Hauraki Herald

First-home buyer Gemma Ellis

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Gemma Ellis, an accounting student, and her partner, Shavhan Harris, a builder, are looking to buy a home costing up to $400,000 in Invercargi­ll this year.

With house prices dropping, is it a good time to buy?

‘‘What I’ve learned from accounting is the main concern is a significan­t change in the local environmen­t.

‘‘For Invercargi­ll, this change would be [the aluminium smelter at] Tiwai Point closing, as peoplewoul­d lose their jobs and move to places with other work, potentiall­y flooding the housing market and dropping prices. So, for us, the local marketmatt­ers more than the nationalma­rket.

‘‘We also decided to buy now as a new mall is being built which is due to finish and open by the end of next year.

‘‘Thiswill mean an increase in jobs and more people moving to fill those positions, so prices will rise. Wewanted to get in before this.

‘‘So in short, yes, it’s still a good time for us because of these local changes, especially since the bank we’re goingwith has fixed rates.’’

Would you advise other first-home buyers to wait to see if prices drop further to try to get a bargain?

‘‘No, I would tell them to look at their local economy and if there are any large changes looming that would affect the need or want for housing.

‘‘I’d also pay attention to legislatio­n changes, like limits on rental properties and capital gains tax. Basically, learn some economics and understand the changes.

‘‘If you get [mortgage] preapprova­l andwant to wait, then you’re in a better position to jump when it happens.’’

Do you wish you had bought 18 months ago?

‘‘We weren’t together then, so we didn’t have an opportunit­y to buy as it’s near impossible to do it alone. We have a good understand­ing and trust of each other, but we’re still going to do a prenup [prenuptial or contractin­g-out agreement] because we both know that sometimes it hits the fan.’’

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