Skyrocketing prices are forcing buyers to typically pay $41,000 more for a home loan deposit than a year ago as Auckland's "affordable" housing market dwindles to a handful of suburbs.
Coastal Herne Bay's median prices, in particular, zoomed past $3 million - setting a new record as the nation's only suburb to cross the magic mark.
Highlighting the challenges facing first-home buyers, there were now just three Auckland suburbs in the city limits with median house prices below the Government's $650,000 affordable KiwiBuild mark, the latest OneRoof Property Report found.
That was down from 26 a year ago and 47 five years ago.
More striking was that 195 Auckland suburbs now had median property values greater than $1 million or more - representing a staggering 71 per cent of the city.
OneRooof editor Owen Vaughan said first-home buyers, in particular, were now typically handing over $200,000 or more for a deposit.
"Even parts of city that have been viewed as affordable or low value, such as South Auckland's Mangere and Manurewa, have seen property values jump more than 20 per cent to more than $800,000," he said.
"However, recent auction results show that even $1m-plus sales are not uncommon in these areas."
Just a year ago, the outlook had been very different. Most pundits tipped house prices to fall in the expectation Covid-19 would wreak economic havoc on the nation.
Instead, record-low interest rates and a lack of housing supply sent prices skyrocketing in what has been called the biggest housing boom since the mid-2000s.
Auckland's median price now sat at $1.1m, jumping an incredible $205,000 or 23 per cent since the Covid-19 pandemic hit 12-months ago.
North Shore prices jumped even higher, climbing $255,000 to $1.3m.
That meant the typical North Shore buyer now needed to raise a $262,000 deposit, which was $51,000 higher than one year ago.
The suspension of so-called loan-to-value ratio restrictions - which gave investors and owner-occupiers better access to home loans - also played a role in driving prices higher.
It often left first-home buyers pitted against investors for cheaper priced homes, Wayne Shum, senior research analyst at OneRoof's data partner Valocity, said.
"This has pushed many so-called affordable Auckland suburbs within striking distance of a $1 million median property value," he said.
There were now just eight suburbs with median property values of $650,000 or less.
However, of these, five were in rural areas, meaning just apartment-filled Auckland Central, Grafton and Manukau had median prices below $650,000 inside the city limits.
Auckland Central remained the most affordable, a property typically costing $495,000.
The number of suburbs with median property values between $650,000 and $900,000, meanwhile, also shrunk from 73 to 38 in the last 12 months.
Prices in Mangere East ($235,000), Manurewa East ($220,000), Clover Park ($210,000) and Otara ($205,000) were among the big jumpers. Each had median prices below $650,000 one year ago that had now jumped in value by more than $200,000.
Ray White Manukau owner Tom Rawson recalled one Papakura property with development potential selling for $635,000 last April.
However, last Tuesday, three similar properties near to it all sold at auction for more than $950,000 - a more than $300,000 price jump.
At another auction on Thursday, Rawson bid on behalf of a buyer willing to pay $1.3m - or $500,000 above council valuation - for a Point England house.
However, Rawson's client was quickly knocked out of the bidding by two developers, who raised the price another $145,000 - with the losing developer eventually being clapped out of the room for their valiant defeat.
At a third auction run by Ray White, one woman bought a house. Her sister - whom she bought the house with - had meanwhile gone to a different auction at the same time, willing to bid on the second house if they failed to get the first, Rawson said.
It showed not only a growing trend of siblings and friends buying together, but how flexible and pragmatic buyers needed to be to get into the market, he said.
Exclusive Herne Bay, meanwhile, was still home to New Zealand's most expensive houses, with a median $3.005m price – up $455,000 in the last 12 months and more than $1m in five years.
There were also 17 suburbs with median values of $2m or more – up from four a year ago.
"While the cost of servicing a mortgage has never been lower, deposit requirements have never been higher," Vaughan said.
"The path to home-ownership is particularly steep in Auckland; first-home buyers with deposits of $130,000 have, in effect, been shut out of 98 per cent of the city suburbs."
"The only options available to them are moving to the city's fringes, buying off the plan or competing for a small pool of KiwiBuild homes."
Elsewhere in the country, buyers were equally suffering as the typical New Zealand deposit jumped $28,000 in 12 months to $153,000.
Wellington prices rose even more than Auckland's, shooting up 27 per cent in 12 months to $1.025m.
First-home buyers in the capital now needed to typically save a $205,000 deposit - $43,000 more than a year ago and $98,000 more than five years back.
Median prices in Christchurch, by comparison, remained relatively affordable at $535,000 despite a 16.9 per cent jump post-lockdown. That equated to first-home buyers putting together a $107,000 deposit - $27,000 higher than a year ago.
First-home buyers in Invercargill and Queenstown Lakes have been the least impacted by the post-lockdown surge, although for different reasons.
The typical deposit requirement in Invercargill grew just $15,000 to $64,000 as the city's median price hit $395,000. Queenstown Lakes' deposit requirement grew $16,000, the result of the city's economy bearing the brunt of the ban on international visitors and house prices struggling post-lockdown.