Polity by Rob Salmond

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Polity: House-buying patterns in Auckland

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  • Idiot Savant, in reply to Katharine Moody,

    nzlemming - you need to be the Government to do either of those two things!

    What could the parties in opposition do - right now - to find the numbers?

    Put up a member's bill on it. Its worked very well for them in the past.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    The fundamental cause of rising prices in Auckland is a shortage of supply

    Don’t believe this.

    David Hood's comment above would seem to argue against it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Thus while on the face of it the Aussie rule that a foreigner may only buy a newly built house or apartment sounds like a grand idea, it could leave the housing supply situation unchanged from a no-rule regime. Thus, were we to adopt the Aussie regime we would need to add in an extra clause along the lines of apartments having to be made available for rent, actually rented, or something like that.

    As someone living in the Sydney Property Market (I thought I lived in geography, but apparently I'm a consumer living in a market. Who knew?). Anyway, the empty property problem is real, especially for apartments. We need an "empty bedroom" tax instead of stamp duty. NZ should do the same, remove any tax that discourages trading homes because it's hard enough as it is without the govt throwing sand in the machinery.

    Being somewhat in touch with the squatter scene here, I think encouraging that is a very valuable thing to do. It means that someone with an empty house has to actively manage it. Apartments somewhat less so, the strata fees do a similar thing (can be high, $200+ a week in multimillion dollar apartments). I think giving squatters tenancy protection after 6 months would be very handy here, because it ups the cost of keep your "investment" empty. Or just outright tax the snot out of them. Let/encourage councils up the rates on empties (set a cap of, say, 10x normal rates to hint at the size of the increase that's expected), and introduce a national housing tax (AFAIK councils tax the land, govt should therefore tax the house).

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1233 posts Report Reply

  • Moz,

    What scares me here is not so much "they're buying our houses!" but "they might en masse sell our houses". If/when the Chinese sharemarket corrects/crashes there will probably be a lot of people needing to liquidate those investments very quickly, and the Chinese government will probably be very keen to help them. In a staring contest between the NZ government and the Chinese one on the question of currency controls or "will we let the Chinese government buy 5% of NZ's houses this weekend", I'm not betting on the locals.

    Just as bad from my PoV would be to have those houses/apartments actually dumped on the market. Seeing the asset behind my mortgage halve in value would be somewhat tricky for me, and catastrophic for all the smug *ankers who came through the GFC so well. Watching a major Australian bank after its mortgage portfolio went significantly underwater would be scary. Watching them all do it at the same time would be terrifying.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1233 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    On this shortage of supply thing: seems like shortage of supply started a cycle of rising prices, and it may actually be still that there's not enough houses in Auckland for notionally reasonable prices. And then on top of that, a bubble, which as Rich says is basically mass belief in the greater fool theory. It's not contradictory to say Auckland doesn't have enough houses AND that there is a property bubble in Auckland.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Moz,

    I also don’t really believe it because it’s almost entirely down to what you define as an unutilized house. Is a holiday home that could sleep 10 people, but is completely empty 90% of the time, a potential residence? Yes and no. Yes, it could technically house 1-2 families. No, it won’t because the rich owner doesn’t want to. We have hundreds of thousands of these in NZ.

    There’s a big development at the end of my street. A request to development a retirement village there came to me about 10 years ago, and I agreed (I’d pretty much agree to anything, but it’s nice to be asked). It ran out of money when the GFC hit, stalled for 2 years, then got bought up buy a Chinese concern and cranked out super fast. I was astonished at how fast they built 30 houses. But what has become of them? Most are still empty, years later. Of those that aren’t, most are housing young single Asians, presumably students and such.

    So when I hear of the housing shortage being a result of undersupply I have to wonder what is truly meant by that. Undersupply doesn’t mean there’s no houses. It means the owner of the houses are unwilling to use them at the rates that the tail end of house renters can afford. So maybe more supply will fix this, but maybe not, because people just banking land for massive later profits are not really adding to the functional supply, and people with a ton of money can afford to buy up the excess supply and just use it for holidays or perhaps a spare house for their kids one day.

    ETA: Doh, that was meant to be a reply to Rich, not Moz.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to BenWilson,

    I also don’t really believe it because it’s almost entirely down to what you define as an unutilized house. Is a holiday home that could sleep 10 people, but is completely empty 90% of the time, a potential residence? Yes and no. Yes, it could technically house 1-2 families. No, it won’t because the rich owner doesn’t want to. We have hundreds of thousands of these in NZ.

    My impression, unsupported by data, is that "lock up and leave" is increasingly being touted as a virtue in Auckland property ads. But I'm damned if I know what it actually means.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Mark H,

    What we need is accurate data on foreign buyers, but we don't and we need to. I get you might be sensitive that this is asian bashing, but I don't care where or who the foreign buyers are, I just what to be able to buy a house in Auckland.

    To be blunt and I suspect this the problem with the Left in NZ, is that they tend to a bunch of overly-sensitive PC white middle-class middle-aged soft pinkos who don't have the stones to ask hard questions, and in this case, about foreign ownership and its economic affects. You're all too terrified of being labelled racist - you are being played by the National Party and the real estate industry. They are playing you. And we are all losing.

    Since Sep 2014 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • Worik Stanton,

    I have read and attempted to reread Rob's post. Let us call it what it is: Racist.

    It may well be true that "... ethnically Chinese house buyers tended to purchase flash houses....". So what?

    The offensiveness in all of this is thinking that surnames are a valid way to judge residency or that ethnicity (race) matters. IMO Phil Twyford should go. Far far away.

    Otepoti • Since Nov 2007 • 41 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to linger,

    the racist framing of the issue came from media reports rather than from the wording or interpretation used in the original analysis.

    The framing came in Twyford's own words live on television. An unsubtle meathead like Cosgrove saying it may have attracted slightly less attention, but the response on twitter was immediate without any further mediation.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    My impression, unsupported by data, is that "lock up and leave" is increasingly being touted as a virtue in Auckland property ads. But I'm damned if I know what it actually means.

    "Lock up and leave" sounds a lot classier than "no need to pour shitloads of money and time into keeping the house and grounds looking decent." Has done for years, especially if you're trying to hit that "downsizing retiree who wants to blow the retirement savings on Tiki-touring NOT the house" demographic. Sorry, it's not some secret code for predatory foreign hot money.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve, in reply to Russell Brown,

    My impression, unsupported by data, is that “lock up and leave” is increasingly being touted as a virtue in Auckland property ads. But I’m damned if I know what it actually means.

    This has been of interest to me in the last couple of years - the house directly opposite our (rental) house in a newish Henderson sub-division is one of these. It's occupied, maybe, 3 months of the year. Sometimes just by what I assume is the early-20s son of the owner, and sometimes by a more mature family.

    The rest of the time it sits empty with a couple of lights on a timer. Some neighbour mows the lawn occasionally while the Porsche sits, unloved, in the garage out of sight.

    It's weird.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 311 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    I believe the reason why many of us saw it as racist was not just the analysis relying on ‘Chinese surnames’ (which Rob has defended the validity of) but Twyford’s associated messaging about ‘hard-working Kiwis’ as if they were a different group.

    If Labour wanted to be smart about this they could have arranged for media a young NZ-Chinese couple trying to buy a first home and being thwarted by phone bids at auctions. Or many other things. They didn’t.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • HORansome, in reply to ,

    We had an election resently.

    As typos go, that's very accurate indeed.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 441 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to Mark H,

    overly-sensitive PC white middle-class middle-aged soft pinkos who don’t have the stones to ask hard questions

    As I said upthread, the hard questions are about who benefits: current house owners. Mostly older people, say 50 up, who’ve experienced decades of capital gains, want to retire on them, and vote for the policy settings that will make that possible. But point out the obvious about that and you’re a boomer-hating class warrior who hates ordinary Mum and Dad investors. Now who doesn’t have the stones?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    Bubble explanations of future gain only really apply in closed model - if you have other drivers like Tony Alexander's one of money hiding- people may be prepared to lose money as "insurance"

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody, in reply to Idiot Savant,

    Put up a member’s bill on it. Its worked very well for them in the past.

    Aside from the marriage equality bill, I can't think of another Member's Bill that was passed into law recently. Can you?

    That process requires the Bill to be successful in the ballot and even then, referral to a SC has to secure a majority in Parliament to progress it. My perspective is that the issue is so pressing that I don't think we have the time - action is needed now to curb foreign speculation in our residential housing market. National must be pressured by public opinion to do the right thing.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 798 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to Mark H,

    overly-sensitive PC white middle-class middle-aged soft pinkos

    And now that I think about it: where do Keith and Tze Ming fit into that analysis?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Mark H, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    Sorry Stephen I'm not sure which of your posts you're referring too, but I agree absolutely about the Boomer generation benefiting most from the speculative bubble. I just find the situation incredibly frustrating regarding the housing market. To underscore the point and belying by own liberal sensibilities I care little of the ethnicity of foreign buyers, but I do care that National is doing nothing to regarding demand in the market or even accurately track the economic forces within the housing market. Frankly really frustrating that the left can't actually attack National on this without it becoming about race.

    Since Sep 2014 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant, in reply to Katharine Moody,

    Aside from the marriage equality bill, I can't think of another Member's Bill that was passed into law recently. Can you?

    It doesn't need to be passed. It doesn't even need to be drawn (but that helps, a lot). The mere presence of a bill in the ballot, the provision of an alternative solution, crystallizes policy alternatives and strengthens pressure to act.

    Labour and the Greens have changed government housing policy this way (I'd say they'd changed zero-hours contracts as well, but it looks like National is trying to pull a fast one there). Oppositions aren't helpless. Anyone who says they are is trying to sell you something.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Matt Crawford,

    Further supporting the hypothesis of offshore money becoming a greater actor in NZ housing is the lack of reaction exhibited by the realestate market to changes in the NZ offical cash rate.

    It was clear during the middle of last decade that ever higher interest rates did little to slow the gain in house prices. From 5% in 2004 the cash rate was cranked to a high of 8.25% in 2007/8, yet housing continued to inflate miles above the level of the rest of the economy.

    Overseas buyers do not borrow from NZ banks, and do not heed NZ rate rises. This, in an of itself, is a problem. Inflation is inflation, and the Reserve Bank is obliged to ratchet the cash rate higher, with corresponding negative effects on business and exports.

    We know that the NZ realestate market is unique in that gains are entirely tax free, and the market is uniquely open to foreign speculation. We know that there are large pools of foreign capital seeking investment. The question isn't are offshore investors buying NZ realestate, but how large a chunk of the market they are.

    I do regret that Twyford was inelegant on his appearance on The Nation. This is a subject that needs more than a little elegance, what with NZ's sordid history of fear and loathing.

    But to pretend that Twyford has invented a racist dog whistle ignores the evidence. Whether speculators from China are buying 40% of available stock is another question, but I absolutely guarantee they're buying some of it. Because our market encourages it by design.

    And in the context of a supply crisis is this good for NZ exporters? For people desperate to get off the rental treadmill? For stretched homeowners struggling with high borrowing costs?

    Wellington • Since Dec 2006 • 58 posts Report Reply

  • Mark H, in reply to ,

    saficticated

    I don't think that's unreasonable assumption to be able to buy a house in Auckland without taking stupid levels of debt especially when the government intervene on the demand side of the market.

    Since Sep 2014 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to Mark H,

    Frankly really frustrating that the left can’t actually attack National on this without it becoming about race.

    Sure, it's frustrating. I find I can live with it rather than just bursting into the Herald, myself.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • AdrienneK,

    Amid all the kerfuffle, this study came up in my timeline about global land acquisition - and it seems like actual science - can someone a bit more scientifiky have a look and interpret the date cos it looks very relevant to this current debate.
    http://www.kimnicholas.com/land-acquisitions.html

    BTW China, the UK and US dominate global "land grabbing"

    Auckland • Since Jul 2015 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Mark H, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    Well the quoted text is more frustration than anything else, frustration with the market, frustration that National is doing nothing with the demand side of the market, frustration with the fact the left can't even attack National about this without being called racist.

    Since Sep 2014 • 10 posts Report Reply

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