Getting that first step on the property ladder keeps getting harder as median house prices in Hawke's Bay continue to rise.

The latest Massey University Home Affordability Report revealed Hawke's Bay had a 28.6 per cent decline in home affordability for the past 12 months - the greatest decline in the country. There was a five per cent decline in the past three months.

All regions bar three showed a negative quarterly rate of median house price growth, with Hawke's Bay leading the pack with a 7.4 per cent increase. The region had the highest quarterly median house price increase of $27,500.

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Values continue to rise for Hawke's Bay homes


Tremain Real Estate managing director Simon Tremain said they had seen first home buyers struggling with these increasing prices but it meant they were setting their sights on smaller properties and homes that needed some work.

"The affordability has decreased but in comparison to the rest of New Zealand our median prices are still affordable with only Manawatu and Wanganui lower than us."

Mr Tremain said the record median of $405,000 in August had dropped off slightly to $392,000 in the latest REINZ statistics due to be released this week.

"There are still a lot of buyers and the market will most likely continue to climb once the government is known, as Hawke's Bay is being seen as a real destination and people want to buy properties here."

However, Property Brokers regional director for Hawke's Bay Paul Whitaker said he hadn't seen first home buyers struggling.

"With the likes of Kiwisaver, government grants, parents and the welcome home loan we haven't seen an impact on first home buyers in Hawke's Bay for the current prices."

Mr Whittaker also said Hawke's Bay was reasonably cheap in the scheme of things and felt there was no better time to get on the property ladder.

"There is good stability, and interest rates may change but only slowly so I don't think there is a better time to buy but people need to make sure they get the right advice from banks and mortgage brokers to understand how they can do it."

Black and White director of mortgages Karrie Stephens said the combination of house prices rising and banks getting tougher had made it harder, although not impossible.

"You just have to get the basics right and have the accounts in order before going to the bank. They want to see a nice clean account to show that you are making sacrifices to get a house so it is about due diligence and account conduct is crucial."

She said these figures weren't all bad news and properties were not entirely out of reach.

"People just have to work harder to get a home and they shouldn't be picky as the first home still gets you on the property ladder and not paying rent."

"It's not about what you want, it's about what you can afford. People just have to get the basics right."

Nationally the report showed affordability had improved 2.1 per cent and the most affordable regions in the country were Southland and Manawatu/Whanganui.

But compared over a 12-month period, national affordability still decreased 10.5 per cent compared to last year.

Mr Squires said house prices continued to be the key determining factor in home affordability as borrowing costs had remained relatively low and static.

"We've seen significant falls in house prices in some regions this quarter, so it will be interesting to see if this spreads to other regions in the coming quarter."

However, Mr Squire said for those interested in affordability this regional change for Hawke's Bay would raise some concerns.