The Auckland suburbs of Avondale, Northcote and Birkenhead are the top three picks for families wanting affordability and proximity to the CBD.
The Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) has analysed the median house price of freestanding three-bedroom homes in suburbs across Auckland which had a minimum of 10 sales for the year ending December 2019.
With a median house price of $800,000 and within 10 kilometres (km) of the CBD, Avondale is the most affordable and convenient place to live. This is followed by the North Shore suburbs of Northcote and Birkenhead, where median prices across the year sat at $921,000 and $950,000 respectively.
REINZ chief executive Bindi Norwell said that at a time when potential buyers are struggling to make ends meet during the COVID-19 lockdown, choosing a suburb a bit further out could make all the difference to their ability to get onto the property ladder.
"A couple of kilometres difference in where you live can save hundreds of thousands of dollars on the purchase of a home, and when you look at this over the lifetime of a mortgage, this saving would be even greater," Norwell said.
People with budgets in the $550,000 to $650,000 range who can work locally or are prepared for a longer commute could look at areas in Manukau and Papakura.
Within 25km of Auckland city and 2km of Westfield Manukau City, Clover Park had a median price of $649,000. Slightly further out (around 30km from the CBD), Clendon Park had a median house price of $551,000. Further out still, a three-bedroom home in Rosehill (around 40km from the CBD) could cost in the vicinity of $565,000.
One area that first home buyers may have overlooked is Otara. Less than 20km from the city, Otara's median price of $560,870 was only slightly higher than many suburbs located further out.
"Interesting[ly], the most affordable suburb in the 20-to-25km [distance] bracket (Clover Park) was more expensive than the most affordable suburb in the 15-to-20km bracket (Otara)," Norwell said.
“When looking at where to purchase, people consider a huge range of factors such as price, school zones, amenities and recreational areas, but this shows how important it is to take distance into account too,” Norwell added.
Although KiwiSaver balances have taken a hit due to drops in share prices, the current environment of low-interest rates makes borrowing cheaper.
KiwiSaver members wanting to buy a first home can still apply for a first home withdrawal if they've been a member for at least three years and leave at least $1000 in the account. Depending on factors such as income and area, a first home grant of up to $10,000 could also help out.