David Shearer on Q+A just set out new Labour policy on housing. I haven’t found a write-up yet, but from what I can gather:
• there will be restrictions on non New Zealanders buying houses in NZ
• Australians will be exempt (because of reciprocal arrangements there)
Most countries, including large Asian countries, have such restrictions in place themselves, Shearer was careful to emphasise that Labour would simply put in place policy in NZ that reciprocates.
This policy won’t cure our housing woes, but combined with KiwiBuild to increase supply, and capital gains tax to dampen speculation – it will go a long way to help.
On the panel discussion afterwards Bryce Edwards (in pillock mode) did his best to portray this as a racist policy – Shearer’s “Orewa moment” – I was glad to see Matt McCarten rubbish this nonsense, as it deserved. There was discussion of leadership issues of course, but the consensus was that at the very least this policy would buy Shearer more time, and all panelists gave Shearer good marks on his presentation and argument in this interview.
Update: There’s a press release up on Labour’s web site now, which I will reproduce in full:
Labour to restrict non-resident purchases of homes
David Shearer | Sunday, July 28, 2013 – 09:23
Labour will restrict the ability of non-residents to purchase New Zealand houses, as part of its comprehensive package of policies to help New Zealanders get into their first home.
“I will restore the Kiwi dream of home ownership that has slipped out of reach for tens of thousands of Kiwis. I don’t want to see our kids become a generation of renters,” says Labour Leader David Shearer.
“House prices in Auckland have risen by 28 per cent since June 2009. The problem is clear – there are just not enough affordable homes. And overseas speculators are adding to the problem.
“That’s why the next Labour government will introduce restrictions so that non-residents will not be allowed to buy any existing house, flat or apartment.
“Many other countries, including Australia, China, Singapore, the UK and Switzerland target overseas speculation in housing. New Zealand’s lack of regulation leaves the door wide open for international speculators.
“IRD records show that more than 11,000 overseas investors own properties here that they don’t live in. An estimated 2,600 homes were bought last year by offshore property speculators that had no intention of living here. That’s a big chunk, given that just 4,700 new homes were built in Auckland last year.
“This policy will reduce demand and help take some of the heat out of the market. It will put Kiwi buyers at the front of the queue.
“By itself this is not a silver bullet for housing affordability – but it is part of the solution.
“It sits alongside Labour’s KiwiBuild policy to build 100,000 affordable homes over 10 years for first time buyers, and our plan to tax property speculation. Together these policies will increase the supply of entry-level housing and reduce speculation-driven demand.
“Labour’s comprehensive housing affordability plan will mean first home buyers get a fair crack at getting into the housing market,” says David Shearer.