After the global financial crisis finally ended, watching the Auckland housing market spiral upwards was a nervous experience.

Things had crashed - it was almost too good to be true that they were getting better so fast and so soon.

The regions soon followed and we too have enjoyed remarkable growth.

Read more: Rental shortage in Northland - and prices - getting worse
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House prices cool off but not in provinces


It is great for those lucky to own homes and it has been a profitable period for the real estate industry. There are some home truths though.

Many have increased debt after "borrowing to save", using equity to improve their lifestyle. Which is fine if values stay up.

A few decades ago coastal property values in Northland took off when the value in a water view was fully realised. Buyers were prepared to pay extra. This pushed non-coastal prices up as well.

The result was the average home price in Whangarei arguably became out of kilter with the civic "value" of the town.

The good news is that the disparity is correcting as the civic amenities in Whangarei improve - it is a town on the rise with a bright future.

The other property positive that can't be ignored is that you get more bang for your buck in Whangarei if you are moving from Wellington or Auckland.

It has always been the case, but particularly so in the past few years.

The other home truth though, is that renting or buying a home has become tougher for people who don't have the necessary income or savings.


And more people are living in cars, temporary, crowded accommodation, emergency homes or shelters.

As our page 2 story says today, up to $1 million weekly is paid toward people struggling for accommodation. It is estimated we need to find 147 houses by 2020 - that's seven a week.

Sadly the cliche about "rich getting richer and poor getting poorer" applies.

This is not going to be an easy fix - it is the stark reality of living in a country so reliant on its property market generating wealth.