Ghost houses aren't haunted, but could prove to be the stuff of nightmares for would-be renters in Auckland's overheating housing market.
A ONE News investigation has revealed houses across our largest city are being bought and deliberately left empty by investors who refuse to rent them out, instead looking to sell them for huge profits without the hassle of finding tenants in the interim.
One Mount Albert villa has been empty for years, much to the disgust of neighbour Chris Haturini.
"I just think it's appalling that this could be a home where someone else could be benefitting from it and living in it," she told ONE News, highlighting the fact there is clear evidence of squatting at the property.
Labour's Housing spokesman Phil Twyford says there could be thousands of houses in Auckland being left empty.
"That's a shame because there are so many people in Auckland desperate to get a roof over their heads," he says.
Building and Housing Minister Nick Smith doesn't think the number of ghost houses is rising, and there is no way of knowing how many of Auckland's 22,000 unoccupied properties are being deliberately left empty.
However census figures show the percentage of unoccupied dwellings in some desirable Auckland suburbs has surged in the past 10 years, with more than one in 10 Takapuna homes empty.
That worries housing researcher Keith Rankin.
"It makes no sense whatsoever for population density to be falling in those suburbs and expecting people to live on the outer reaches of the city," he says.