House-hunters looking for a home under $400,000 should steer clear of the North Shore, where only 7 per cent of properties sold last month fell into that price range, and instead look at Papakura.

Real Estate Institute figures compiled for the Herald reveal how many homes were in that first-home buyer bracket in the regions of New Zealand's main centres.

The data also reveals how many homes sold for between $400,000 and $599,000 as well as $600,000 and $999,000 and above $1 million.

As of Tuesday, buyers hoping to qualify for KiwiSaver's first-home subsidy cannot buy homes for more than $485,000 in Auckland, $400,000 in Christchurch city and Selwyn district, and $425,000 in Wellington city.


The caps have been increased to provide some relief for buyers when the Reserve Bank's new mortgage restrictions take effect.

Twenty-five per cent of homes in the Auckland central and eastern areas sold for under $400,000 in August. But 63 per cent of those were apartments and the area also had the highest percentage of homes sold for more than $1 million at 21 per cent.

In Rodney, only 20 per cent fitted into the lower bracket, but the area has several large homes and lifestyle blocks with a higher value.

Papakura is the place to look for first-home buyers, with 60 per cent of its on-the-market homes priced under $400,000.

The website, which lists homes for sale with all the major real estate companies, shows 221 listings in Papakura priced at less than $400,000.

Real estate agent Ken Kallil, of the LJ Hooker Papakura branch, said he had seen a huge influx of first home buyers searching in the area over the past year.

"If people are going to come to Auckland, spend $1 million on a three-bedroom villa with no section at all in Ponsonby, well for the same amount you could come down here and buy somewhere in Papakura, Wattle Downs sort of area, a five-bedroom brick [home] on a good-sized section."

He said in off-peak traffic, it took only 20 minutes to drive from his office into the city.

Real Estate Institute chief executive Helen O'Sullivan said: "I think the data indicates that there are properties available in the under $400,000 category if buyers are able to be flexible as to location and property type.

"There certainly seems though to be a real tightness of supply in that sub $400,000 category on the North Shore."

In Waitakere, 32 per cent of homes sold for under $400,000, Manukau had 34 per cent and Franklin 48 per cent. In Wellington, Kapiti Coast was best for first-home buyers at 68 per cent, while Canterbury had 57 per cent. The Auckland region had 26 per cent overall, 24 per cent of which were apartments.