Business journalist Maria Slade has written a book about how prospective home buyers can navigate the market's pitfalls in a time of mass unaffordability - Buyer Beware: A New Zealand Home Buyer's Guide.
She talks with Kim Hill about mortgages, leaky homes, building inspections and the media fixation on house prices.
New Zealand media reports on housing can fuel hysterica and sometimes lack context, she says.
“One figure that keeps getting bandied about all the time is ‘Auckland property prices are now over a million dollars!’ No, prices are not – values are. That is a different matter. Prices are based on the latest sales – values are a calculation that QV do over time, working out what the value is sitting in the Auckland housing stock. They are not the same thing.”
Housing TV shows have also raised and perhaps overinflated expectations, she says.
And contrary to popular belief, simply signing up for a meatier mortgage isn’t an option for everyone.
The amount you can borrow to buy a house will be dictated by what the bank is willing to lend, and they have become a lot more conservative, says Slade.
“It’s pretty much impossible to buy a house without a 20 percent deposit.”
Slade's advice to first home-buyers is to go for a basic, well-built home with good bones.
“Go and find yourself a nice solid brick-and-tile unit in an outer suburb and start from there.”