Many home buyers face long commute to Auckland jobs as they move to Wellsford, Pokeno and Hamilton.

Only six areas of Auckland still have average prices under $400,000, meaning affordable homes are out of reach for many city dwellers.

There are still towns within commuting distance with relatively cheap houses, and experts say people are looking further outside the city.

Auckland suburbs that remain below a $400,000 average, according to the latest Herald-QV Property Report, include Clendon Park at $375,400, Otara at $388,950 and Red Hill at $398,600.

Apartment-dense Auckland Central and Grafton have averages below $400,000, as does Wellsford, about an hour north in the Rodney district, at $339,450.

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Terry Burman on the left Dennis Hay on the right.
Terry Burman on the left Dennis Hay on the right.

Real Estate Institute chief executive Colleen Milne said there were still plenty of houses available in the greater Auckland, including two- and three-bedroom properties, for under $400,000.

"In some cases, buyers are moving to outside Auckland and commuting from Wellsford, Pokeno and in some instances Hamilton, to achieve affordable, newer or larger properties in these suburbs."

She said that while there were still properties in Auckland that were reasonably affordable for first-home buyers, REINZ believed more affordable housing needed to be built.

The chief economist at the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, Shamubeel Eaqub, said Census results showed people were moving further out of the city, towards Hamilton and Tauranga, to find more affordable housing.

"We've already seen people voting with their feet.

"The gentrification is stretching outwards from the city centre, which has consequences.

"A lot of poorer people are being pushed out further away from work, creating a significant increase in costs like transport and job security.

"Buying a home, no matter where you live, is becoming increasingly out of reach and given the current conditions where we're seeing record net migration, very low interest rates, and very competitive banks for mortgages, it's very unlikely that we'll see house prices correct any time soon."

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Mr Eaqub said this created a greater focus on the underlying issues behind skyrocketing Auckland house prices, such as land supply, infrastructure and building costs.

House bargains on city-commute fringe

A three-bedroom house for $200,000 less than an hour's drive from South Auckland is not unrealistic, as long as you're willing to move out to the sticks.

When Terry Burman and Dennis Hay moved to Ngatea on the Hauraki Plains from Auckland, they planned to stay for only two years.

But the former owners of the Copper Kettle tea rooms, on SH2 in the town's centre, remained there for 22 years.

Now Taupo residents, they're selling the three-bedroom Ngatea house they own next door to the business for a very reasonable $198,000 - though Mr Burman stresses it needs about $40,000 worth of renovations.

He said it would be easy to rent the place out.

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"There's quite a high demand for places to live ... it's close to the motorway and to Auckland. We loved living there."

Mr Hay said he knew of several Ngatea residents who commuted to central Auckland, Mt Wellington, Pukekohe or Manukau daily for work.

Ngatea, on the Piako River, has a primary and secondary school, is a short drive from the Coromandel Peninsula and is less than 90 minutes' drive from Hamilton, Tauranga and Auckland Central.

Houses in nearby Thames have an average value of $312,700, while neighbouring Paeroa's average is $209,350.

Harcourts Thames principal Alaine Hedges said people were buying properties in Thames and Hauraki Plains towns such as Ngatea and commuting to Auckland.

She had seen the numbers grow as Auckland house prices rose.

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