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NZ Auckland house prices vs world's

Property Here - Monday, May 06, 2013

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As the median price in NZ's largest city soars to $670,000, Herald property reporter Alanah Eriksen compares the types of homes for sale within the same price range in cities around the globe.
The median house price in Auckland city is $670,000. Photo / Supplied
The median house price in Auckland city is $670,000. Photo / Supplied

Auckland house-hunters fed up with the city's skyrocketing prices will find their money will buy them even less on the property ladder of many major overseas cities.

Kiwi city-slickers often have higher expectations when it comes to housing, needing more space for their families, pets and vehicles, according to Helen O'Sullivan, chief executive of the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand.

"Do we not know how lucky we are? To a certain extent. That can sound dreadful. Because, for people struggling to afford a home, it's not that comforting that you can get even less if you took your money to London."

The median house price in Auckland city is $670,000, according to REINZ figures based on the sale of 1078 houses in March. That's up from $596,500 in February and $570,500 in March last year.

The Herald chose 10 other big cities in the Western World to compare the types of homes that could be bought for the current median price.

The data looks at homes in suburbia, rather than high-density living in the central city.

A sprawling five-bedroom, three-bathroom home on Tiverton Rd in New Windsor, a suburb west of Mt Roskill and south of Waterview, was used as the Auckland comparison.

The two-storey house, 9.9km from the city, has a 229sq m floor, sits on a 708sq m section and has double garaging, and room for three more cars in the driveway.

It is advertised for sale for $675,000, but has a capital value of $540,000, set in July 2011.

The street is close to the soon-to-be-built Waterview Connection, which will link State Highways 16 and 20, providing an even more direct route into the city.

It's walking distance to New Windsor School (primary) and two minutes' drive to the New World supermarket.

The Barfoot & Thompson real estate agent selling the house, Paresh Patel, said several families had looked through it since it was listed in February.

More residents were looking at New Windsor as they realised their money could go further than in the usually more popular suburbs.

"Mt Eden homes can have very small sections - about 300 square metres - and then the house is even smaller," Mr Patel said.

"But in New Windsor and Blockhouse Bay, you can get a reasonably sized section."

Some homes in the suburb were zoned for Mt Albert Grammar School, although the Tiverton Rd house was zoned Avondale College.

The website - which lists houses from all the major real estate companies in the country - showed 1033 listings for homes under $700,000 in Auckland city, which encompasses the area from Avondale in the west down to Blockhouse Bay, east to Onehunga and Mt Wellington, north around St Heliers and up to Westhaven and St Marys Bay, just before the harbour bridge.

Overseas, few standalone homes were available in the price range within a 10km radius from the central city - they were mostly apartments and townhouses.

Australia's capital, Canberra, was the only city out of the 10 surveyed where the Herald could find a freestanding home - but it was still smaller than the Auckland example.

The three-bedroom brick house in the leafy suburb of Downer, 8.2km from central Canberra, has one bathroom and double garaging and is on the market for A$550,000 ($667,953).

Sydney, Brisbane and Perth offered only apartments or townhouses within the price range.

In New York - a city dominated by apartments - $670,000 could buy a 51sq m space on the second floor with one bedroom and a bathroom, on 15th St in Manhattan.

The building also included a live-in superintendent and a marble lobby.

In Los Angeles, where apartments are known as condominiums, the choice is slightly better - with a two-bedroom, three-bathroom place on a 139sq m floor on offer in central Los Angeles.

The building, on Westminster Ave, includes a pool and two parking spaces.

In Paris, $670,000 does not buy a lot - a studio apartment with a 32.65sq m floor in the 18th arrondissement - one of the city's 20 administrative districts, located 4.1km from the city.

London's selection is just as small. A South Kensington leasehold studio apartment, 5.3km from the city, costs $641,733.

In its favour, though, the area has good public transport, being just minutes from the Gloucester Rd tube station, and is surrounded by supermarkets and other amenities.

It has an arts culture and is close to museums, colleges and the Royal Albert Hall.

The suburb is also home to some of the most exclusive real estate in the world.

In Scotland's capital of Edinburgh, the median price can buy a three-bedroom semi-detached home in the suburb of Blackhall, in the northwest, 6.2km from the centre.

In Dublin, Ireland, the median price can buy a two-bedroom terraced home in a gated development in the suburb of Ballsbridge, 4.7km from the centre. The house has a floor area of 76.9sq m.

"We do still have some pretty big houses compared to some other international cities," said Helen O'Sullivan.

"We're catching up with those first-world, big city issues. We've been very lucky that we haven't experienced it in the past.

"A lot of people chose to live in Auckland, as opposed to any other international city they could be in, because you don't have to be a millionaire to have a nice little house and a garden and not live three hours from the city.

"The comparison is interesting. And to me it illustrates that as a nation we do expect to have a higher standard of housing than perhaps the norm elsewhere."

She said Kiwis' "personal space requirements" were greater than many people realised, compared with other countries.

"That comes down to - there are only four million of us and we would fit into the whole of Sydney and there'd still be some left over. And hey, that's the upside.

"I think of the places I lived in in London and the number of people that were squished into a house."

She said she was recently looking at a studio apartment in Cambridge which had only a Juliet balcony, and it cost the same as the median house price for Auckland.

She said the culture was different in bigger cities such as Sydney where terraced housing dominated and residents had become used to that way of life.

"Lots of Sydneysiders have no problem bringing up children in those sorts of places and their view of the outdoors is you go to the park."

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