NZ property market: Kiwi first-home buyers share tales of despair as demand surges

Kiwis have opened up about their struggle to buy a home in New Zealand as new data shows demand is soaring, especially in Wellington. 

Trade Me data released on Friday shows demand for properties in the capital saw the largest annual percentage increase on record in August, after climbing 34 per cent year-on-year. 

Trade Me Property spokesperson Aaron Clancy says increasing demand is driving prices up. 

"Growing demand in the Wellington region is putting pressure on prices. In August, we saw the average asking price in the Wellington region climb 9 percent year-on-year to $689,500." 

But Wellington isn't the only region experiencing increased demand and prices. National house prices climbed by 9 percent in August to $701,750. 

"Nationally, demand for properties for sale was up by 19 percent in August when compared with last year, with all regions seeing year-on-year increases." 

Clancy said this is the second month where national asking prices have increased significantly. The last time there was such a large increase was in 2017.

A lack of supply is also contributing, with national market supply dropping 3 percent year-on-year.

"To put it simply, it's a great time to be selling your house - demand is extremely high right across the country and supply isn't keeping up which means potential buyers must put their best foot forward," Clancy said. 

The tough buying market is being felt by Kiwis, with one Wellingtonian opening up about their struggle to buy a home on Reddit, prompting other Kiwis to share their stories.

In the post, an anonymous user said after four months of looking, and five unsuccessful offers, they still haven't been able to purchase a house.

"My wife and I have just heard back that we have not been successful on our 5th house offer. Every house that we have lost out on has been purchased for way off the market valuation and RV (rateable value). This latest one specifically went for $250,000 more than the RV from last year and $100,000 more than the bank's valuation." 

They said the demand has put them "in a difficult spot" because their bank will only lend to them based on its valuation. 

"How are we expected to compete against people who are purchasing based on speculative prices in the coming years?"

"The housing market in this country is messed up, even talking to colleagues they think it's completely normal to have two or three houses as investment properties and all we want is somewhere to call our own to raise our family.

"My wife and I make a decent living, which makes me wonder how people worse off are expected to cope," they said. 

The post resonated with Kiwis with hundreds sharing similar experiences. 

One person said they had the same problem in Auckland, where the average house price in August was $948,800. 

"We've been searching in Auckland for over two years now. Same story. I keep thinking it will improve and then it gets worse," they said. 

"I've been watching the market... for four years and it is currently the worst I've seen it in that period."

Another said they had the same problem when buying their first home a couple of years ago. 

"Our first offer was more than $55,000 short of the winning tender - and we were offering at the high end of the market value. We had the same issue for our second (successful) offer, wherein the expected price for the house was going to be well above the bank's valuation."

"Luckily we had a great mortgage broker who was able to make things work with the bank."

However, they said they were sad to see how much their house increased in value over a short period. 

"The sucky part (for the country) is that after just two years, our home has gained so much in capital value that we're now being advised to purchase our first investment property on the back of the equity we now hold."

"The divide between 'haves' and 'have-nots' in NZ is outrageous, and to a huge extent it is linked to homeownership (or lack thereof)," they said.