First-home buyers head to Porirua, Hutt City

They may not be the most aspirational suburbs in Wellington but they are where people are taking their first steps in property.

Data on the past two years of house sales released by research firm Property IQ shows just where first-home buyers are heading in the Wellington region.

And while some fashionable people may say they would never live in Tawa, Stokes Valley or Wainuiomata, the reality is many do head there, as the map shows.

Analysing all sales since January 2012, Property IQ defined a first-home sale as one where none of the new owners has owned property in New Zealand before.

Its research revealed Porirua and Hutt City were among the most popular destinations for first-home buyers in the country.

The highest proportion of first-home sales was in West Auckland, at 29 per cent, but Porirua and Hutt City were close behind on 28 per cent. Wellington City and Upper Hutt were at 24 per cent.

About 20 per cent of home sales across New Zealand since January 2012 went to first-home buyers.

Tawa was a popular spot for first buyers - of 678 properties bought there, 192 went to first-home owners.

Wellington City Councillor Malcolm Sparrow used to be head of the Tawa Community Board and has lived there for 17 years.

"You get more bang for your buck here," he said.

"For $300,000 to $400,000 you can get something substantially better than in the city. It's a pleasant neighbourhood with good neighbours, a good family suburb."

The central parts of Wellington tend to have low rates of first property buyers: Wellington Central, Thorndon and Te Aro hover around 8-9 per cent of sales.

Property IQ research analyst Nick Goodall said the data showed New Zealanders still tended to avoid apartments as a first investment, despite being cheaper than the average quarter-acre home in a good location.

"Wellington Central, Thorndon and Te Aro are made up mostly of apartments which have lower values than houses but are less appealing," he said.

"The Kiwi dream is to have a back yard. Our feeling is that is starting to change."

With the loan-to-value lending caps imposed last year, some people may look to apartments as an alternative.

"They may look at it and go 'oh, I can't afford this $600,000 house but I can easily get a deposit for a $400,000 apartment' or something like that."

If there was a surprise in the data it was southern Wellington as a popular place for first homes. While suburbs such as Island Bay and Brooklyn had relatively few house sales, a high proportion went to first-home buyers.

"Those southern suburbs have not as many sales, but still up there in 25-30 per cent," Mr Goodall said.

The Dominion Post