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Heating Up: House values are rising faster outside Auckland - should I jump in?

While Auckland house values have risen 13.8% in the last year, places like Wellington, Queenstown and Hamilton are outstripping them, some even double that rate. For the first time, the median house price outside Auckland has reached $400,000. It's no surprise the halo effect from Auckland is growing to places like Waikato, Northland and Tauranga, however even places further afield, such as Hawkes Bay and Dunedin, are picking up speed.

What does this mean for those looking to buy? If it's a seachange you're after, and you want to move from the big smoke to one of the regions, then buyers will find relief relocating to where median house prices are still half that of Auckland.

But for first home buyers, or those looking to create or add to a property investment portfolio who feel they've been priced out of the centre, is it a good idea to buy instead in one of the growing regions?

While you'd need a crystal ball to predict what might happen with the property market over the next few years, you can always rely on some prudent advice.

Home Is Where The Heart Is
If it's a longterm home you're after, and your financial ducks are all in a row, it's always a good time to buy, no matter where you live. Love the sunny Bay of Plenty but worried the value of your home will go down in a crash? As long as you can meet your repayment obligations, property in New Zealand has historically increased in value over the long term. But your biggest investment is in the life you want to lead – if it's the right house in the right location for you, go for it.

Understand Your Investment
Like all ventures, it's a good idea to understand what you're investing in. You might have grown up in Arrowtown and know the area well, or perhaps you like to holiday in Tauranga, but this doesn't necessarily mean it will make a good area to invest in. It is important to understand the fundamentals of what makes a good investment - e.g. are companies investing in the area and attracting workers? Is there infrastructure to support growth in the region?. Knowing the local conditions of where you are investing and making sure the numbers add up will help you choose the right spot and the right kind of property.

While you may not be able to consistently rely on making a profit in the short term, as no one can predict where the market will go, remember that over the long term your property can increase in value if you have taken a good hard look at the numbers and at the local factors.

As with all house buying, make sure your expenses aren't beyond what you can afford to service. And, as always, seek plenty of expert advice.