It's what we've always suspected: Mortgage values outside the main urban areas are generally lower.
This finding - which comes following two years of property sales analysis by Bayleys real estate - has led the nation-wide firm to advise would-be home buyers to look at properties in New Zealand's major provincial cities and the areas surrounding them.
It says mortgages are not only lower, but values are increasing. Bayley's research manager Ian Little says because of this people can, in a strong market, still benefit from lifts in capital values.
The firm analysed Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) sales statistics for the June quarters of 2015 and 2017 to compare changes in residential property values in six major cities and the provincial areas surrounding them.
The survey did not include apartments, and Auckland was ruled out because it did not fit the criteria of having a significant rural hinterland.
Little says the company undertook the analysis because it was aware regional median values had lifted across the country over the past two years.
"We wanted to assess whether the increase in values was driven predominantly by major urban centres," he says, "or whether the value gains were apparent over a wider area.
"In a majority of cases we found the percentage gains in median values registered within urban centres were matched by those of the wider region.
"However, generally the 'buy-in' price within urban centres had been higher and therefore, when measured in dollar terms, gains were higher within the urban centres. What this shows is that over the course of time, the difference in values between urban areas and the wider surrounds is growing."
Little says the study was not intended to assess whether more people would want to buy in provincial areas compared with Auckland.
"People's decisions as to where they want to purchase housing are still driven by personal circumstances such as time of life, changes in family size, job opportunities and so on; what it does highlight is by buying in less urbanised areas, purchase prices tend to be lower and you can still benefit from capital gain.
"The tradeoff is you live further from the amenities provided within the larger urban areas and the gap in values between housing options is generally growing."
The Bayleys analysis focused on areas where a major city has a population of more than 100,000 and has large rural hinterlands.
The regions / cities were: Northland / Whangarei; Waikato / Hamilton; Bay of Plenty / Tauranga; Wellington region / Wellington city; Canterbury / Christchurch; and Otago / Dunedin.
Bayleys' analysis showed median sales values in 2015 and 2017 were higher in the city than the surrounding areas in regions other than Northland where Whangarei's median was lower than its hinterland.
In the Waikato, Wellington and Canterbury regions, percentage gains between 2015 and 2017 were similar in the city and the surrounding areas.
In Whangarei and Tauranga, gains were 10 per cent higher than the surrounding areas.
When it came to the actual dollar gain in values, the cities generally outpaced their surrounding areas.
Canterbury outperformed Christchurch although Little points out this is almost certainly due to large-scale housing developments in the Selwyn and Waimakariri districts.
Otago is the exception, producing better results than its host city, Dunedin. Here, Bayleys conducted two analyses - one including the "powerfully performing" Queenstown Lakes district as part of the Otago region, and one without. This "dramatically changed" the picture.
"In the June quarter of 2017, median values in the wider region eclipsed those within the city by $294,000," says Little.
"The percentage gain in values over the two-year analysis period is in line with others, but the capital gain of $164,000 is almost double that recorded across the Otago region when the Queenstown Lakes District and Dunedin City are excluded.
"As a result those who bought within city areas have generally seen larger capital gains by dollar value, but a similar percentage growth rate. However, given that the original purchase price would have been higher, their holding costs (the mortgage) would generally have been higher."
Bayleys singles out Tauranga as "the star performer", recording both the highest percentage and capital value gain. It also had the greatest increase in the value difference between 2015 and 2017 as well as outpacing its surrounding Bay of Plenty area by the greatest amount ($97,550).