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Auckland housing market bubbling

Written By: - Date published: 2:40 pm, November 15th, 2012 - 33 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, housing - Tags:

Well that was interesting rise in price. A few weeks ago there was a notice in our mail box about the next door apartment going up for auction.

Lyn has been looking at getting her toehold into the Auckland property market over the last year. As a first home buyer she could use kiwisaver and get the first home buyer incentives. Otherwise her income was sufficient to pay the mortgage on a smallish semi-detached or apartment like mine. Easy if I tagged along with her into her first home as a tenant (and rented out my apartment)  – but then then it’d have to be big enough for two.

But either the value of the properties were too high and she couldn’t make the deposit and/or the properties are too far out and she went into that trade off between mortgage payments and petrol prices  and travel times. Effectively what this translates to in Auckland is that if you want to have a property to raise kids in, then you have to spend so much time in the car that you will seldom see them. And you’ll pay a bomb in ever rising petrol costs.

But the banks have dropped the effective required deposits down to 10% a month or so ago (while we were moving back into my apartment damnit). This naturally started the Auckland property market heating up. And an apartment next door to that of your current partner give some advantages if we don’t break up.

Next door last sold at $212k less than a year ago and no other apartments have sold for higher for over 2 years – mostly they have sold for less. It just sold for $245k this afternoon. A tidy profit to what is almost certainly a speculator.

Of course it means that my property is worth more, but that is of no use if I sell to buy inside Auckland.

You can see why the country needs a housing policy beyond National’s subsidies  to property developers like big and expensive roading contracts so they can make more development land  available – 50 or more kms from where the available jobs actually are. That is a policy designed to appeal to the very simpleminded – like David Farrar.

So it seems odd  that when we are getting rocketing unemployment, we’re now getting a speculative boom in housing prices for anywhere useful, a government fanatically trying to subsidize uneconomic subdivisions a long way from jobs, … This all sounds familar. Next up will be a relaxation in building standards and regulation “cutting red tape” in Farrar palance, ultimately leading to the council paying $6 million on a $10 million dollar apartment building for the damage caused by their lax inspections.

I think I have strayed back to the last time Bill English was making financial decisions for the country.

33 comments on “Auckland housing market bubbling”

  1. King Kong 1

    What are you complaining about, $245k would barely buy you a one bed in Mogadishu. What is unaffordable about that?

    • lprent 1.1

      A different currency and a permanent war zone perhaps?

      But seriously this is more than $4800 per square metre of the living area and more than $3200 per square metre when I add the courtyard and carparks in.

      • Herodotus 1.1.1

        Instead of owing your soul to the “Company Store” we have just transferred this to the our soul being posessed by the Bank.

        Sure a few may have an improved livestyle/wealth but we (NZ inc.) just own a little less of NZ whilst the bank takes a greater share.
        How can any political party/govt address the issue – without losing the support of property owners ?? catch 22
        Build satellite settlements on the train line-duplicate Wellington.

        • lprent 1.1.1.1

          You’d still have to go out 50kms and restrict yourself to the West past Massey or the South. And unlike Wellington all the work isn’t either in the downtown or in the Hutt Valley so we’d need a lot more railways.

          Right now it’d be nice if we could just get a central city loop in so we could effectively use that as a hub to move traffic between the existing lines in different directions.

          • Jimmie 1.1.1.1.1

            Simple – move out of Auckland.

            Instead of being an Auckland pauper become a Hamilton prince.

            Move to a provincial city where house prices are 50% less than Auckland, travelling costs are much less, rates and water charges are nothing in comparison, and if you have kids they can grow up to some fresh hair.

            I’ve never been able to understand folks who are tied to Auckland – nothing but a rat race where you almost need a 6 figure income just to get by.

            • Tracey 1.1.1.1.1.1

              Little thing called a job. I enjoy my job and can’t do it from Hamilton. Would if there was a great train service from there to here…

              Schools and transport will also make many stop and think about buying 50kms from the city.

              Why not loosen up zoning and make accommodations (as has just been made for a corporate brothel) so that, say, plots that line Dominion Road, Sandringham Road, and other arterial routes to allow, say, 4 storey apartment style blocks. All would be on main bus routes so transport is easier. Even if people can’t afford to buy they can rent (more homes for rent, less rent increases etc).

              New North Road etc etc…

    • felix 1.2

      My mum told me to clean my room last night.

      “FFS woman,” I yelled, “This is already cleaner than a rubbish pile in a Brazillian slum!”

  2. pete 2

    245K? Cheap as chips!

    • lprent 2.1

      Yes, 51 square metre single bedroom apartments with two carparks and recently fixed from moronic builders and council screwups.

      Their price was depressed. I’m rather expecting them to be auctioning closer to $300k in the next few months as the current rental stock apartments around central auckland gets sucked up by owner occupiers

      • andy (the other one) 2.1.1

        If you are buying an apartment, beware of re clad buildings. A lot of them will leak again in another 10 Years.

        Also don’t buy on lease hold land, ground rents are going stupid especially the Maori Land down around Beach Road across to the strand and Body Corp fees are going up after the changes to Unit Titles Act last year, specifically for 10 year maintenance sinking funds.

        IF you buy into a Body corp property read the minutes very carefully and always be involved as an owners representative on committees. The devil is in the details.

        • lprent 2.1.1.1

          Yep to all of these. For the first one, get a engineer to look at it.

          We had leaky balconies (weather proofing was inadequate and allowed the wood to get soaked)! and some leaky bathrooms rather than one of the eaves style problems.

        • Jackal 2.1.1.2

          Yeah! Those increases in rates for lease hold land are pretty nuts all across the country, and the result is some people having to sell their houses because they can no longer afford to rent the land their houses are on. This is especially bad for the elderly who are on fixed incomes.

          National might harp on about this being councils fault, but the increases are because rates are in most cases set by the value of the property and the land it’s on. As values increase, so do rates, and it’s pricing lots of people out of their communities. Personally I blame those damn property speculators again.

          As usual National isn’t doing anything about the main problem.

          • xtasy 2.1.1.2.1

            That is why a regulatory regime must be put into place, to stop exorbitant lease rates and general land and property values exploding. This is what is in place in many cities all over the world, but to my knowledge it was done away with, or never existed, in New Zealand.

            Increases should be limited and capped for certain time periods at least.

            • Tracey 2.1.1.2.1.1

              Despite the Council placing a notice on my LIM and paying for lawyers to be in a legal action against me for over 2 years, they still rated my home as a non leaky home. Had to fight them on that.

        • Tracey 2.1.1.3

          If you want to know if your current building or one you want to buy is a possible leaker… then spend money on having permanent probes installed. They are a useful device and can assist with maintenance. You get them read in every season and if a potential problem arises you catch it early… maybe just needs re-sealing, or a change to a flashing… all of which cost under $500.

          As for me, I ahve a leaky home. I have had it injected with Boron… so the timber treatment level is now well above minimum standard. Will be removing all cladding replacing with wooden weatherboards etc etc, eaves and so on… and keeping these permanent probes to keep an ongoing record of the performance of the home. Too many think a house is leakproof and pay little attention to maintenance…

  3. Tom Gould 3

    On Planet Key, if you cut wages you get more jobs. So if you cut house prices you get more houses, right? Only they would be in Tuakau.

  4. xtasy 4

    One has to wonder, where all that money comes from to drive up prices to present levels in Auckland. Surely, it cannot just be the “easy” loan money from banks, which may be happy to lend with only a 10 per cent deposit being made by intending buyers of residential property. Banks have become more careful, and they will only lend if the lender has good enough credentials, a good credit rating and secure income.

    With the unstable job market as it is now, the insecurity for many to rely on job security, many even struggling to get a 10 per cent deposit together, there are surely other factors involved.

    I bet that a substantial driver of the prices are:
    a) existing, cash fluid buyers and investors, who have already a nice portfolio, they can use to borrow more on, to extend their portfolios (the wealthier and rich usually experience opportunities with exponential growth prospects, i.e. the rich get richer faster);
    b) a small proportion of middle and upper middle class buyers, who have secure jobs and incomes, being professionals like teachers, doctors, nursers, technical, legal and other experts and so forth, some having secure employment with state agencies, departments, SOEs and also well established, mostly larger and stable private enterprises;
    c) expats returning home from years of well paid work overseas, with some good amounts of savings, wanting to buy first home, sometimes more;
    d) new migrants, who often also have a bit or more of cash to bring into the country, and once employed for longer, will desire to buy and invest in a home;
    e) wealthy overseas investors, some buying apartments and other accommodation on the local market, to let to their off-spring, staff or others, while they study here as overseas students, work perhaps on contracts for set periods in well paid jobs and so forth; in “down times” they may sell again to ideally make a nice gain also.

    This combined with a lack of construction for residential real estate, due for a number of reasons, creates a shortage of housing for even the cashed up prospective buyer, driving up prices AND rents.

    There are no or little controls on how high land values can go, and there is NO CGT. Hence, especially in inner city and rim areas, property prices can be driven sky high, also discouraging construction for ordinary residential purposes. Some owners sit on empty lots for years or decades, just waiting for a great cash up sale, giving them enormous gains tax free, at the expense of the community. In other countries and cities they often have control systems in places for property and real estate price growth, but not really here in NZ.

    Going green-field is not going to solve much, and will only create a Los Angeles style urban environment, which is hardly recommendable. There must be controls brought in to contain speculation with land and built up property, to ensure that development and construction does not explode to the benefit only of a few. A CGT is an essential tool to achieve this, but even more may be necessary.

    Surely, the government must start a large housing development plan, of a better type as past Housing NZ schemes. Some introduction of regulations to contain land price speculation is worth considering. Also a look is needed at building material costs. Why does NZ export raw logs to China for value added processing, and locally timber and other materials are too expensive to use for construction?

    Just to reflect on what was done in the past, have a look at the third Labour government. Yes, it would not be fitting for todays purposes, but then again, how far has NZ gone away from what used to be “normal”, “acceptable” and “sensible” decades ago. What has been achieved with laissez faire, privatisation, hands-off free-enterprise and selling out of services and state assets? Only a few have benefitted, while most struggle and are dropping down the ladder.

    Some links to study:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_Labour_Government_of_New_Zealand

    http://ohagans.net.nz/Our_Services/Property_Investors/Property_Speculation.html

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      One has to wonder, where all that money comes from to drive up prices to present levels in Auckland. Surely, it cannot just be the “easy” loan money from banks, which may be happy to lend with only a 10 per cent deposit being made by intending buyers of residential property. Banks have become more careful, and they will only lend if the lender has good enough credentials, a good credit rating and secure income.

      The money was created by bank debt between 2000 and 2008 and is now sloshing around the system. Things like tax cuts to the rich have increased the ability of well off people to service bigger mortgages now as well; these credit worthy people have no problem getting a mortgage for $400K to $600K in Aukcland.

    • karol 4.2

      xtasy, I agree with the most of your drivers, but question this one:

      b) a small proportion of middle and upper middle class buyers, who have secure jobs and incomes, being professionals like teachers, doctors, nursers, technical, legal and other experts and so forth, some having secure employment with state agencies, departments, SOEs and also well established, mostly larger and stable private enterprises; 

      Particularly, do you have any evidence that teachers, nurses and many of the low-to-middle of the middle-classes have enough funds for buying into the Auckland housing market at the moment?  Stories I’ve been hearing includes a (woman) teacher having difficulty finding a house to buy as far out as Massey in west Auckland. And she wouldn’t even consider looking further in to the centre of the city.

      • Colonial Viper 4.2.1

        If you’re in AKL on $50K pa with $50K saved for a deposit you have shit show of buying anything bigger than a shoebox in a very average area.

      • lprent 4.2.2

        Lyn earns pretty good money, above what most teachers would get. But that is only something that has happened a few years ago. After the student loans dropped down, and after she finally put together a deposit. But she is only looking for a small apartment.

        Apartment prices for anything larger are horrendous in towards the city. If you want to something with grass in Grey Lynn then start getting a neck brace so you can look upwards easily.

      • xtasy 4.2.3

        KAROL: If a person on an individual’s single income looks at buying on her or his own, it is near impossible, even with a good salary or wage. But if it is a couple, then it is manageable, if both have secure incomes as “professionals” (over 40 or 50 k p.a. each). The central city of Auckland, and I presume also Wellington and Christchurch are not affordable for the bulk of society. That is, unless they settle for a shoebox apartment.

        I have a friend who spent his inherited money on such a shoe box studio apartment, in one of the suburbs though. It turned out to be a leaky complex, so after years of stress and legal battles, they are now fixing problems as they go. Although they will get some compensation from the council, he and others are likely to end up with a fair few thousands of costs that they need to carry themselves. Also the repairs may bring out more bad news surprises, as they go uncovering outer walls and so forth.

        The leaky home crisis is immense and immensely costly. Billions sent down the drain, and that adds to finance company collapses, bad debts of banks and financial ruin of thousands of “investors” and home owners for various other reasons. Pity one can’t sue National for changing some laws in the 1990s. But they would know how to dodge responsibility. When it comes to liability they are all suddenly poor and have nothing to show.

        I realise and accept, that the present market activity in real estate is only generated by a certain, small fraction of society. Affordability indexes tell me that about half of NZers cannot and will not be able to afford their own homes in future.

        That will likely get worse.

        In any case, a state funded and initiated housing construction plan is inevitable, as otherwise we will have endless over-crowding, huge numbers of younger and poorer people forced to rent forever and fill landlord’s pockets. Collective housing projects are quite popular and common in some European countries. They still need to save and borrow also, but lumping together gives better terms for finance, building materials, workers involved, and so forth.

        • Tracey 4.2.3.1

          People are underestimating the number of houses effectively removed fromt he Auckland housing stock due to being leaky. Experts I talk to place it at over 100,000 properties. People can’t sell or it’s not worth selling, and people won’t buy, so youtake that many houses out of a city’s stock and tell me what happens to the prices of available homes?

          In my street two bungalows went on the market 2 weeks ago and are sold already, same in an adjacent street. Dont know what they went for but they went quickly.

  5. xtasy 5

    Further to my comment above, this really exposes the problems totally:

    http://www.rs.realestate.com.au/review/feb06/article2.html

  6. Raymond A Francis 6

    Lprent, serious question, what do you think could be done to help young people (any people actually) get a house?
    I would like to see the Government and Local Government get into building houses as was done by the first Labour Government of the 30s
    But I can’t see that helps people who want or more to the point have to live in central Auckland
    Maybe we should decentralise Auckland so the jobs are not all in Auckland

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      Maybe we should decentralise Auckland so the jobs are not all in Auckland

      Yep…madness to have 30% of our population living on 0.3% of our land.

    • lprent 6.2

      Ok several parts to that.

      I’d love to find a job out of Auckland. Even natives like myself only live here because that is where the work is. But in both my field and Lyn’s the jobs simply aren’t available outside of Auckland in NZ. The reason why is that you need the ecosystem that supports particular types of industries. I’ll just point to what I see.

      The companies I work for need fast and close access to prototype PCB makers, people who can engineer and build prototype cases, graphic artist firms experienced with software requirements (an artistry in itself), people who have already been through offshore certification processes, warehouses full of the components that are missing on the BOM, sales people with touchscreen panels to test, programmers like myself who are crazily versatile, etc etc.. And that is merely the start. After that the requirements keep expanding. International airports where planes land all of the time are hellishly important for getting the materials in from all over the world.

      Same with Lyn, but hers are for the sound engineers, grading systems, and stuff that I barely understand.

      The strange thing about it is that for the majority of my job I mostly need a computer, a good link, and access to somewhere that stuff from pbTech can deliver to. But I’m also building on top of the electronics from the engineers. At least once every two weeks I wind up with an updated development target – usually after a few hours of component changes or soldering, or repeated cursing.

      Sure ecosystems can start anywhere – like the graphics cluster in Wellington and the other electronics/programming cluster in Christchurch. But for sheer synergies between the ecosytems of various industries bigger is better. In Auckland you have the robotics people setting up here to feed off the electronics and programming

      These employ people, highly skilled and well paid people who primarily sell stuff offshore – effectively generating wealth. They become the clients for a whole range of other companies and organisations.

      It is the same with everything in the tech areas from biotech to those maniacs with robot forklifts.

      In central Auckland people don’t particularly need villas. What they need are apartments, lots of apartments with between 1 and 3 bedrooms. Not the damn shoeboxes with 8ft ceilings, lifts, no carpark, a lot of floors, and in central Auckland.

      They need ones with two or three stories, high studs, no lifts or swimming pools, and in the inner suburbs around the four main Auckland urban centres close to bus or train routes (when they get the bloody ring done so we can use our current lines).

      Above all that should be frigging solid and well built rather than the crap that National allowed to thrown up in the 90’s so you don’t spend time paying lawyers and housing engineers as well as your student loans.

      But the point is that people who will live in those are the increasing numbers of dinkies and one kid families of various ages who are currently buying up the villas and then rattling in them. That is the best way to suck up housing needs because it reduces the demand on the other types of in-demand housing. And they are relatively cheap per sq metre.

      The MacMansions on the outskirts of the city are pretty useless for the bulk of Auckland’s population because they can’t afford the commutes of several hours.

      BTW: The reason why people like me want to live in Central Auckland is simple logistics. It isn’t because we often work in the central city. It is because we often don’t. All of the transport systems are designed to come into the central hub. I have worked in the CBD, New Lynn, Manakau City, Albany, Ellerslie, Takapuna, Birkenhead, and a number of others. If you plot them you will find they cover much of the city. Living in the central city makes it easier to to get out to those places without moving every few years.

      • xtasy 6.2.1

        Sooo many of the apartments in central Auckland were designed and built to cater for only short, temporary tenancies. Many were – and still are – intended for, and used for, accommodating students, from other parts of NZ and very many from overseas. You will know that a large number of overseas students are from East and South Asian countries, where they are used to small homes/apartments. That was part of the thinking behind building endless blocks of largely shoe box sized apartments.

        Also were they designed for mostly young persons in general, not just students, but also very mobile central city workers, who were thought to work largely on contract basis for limited periods. These apartments were not designed for life time occupation by the same individuals. A turnover scenario was the thoughts behind it, also offering temporary, first accommodation for new, professional migrants.

        But times have changed, and now also many Kiwis consider living in or very near the central cities, not just for a few years and while “in transit”, but for more or less permanent, at least a longer period.

        With the crap quality of some blocks, they are not going to last that long. So look forward to the first ones being demolished again in ten or so years, to make room for something more appropriate. That is what I would hope, at least.

        • Tracey 6.2.1.1

          We’re into our second-ish generation of people brought up on US, not UK, television. Apartment living is what they ahve seen forever on tv shows…. that’s what they hanker for.

      • felix 6.2.2

        The reason for some of the swimming pools is fire safety. Once a building gets to a certain size, the amount of water required to be stored on site for emergencies is so large that you need a swimming pool sized reservoir to hold it, so you may as well make it a swimming pool.

  7. Tracey 7

    Many apartment blocks were built for student accomodation. Many occupied by international syudents whose families live overseas and bought them an apartment.

    I work in Auckland because it’s where my work is (in leaky buildings). One of the firms I contract for is a law firm and so needs to be near the courts and tribunal. Central is where they are.

    I concur entirely withl prent’s assessment below

    “In central Auckland people don’t particularly need villas. What they need are apartments, lots of apartments with between 1 and 3 bedrooms. Not the damn shoeboxes with 8ft ceilings, lifts, no carpark, a lot of floors, and in central Auckland.

    They need ones with two or three stories, high studs, no lifts or swimming pools, and in the inner suburbs around the four main Auckland urban centres close to bus or train routes (when they get the bloody ring done so we can use our current lines).

    Above all that should be frigging solid and well built rather than the crap that National allowed to thrown up in the 90′s so you don’t spend time paying lawyers and housing engineers as well as your student loans.”

    I too am a rare breed, a born and bred Aucklander, and I would move in a heartbeat. BUT I own a leaky home which is currently unsaleable at a rational price. So we have been “stuck” here for 3 years and counting… We bought a piece of land near Havlock (SI) but now will sell to recoup our legal and expert expenses….

    I could live anywhere in NZ, I love this country so much as a place to live, but am stranded for now.

    • xtasy 7.1

      Wow, you have money to buy land! You must have a reasonably good job or business and income. Lucky you!

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