Auckland has pushed Central Otago Lakes aside to take top spot as the least affordable place to buy a house, research shows.

Massey University's home affordability report, released today, found in the past quarter Auckland was the least affordable region to buy in.

Southland was the most affordable region.

Report compiler Bob Hargreaves said that in view of the financial turmoil in Europe it was surprising house prices were increasing in several regions, particularly Auckland.


"However, very low mortgage interest rates combined with more relaxed lending criteria are combining to bring more buyers into the market and new construction is still at a very low ebb.''

Over the past quarter four of the 12 regions improved in affordability - Otago/Lakes by 9.9 per cent, Waikato/Bay of Plenty by 4 per cent, Northland by 2.4 per cent and Southland by 0.9 per cent.

Affordability deteriorated in Hawke's Bay by 11.4 per cent, Auckland by 5.8 per cent, Manawatu/Wanganui by 4.8 per cent, Wellington by 3.3 per cent, Canterbury/Westland by 2.6 per cent, Nelson/Marlborough by 2.4 per cent, Otago by 0.3 per cent and Taranaki by 0.1 per cent.

The home affordability index was calculated by looking at interest rates, wages and house prices.