Buyers hoping to grab a property for less than $650,000 in Auckland may feel as if they are running out of options but new data shows that there are more than 20 affordable suburbs within the city.
And many of those suburbs are closer to the CBD than many buyers would think.
To draw up the list of affordable Auckland suburbs, OneRoof looked at areas with median sales prices of less than or just above $650,000 — the proposed price of a new three-bedroom KiwiBuild home.
The data showed six suburbs with a median sales price of less than $650,000 within 20km of Auckland CBD, and a further four with a median sales price of just over $650,000.
More affordable suburbs could be found further out from the CBD, but what was pleasing to note was that most were well served by the city's rail network and boasted an average commute time of 40 minutes.
Most major cities around the world have suffered significant declines in the number of suburbs considered within the reach of most first-home buyers.
To access more affordable homes, many buyers have had to move further away from the city centre.
CoreLogic figures show that the number of suburbs in Auckland with median values of less than $650,000 has shrunk from 110 suburbs in 2013 (out of a total of 218) to 57 in 2015 and to 19 this year.
But while the Auckland property market has become more challenging for first-time buyers — the result of population growth, increased buyer demand and a low interest-rate environment — there are opportunities for those wishing to enter the market and still stay close to the city.
Auckland Central was the closest affordable suburb to the CBD, boasting a median sales price of $450,000. Next closest and cheapest were Grafton ($468,000) and Eden Terrace ($630,000).
However, the relatively low median sales prices can be attributed to the high percentage of apartments in each of these suburbs.
The median sales price for one- and two-bedroom properties in Auckland Central was between $405,000 and $445,000, while the median sales price of a three-bedroom home was $1.14 million.
It's a similar picture in Grafton and Eden Terrace where the median sales price of a three-bedroom property was double that of a one- or two-bedroom apartment.
The median sales prices for one-bedroom properties in Newmarket also came in below the $650,000 bracket, at $565,000. Two-bedroom properties came in above, at $729,000 (while three-bedroom properties broke the million-dollar mark).
Millennials who are willing to compromise on space, perhaps because they don't have the same needs as say, buyers with families, can still find properties that are close to the CBD and suit their needs in terms of access to bars and restaurants.
The data showed there were opportunities for first-home buyers looking for more space, but still within 20km of the CBD, in Ōtāhuhu (where the median sales price is $600,000); Māngere East ($640,000); and Ōtara ($550,000).
Suburbs with median sales prices just above the $650,000 mark included Glen Eden ($695,000); Rānui ($680,000); and Mt Wellington ($745,000).
Further out, but still within 40km of the CBD, were Manukau CBD (median sales price of $430,000), Wiri ($621,000), Clover Park ($655,000), Manurewa ($620,000), Manurewa East ($622,000), Clendon Park ($550,000), Randwick Park ($579,500), Weymouth ($645,000), Opaheke ($690,000), Papakura ($609,000), Red Hill ($590,000), Rosehill ($648,000) and Pukekohe ($680,000).
Many of the outer suburbs identified as affordable tend to be overlooked by first-home buyers because of worries around commute times but most are well served by rail services and offer easy access to either State Highway 1 or State Highway 20.
In fact, commute times for all but two of them during morning peak are less than an hour, with most averaging around 40 minutes or less.
Property Institute chief executive Ashley Church said Aucklanders' attitudes to affordability had changed since the property boom began.
"Their definition of 'affordability' has moved upward. Ten years ago 'affordable' meant $250,000 to $300,000. Now, 'affordable' means under $650,000, so the goalposts have definitely moved," he said.
"Also, the term 'affordability' now also takes account of the deposit because of the imposition of the LVR restrictions, so it is now broader to reflect the requirement to get together a substantial deposit."
Bayleys national residential manager Daniel Coulson said buyers searching for affordable homes in Auckland needed to first work out what their priorities were.
"Are they looking for something that's a little bit further out that offers them a slightly bigger house and bigger piece of land, or are they looking for something more compact on the city fringe that has access to good cafes and bars?"
Coulson said suburbs with good transport links into the city that buyers tended to overlook would grow in attraction and in value, not just to buyers but businesses as well.
"A well-connected transport hub can lead to increased economic activity in the area surrounding it, which in turn helps to attract new residential and commercial developments."
Chris Kennedy, chief executive of Harcourts Group, said rapid price increases had forced buyers to reassess their space requirements.
"For those buyers who will not compromise on proximity to the city, they are being challenged to give up the Kiwi 'quarter acre section' dream and look at apartment-style living as their new reality," he said.
The data showed that the only suburb on the North Shore with a median sales price remotely close to $650,000 and within 20km of the CBD was Birkdale.
It recorded a median sales price of $785,000, was only 12km from the centre, and had an average commute time of 28 minutes during morning peak.
Helensville was the next closest affordable suburb north of the CBD, recording a median sales price of $695,000. The 54km journey to the CBD is 50 minutes by car during morning peak.
The most far flung affordable suburbs still within a reasonable commuting distance of Auckland CBD were Wellsford, which has a median sales price of $535,000 and an average commute time of 75 minutes, and Waiuku, which has a median sales price of $615,000 and an average commute time of 75 minutes.