Each week the NZ Herald and Newstalk ZB's Cooking The Books podcast tackles a different money problem. Today, it's the good change for first-home buyers, but also a word of caution. Hosted by Frances Cook.

After years of bad news for first-home buyers, it seems that things are finally starting to improve.

Research released by ANZ shows an increasing number of houses are being sold to first-home buyers, making up 22 per cent of sales across New Zealand during the three months to December 2017.

That's a jump up from 17 per cent three years ago. ANZ is putting it down to an easing of the loan-to-value restrictions, which pushed banks to demand a higher deposit from those who wanted a mortgage.

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But there's a note of caution in this news, and it's a really important one.

I certainly think buying your own home and paying down the mortgage is an important step for your future. It's something I prioritised for myself.

But many of these first-home sales are in west or south Auckland, where the market is still running hot. There's a risk that first home buyers, eager to catch a break, will take themselves right to the limit of how much debt they can handle.

The problem then comes if the rules change or interest rates go up, you might not be able to handle that debt any more.

So what's the good, the bad, and how can we take advantage of it to get ahead?

I talked to ANZ managing director retail and business banking, Antonia Watson, for the latest Cooking the Books podcast.

We discussed the good news in the research, what could go wrong, and what first home buyers should think about to both protect themselves and keep the bank onside.

For the interview, listen to the podcast.

If you have a question about this podcast, or an idea for the next one, come and talk to me about it. I'm on Facebook here, Instagram here and Twitter here.

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