Ask Joshua Comer what it is like to be a home owner and his response is an enthusiastic, "It's great! I love it."
But if you'd asked him a year ago how the hunt for his and wife Natasha's first house was going, his response would have been far less animated.
"It was really stressful," says the Auckland IT consultant. "We couldn't find anything in our price range where we wanted to be, which was Albany or Greenhithe.
After three or four months we realised we had to extend our search area."
Joshua, who grew up on the North Shore, and Natasha, who works in Albany, then started looking in Whangaparaoa.
They did due diligence on three homes they liked, bu¬t missed out at auction when the bids went over their budget.
"At times we thought about throwing in the towel because it seemed we'd never be able to afford anything."
But they persevered, and eventually found a three bedroom home in Orewa that had a good-sized section and was handy to shops and public transport.
After doing due diligence yet again - "at $1200 a time it was eating into our deposit" - they made an offer which was accepted.
Joshua says they wouldn't have got the house if it wasn't for Barfoot & Thompson's Ben Teagle, who encouraged them to explore a variety of lending options to achieve their purchase and helped the whole process run more smoothly.
"We can't speak highly enough of Ben," says Joshua.
"Yes, he was acting for the vendors, but he did an amazing job of brokering communication between us and them and we wouldn't be here without him."
Buying the house was a real learning curve for the couple. "There was a lot we didn't know. We learned the hard way, but it was worth it. We are very happy to be here."
Natasha and Joshua's house hunting experience is typical of that faced by many buyers, particularly those looking for their first property, says Barfoot & Thompson managing director Peter Thompson.
"There is a shortage of housing in Auckland, thanks to the job opportunities and lifestyle it offers to people moving within New Zealand as well as migrants from overseas and returning expat Kiwis.
People looking to buy may have to think outside the square and go two or three suburbs further out to find something they can afford."
"It's a good idea to write a list of what is important, through to what is least important - such as being close to schools, being low maintenance or having a large garden - and then remove some of the criteria until you are left with what's most important."
Research is vital. Check out local schools and transport links, look up recent sales information and if you're buying at auction, ask a salesperson to explain the process, Peter advises.
Most crucial of all is getting finance arranged so you can act quickly if necessary to secure a property, and making sure you don't blow the budget.
"Bear in mind that interest rates may increase and you could end up on one income if you are starting a family.
"Yes, it is great being a home owner but you still have to have a life, and you don't want to get yourself in so much debt that you can't do that."
WHICH HOMES ARE IN SHORT SUPPLY?
The biggest shortage in the housing market is in the $650,000 to $1m price range, says Peter Thompson.
Houses in that bracket tend to be family homes where owners stay put for longer while raising a family, and send them to local schools.
As a result they don't come on the market as often as homes below and above that range.
When they do, there is greater demand for them because they appeal to both people buying their second or third home and those who are downsizing from larger homes once their adult kids have left home.
PETER'S TOP TIPS
• Get your finance sorted out and approved before you do anything else
• Stick to your budget
• Talk to real estate agents about what's on the market and the sort of figures they are selling for
• Work out your priorities - write a list!
• Use websites like realestate.co.nz or mobile apps like Barfoot & Thompson's to do your research
JOSHUA AND NATASHA'S TOP TIPS
• Use qv.co.nz to get property information before formal inspections
• Talk to neighbours to get a feel for the neighbourhood
• Have a deposit of at least 20 percent. That gives you much greater flexibility when it comes to dealing with the bank
Content series brought to you by Barfoot & Thompson.