House affordability has slightly improved in Hawke's Bay over the last few months according to research.
The latest Massey University Home Affordability Report, which covers the period from September to November 2017, cites Hawke's Bay as one of two regions to show a slight increase in affordability.
All regions showed a decline in affordability over the past year and only Hawke's Bay (1.6 per cent) and Nelson/Marlborough (0.5 per cent) showed small improvements over the most recent quarter.
At the end of last quarter Hawke's Bay had recorded the largest decline in home affordability over 12 months with a 28.6 per cent drop.
Tremains managing director Simon Tremain said the latest figures for Hawke's Bay were not much of an improvement and reflected a market which was still busy.
Because house prices had gone up so fast over the last year it was difficult for buyers, especially those trying to get their first home, he said.
However, the Welcome Home Loan to help first-time buyers had made some improvement and he hoped more would be done by the current government.
"Getting a first home is definitely getting more difficult, the gap between income and house prices is growing."
Despite housing being relatively unaffordable, Hawke's Bay was still in a much better position to other parts of the country, he said.
Property Brokers regional director for Hawke's Bay Paul Whitaker said prices were strong and there was still a shortage of stock in the region.
It did look like the market was coming to the end of the peak in its cycle with less of a sharp increase in prices, he said.
"I think this is due to stabilised low interest rates.
"We anticipate that to hang around and slightly increase over time."
Rents were expected to rise though, which could make it more unaffordable for first home buyers in terms of saving, he said.
Real Estate Institute of New Zealand ambassador for Hawke's Bay, Elanor MacDonald, of Ray White, said it appeared to be business as usual with a strong economy, slow price increases and a shortage of stock.
More first-time buyers were able to enter the market now because they were taking advantage of the Welcome Home Loan but this had a cap of $400,000 so houses in this price range were going fast.
"There's just not the houses to accommodate."
The report shows an increase in median house prices throughout New Zealand over the last 12 months with prices growing in every region except Central Otago Lakes over the last quarter.
Report author Associate Professor Graham Squires from Massey's School of Economics and Finance said it was interesting to see last quarter's fall in house prices in many regions had not continued.
"All the past and current data indicates the dip in prices was just a blip, and the longer-term trend is decreasing affordability.
"We'd argue that this trend – rising house prices and houses becoming more unaffordable – is actually business as usual."
The report showed Hawke's Bay's annual price increase to be 16.16 per cent.
The report takes into account the costs of borrowing, house prices and wage levels.