Call me strange (many do), but I think brick and tile might just be the new black. Specifically, brick and tile units from around the 1970s – the kind that are dotted throughout some of Auckland’s nicest inner city suburbs like this one we just sold in Greenlane.

While the brick beauties I’m talking about used to be almost exclusively occupied by little old ladies, these days they are being snapped up with increasing enthusiasm by a much wider variety of homeowner.

Why? Well, mainly because brick and tile units offer more affordable entry into a real estate market where prices are – frankly – tending towards astronomical. They’re also well built, relatively spacious and are often located in areas that feature great amenities (and school zones!).

For these reasons, I’m seeing more and more Aucklanders forgoing houses for units – especially when buying a first home. In a market where a classic kiwi home within 20 minutes of the CBD will generally fetch seven figures, first home buyers and young families are willing to trade size for location.

A good mate of mine, Lisa East, and her hubby Stu started out in just this fashion.

“The first place we bought together was a brick and tile unit in Remuera. We were already renting in the area and we loved it, but there was no way we could have afforded a free-standing home – a unit was a great compromise,” says Lisa.

“It had good bones but it was pretty tired – that gave us the perfect platform to get stuck in, do it up and net ourselves a nice capital gain (thanks in part to the performance of the Auckland property market!). We’ve since moved on to our ‘family’ home, but we’ve held onto the unit as it’s an awesome little rental,” she says.
Lisa says that many of her friends have started out on a similar property ownership path.

“Off the top of my head I can think of two friends whose first homes have been units. They’ve bought in great areas – suburbs where they would never have afforded a house. In both cases their plan is to modernise, live in it for a while and then use the capital gain to buy a free-standing home in a few years’ time.”

So there you have it – if you’re getting started on the property ladder, don’t assume you have to live in the boonies… If you’re willing to be flexible on what kind of property you buy you could still be within spitting distance of your favourite inner city cafe.


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