, 27, call home. Despite its location on the city's western outskirts the Palmers said their decision to buy in the area was not dictated by price, but by choice. "I wanted to live out this way, because I grew up out this way and just the fact that it's not Auckland city. It's out in the bush and away from all of it," Steven Palmer said. The couple, who have been together since high school, put down a $40,000 deposit, secured a mortgage and bought the property for $492,000 in 2013. Steven Palmer, a mechanical engineer, said he'd always wanted to get into property young. "I didn't like the idea of renting and buying meant I could pay my own mortgage rather than someone else's." To get there he lived at home, got a trade apprenticeship which turned into a job and worked long hours to help boost his savings.
Buying meant I could pay my own mortgage rather than someone else's.
Steven and Megan Palmer
"It was pretty easy to buy, because I was still living at home and the fact that I was working and not at university." He attributed being able to save, in part, to his entering the trades at a time when many of his peers were accruing student debt. "Some of the guys on the floor, if they want to, can earn more money than management. Apprenticeships get you earning quicker so that if you do want to buy a house, it's a viable option even in Auckland." Although the couple were renting out their spare rooms to friends, they said that even without the extra money mortgage repayments were manageable. Steven Palmer said buying young had given them a "head start" on their peers, without too many sacrifices made. Even with a mortgage on the house, the Palmers have still done an OE, not once but soon-to-be twice - albeit for a few months at a time as opposed to years. Steven Palmer said once back from overseas he'd begin eyeing up a potential second house to add to his real-estate portfolio. To those still looking to buy, he said once the hard yards were completed the stress was less. "It seems to be quite overwhelming with all the money involved, it sort of becomes something in the background you don't worry about, once you actually do it."

Hard worker owned home at 21

Tony Misa was just 21 when he bought his first property - a small apartment in the South Auckland suburb of Manurewa for $190,000. Eight years later and the mechanical engineer owns two properties and has his eye on more. Misa, 29, said living in his own home with his wife and young daughter gave him a sense of security. "It is a safe ground for our family to grow and have our daughter there. She was born two years ago and it's nice to come home each day and have a stable ground for everyone to grow up in." He said owning his own house was something he'd always aspired to and once he put his mind to it he spent a year making it happen. He described working long hours to save up $50,000 which he put towards his first property buy. "I'm a believer that if you don't have enough money in your day job, you go out and find a second job. "When I'm saving, some weeks I've worked 97 hours."
If you don't have enough money in your day job, you go out and find a second job.
Tony Misa
Misa said his first property wasn't flash - but it was in good condition and more importantly it was his - something few of his peers could say about where they were living. "Only about 20 per cent of people in my age group were in the same position." He credited beginning work as a mechanical engineering apprentice, when many his age were looking at tertiary degrees and student debts, as key to giving him a head start. At 16 he began work as an apprentice and worked his way up to his current position as a machine shop manager in charge of 85 staff members. "Doing trades training is an opportunity to qualify with a trade without debt. You get a four-year savings jumpstart on someone doing a degree. Misa said of his 85-strong team that 75 had their own homes. "My wife's a nurse, she's a stuck in a pay bracket, but I have been able to get ahead because I was earning and learning." But despite achieving his housing dream young, Misa's property aspirations aren't all over. With a new baby on the way this year, he wants to sell his current three-bedroom home in Manurewa and buy another for his growing family. He also hopes to invest in more properties to secure his family's future. "I want to buy three more investment properties around New Zealand to help me in my later life, to live my life and not have no income when I have no job and am retired." Misa's advice to others hoping to get into a home of their own was to work hard and not be too fussy. "Work hard and get a deposit. Any house is a good house to live in if it works for you."