Buying guide

What Trade Me property buyers are willing to compromise on

Where are we willing to make a sacrifice, and what do the experts have to say?

27 March 2023

In our State of the Nation 2023 survey, we asked house hunters what they’d be willing to compromise on when buying a home. With the results in, we spoke to experienced agents to get their views on where compromises are best made.

What you’ll learn:

  • The best areas to compromise on when house buying
  • Where not to compromise unless you absolutely have to
  • Ask for advice before making compromises

What property buyers are willing to compromise on to stay within their budget...

Source: Trade Me State of the Nation Report, 2023

Style of property should be a priority for resale

Property style is critical when considering your future resale potential, says Ray White agent, James Burry who sells a lot in Royal Oak, Onehunga and One Tree Hill, known for its gracious villas and character homes.

“The villa or bungalow never goes out of style,” says James. Like this 1920s villa, they’re built in beautiful timber, have high ceilings, he says. Always go towards something like that if your budget allows, he urges.

101 Grey Street, Onehunga, Auckland

The other thing you can’t change is aspect, argues James. If all your outdoor living is in the shade on the south side, you can’t change that, says the Ray White agent. That’s crucial for resale, he adds.

“Some people won’t buy south-facing backyards,” he says.

Location, style and orientation are all things you cannot change, says James, who thinks people should hold out for a good location. Prioritise the things you can’t change, he advises. If it’s a 1910 home, you may not have a garage so you’ll compromise on parking.

James’s first home was a duplex, with on street parking, the second home has two off street parking spaces. They went on to a freehold character home which gave them an extra bedroom.

“You work your way up slowly until it fits your needs,” he says.

Don’t worry about one less bathroom

If you’re a first home buyer, don’t stress about the number of bathrooms. You can always add one, says James.

But something to look at closely when focusing on a property is the future planning for the area. If there’s zoning for high densification apartment blocks, that’s something to think about, suggests the Ray White agent.

Flood plains are another element to research and the overall condition of the roof and flooring. “It’s about the fundamentals, the quality of the build, and that there are no structural issues,” says James.

When you don’t want to compromise on location

Harcourts Twentythree Group agent, Josh Lowe regularly meets buyers in his popular market of Sandringham who then decide to compromise by looking a bit further out from Onehunga to Avondale and further west.

For astute buyers who really want to end up in Sandringham, it’s a better idea to buy a humbler home you can afford in the suburb as a first step, suggests Josh. Then, when you go to upsize in five years’ time, your Sandringham property will have risen at the same rate as other larger properties in the suburb and the next step to upgrade will be possible. If you’ve moved further out for a few years and want to try again in Sandringham, it might be tougher to bridge the gap.

Josh cautions buyers to tread carefully on the type of property they choose. Some homes will appreciate in value more than others. Buying a smaller home or unit on a cross lease can be a good first purchase but buying a small townhouse isn’t such a good idea. Small two bedroom townhouses with no outdoor space are just sitting on the market at the moment, says the Harcourts agent. The larger, good quality executive townhomes are the ones doing well, he adds.

Josh is marketing a two bedroom unit which is likely to appeal to buyers because it’s larger (90 sq m), has a courtyard and is close to Morningside, St Lukes and Kingsland. This is the type of property that could suit a someone wanting their foot in the door in Sandringham.

13H Watson Avenue, Sandringham, Auckland

Go for the fringes of your most wanted location

UP Real Estate agent Paul Raynes, currently selling a pretty character home in Three Kings’ Foch Avenue, says buyers initially looking in Sandringham or Mt Eden often end up looking in the Foch Avenue location if their budget is $300,000 short. In Three Kings, your closest shops and cafes might still be in Sandringham.

People buy in Three Kings’ Foch Avenue, thinking they’ll live there for three to five years, get their foot in the door and move on. But most stay, enjoying the location, says Paul. The area has good parks, and most families get into the school they want out-of-zone, he explains.

Look for a great sister suburb

If you can’t buy in your favourite location, talk to your agent about well-trodden paths from nearby suburbs, says independent real estate consultant Lauren Davies.

People who want to buy in Birkenhead on the North Shore of Auckland but don’t have the budget, for instance, will often start in Birkdale or Beach Haven, she says. Sometimes, going for something smaller in your ideal location just doesn’t work for households.

“If you need a three bedroom home, you need a three bedroom home,” she adds. So, people might have their first and second homes in Birkdale, and buy their third home in Birkenhead. The price differential between the two more affordable suburbs and Birkenhead in the $300,000 to $500,000 realm.

This isn’t something that’s possible only on the North Shore. Every popular suburb of Auckland has a sister suburb which blends into it which is cheaper because of the schools, being further away from the motorway, or not as close to the beach, she says.

And she agrees with UP’s Paul Raynes that people often find they prefer the suburb they start in because they get settled in the community and form strong connections.

“With Beach Haven, once people have connected to the community they realise it’s a lovely place to live and they settle there, “ says Lauren.

When location, location, location doesn’t work

Of course in smaller cities like Wellington, if you pin all your hopes on one suburb, you may be waiting a long time for that perfect house in the perfect location to come up.

Tommy’s Real Estate agent, Alice O’Styke says she had clients with their hearts set on one Wellington suburb but nothing has come up, and after six months she’s taking them all over the city from Wadestown to Miramar.

You have to have an open mind when buying in the capital. Alice is selling her first home in Wadestown which could be a good compromise for someone house hunting in Thorndon. It’s still an easy walk into town and much more affordable with inquiries invited over $645,000.

In Wellington, people compromising on location will often look at Johnsonville or Paparangi suburbs which are very well serviced by public transport, adds the Tommy’s agent.

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Be brave and know you have options

In the current market, wherever you are in the country, feel reassured that with more listings for sale, you’ll be making fewer compromises than you were a year or so ago. There are some really good deals out there, you have the time to do your due diligence, to sort out your finance and what you’ll offer, and make your move. Enjoy the balmy buying conditions and be clear on what you need and what you want.

State of the Nation Report
Look at Kiwi online search behaviour and discuss emerging trends across the property market.
Read the full report


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