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Research highlights what first-home buyers want

15 June 2022

First-home buyers want a standalone home, a garage, and a backyard in a single-story property with good heating, a Generation Homes research paper shows.

There’s a large gap between what is being built by developers and being encouraged by changes in Government policy to allow higher density housing and what first-home buyers actually want – that is a standalone home.

Our research highlights that first-home buyers’ Kiwi dream is a standalone home with a big backyard, room for a garden, a garage for storage, off-street parking, and good heating and insulation.

Apartments, townhouses, and terrace houses ranked far lower on first-home buyers’ wish list, which pinpoints a gap between people’s expectations and what is being built in many new subdivisions around Aotearoa.

In our experience, young people are incredibly focused on what they want and are prepared to make real sacrifices and work hard to get onto the housing ladder, even when an extra effort is required to achieve a stand-alone home in many locations.

A new standalone first home may be rarely attainable on any Auckland wish list, but it is possible in other regions of New Zealand and aspirational for Aucklanders later in their housing journey.

First-home buyers who had already purchased were looking for five top features in their new home: off-street parking, a garage, a backyard, a single-story house, and good heating.

A majority of these buyers, 81%, had purchased a standalone home, while only 8% had bought an apartment, townhouse, or terrace house, the survey showed.

Among the respondents hoping to purchase their first home, again a big backyard topped the desired criteria, followed by a garage, then insulation, off-street parking, and good heating.

A standalone home was their preferred option (61%), followed by a lifestyle property (16%).

Only 9% of these respondents opted for an apartment, townhouse, or terrace house as the property they were aiming to purchase for their first time in the market.

Does that mean only a small percentage of people are being realistic about what they could buy?

We believe so.

The expectations of first-home buyers are mismatched with what they could achieve if they looked at the new apartments, townhouses, and terrace homes being built all over New Zealand in great communities with excellent amenities and a real neighbourhood being established.

Considering a new build apartment, townhouse, or terrace house could get you onto the first rung of the housing ladder sooner.

You might need to adjust your expectations to a small backyard, or no backyard in the case of an apartment, but a new build also requires less maintenance and gives you more time to enjoy your leisure hours.

New homes also employ the latest building technology and advancements in heating and ventilation for warm, dry, and sustainable homes, which are an advantage when compared with older houses built to a different code.

* Recently Generation Homes supported a research paper that involved a survey of 217 Kiwis aged 20-35 years to gain an understanding of their knowledge of buying a house.

The respondents lived all over the country and were split between those who had purchased a home, those who had not purchased but had considered purchasing, and those who had not considered a first-home purchase.