13 Oct 2016

Auckland still at bottom of housing affordability list

7:05 pm on 13 October 2016

New figures show housing affordability in Auckland has improved, but it remains the least affordable city in the country.

An auction sign outside a house for sale in Auckland.

House prices in Auckland and Central Otago are 60 percent less affordable than the rest of the country, according to Massey University's numbers. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The Massey University Affordability Index took into account data around wages, house prices and mortgage interest rates between June and August this year.

It showed housing affordability had improved everywhere except Central Otago Lakes and Waikato-Bay of Plenty.

But despite Auckland's improved result, the report's author, Susan Flint-Hartle, said it still remained the least affordable place in the country.

"The reality of the situation is something quite different ... clearly Auckland is extremely unaffordable for first-home buyers."

The index showed Auckland and Central Otago were more than 60 percent less affordable than the rest of the country.

Ms Flint-Hartle said there was unlikely to be anything to change the upward spiral of house prices in Auckland in the next few years.

Buyers looking to new builds - REINZ

The Real Estate Institute (REINZ) said some of Auckland first-home buyers were turning to new builds as house prices continued to rise.

The institute's latest national figures showed September's median house price was up almost 5 percent from the month before.

The Auckland market had eased slightly but its median house price was still 7 percent higher than the same time last year.

The institute said Auckland first-home buyers were now favouring new builds, as they were exempt from new loan-to-value rules put in place to cool the market.

Auckland-based Bayley's real estate agent Trent Quinton said working with banks' lending requirements was often still a challenge for first-home buyers.

"It is a bit of a moving target, we're seeing a lot of first-home buyers put contracts down loving what they see, but then all of a sudden they can't follow through, because of their restrictions, to then getting their finance."

It was not easy for first-home buyers to buy new houses, with many still unaffordable, he said.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs