Home: Hannah’s city apartment

As the Auckland property market remains hot, apartments are proving to be a more affordable alternative for house hunters in the city of sails.

Despite reaching an all-time high in average asking price in February 2017 ($711,892), apartments in Auckland are still markedly more obtainable than the average house in the region.

Hannah Rogers is one of the growing number of Kiwis who are embracing the European style of high-rise living.

As a 28-year-old media professional working in central Auckland, the traditional quarter acre Kiwi dream didn’t appeal.

“An apartment best suits my current and foreseeable lifestyle,” Hannah told realestate.co.nz.

“I am young, unmarried and am pretty busy juggling two jobs. I needed somewhere smallish, secure, and central - I don’t need a big place that requires a lot of work or maintenance.”

Despite not having a partner to split the bill with, Hannah wasn’t willing to let her limited budget hinder her dream of buying a home in a city where the average asking price for a house has reached $950,446.

A two-bedroom leasehold apartment in Auckland CBD was a more cost-effective option, boasting an affordable central location with plenty of space for Hannah, who had long dreamed of living without flatmates.

“It’s on the 11th floor and has a great big deck with water views. On the other side the two bedrooms look over Auckland city.”

 

Hannah purchased an apartment in the Scene buildings

 

At the beginning of the buying process, setting realistic expectations is important, Hannah insisted: “I kept my expectations very low and I didn’t put pressure on myself. Last thing I want is to move into a home I cannot afford, or enjoy life in, so I kept reminding myself what I really wanted.”

Like many young Kiwis, it took a few years of smart financial decisions before she was ready to make the leap.

“I had a credit card problem so at first I had to get that gone. It’s called “dumb debt” and I had a lot of it.”

Putting money aside from her 9-5 job helped reduce this debt, but to speed up the process Hannah took on a weekend position selling merchandise at concerts, and some paid work as a blogger running themoderngirl.com.

“After the credit card debt was gone and the savings started growing I got excited and it became more of a reality.”

With some encouragement from her family, Hannah crunched the numbers in December 2016 and established that buying an apartment was an achievable goal. As is often the case with apartment purchases, Hannah's bank required slightly more than 20% deposit, but being able to use her Kiwisaver contributions towards the downpayment meant this wasn't an issue.

Having support from friends and family made all the difference, Hannah says.

“My dad and I both signed up to realestate.co.nz and he spent a lot of time on the app.”

A mortgagee sale in an apartment building near Britomart presented the perfect opportunity.

“The day I paid it all was scary but I now own a home and that’s pretty cool.”

Hannah's car

 

Despite planning to adopt an inner-city lifestyle, Auckland’s public transport system wasn’t able to convince Hannah to give up her bright yellow Volkswagen beetle.

Having access to a car park was the one “must-have” on Hannah’s wish list. Her new apartment has two, which was a big selling point.

“For me the two carparks were essential. It means I can lease one out for extra cash if needed but otherwise I’ll always have a spot for friends, boyfriends and family to park when they come and visit.”

Since purchasing her apartment, Hannah has discovered all the little costs that come along with home ownership, which can catch first time buyers by surprise.

“Lawyer’s fees are a big one and I had to get home insurance.”

Getting the locks changed and hiring movers are other costs buyers may want to factor in.

“It also occurred to me over Christmas that I should think about getting a will. At 28 I like to think I am safe (touch wood) but if anything was to happen to me I think I would like my home to go to my sister - so this will be another chat with the lawyer.”

The apartment Hannah purchased came with a tenant who, with a fixed-term lease, wanted to remain in the property. While she was eager to move in, the home and its two carparks were bringing in $750 a week.

Instead of shifting in immediately, Hannah has opted to continue renting the property for a few months, while paying off her mortgage and using the remaining cash to improve the property.

“I hope to move in in July and cannot wait. I am using the money from the rental payments to purchase furniture and fit it all out.”

 

Hannah's Auckland apartment

 

Hannah’s top three tips for first home buyers in Auckland:

  1. Keep your expectations reasonable
  2. Don't fall in love - make it a ‘business decision’
  3. Ignore what people say! Being single shouldn’t stop you from buying a home

 

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