13 Jul 2016

Affordable-housing buyers hitting walls

9:25 pm on 13 July 2016

Some home buyers in Auckland say they're finding it impossible to track down affordable homes that are required to be offered in the city's Special Housing Areas (SHAs).

Sold sign outside a new house being built in East Auckland

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The Auckland Council has established SHAs across the city to fast-track development. The areas must include a reserve of affordable homes, for people on an average income.

View information about the SHAs, and where to find them, on Auckland Council's website

But buyers spoken to by Checkpoint with John Campbell said they couldn't find out how to contact developers or whether there was a waiting list or ballot system.

One buyer, Michaela, said she contacted Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye, Auckland Council and Housing New Zealand, and was told to contact developers directly.

She only managed to speak to three of the 13 she tried to contact, and they didn't know how to help.

"I'd leave messages but no one would call me back. One company was really good and the lady was really helpful... she said that all the information was on their website and she said it was really open with what apartments were the special housing ones that were put aside, and the prices, it was basically 'first in, first served'."

Michaela said she had given up on buying a house in Auckland and would be moving south to Wellington at the end of the year.

"I don't know who it is that's getting them but it's not for me I don't think, I don't even know how."

Housing developers 'hard to contact'

A spokesperson for the First Home Buyers Club, which helps people into their first homes, told Checkpoint nobody was overseeing who was allocated an affordable home.

Dustin Lindale said most of the developments were still at the resource consent stage.

"We get a lot of calls about where are they and how do we get access to them, but it's very hard to get an idea of how many are actually available."

Mr Lindale said a lot of first-home buyers were really desperate.

"There are people getting in but it does feel quite a fruitless sort of struggle for some of them."

He said people were struggling even at the first hurdle to register their interest with any development.

The office of Building and Housing Minister Nick Smith referred Checkpoint to Auckland Council.

Auckland Council referred RNZ to information available online.

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