There's only a handful of suburbs left in all of Auckland where first home buyers can get a helping hand from the government.

To get a KiwiSaver first home grant on a property (up to $5000 for an individual or up to $10,000 for two or more buyers), it must be priced under $600,000, up from $550,000 in August.

But the latest QV estimated median values show this increase has done little to make even houses in the cheapest areas within reach of many first home buyers.

The once-affordable West Auckland no longer makes the cut and there are only few suburbs left in South Auckland.


CEO of Mangere Budgeting Services Trust Darryl Evans said the dream of owning a home for many low-income families was getting further out of reach.

"Certainly if you are on a benefit, then home ownership is really just a pipe dream. It doesn't mean that our families don't have aspirations to own a home, they do, but they see it as slowly slipping through their grasp."

Evans said many were now worried their children would also never own a home.

"It's quite heart-breaking."

All of West Auckland's suburbs now have estimated median values above the price cap: The cheapest western suburb, Ranui, had a median of $697,250 as of October 31, up $41,400, 6.3 per cent in the previous three months.

In South Auckland the only suburbs with a median value below the price cap were: Otahuhu, Clendon Park, Otara, Randwick Park, Manukau, Papakura, Waiuku.

The cheapest was Manukau, with a median of $537,050, as of October 31, up $23,800, or 4.6 per cent in the previous three months.

The estimated values, were provided by CoreLogic for the QV quarterly property report, out in the Herald today. The figures were reached by calculating a weighted average of the suburb on the basis of the estimated market value of each property.


QV national spokeswoman Andrea Rush said the strong growth in the city was evidence there was a need for the KiwiSaver price cap to be regularly reviewed.

"Prices are still rising at around 12.8 per cent a year and 3.7 [per cent] a quarter in Auckland," Rush said.

The only properties below the $600,000 cap, aside from the apartment-rich areas of Auckland Central and Grafton were Wellsford to the north and Helensville and Parakai to the north-west.

TradeMe head of product Alistair Helm said there were 1600 properties listed in Auckland that could go for less than the price-cap - though 128 of these were on leasehold land.

Looking outside of Auckland, Rush said there were "still many more homes available under $600,000".

"That kind of money can still buy you a stand-alone home, in most other parts of the North Island outside of the Auckland region."

Housing Minister Nick Smith said the government was "walking a line" with the home-start assistance scheme "of setting the house price caps at the point where people can get access to the scheme while not adding to the financial pressures that only push house prices up higher".

There has been huge growth in Auckland in take up of the scheme since the price cap was increased earlier this year, Smith said.

"We'll be continuing to monitor the market and the take up of the scheme."

Smith also said there was anecdotal evidence the Auckland housing market was cooling.

"The scheme has always been about helping first home buyers into a modest property."

Smith said there was a "large amount of additional supply coming into the market" in new development and pointed out the government was trying to encourage people into newly built homes.

"We're deliberately being more cautious about the existing home market ... we're not doing first home buyers a favour if we simply add stimulus to the market."

The government made a deliberate decision for the home start scheme to be more generous for new supply.

This was so it was not just sending more money to an existing range of houses, but was driving growth of supply which Auckland so critically needed, Smith said.

Cherie Howie with her own house. Photo / Cherie Howie
Cherie Howie with her own house. Photo / Cherie Howie
Owning my own house is more important, says Cherie.
Owning my own house is more important, says Cherie.

There is poverty. Whole families live in neighbouring 1970s one-bedroom units. The main drag could do with a rejuvenation, but the local board has big plans and there's already improvements going on.

Neighbouring houses are being sold all the time, two across the road are being flipped, and a two-bedroom unit around the corner is on the market for $589,000.

Apparently the value of my place has gone up, but I'm not counting my paper money.

There's exercise classes at the rec centre down the road, sports clubs all over the place and the swimming pool entry is cheaper than in town.

A few kilometres away is a nice coastal walk.

The only time I feel nervous is getting off the train late at night.

Young people on bikes sometimes hang around the station. None have bothered me, but I don't like the fact they can come up unexpectedly.

I call a taxi if it's after 10pm, but I have had to fast-walk home a couple of times when none were available. I don't enjoy that.

On the plus side, the train has been a revelation. It's comfortable, fast and reliable. The journey to the city is just more than 40 minutes and costs $6.

It's never boring. There's music, audio books and podcasts to listen to, the internet to surf and big windows to look out.

Occasionally if I'm tired I wish I could zip home in 10 minutes in a taxi, like my friends who live in town.

But it's not much of a sacrifice when I know I'm going home to my own place, with my little vege garden and big renovation plans.

And, I hope, my secure future.