It's well and truly a buyers' market at present as a glut of houses for sale in Northland, coupled with low interest rates, are making homes more affordable.
While reduced sales numbers are typical during the winter months, Northland has seen the greatest reduction in median house prices of all regions in the second quarter of this year — down 7.1 percent or $35,500 — compared with the previous quarter.
According to the latest Home Affordability Report prepared by Massey University, a reduction in median house prices in Northland played a huge part in driving affordability up.
Home affordability is assessed by comparing the weekly average earnings with the median house price and mortgage interest rates.
Whangārei recruitment consultant Derek Wall is one happy Northlander after he managed to buy a $400,000 house using his KiwiSaver and a one-off government grant for first-home buyers.
"This is a prime opportunity for people to get on to the property ladder, with affordable homes and low interest rates. Just don't give up, keep going and stick to your financial plan," was his message to house hunters.
His three-bedroom house on Raumanga Valley Rd has a decent land area and includes a double garage and a conservatory out the back.
Since he moved back to Whangārei in 2000, his family has either been renting or living with his parents.
The father-of-four said he had been thinking about buying a house in Whangārei but it wasn't until early this year when his bank gave him the green light, based on his eligibility.
Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) figures show there were 1447 residential properties for sale in Northland at the end of July - 205 more than at this time last year.
New listings in July were down 17.1 percent or just 296 properties.
The median number of days to sell was 64 which was 11 more days on the same time in July 2018.
Interestingly, REINZ said there has been a decrease in the number of properties sold under $250,000 from 10.9 percent in June 2018 to 8.9 percent in June this year.
"Anecdotally, we are seeing that fewer buyers are attending open homes. In Kerikeri, more affordable homes are limited and selling quite quickly, which is making it difficult for first homes buyers to compete with increasing prices," REINZ said.
Home Affordability Report author David White said the number of houses for sale in the Northland market was the highest in New Zealand that explained why residential properties were more affordable.
"It's just a coincidence there are that many houses for sale. I can't remember of anything that's contributed to it. If you're a buyer, it's awesome. You can negotiate the price," White said.
However, he said quarterly figures should not be relied upon too heavily and that a long-term analysis was a much better gauge of how the housing market was doing.
The Reserve Bank has slashed the official cash rate to a record low of 1 per cent but White said it was too early to say what impact that would have in terms of home affordability.
According to CoreLogic figures over the last 10 years, house prices in Whangārei rose by $204,251 to $547,711 in July while the increase in Kaipara was by $255,217 to $554,028.
Prices in the Far North went up from $347,924 in July 2010 to $462,797 - an increase of 33 per cent.