Hickey on Housing data

Written By: - Date published: 7:16 am, May 11th, 2016 - 25 comments
Categories: housing - Tags: , , ,

Preliminary housing data purchase data was released yesterday (keen to try and bump the tax haven revelations from the headlines?). Unfortunately it is too preliminary and confused to be useful. Here’s Bernard Hickey’s take on RNZ:

Foreign buyers ‘very under reported’

The figures released by Land Information (LINZ) today showed 3 percent of houses bought in the first quarter of this year were purchased by people living overseas.

Speaking on Checkpoint with John Campbell today, financial journalist Bernard Hickey said it looked like the number was an underestimate. He said the 3 percent number was “a very sketchy beginning”.

Mr Hickey said the actual figure for foreigners buying homes here could be anywhere between 3 and 48 percent. “Thirty-five percent of the buyers of homes said they were foreign students or had temporary work visas,” he said.

“Who are the people who say they are New Zealand residents who are foreign students or had temporary work visas? “By any usual measure they wouldn’t be counted as New Zealand residents. Currently that number is 35 percent, which is pretty chunky.”

Mr Hickey said adding the 10 percent currently exempt to the 35 percent who said they were foreign students or on temporary work visas, plus the 3 percent would mean 48 percent of land sales were to foreign buyers – a figure “way out of the ballpark”.

Land Information has said it will redesign the survey, and this, along with the coverage of all transactions, meant proper data would not be available until the end of this year or early next year. …

And some other reaction – Duncan Garner seems particularly agitated…

25 comments on “Hickey on Housing data”

  1. DH 1

    “Thirty-five percent of the buyers of homes said they were foreign students or had temporary work visas”

    That can’t be right, surely. What bank would give them a mortgage?

    • Pat 1.1

      who said they needed one?

      • DH 1.1.1

        My point really Pat.

        What student or temporary worker has the cash to buy a house? They must have borrowed the money from somewhere. or they’re not the real buyer.

        • Pat 1.1.1.1

          i see…of course they may have a guarantor…however given the dogs breakfast the resulting data is one almost has to wonder if the poor questionnaire wasn’t by design.

          • DH 1.1.1.1.1

            They do look to be trying to play it down, it’s so patently unbelievable I guess they’ve got to make up some excuses. I looked up the report, here’s the question in question…

            Q2.2 “If you are a buyer and you or a member of your immediate family hold a work or student visa, do you or a member of your immediate family intend living on the land?” Yes/No/Not Applicable

            A little bit vague but you’d be hard pressed to answer yes unless you were holding a work or student visa. They noted below the results….

            * If you add the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses to Q2.2, you will get a total of 34 percent of respondents who were not classifying themselves as NZ residents. It appears this category was inflated by NZ residents who didn’t realise the question did not apply to them.

            (22% answered yes and 12% no.)

            Just another whitewash by the look of it.

    • Salsy 1.2

      Student Visa – high end investors:
      “Whillans said he sold a block of land for $25m to a Chinese student studying at Auckland university whose family hoped to move here” ..They are killing two birds with one stone because the kids are getting a good education and they are establishing a financial beachhead here.” he said.

      http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/9674773/Chinese-lead-investment

      • Chooky 1.2.1

        @ Salsy …and young New Zealanders are being denied a tertiary education because they are overburdened with student loans….or if they are invited to do post graduate honours are not even offered a loan…hence they are denied a tertiary education at the highest levels….we are betraying our best and brightest….not only of education but of the chance to own their own homes and land

    • John shears 1.3

      I have personal knowledge of one house in particular that was bought by a Chinese
      family so that their son could attend NZ Secondary school and then varsity.

      The father stayed in China visiting from time to time , the mother eventually spent most of her time in China . The house was eventually sold to another Chinese family
      with two children. Not sure if they still live there as we have shifted. The house in question was our neighbour in an enclave of 9 houses.

      The Father was a lawyer they had no need to arrange an overdraft.

  2. Tracey 2

    Bill English smugly repeated 3% yesterday. Those who think he has ethics (and some here in the past have suggested he has) are wrong. Again. Either he knows the info is BS or is too stupid to know how to read the data and report. Neither is a good look for a MOF.

    Did I read recently the cache of investment properties owned by MPs has risen again?

    • Chooky 2.1

      +100 Tracey…this jonkey nact government is playing for time with FALSE statistics

    • Expat 2.2

      Tracey

      Spot on, English has no credibility, he’s reliant on foreign investment into the housing market to offset the continuing trade deficit, just a shame he treats everyone as though their as stupid and incompetent as he is.

    • McFlock 2.3

      A more accurate phrasing would be “at the very, very, absolute least, 3% of houses…”

  3. Chooky 3

    This from an honest Chinese property developer expert last year ( the situation will be worse this year)…on Chinese buying up of properties outside China …(in Australia and Canada, but it also applies to New Zealand).

    By the time New Zealanders wake up to the perfidy and treachery of jonkey nact our country and its properties will have been sold off. A whole generation of young New Zealanders will have been betrayed of their birthright to own their own home and land:

    http://www.smh.com.au/business/comment-and-analysis/wall-of-chinese-capital-buying-up-australian-properties-20150628-ghztdf.html

    ….”Most Chinese purchases hide behind trustees and proxies. Third parties such as friends and relatives were often used.

    “Chinese students are being paid 2 per cent of the purchase price of the property to purchase property on behalf of relatives,” says Tee.

    Another person au fait with Chinese property transactions in Australia told Fairfax Media it was simple for Chinese investors to get around the foreign capital restrictions.

    “The money never really moves. In a simple example, Kunlun is a forex trading and money exchange company. It has bank accounts in many countries with significant cash balances. So if someone wants $40 million in Australia they put the money in a Kunlun China account and Kunlun transfers the money from their Australian accounts to the person’s friend’s Australian account.

    “Kunlun is just one example – any large trading multinational will hold large reserves of cash in each country so they can effect a transfer with an internal paper transaction. No banks or government scrutiny involved. And given that they don’t do effective reporting in this country, who will ever trace it?

    “The current situation is that one of the best assets a local Chinese can have is a permanent Australian residence. They will have ‘friends’ lining up to ‘loan’ them money to buy properties in Australia.

    All the government needs to do is follow the cash.”

    http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/realestate/news/foreign-investment-chinese-buyers-predicted-to-snap-up-more-aussie-properties-in-2016/news-story/c57abd5790a804e8c79d29dc2c9813b3

    • Expat 3.1

      Chooky

      You’ve got it one, earlier this year the media produced a report on Chinese investment in the Sydney property market and found there had been 6000 sales equating to $12B, the state govt collected nearly $2B in stamp duty, govts don’t care that their citizens can no longer afford to buy their own home.

      This year in Sydney, property prices have dropped 1.5%, and there are fewer Chinese investors compared to a year ago when auctions in some areas were held, speaking only in mandarin, the PM Turnbull sited a remedy to housing affordability by saying parents should loan the kids the money to purchase their first home, just shows how out of touch these wealthy PM’s are with the real world.

    • mac1 3.2

      Chooky, you wrote “A whole generation of young New Zealanders will have been betrayed of their birthright to own their own home and land.”

      It will take one generation, twenty years, at 5% per annum sales to foreign buyers to see the alienation of all of the 1.8 million residential properties currently built.

      Hickey’s figure at tops of 48% means that 93888 properties would be sold in this way, annually, since the Housing figures quoted by the government referred to sales of 97,800 properties.

    • save nz 3.3

      +100 Chocky. Even people I know (and they are not Chinese, but Korean) have all their properties in different family members names and they all work offshore. Only the beneficiaries are living in NZ, elderly on super or kids at school.

      If we did not have a superannuation and health time bomb before this insane experiment of immigration and house and land sales no questions asked, (sound familiar like our tax haven trusts here), we now have a massive amount of migrants working elsewhere, buying up our property but leaving dependants here on social welfare and having the ability to migrate more family members in once gaining residency and to return to NZ and retire here and collect super.

      How the hell can Kiwis compete and fund that? Gen X and Millennials who have not been given job security and forced into student fees and low wages are not able to afford property, let alone fund their retirement, but their taxes will end up funding the migrants retirement, their kids at school. Meanwhile migrants can own copious property here taking them away from residents, while working overseas and can still collect super and free health care on their return.

  4. Jack Ramaka 4

    Property Guru and another computer program here in NZ have a list of all the property owners here in NZ, however how do you establish whether the owners are NZ citizens, as a real estate agent I went through many streets in these databases to find the real owners however came up with very few as the owners are not listed in the telephone directories, hence they are not contactable unless you use other investigative techniques to track them down.

    Do we really know who owns our real estate here in NZ, it appears JK and the National Government do not really care ?

    The smoke and mirrors regime has not shifted one inch ? Me Thinks !!!

    • Craig H 4.1

      Not sure how we can do it, but government or Stats NZ could compare the databases against the DIA and Immigration NZ databases – not perfect but would give some indication.

      Probably well worth noting that tax residence as defined by the Income Tax Act is not the same as residence as defined by the Immigration Act, and that temporary visa holders can be tax residents of NZ e.g. if they are employed in NZ. This is particularly true of people who have lived here on work visas for a number of years.

  5. Philj 5

    Martin Beynen’s column in last weekends SST (?) covered the topic and argued that if business, property, housing etc is to be sold to overseas interests we have to make sure that it is done in a smart way that, presumably, benefits the country!
    Sorry for not being able to find the article, I refuse to buy the newspaper. But an unbelievable commentary none the less. Pretty much a case of fait accompli, Get used to the new normal.

  6. save nz 6

    37% of houses sold to NZers. 67% they have no idea – bugger me…. who bought them? @RadioLIVENZ Drive. #now

    Probably “trusts”.

    Just like everything with the government, data deliberately kept incomplete to try to hide the truth.

  7. In my early years in Auckland I noticed the cost of housing rose and fell reliably in line with whether immigration exceeded emigration or not. This is some three decades ago but it was persistent over the decade I lived in Auckland. It’s a theory that Mr Micawber would understand or anyone who has every played musical chairs. Basically with 100 people, 99 chairs and there is mayhem when the music stops. If there were 101 chairs and 100 people there would be no problem. So even a slight undersupply of suitable housing causes costs to rise at a high rate towards the unaffordable.

    Even 3% of houses taken out of circulation for purchase by non-resident speculators is dramatic. More than that represents a grave problem although the basis for the estimates looks plausible.
    So here we are – in the FIRE economy writ large.

  8. Incognito 8

    I can’t get my head around these data!

    I’d have thought that the nationalities that are strongly represented in the record immigration figures would also dominantly feature in the data released by LINZ but there is no mention anywhere of Indians or Filipinos, for example. Go figure!

    • save nz 8.1

      It’s a two pronged government agenda.

      Rich migrants to buy up property and assets (i.e. Chinese investors) and happy to provide donations aka bribes to government and third parties (as normal in their county).

      Poorer migrants to replace Kiwis in jobs and lower wages. So fruit pickers, farm workers, health workers (Indians, Filipinos) are being shipped in.

      The only people who are not allowed into NZ are refugees. Even though a massive problem and a humanitarian crisis.

      Neoliberalism does not believe in charity, it is just making sure those in the .1% are maximising their profits by exploiting workers, environment and tax laws.

  9. Planet Earth 9

    It is quite clear that sales to foreigners is at least 38% of the total. People on a student visa or temporary work permits, which a lot of those are getting after graduating, have to be added to the total. And a nice little spinoff to this: an increase in tourist numbers as family members visiting NZ look at the houses for sale and attend auctions.
    Most of the overseas students have wealthy families, so loans are not needed.

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