Housing is making us sick.
For the 120,000 Aucklanders, like me, who looked online at what their house is “officially” worth yesterday, you have again been affirmed by the state as middle class. Whether you feel like it or not, you exist in privilege.
Every neighbourhood in New Zealand’s main cities is now its own version of The Block: couples completing against each other in real life with that extra renovation, that more precise sparkle to their landscaping, to gain that extra percentage in potential equity. From that potential equity comes the ability to leverage from the banks perhaps enough to buy a second flat. From that, the rose-smelling treadmill of mortgage payments awaits you for most of your breathing life. It’s a queer definition of freedom.
And every year you gain in equity into your 60s and 70s, be assured that your partners, children and relatives are secretly waiting for you to die, so that their share of the equity is distributed to them.
With this new government forestalling any potential Capital Gains Tax or other major instrument to next term, that we might slowly down-gear our society off this core engine of the rat race, this current three-year valuation cycle is destined to rev this society ever higher for another three years.
I am no longer confident that government of whatever current combination is large or brave enough to break this cycle. We’re just too small a state now.
We have quickly lowering house ownership rates, and a housing Minister who will inevitably take some time to get the machinery up and running to build at enough volume, speed, quality and price efficiency to alter the market. Maybe if they get three terms in a row, a following wind, and the global economy never alters.
In the meantime, that three-yearly valuation we click on holds a dark whirlpool mixture of jealousy, security, aspiration, class calibration anxiety, social and physical mobility, retirement planning, rentier control, fighting over dead parents’ estates, rates escalation fear, economic lockout, argument, divorce, failure, and sheer greed.
Go on. Have a surreptitious click. It’s bourgeoise meth.