One young first home buyer has proven it is possible to buy a home in Auckland — but says she nearly lost hope it would ever happen.
Aimee Russell, 23, bought a $750,000 house in November, having saved a whopping $150,000 deposit.
She started squirrelling money away while at high school. When friends went flatting or travelled she stayed home with her parents, working free for her mother in lieu of rent.
Russell saved a 10 per cent deposit by age 20, when a decent three-bedroom cost $550,000. Over the next three years she attended 38 auctions, made eight pre-auction offers and was outbid every time.
By then house prices had skyrocketed and deposit requirements were at 20 per cent. Russell set her sights on west and south Auckland, eventually putting in an offer on a four-bedroom in Glen Eden in November 2016. The bank then decided her job as a film contractor was too insecure and demanded either a guarantor or a 35 per cent deposit.
She was lucky — her grandfather left her $100,000 in his will. She can't touch that money until she turns 30 but it was enough to convince the bank that she was a safe bet.
She and partner Tegan Hollier earn $2250 between them per week, and pay $470 per week on the $500,000 mortgage.
Russell still gulps when she looks at her bank account and sees how big her mortgage is.
"[Paying $750,000] was one of those decisions that I made and then regretted. But now I've come to terms with the fact that that's what needed to be paid."
She wishes she had looked out west sooner but said growing up in affluent Kohimarama made her a bit of a snob.
"I wanted to buy in central Auckland or at least Mt Albert or Avondale. It took a while for me to realise there are suburbs that are affordable out west or south."
First home buyers are forced to jump through "unnecessary hurdles" compared to investors, Russell said.
Among the first home buyers featured in yesterday's Herald was Tony Misa, 29, who bought an Auckland place eight years ago. He told buyers: "If you don't have enough money in your day job, you go out and find a second job."
But critics on the Herald's Facebook feed pointed out house prices and deposits have doubled since Misa bought.
Labour housing spokesman Phil Twyford said he took his hat off to disciplined savers but "it certainly helps if mum and dad can help with the mortgage or provide free accommodation".
Many are not that lucky, Twyford said. "Auckland housing is now three times more unaffordable than it was a generation ago. No amount of smashed avocados or lattes can make up for that."
At the other end of the spectrum was Auckland landlord Gary Lin. The property coach from Ronovationz said aspiring home buyers should ''toughen up, join the army and stop complaining'' about property prices.
"Instead of buying their first home, perhaps first learn how to save, and appreciate that nothing comes easy and free, without a bit of hard work."
Lin made $10 million investing in Auckland property, having started with a $200,000 wedding gift from his father in 2009.