While every generation may think they had it the hardest, a journalist has now looked through data to find out what it was like buying a house decades ago, starting in 1940. It turns out it wasn't as easy as some may think.

Journalist Diana Clement told Kate Hawkesby while it is definitely more difficult for millennials to buy homes, previous generations had their struggles as well.

"The current generation does have it harder because house prices are very high at the moment, that is in Auckland, Queenstown and a few other areas, not everywhere in the country. Having said that, they do have it harder currently because you have to put down a higher deposit.

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Which generation has faced the biggest house-buying hurdles?

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She said millennials also have more distractions than baby boomers did.


"The generation has a lot more challenges in terms of what to spend your money on, you can't just turn down the iPhones, the fast fashion, the eating out."

"So they have it hard but previous generations also had it hard and I think the current generation doesn't always appreciate that."

In fact, 28 per cent of buyers taking out mortgages are first home buyers, which shows that it's "not impossible", Clement said.

However, she said there is a little bit of "blame game" being played by millennials.

"They want to say, "oh you boomers had it so easy, you just bought a house the day you wanted to" but every decade that we went back to, there were all sorts of difficulties in terms of previous generations getting into houses."

"If you look at 1948, you will see that actually, homeownership rates were no higher than they are now. The homeownership rate has gone up and down and it hasn't always been that 70 per cent owned homes compared to just over 50 per cent now."

"The interest rates in the 70s, 80s and 90s were much higher than they are now. I spoke to one man who was quite typical of the time, he could only get so much money from the bank so he had two mortgages."

"His mortgages cost more per week than his entire take-home pay so, like many people of his generation, he had to get flatmates in."


Another challenge facing first home buyers in the 1940s was sexism.

Clement said she spoke to women who were "laughed out of the bank" when applying for a mortgage.

"They were expected to have a husband or a father to co-sign, they weren't allowed to buy on their own and some were kept out of the market for decades."

She said racism also played a huge part in whether you could get a mortgage.

"If you were Māori it could be quite difficult because you had to go the bank manager cap in hand and they could make a value judgement and just simply not give it to you because mortgages were rationed."