ANZ says first home buyers are becoming more active, but fewer home owners moving up the property ladder in Auckland

First home buyers are making up an increasing share of the housing market, according to the country’s largest home loan lender, ANZ Bank.

ANZ’s managing director of retail and business banking, Antonia Watson, said first home buyers accounted for 22% of of all house sales in the fourth quarter of last year, up from 17% three years ago.

And they were particularly active in Christchurch, accounting for almost 26% of residential property sales in the city last year, up from 23% a year earlier, she said.

Unsurprisingly first home buyers in Auckland were targeting suburbs on the city’s outer edges, where lower-priced homes were available.

In some of these cheaper suburbs, first home buyers accounted for nearly 50% of sales, she said.

However, balancing that, ANZ had seen a decline in the number of people in Auckland who already owned a home moving to a new one.

That had dropped back from 25% to 22% of the total market.

“This is the lowest level since 2009 and could reflect that more Auckland home owners are staying put in more uncertain times,” Watson said.

However first home buyers were not so active in provincial centres such as Tauranga, Hamilton and Dunedin, where investors played a major role.

However Watson warned that while historically low interest rates were helping people into their own homes, borrowers should be prepared for possible rate increases.

“We’re encouraging customers to also factor in the possibility that rates could increase in the future and ensure they are able to manage mortgage repayments if that happens,” she said.