Almost half of Auckland's housing market now carries a price tag of at least $1 million, new research reveals.
Analysis of Auckland property values by CoreLogic NZ and OneRoof.co.nz has found that the proportion of suburbs with a median value of $1m or more has grown from a mere 10 per cent in 2013 to 49 per cent now.
And in a blow to first-time buyers, the number of suburbs with a median value of $500,000 or less has shrunk from just under 20 per cent to zero.
"Despite values in Auckland plateauing for the last two years, the figures paint a grim picture for potential first-home buyers trying to get into the market," CoreLogic NZ head of research Nick Goodall said.
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There has also been a large decrease in the number of suburbs with median values of between $500,000 and $1m, the price bracket in which the majority of property transactions in the city are taking place.
In 2013, over two thirds (68 per cent) of Auckland suburbs had a median value of between $500,000 and $1m. By 2018, that share has shrunk to 51 per cent.
The data also show the largest drop in the percentage of suburbs at the lower end of that bracket, confirming a shrinking pool of affordable properties for first-home buyers in the city.
Five years ago just over a third of Auckland suburbs had a median value of between $500,000 and $700,000. In 2018 that has dropped to a mere 13 per cent. Even for those who can afford to stretch to $800,000, the opportunities are shrinking, with the share of suburbs with a $700,000-$800,000 median value dropping from 17 per cent to only 10 per cent.
The only brackets to grow in the sub-$1m band are those at the upper end. The share of $800,000-$900,000 and $900,000-$999,999 suburbs has gone up from 8 per cent to 14 per cent.
The challenges faced first-home buyers in Auckland are also reflected in sales figures for the year. Just 8 per cent of properties sold (1429) came in below $500,000. The bulk of transactions (57 per cent) were in the $500,000 to $1m bracket, with a further 34 per cent going for $1m-plus.
The growth witnessed in the property market is illustrated in CoreLogic NZ's Mapping the Market tool.
OneRoof editor Owen Vaughan said the new figures showed "Auckland has essentially been turned on its head".
"Five years the bulk of suburbs in the city sat below the $800,000 mark, and no suburb sat above $2m. Now, the bulk of the market sits between $800,000 and $1.1m and the percentage of suburbs with median values above $1.5m and $2m is growing," he said.
"While the growth in million-dollar and $2m suburbs will be good news to those who already own property in the city, the fact that no Auckland suburb has a median value of less than $500,000 means there are fewer opportunities to buy at that level."
And figures released in CoreLogic's Pain and Gain report suggest that those who have managed to buy in Auckland, especially in the last five years, may find it difficult to make the next move up the property ladder.
The report found almost 96 per cent of all properties sold between July 1 and September 30 in New Zealand enjoyed a resale gross profit, with the median gain per property for the entire country sitting at $180,000. The median loss was just $20,000.
"For Auckland, the median loss this quarter was $27,000, a bit smaller than $31,000 in the third quarter of 2017 – but not enough to say that things have really changed materially," Goodall said.
The median gain in Auckland was $340,000; down from $365,000 in the third quarter of 2017.
"There has been a slight lift in the percentage of Auckland sellers who have made a loss, from 3.4 per cent in the third quarter of last year to 4.6 per cent now, but it's still a long way off the pain levels seen post-GFC, when almost a quarter of Auckland sellers sold at a loss."
Loan Market mortgage adviser Bruce Patten said high Auckland house prices were often the most important factor preventing people from buying.
"But, in saying that, with interest rates as low as they are and prices stabilised, housing affordability has improved," he said.
He said millennials and younger buyers often mistakenly looked at house prices and said: "I'm never going to own, so I'll go out and spend the money on a nice car or boat".
His team had been working with one young couple, who thought they could never buy and consequently took on short term debt.
But after restructuring the debt, drawing $100,000 from their combined KiwiSaver savings and applying for a home loan with a 10 per cent deposit, they were able to afford a $900,000 home in New Plymouth, he said.
• Don't miss OneRoof Property Report in Monday's New Zealand Herald. The publication includes the latest suburb values for all of Auckland, market analysis, and a look into what 2019 might hold.