Sick of renting, but can we afford to buy?

21:32, Jan 31 2014

Press journalist and first-home hunter Georgina Stylianou shares the highs and lows involved with getting a wobbly foot on the great property ladder.

I trawl through property listings on my lunch break and have developed an unhealthy addiction to home improvement shows and DIY blogs.

Open homes scare me as much as asking prices do and I wince every time new property stats are released.

But I'm still going to do it. At 25, I am trying to put a foot on the property ladder in a city that is having the life squeezed out of it on the housing front.

I know this isn't going to be easy.

The average house price in Christchurch has sky-rocketed and homes in the city fetched a median price of $420,000 in December - up from $379,000 a year earlier.


That price was the fourth record-high for the year.

The latest stats from the Real Estate Institute showed the median house price in North Canterbury was $410,000; $327,500 in Marlborough, $212,500 on the West Coast and a whopping $513,000 in Queenstown.

I am part of the property and rebuild reporting team at The Press but my knowledge is largely limited to the Christchurch Central Development Unit and the CBD.

But this is what I do know:

1. Rent is ridiculous.

My partner Robbie and I struggled to find an affordable rental for the two of us (and our pets) last year.

Since moving back to Christchurch in 2009, I'd always lived in and around St Albans but this was suddenly as unattainable as owning a car that doesn't overheat after a 5-kilometre drive.

We ended up in a small unit in Dallington - a stone's throw away from the red zone, with doors that don't close and a garden still laced with liquefaction. But it's fully furnished and we pay $350 a week so I'm not complaining . . . too much.

However, living in such a desolate suburb has taken its toll.

2. I want a dog.

As any renting pet owner will know, it's virtually impossible nowadays to find a nice rental in a nice area that allows four-legged friends.

3. I'm sick of paying someone else's mortgage

This has never really bothered me before but as rents continue to climb and my desire to pin pretty things to freshly painted walls blossoms, why not try and buy a house?

4. 20 per cent deposits are MADNESS!

I should probably tell you the game plan - we want to use the Kiwisaver first home deposit subsidy which should give us $10,000 on top of our own contributions (so perhaps another 5 or 6k). Add that to our savings and the money my parents are willing to bestow upon us and badda-bing badda-boom, we have a 10 per cent deposit for a Welcome Home Loan with Kiwibank.

So this is my blog that will hopefully document my hopefully smooth transition into my first home that I will hopefully be able to make my own while hopefully adding value onto it.

Simple right?

Yeah, nah.

Comment below, email me or tweet @gstylianoupress

Next week: Paperwork and domestic disharmony

The Press