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House prices skyrocket in affordable regions

Radio New Zealand logo Radio New Zealand 5/12/2018

© File photo. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller House prices in regions usually considered affordable are booming, but for first-home buyers a bargain is even harder to find.

The latest QV statistics show in Dunedin house prices have heated up 11 percent in a year, while the Wellington region and Nelson have seen jumps of 8 percent.

Housing unaffordability is so worrying in Nelson that developers, planners and the council are trying to figure out how to fix it.

In Porirua, where prices rose 9 percent in the year to November, locals have been feeling the pinch.

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Some house hunters said they were told a house could be theirs for $270,000, but just months later, after a revaluation, the price was more than $400,000.

Natalia Green said she had been told she could buy the state house she lived in, but the home with a sea view was in the $450,000 to $550,000 price bracket.

"That's just too far out of my reach... it's nothing flash."

The average house price in Porirua was now $580,000, QV said.

In Nelson, more than 80 percent of renters cannot afford homes.

Nelson City Council's Clare Barton said her own situation is an example of the impact the housing boom is having on the region.

"Four years ago I moved to Nelson, I bought a property and I have had my latest valuation come through and I know with the deposit I had then, if I was to buy that house now, I couldn't have afforded it," Ms Barton said.

Local agencies in the district reported most households were paying 50 to 70 percent of their weekly income on rent or a mortgage, leaving some families with less than $200 a week for everything else.

Housing planners, developers and other council officials were trying to find tangible solutions to the rapidly rising problem of housing unaffordability in the region.

What was happening in the regions was part of a recurring 10 year cycle, the Real Estate Institute's Wellington spokesperson Mark Coffey said.

In Wellington, for example, between 2008 and 2012 there was no growth in the region - but Auckland was booming.

"Everyone in Wellington was looking at Auckland going... 'look at those price rises, we're sitting here going nowhere fast'.

"From 2012 we slowly started to turn the cogs again, and we're just part way through a new cycle really.

"We've always been counter-cycle to Auckland."

Dunedin and other regions has also been languishing behind Auckland, but prices started to rise as people moved south, first to Tauranga, and Hamilton.

"We're seeing it in Hawke's Bay (which is) going up really fast," Mr Coffey said.

"People are looking to the future, and thinking 'wow, look what I can buy in some of the regions'."

While Mr Coffey could not say exactly when the tables would turn again, he expected house prices to continue to rise in those areas for a couple more years.

In pictures: New Zealand's most and least affordable cities

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