Lucas Hall and Courtney Archer have been approved for a mortgage of up to $600,000 but still can’t get into their first home. Photo: Kate Russell.

First home buyers struggle as Nelson housing market goes ‘nuts’

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Courtney Archer and her partner Lucas Hall are reaching for the first rung on the property ladder, but they are struggling to grasp it.

On paper, the Stoke couple tick all the boxes. But in reality – it’s not enough to get their foot in the door of their first property.

“It’s got to the point where we’re putting offers on anything, just because it’s a house and we might be able to afford it,” says Courtney.

According to an urban development capacity report received by Nelson City Council earlier this month, median house prices in both Nelson and Tasman have increased by around 60 per cent in the past five years.

Courtney and Lucas started house hunting just before Covid-19. They have been pre-approved for a home loan up to $600,000 and have made multiple offers on houses.

They both work full-time, Courtney sometimes up to 60 – 70 hours a week.

“The whole house hunting thing seems like a third job. I’m on Trade Me every day looking at the latest listings. We’re putting offers on things that nobody else has seen yet and we still get outbid.”

She says she has found process “mentally draining” and they are considering building or even moving to Christchurch if they can’t secure a property.

“My question is, what are the Government going to do to help us?”

Owner of You Realty, Nikki Ryan, describes the situation as “nuts”, estimating that first home buyers make up around 50 per cent of the prospective buyers she meets.

“It’s not unusual for a first home buyers’ budget to be $750,000 – and yet they are still struggling. That’s saying huge things.”

She says if buyers are using a Kiwisaver first home withdrawal it can put them on the backfoot as it can take around ten working days to process applications.

Nikki says it’s a tight race, and buyers need to get involved “very early on”.

“As soon as it goes on Trade Me, you need to get onto it.”

She says with drop in supply and a surge in demand, things don’t seem to be cooling off.

“Everyone is out there trying to take advantage of the good interest rates.”

The urban development capacity report also states that the number of applicants on the Ministry of Social Development’s housing register has increased by 49 per cent for Nelson and 14 per cent for Tasman, compared with 12 months ago.

Cr Rohan O’Neill-Stevens labelled the figures as “bloody depressing”.

“It breaks my heart and it also in some ways breaks my hope when we see this constant upwards slog of house prices and rents well above increases in income.”

Deputy mayor Judene Edgar echoed his concerns.

“We’ve got people with children who are both working in what should be good income jobs that can’t afford houses – and that is a situation we should never be in.”

Nelson MP Rachel Boyack says the Government has a number of initiatives to increase housing supply through building affordable housing, changes to urban development legislation and the upcoming reform of the Resource Management Act.

“We also have a number of programmes to help people buy their own homes including a Progressive Home Ownership scheme, and First Home Grants and Loans, which now have a deposit requirement of 5 per cent, reduced from 10 per cent.”