Owning a home is now more within reach for first home buyers in Auckland as prices tumble and interest rates remain low

Owning a home is now more within reach for first home buyers in Auckland as prices tumble and interest rates remain low
Photo Pier-Luc Bergeron https://www.flickr.com/photos/burgtender/

By Greg Ninness

The dream of buying a home of their own became more achievable for many first home buyers last month thanks to falling prices in many parts of the country, but particularly in the North Island

The Real Estate Institute of New Zealand's national lower quartile selling price dropped from $375,000 in December to $353,000 in January, a decline of 5.9%.

According to interest.co.nz's Home Loan Affordability Reports, that reduced the mortgage payments on a house purchased at the lower quartile price from $361.88 a week in December to $339.27 a week in January, a saving of $22.61 (-6.25%).

Around the country, the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand's lower quartile selling prices declined in seven regions in January compared to December (Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Hawke's Bay, Taranaki, Wellington and Nelson/Marlborough) and increased in five (Northland, Manawatu/Whanganui, Canterbury, Otago and Southland).

Separate Home Loan Affordability Reports are available for each of the following regions and cities (click to view).
Northland Region
Whangarei District
Auckland Region
Rodney District
North Shore District
Waitakere District
Central Auckland District
Manukau District
Papakura District
Franklin District
Waikato Region
Hamilton District
Bay of Plenty Region
Tauranga District
Rotorua District
Hawke's Bay Region
Napier District
Hastings District
Gisborne District
Taranaki Region
New Plymouth District
Manawatu/Whanganui Region
Palmerston North District
Whanganui District
Wellington Region
Masterton District
Kapiti District
Porirua District
Hutt Valley District
Wellington City
Nelson/Marlborough Region
Nelson City
Canterbury Region
Christchurch District
Timaru District
Otago Region
Dunedin District
Queenstown-Lakes District
Southland Region
Invercargill District
All New Zealand

The regions where the lower quartile price rose the most were Northland +$11,000, Manawatu/Whanganui +$10,000 and Otago +$10,000, while areas with the biggest declines were Bay of Plenty -$35,000, Wellington -$30,000 and Waikato -$24,500 (click on the links in the box at left for the individual regional reports).

Prices down across much of Auckland

Within the Auckland region the lower quartile selling price in January was down compared to December in all districts except Rodney in the north and Papakura in the south.

The biggest decline was in South Auckland where the lower quartile price dropped by $63,000 in January, followed by Central Auckland -$43,000, North Shore -$25,000, Franklin -$25,000 and West Auckland -$15,214.

In Rodney the lower quartile price was up $40,000 and in Papakura it rose $29,000.

The latest falls in house prices combined with low mortgage interest rates means that large parts of Auckland are now considered affordable for first home buyers.

The Home Loan Affordability Reports estimate what the mortgage payments would be on homes purchased at the lower quartile selling price, and how much that would take out of the take home pay of a couple earning the median wage for people for aged 25 to 29 in that region.

Rodney, the North Shore & West Auckland still unaffordable

Properties are considered affordable if the mortgage payments take up no more than 40% of take home pay.

By that measure, Auckland's central suburbs and South Auckland, Papakura and Franklin are all considered affordable for first home buyers, but Rodney, the North Shore and West Auckland remain unaffordable.

It may seem surprising that Central Auckland makes the affordable list, but that will be because of the cheaper apartment and multi-unit properties that dominate the lower end of the market there.

Outside of Auckland, the only other place where housing is considered unaffordable for first home buyers in Queenstown, which is the second most unaffordable place in the country for first home buyers, just a tad behind Auckland's North Shore.

The interactive chart below shows how affordability has changed in each region over the last 14 years.

No chart with this title found.

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Super that first home buyers now have a better chance to bite the cherry!



TTP, on several occasions last year it was commented that FHB should wait as there was cheaper prices coming. You labeled these comments as dangerous and irresponsible. Do you still believe this to be the case?

Anyway, while these price falls are certainly encouraging, I think any FHBs jumping in now would soon discover they had caught a falling knife. Further falls are coming not only in lower quartile but also leafy. Its very much early days.


Dont forget that a lot of lower quartile specuvestor property is secured against the equity of a leafy suburb property. Tony Alexander clearly called out that most Auckland investors overshoot in the regions at the end of each cycle because their greed deludes them into thinking that the regions have the same dynamics of Auckland 1.6 million population.

If this keeps up the prospect of margin calls are very real. Banks won't look after them selves first will they?

Margin calls are real. Banks most certainly will be looking after themselves, and so they should. I don't want to see the banks profit margins declining because that means less dividends. We live in a very strange world these days.

Hi R-P,

Don’t exaggerate the extent of these price falls. They are relatively small!

When the “right” house comes along, my advice remains the same: buy!


Perhaps this is the January effect. Strange things happen every January every year due to many buyers and sellers on holiday and price falls are common. Rtired-poppy?

yeah if anything affordability has gotten slightly worse yoy

Or perhaps it's because housing affordability is massively out of whack and has been for some years and now we're seeing a correction?

Overlay a 1980's-2018 interest rate chart on top of average house price line for same period - see if you can spot the relationship.

This could be the end of a nearly 40 year bull run for property (long cycle).

Houses like bonds?....interest rate up, house price down.

RP - I typically haven't been. But he's been making a bit of noise lately so yes have read his views and thoughts on the end of the bond bull. Dalio appears to have similar views so guess when you have many cominng out with these views its worth taking note.


Are we back at a point not seen since the early 1900's or 1950's? It's interesting viewing how different asset classes performed under those conditions, at those times.

Really? Permabears, strangely like groundhogs, tend to wake up late in the thaw, stretch and scratch a little, make some noise, then back into their nice little grotto for another 30yrs hibernation. Meanwhile, various squirrel types have been busy, making the most of all kinds of tasty tidbits and getting out and about enjoying life, all bushy tailed.

Tortoise and the Hare?


I'd hardly say that Dalio is a permabear....

And again, that’s why I enjoy your posts

Just on that, someone, somewhere must have applied an overtly Aesopian lense to the markets and produced a best seller. I’d buy it!

As you rightly point out it’s worth taking note with a caveat to read between the lines. Difficult sometimes to judge what the motive may be in broadcasting such, usually, rather broad assessments, particularly when you have funds under your management that move entire markets. Speculative proposition aside the history of market forecasting is more an exercise in ego aggrandizement than anything else. Their hit rate is no better or worse than mine (actually they’re usually worse) but then with the extent of skin in the game I would expect them to be wrong more often than right. To be perfectly blunt I’d more rather, if I was so disposed, take advice from the likes of pundits such as yourself and RP than the money mavens of this world.

Generally these peeps are very good at poker and keeping a poker face. The bluff is usually more successful when nothing is given away that could show their hand.

General inflation?

We have a very low inflation environment. In fact it is so low, that a rise in general inflation across the board, still won't erode all of our housing debt fast enough. Times have changed.


With the RBNZ target inflation of 2%, housing debt is going to take a very long time to be eroded by inflation. Assets prices in free markets on the other hand can adjust much more quickly. If asset prices fall, will many highly leveraged property investors be able to hold on through the adjustment as LVR covenants might become breached? - it depends on banks / lenders and whether they request additional collateral from leveraged property investors. Many highly leveraged property investors will be unable to come up with additional collateral and be forced to sell.

Indeed the property market has changed as has the financing market. Many property investors are using strategies that are suitable to the old environment and highly unsuitable to the new environment. A large number of property investors are part time (as opposed to full time) and may not be aware of the changed environment - many will be unaware that the financing criteria has tightened considerably and assume continued access to interest only loans. It is only when the interest only term expires and the borrower has to make P&I based payments that part time investors who are already negatively geared will feel financial pressure and may be forced into action.

You are quite correct. There will be many part-time investors who will be caught out in regards to the banks changing their lending criteria. The risk ratio is rising quite fast, so you can expect our banks to change their lending policy to reflect this change. And yes, it includes all of those property investors that have been on "interest only" terms. These investors will have their entire lending portfolio reviewed and their bank will re-negotiate on "the banks terms", not the investors terms. It has already started.

CN I absolutely agree with your excellent summation
& Retired Poppies still providing a buzz
You are 100% right the FHB would be I’ll advised to buy right now
Exactly as sharemarket up here will dive down again and cause hubris to meet reality
Choppy times in all markets unless you’re cavalier as many still appear

Factor in inflation, and how much house prices have gone up since 2014 (just last three years), it is just a small change. I doubt we'd see any serious correction in prices because, sellers can easily pullback when market is cooling. I think the best will be that market may remain flat for about one or two years unless government tries to give it a boost. Cheers.

looks like those that brought in south auckland, the new ponsonby according to RE have lost a bit of equity
wonder if the banks will have a closer look at investors levels when renew time comes around

Our banks could very well do that. Our Aussie Banks across the ditch actually published a blacklist of postcodes where they expected house prices to decline and they followed it up by refusing to lend easy money into that housing market.


Still some way to go before they are affordable, especially given the high expectation of interest rises in the future (just look at the 5 year fixed rates). Affordability should be base on 30% of current take home to cover the expected increase in future costs.

The Home Loan Affordability Resports track the current state of the market. They are not projections.


One positive comment doesn't change the facts - conditions are VERY different to the past 3 years - all external factors gone, prices will slide - the waiting game is a buyers best bet... and if you're selling, jump to the front and get attention or face the danger of following the market down - Interesting Times....

Only God know the future but it seems the market is trending down. However, the question for me is whether there is value in buying a house at these prices and not merely affordability.

I spoke to God yesterday and he agrees that the crash is coming.


Still need 80k deposit to own a house with tag on the garage doors in Clendon.

More affordable than 12 or 24 months Yes. Affordable - No



Clendon is not somewhere I would ever want to live if I valued my safety, my TV, stereo, sofa, bed...actually any personal possession.

As you say, housing is not even close to affordable.

Greg the calculations between the reports repayment schedule and the repayment calculators of the banks differ.Any reason or is there a difference in the methodology, assuming 25 year ,2y fixed average interest rate as stated.

Wow, that is great news ...lol, what a difference a month can make to affordability !!
So what are people waiting for then ??....I guess they will wait them to be "More Affordable" ....until they are all gone and find out that new kiwibuilt prices are disappointingly high.

Take Auckland region for example: "The lower-quartile house price was $650,000 in January, down from $665,000 last month. Annual growth was -0.3%, from the $651,800 lower-quartile house price in January last year" .... Well the median price hasn't changed from last january yet the perception is that they became more affordable !! Go Figure

As I mentioned so many times - lower quartile, rubbish, do ups, and overvalued old houses will all go down by more than 20% from their peaks ( Gradually back to where they were in 2014 if lucky)... these include manicured pigs in need of real modernisation or repair ( which is really expensive today). i.e. coming back to their Real Values ....
Rubbish like that is almost sold for the value of land they are on in the North Shore these days and that is around $650 - $800K depending on the makeup.

Prices of the higher quartiles Quality & modern ( and new) homes will remain stable and appreciating going forward.... Notice how medium and high quartile affordability have very little change .... meaning that house prices are keeping up with income rise ( and that is significant) ... unlike lower quartile houses which are going down in price....


Eco Bird, you called the bottom of the market as being last July 2017. In light of continued weakness in selling volumes, prices and lengthening days to sell, do you still believe this to be true?

And did prices actually go down since...? Not really... BTW, I called Auckland quality homes not the entire country ... and said time and again that rubbish will lose more than 20% even in some parts of Auckland ... and it is getting there

desperate people are comparing month to month, or auctions WoW when YoY doesn't suit.... or median prices when average doesnt suit, if all fails then volumes and day to sell if all the rest fails to suit the narrative. Houses are not commodities ....

Selling volume in lower quartile are actually improving, but since when selling rubbish or apartments affects quality home prices -- I say never to the downside and Yes when they go Up.

Have a look at the graph above ,... did NZ Affordability improve since Jan 2017? No it didn't .... it actually got worse ( regardless of what this affordability really means) ... so are we just trying to sooth some FHB feelings by comparing MoM on lower quartile or just a breeze of positive news? ... or What?

the title of this report and many others are just made to confuse people who don't know how to value houses they intend to buy properly ( i.e. location, land size, design, chattels, future prospects, and neighbourhood ...etc ) .. so even if it takes a year to sell a Quality home in a good location, it will still shine like a real diamond - and never fades.

I say it is time to buy now if people have a deposit and can afford a lower quartile house ( if they religiously have to) ... new built will be more expensive going forward so will newly refurbished or revamped homes ... as to kiwibuilt, lol ...wait and see what they would achieve by end of 2019, but don't hold your breath .


And what is your point Eco Bird?

If I'm not mistaken the point is a word salad, in a vain attempt to change a narrative, in the hope that people will forget previous "predictions".

Is Eco Bird being paid to be a mouthpiece for property spruikers?

money poorly spent.....

A2 milk share price increased by over 30 percent. Then dropped/settled 2 percent. Retired Poppy 2 questions for you. Should A2 milk shareholder investors sell out now in a "the end is nigh" scenario? If yes, is this an example of how you view the property market for property investors?

If A2 holders felt their individual circumstances merited lowering their risk they could quite easily just sell part of their portfolio and take some profits. How do you do that with a house?


"Take Auckland region for example: "The lower-quartile house price was $650,000 in January, down from $665,000 last month. Annual growth was -0.3%, from the $651,800 lower-quartile house price in January last year" .... Well the median price hasn't changed from last january yet the perception is that they became more affordable !! Go Figure"

If you read the rest of that page, interest rates have fallen marginally and wages have increased while house prices fell. Therefore, affordability increased. It's not complicated.

"Notice how medium and high quartile affordability have very little change"

First quartile -0.3% over the year to January
Median price -1.2% over the year to January

Cheaper houses seem to have the most stable price?

Gordon, I see Canterbury lower quartile prices went up once again!

Prices remain extremely firm at worst as people continue to flock into Christchurch as they see the benefits of great housing, warm weather and opportunities without the overcrowding!

Tends to pour cold water on your continued dribble about dropping rents and house prices where I see it being extremely firm and landlords costs are down,so all in all a good time to be a landlord providing you do it professionally!

So why are you talking about the Canterbury report instead of Christchurch.. oh, could it be that the Chch city report doesn't say what you want.. "The median house price was $439,000 in January, down from $450,000 last month.
The median house price was $439,000 in January 2017 which puts annual growth at
0.0%" and first quartile prices pretty much static also.

Christchurch median price was unchanged over the year, lower quartile increased by 0.8% which is a ~1% fall in real terms. Rents have been falling for about 3 years now (https://www.interest.co.nz/charts/real-estate/rents-median) and I'm in no hurry to put my money into the market. I continue to agree that it's a fantastic city to live in.

FHB have already missed the bus and to buy on falling market is not a good idea, unless planing to hold 8 to 10 years (History has proven that in 8 to 10 years time - one is not going to make lose) . For now the house price may fall or may not fall but one thing is definite that will will not go up for sometime (Years...).

So why the hurry.

Media too up to a certain extend is manipulated by vested interest so one has to be on guard.

Fantastic returns for those who had the foresight to invest in Dunedin and The Lakes. They are to be congratulated for that move.

Wouldn’t want to own rentals,in Dunedin as it is a fair way from Christchurch to Dunedin to do property checks every 3 months.

Also couldn’t be bothered having to clean up between tenancies if we had students and we don’t appreciate damaged property and don’t intend to,have any in the future.

CHCH gives us far better quality houses and a great return and opportunities galore.

It’s probably been a long time since we’ve seen a relative “wave” of new supply keep washing into the market – I wonder what the market would make of such an event.
The market for the last few years has been a shambles – a government inspired and promoted senseless rise in demand – with an initial complete lack of consideration given to supply.
If the current government should ever get a handle on this – then I suggest adjustment to true “affordability” will continue.
A sellers’ market as previously enjoyed by many may be some time away.

Still picture it this way. How long would it take the average First Time Buyer to afford a home in Auckland if they gave up avocado on toast?? Shall we work it out?

According to this BBC report it would take 32 years of giving up avocado on toast for a millennial to afford a big enough deposit for a home in Sydney.

BBC The Avocado on Toast Index; How many breakfasts does it take to buy a home?

Avos are at least 5 bucks a pop now, so it might be a little less time.

Depends where you buy them; I tend to get avos from the Chinese stores where they work out around 2 bucks a pop.

Avo trees are a great investment even if only for personal supply

the only good avo is one thats been turned in Guac... Avo by itself is disgusting slimy green mush.. like baby poo, but a bit less pungent. You probably also like marmite..

Needs a good few sloshes of Kaitaia Fire as well

The most sensible comment on this thread PA...

Worcestershire Sauce is the critical ingredient.


Soy sauce. End of.

Okay you lot with no taste have forced my hand.
Avocados mashed and doused well with lemon juice, rock salt and pepper
Finely chopped spring onions and tomatoes
Crushed garlic (as much as you fancy)
Kaitaia Fire to taste
You can add chillies if you want it hotter still, I cater to all ages so tend not use them.

That's it. That my guacamole tends to last little more than 10 minutes is testament to it being the perfect recipe. You muck round with the amounts of ingredients to suit yourself.

I have heard that properties in Auckland that have Avocado Trees are fetching a premium! hahahaha

Unless this also ties in with a medium multiple of 3x times income, then it is only an illusion of affordability.

And it has to be comparing like with like. Putting people into smaller higher density houses, or converting garages or sleeping in cars, doesn't count.

RP - You comments are reckless I hope FHB make their own informed decisions. Unfortunately many FHB listened to the same story in 2008 onwards and sat on the fence and missed out. The only place that is expensive is Auckland the rest of NZ for anyone with an acceptable job is fine. Record number of FHB's are in the market, Auckland is well supported it's big and has plenty of well paid jobs that only happen in a 1.6 million city. If anyone wants to see what Auckland will be like in the future look at Sydney or London. We are in the flat/soft period and yes house prices are falling slightly but it is expected just look at 1998-2002 or 2008-2011 these are soft periods in property cycles. It's fine having a price dip an opportunity for smart people. Prices will climb again from 2020 onwards a cycle that has happened since I was born ( 1957 ) let FHB look at the big picture, past history, smart economists like Tony Alexander and make their our decisions rather than listen to negative old people that are bitter because they missed the boat and perhaps didn't make the right decision when they could of when they where young. We all had to take a leap of faith at sometime. This moment might be the end for some people but it's the start for others the future is bright embrace your future the world will always carry on regardless of whether we actually get around to making decisions.

Shoreman, last year my comments suggesting that FHB wait were labelled both reckless and irresponsible! Look how much the Auckland lower quartile has dropped since. I will therefore take your label as another complement from just another property Spruiker.

I can tell you have a lot riding on this one way bet and are no doubt slave to an eye watering interest bill! Times have changed, housing has become speculative and therefore prone to large swings in valuations. I suggest you give a thought to the cost of FHB getting this wrong. Being left underwater wrecks not only finances but also marriages when the bank pulls the plug.

Suggest you use common sense and spare a thought for others. Stop focussing on what solely will enhance your own personal wealth. Your comments are not only backward focussed, they are backward thinking and will leave you prone to tripping over something in the future. Unlike other downturns, the benefits of monetary stimulus will be very limited next time around. It's now ground zero and the party's over.


RP blah blah blah ! I have a wonderful life thankyou retired in my 50's it's by not listening to people like you that have only a half empty cup I made decisions and moved forward. Smart people will decide thats young people too get on in life an not listen to broken records like you. This old story has been around for decades the sky is about to fall in, trying to make reality fit your silly thoughts is just madness. We live in new exciting times as stated before we are in the down part of the cycle and smart people see opportunities others don't. You are backward wanting time to go back to the good old days well it won't. People seem to get more negative with age if they themselves missed the boat and see others prospering - sounds like you RP ?? Woof woof ! smile be happy

lol woof woof! #Happy

“Buy land, they’re not making any more of it!”

“Property prices always go up, buy it at any price, you can’t lose!

Wow, thanks for your insightful comments. Very valuable. Are you Ron Hoy Fong in disguise?

Shoreman, I can tell you're fresh from a complimentary property seminar. What on earth did they do to you in there? - you poor soul ;-(

Just because you struck it lucky at the Cassino, don't rush out and tell your friends and family to go there too.

I think your confused. An economic cycle is something different to a bicycle. The financially wise study the climate, undertake research and stay on a sound path to financial security. The rest like yourself are just one trick ponies.

Oh dear RP you've just run out of anything of interest to say haven't you !
I've been and investor for 35 years and retired at 54.
There are winners who make their way in the world and losers like you who try to bring others down to your pathetic level.
As they say even a stopped clock is correct twice a day.
I'm off to book our tickets for our Europe winter holiday we like to be away for 2-3 months in winter.
Just picked up my new Z71 truck last week very nice actually.
Goodbye RP hope you enjoy you're half empty cup mine keeps overflowing so does my friends and family everyone I'm around really !

Goodbye shoreman. You are a proper victor meldrew. RP makes prefectly reasonable points about how the market is substantially overvalued and due a correction. There are plenty of others, including a large number of institutions, who take the same view. Whereas you seem to be a fully paid up member of the Cult of Property where one merely has to “trust and believe” that prices always go up and “you just can’t lose” in order for this to happen. And anyone who views the market as severely overcooked is just “being negative”. There is a lot of good analysis and comment on this site. You add nothing, please do us all a favour and get off the site. Try Stuff.co.nz, seems more your level.

Shoreman, I found this quote just for you, “A session of boasting won't attract any real friends. It will set you up on a pedestal, however, making you a clearer target.” ― Richelle E. Goodrich, Smile Anyway

Aucklander's aren't bitter anymore. They have just realised that the grass is greener on the outside of the Auckland Perimeter, which is why many are leaving and have taken up jobs and housing in regional New Zealand. These people want a house of their own and a decent wage to enjoy a good lifestyle. The average middle income family can't get that in Auckland anymore. Wellington doesn't suffer the same pressure on low wages because Wellington has less immigrants fighting for a slice of the pie, but Auckland takes cheap labour and it reduces your overall net worth via your salary increases. Most of the new population will work for less than your salary, so the net result is that you won't see wage inflation while there is so much competition for your skills.

Speak for yourself! Those who moved under pressure represent less than 1% of Aucklanders.

Shoreman, you are dead correct in what you say!
We all know that Auckland is expensive living.
Have spoken to several couples from Auckland recently who have told us about the Auckland way of life including living costs.
We have just rented s house to a lovely middle aged couple who have moved down from Auckland as they were over it.
We have charged them $530 per week for a four bedroom modern home which they just love.
In Auckland they were paying $800 per week for a home nowhere near as good in their opinion!
They were over the traffic and other problems up,there.
They love Chch now and reckon they will never live there again.
Thing is that people brought up in Auckland don’t know much about other locations.
Christchurch property prices are going to increase as it gets rebuilt no doubt about it.
Went to 2 Open Homes yesterday which I haven’t been doing much of recently, and both were like a train station.
Plenty of people looking and buying as they know Chch isn’t going to get cheaper.
Prices have been badly skewed by the As is where is sales.

Hey BOBSTER you and RP should get together !
Here's a challenge note down this date 1st of January 2025 and the market will reveil all not bullshit etc etc I say the market will be atleast 60% above today's value. I'm sure you won't agree but lets see ?? Mean while enjoy you're worried little world's of negativity and envy Bon Voyage............

Which market? In real terms or absolute? I'd take that bet on Auckland property adjusted for inflation.

Isn't the real question which investment will have had a higher total return in that time.. Property, Equities, or ???

Shoreman, more volume and no content. True foresight is knowing when to log off your computer before someone suggests it ;-)