Home ownership more common away from city

ALEX FENSOME
Last updated 05:00 30/11/2013

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Buying a house is a big decision, and so is choosing where to buy.

Wellington has more choice than many cities, with its varied suburbs and atmospheres, even if prices are climbing.

But where are people most likely to have bought their home, and where are they more likely to be renting? And is renting a first step to ownership, or a deliberate lifestyle choice?

Using data from Property IQ, a map of home ownership in the region confirms what many would expect - ownership is much more common away from Welington's central city and in higher-income areas.

The top 12 suburbs for ownership are all in Kapiti, the Hutt Valley and Porirua.

Only six of the top 32 suburbs are in Wellington City - Takapu Valley and Ohariu (89 per cent ownership), Seatoun, Moa Pt and Horokiwi (88 per cent), and Breaker Bay (86 per cent).

All except Seatoun are smaller suburbs, with fewer than 100 residential properties.

The largest suburb in the top 32 is Whitby, with more than 3000 homes and an ownership rate of 87 per cent.

Suburbs with a high proportion of state housing have a correspondingly low owner-occupation rate.

In addition, the higher the average cost of a home, the more likely an area will have high owner occupancy.

Taita, for example, has 1696 homes and an ownership rate of 49 per cent. Cannons Creek in Porirua has 1889 homes with 39 per cent ownership.

Property IQ research analyst Nick Goodall said one outlier was Wainuiomata, which had a low average house price but high rates of owner occupancy - up to 78 per cent. "This is explainable due to the close community feel of the suburb," he said.

"People are proud of the area and won't move out so just go through the property cycle within it."

Other anomalies tended to be near the central city. "Roseneath, Kelburn and Mt Vic, while higher value, have relatively low owner/occupancy rates, but this is most likely due to their appeal of being close to the city and are therefore attractive to investors and in-turn renters," he said.

Unsurprisingly, Pipitea, Te Aro and the Wellington CBD have the lowest rate of owner-occupation.

The vast majority of homes in those areas are flats.

Despite increasing numbers of people moving into the central city - the population jumped from 9294 to 12,954 between the 2006 and 2013 censuses - most appear unwilling or unable to buy there.

Mortgage broker Sonya Reid said aspiring buyers ought to look to somewhere like Tawa for good deals.

Because Tawa lies within the Wellington City Council district but on its edge, buyers could access the first-home buyer subsidy on more expensive properties - up to $450,000 - than outside the district.

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- Fairfax Media

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