Each week the NZ Herald and Newstalk ZB's Cooking The Books podcast tackles a different money problem. Today, it's what the housing market is up to and how you can take advantage of it. Hosted by Frances Cook.

The housing market, which has climbed to staggering heights in recent years, looks like it's about to stop. The question is whether it will plateau, or fall off the edge of a cliff.

The most recent figures from the Real Estate Institute show that Auckland prices are at their lowest levels in three years.

The rest of the country's prices are still up, but hey, Auckland is where a third of our population is based. Their crazy prices are also what stirred up the rest of the country in the first place. So it's worth paying attention to them.

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Overseas, there's more worrying news. New Zealand has traditionally followed what happens in Australia's housing market, but on a delay of a few months.

So it's worth paying attention when the year-on-year prices are down 5.9 per cent in Sydney and 1.5 per cent in Melbourne.

How you feel about this news probably depends on your own property situation.

If you have a big mortgage and a small deposit, house prices going down could be very bad. That can lead to what's called negative equity, where you owe more to the bank than what you could sell your house for.

But many first-home buyers have been hoping for exactly this, some breathing room in house prices so that they can finally get a foot on the housing ladder.

For the latest Cooking the Books podcast I talked to Lesley Harris from the First Home Buyers Club. We discussed whether a crash is imminent, whether you should wait for one, and the best tactics for first-home buyers right now.

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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