One year on from the Herald's Home Truths series, Auckland's overheated property market is still tough terrain for new buyers.
A 10 per cent deposit on the average home costs $100,000; more affordable suburbs are bordering on extinction, with only a handful having an average value of less than $600,000.
Corazon Miller speaks to one Auckland couple who spent a month hunting for a house to call their own.
Maarten and Storm Deuss
Price cap: $710,000
Deposit: $71,000 (with KiwiSaver)
Joint income: $150,000 (about $2,000 weekly after tax)
Living arrangements: Renting a 4-bedroom property in Mt Wellington for $680 a week
One flatmate contributes $180/week towards their rent.
Looked in: Mt Wellington, Otahuhu, Ellerslie, Panmure, Point England
Working: He works as in logistics, as a supervisor, she is a funeral director
Search methods: Realestate.co.nz app, TradeMe, local advertised listings and agent recommendations
A home for newly-weds Maarten and Storm Deuss means stability for the future, a space for their family to grow and make their mark in.
"It's about starting again. Having something that's ours and we can grow from there with a little family," Storm Deuss said.
But in the few weeks they spent scouring online sites, going to open homes and auctions, the Deusses realised what they could afford might not stretch to their image of a perfect home.
The couple, on a joint income of $150,000 a year, secured approval for a loan of up to $710,000 on a ten per cent deposit with money from their KiwiSaver funds.
What they wanted was a three-bedroom house around Mt Wellington, Otahuhu, Ellerslie, Panmure or Point England, with ample storage and a backyard.
However, Maarten Deuss said it seemed a two-bedroom property with a small amount of storage was more likely.
"We might still get a garage, but it'll be a two-bedroom, not a three-bedroom. But at least it'll get us on the property ladder."
On Monday evening the Deusses thought they'd done it - a conditional offer of $680,000 on a two-bedroom Mt Wellington property had been accepted - pending a building report, valuation, a LIM report and the bank signing off on mortgaging the property.
However, on Tuesday afternoon their excitement turned to disappointment when builders came to inspect it and found the property was leaky.
Maarten Deuss said it was disappointing to have made an offer only to find there were issues with the house that the real estate agent failed to disclose.
"We could have avoided the whole conditional offer if we knew about the defects at the open home."
On Friday they put in an offer for a property in Clover Park in Manukau and were last night awaiting a response.
I always knew I'd have to have a partner to buy a house.
Storm Deuss said they weren't asking for much in a home and were prepared to make compromises- though a leaky building was not something either one of them were prepared to take on.
She said a house in need of a bit of work would be fine, but something ready for them to live in was ideal.
"We don't want to be knocking out walls in our first week."
"We just want something that's nice, that's tidy that we can move into and live and put our own mark onto it or add value in some way."
They expected mortgage repayments would be around $750 a week. Together with household bills and other expenses they were spending around $1500 weekly leaving them with about $500 spare.
While Maarten Deuss didn't feel the budget was unmanageable he said some sacrifices would be made.
"We don't have Sky TV; I don't play golf; I sold my car that we are making payments on. I had a nice BMW, but we bought a cheaper car. We have no big holidays planned."
Both said owning a house had always been something they'd had in mind but hadn't been in a position to do so until now.
Storm said other dreams, like travelling overseas, had taken priority when she was younger.
She said it would likely have been easier if she'd bought earlier in Rotorua, where she grew up.
However she did not regret her choices and said these life experiences had defined who she was.
Maarten, who was born in Wellington and grew up in Whangarei before moving to Auckland, said he didn't like the idea of renting and paying someone else's mortgage.
However, he said until he found a partner, it wasn't something he was able to do.
"I always wanted my own house, I don't like renting, don't like the unknown. But I always knew I'd have to have a partner, to buy a house. I wasn't able to do it on my own."
Despite the challenges of finding a house and having their hopes dashed when a house was not what it seemed, both are optimistic they'll get there.
Storm Deuss said while it might take a while she was hopeful they would find a place to call their own.
"We will miss out on a few that we love, but if it is meant to be then it will happen for us."