Tauranga has pipped Auckland as the country's most unaffordable city, according to an international study released today.
But even though New Zealand's largest city has improved its standing among the world's major centres, there's little reason to celebrate - it's still out of reach for most Kiwis.
The Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey shows Auckland slipped from fourth to ninth on the shortlist of unaffordable housing markets of population than 1 million.
House hunters must spend 8.8 years of an average household salary to buy a median-priced house in Auckland. That puts it behind Hong Kong, Sydney, Vancouver, San Jose, Melbourne, Los Angeles, Honolulu and San Francisco, and just ahead of London among 92 major world markets.
But on an expanded list of 293 smaller markets, Tauranga noses ahead of Auckland by one spot, with a ratio of nine years' salary for a median-priced house.
Retired Christchurch-based developer Hugh Pavletich, one of the report's authors, warns the slightly better results are nothing to be proud of.
"Auckland and New Zealand housing is still very much severely unaffordable," he told NZME.
"Why has Tauranga been so slow responding to this crisis that has been staring them in the face for years?"
The report also noted that the new Labour-led Government had a strong mandate to improve housing availability in New Zealand.
"Public opinion placed the issue to the top of the policy agenda in the last three national elections," it said.
"In 2017, the Opposition Labour Party unveiled a focused housing affordability programme and was able to form a ruling coalition with two other parties.
"The resulting sixth Labour Government intends to increase housing supply throughout Auckland, including both urban fringe and infill development. Critically, the Government intends to implement affordable infrastructure financing options for new development."
The survey rated any income/median ratio more than 5.1 as "severely unaffordable". Of the 76 markets assessed in that category, New Zealand has seven - Auckland, Tauranga-Western Bay of Plenty, Hamilton-Waikato (6.5), Napier-Hastings (6.1), Wellington (5.5), Dunedin (5.4) and Christchurch (5.4).
Palmerston North-Manawatu (4.5) was the only market outside that rating, still qualifying as "seriously unaffordable".