Buyers looking to get into some of Auckland's most exclusive suburbs could skip houses, look at apartments and pocket savings of more than $1 million, says the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand.
The median price last year for apartments in Parnell was $772,500, compared to a median price for a residential property (house) of $2,067,500 - a difference of $1,295,000.
In Epsom the median price for an apartment was $865,000 compared to $2,100,000 for a house, and in Takapuna an apartment was $817,500 compared to $1,870,000 for a house.
"For those wanting to gain an entry point into some of Auckland's top suburbs, considering an apartment rather than a residential property is a much more affordable way of getting into some of these areas," said Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) chief executive Bindi Norwell.
"Apartments have come a long way in the last 20 years to having top-end fixtures and fittings, eco-friendly/energy saving features and extensive communal areas.
"A saving of more than $1 million to live in a fantastic location or a good school zone is not something to be ignored."
First-time buyers could also make significant savings in some of Auckland's entry-level suburbs, Reinz said.
The median apartment price in New Lynn was $470,000 compared to $750,000 for a house, while in Manukau it was $457,500 and $600,000 respectively.
Apartments were an excellent way for first-time buyers to get into the already expensive Auckland property market, Norwell said.
"Apartments are usually close to public transport and other amenities such as cafes or restaurants, gyms and other retail outlets. But most importantly, they're in a price bracket that people can more realistically actually afford," she said.
"An apartment may not be the property that a young couple end up living in their whole life, but it allows them the chance to build up equity in their apartment and then further down the track if they plan a family it means that they can then look to make the next step to a larger home with more room."
Savings could also be made in other parts of the country but not all suburbs or locations were cheaper, with apartments in Tauranga and central Christchurch more expensive by $216,215 and $35,000 respectively.
"No matter whether you purchase a house, apartment or flat there are ongoing costs associated with your purchase for example insurance or body corporate fees," Norwell said.
These costs would vary depending on location "for example with insurance the cost may vary if you are in earthquake prone areas, on a cliff edge or close to a river that can flood".
"In the case of body corporate fees, they will vary depending on the facilities provided for example a pool, gymnasium or lift and they will vary depending on the level of maintenance and upkeep required. What is important is that these costs are factored into the overall purchase," she said.
"Looking at apartments, feedback from first-home buyers is that even once the ground rent or body corporate fee is taken into account, that they still prove more affordable that houses – particularly in some of the top end suburbs across the country."