Paul’s Update

Cut your cloth to get ahead

It’s always been hard for first-home buyers. And it may well be the hardest now than it’s ever been. 

There are houses that are affordable, but they may not be in the area you want to live in. 

Extraordinary measures may be required of individuals. If the bulk of inner city houses are unaffordable for newbies and house purchases in low-decile Auckland suburbs such as Otara are 80% dominated by investors1, what can the average first-home buyer do?

Just because personal savings can barely keep up with the average annual house price increases doesn’t mean that it’s not worthwhile to save hard, really hard. Draconian measures are required for first-home buyers.

  • Cut credit card debt. Better, cut up credit cards so you’re not tempted to resort to them.
  • Get rid of the student loan as fast as possible.
  • One car per household – a cheap car.
  • No big new TV or latest-model smart phone.
  • No travelling overseas.
  • Plant vegies in containers if you don’t have a garden.
  • Plan the cheapest possible wedding in Mum and Dad’s backyard – BYO with everyone bringing a plate. Basic, real basic but realistic. The way many people got married in the past. And a local, brief, cheap honeymoon. Ask for honeymoon money or a contribution to house savings rather than wedding gifts.

Yes, that’s what it takes, getting real. Making big sacrifices. Making your own fun. Cooking for friends rather than eating out. Sharing a cuppa over the kitchen table rather than in a café. Walking or jogging or kicking a ball about rather than joining a gym.

If you don’t have kids, you can cut back. It’s possible. If you’ve fantasised about having a cool apartment pad in the CBD, you might have to rethink and get a cheaper bungalow or a one-bedroom apartment in South or West Auckland or further afield that may not be near your friends and family. You may even face a long commute. I empathise, but that’s what it will take to get ahead.

If you can step on the property escalator, it’s worth it in the long run. Use your first home as a stepping stone. It may take two to three houses or apartments and some years before you can get closer to the area or the type of accommodation you’ll be happier to live in. But if you persevere, you’ll get there and gradually increase your equity.

  1. According to new research by Dr Michael Rehm and Ozgur Yildrim, University of Auckland