Housing crisis

Written By: - Date published: 7:34 am, April 19th, 2016 - 57 comments
Categories: housing, national - Tags: , , , , ,

Housing is very much in the news again:
No rich parents? No house!
House price rise spreads to regions
House price records smashed across New Zealand

Stating the obvious – Bernard Hickey:

Time for action on high house prices

Auckland’s stratified median house price, which strips out the noise from an unusual number of sales in high or low price brackets, rose 3.4 per cent last month, to $937,100. Despite urgent attempts by the Government and the Reserve Bank to dampen demand in October and November, the cooling off period lasted just five months.

Auckland’s housing market is back on the track of runaway inflation where demand from record high net migration, solid jobs growth, strong real income growth and falling interest rates are slamming straight into utterly inadequate supply.

The not-so-dirty little secret of the politics of rampant house price inflation is it makes voters richer and happier.

Perhaps Hickey means – the not-so-secret dirty little fact of politics.

They have more equity to reinvest in more rental properties, they can use the equity to build and run businesses and they can use their houses as ATMs for the odd holiday or two.

The temporary high has to end in a crash.

Renters don’t vote at nearly the same rate as property owners so politicians can easily preach that they are doing something about housing and safely do very little to stop the inflation. Secretly, it suits them.

As Hickey goes on to note it suits them in the short term, but only if they ignore the social damage and costs. (When first posted the title of this article was Social cost in high house prices).

English already talks about the fiscal risk to the Government from high rent inflation in Auckland ramping up the $2 billion annual cost for accommodation supplements and income-related rent subsidies.

The Government now has to subsidise 60 per cent of all rental properties. The research is clear that home-owning families are much more stable, their kids are better educated and eventually much more productive. Even English has warned of the social costs of housing inequality and poverty.

If the Government is serious about its investment-led approach to addressing New Zealand’s problems with child poverty, the first thing it should do is estimate the long-term social liability of allowing Auckland’s housing supply crisis to stagger on unsolved.

In a similar vein – Liam Dann:

Serious disconnect in housing boom

Right now there is an enormous disconnect between house prices and everything else. That’s actually a wonderful scenario for established home owners. But it is exacerbating social inequality.

The suppressing effect of low inflation on wages is easily compensated for by the wealth effect of knowing your house is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars more than when you bought it.

The problem is that letting property prices come to the rescue now is good for us in the way a P addict might say one last hit, to get him through a bad patch, will be good for him. We know that there is a come down to be had with property but as long as it remains at some ill defined future point we seem to lack the political will to address it.

And the rise of homelessness and stress that housing costs are putting on low wage earners is clearly unfair. It puts a generation of New Zealand children at risk. When we debate housing affordability we need to let fairness and equity be our drivers for change because if we rely solely on the economic case there is always an argument to let things roll on.

According to Simon Bridges there is no Auckland housing crisis. This will be news to Nick Smith, who makes a show of trying to address it (and fails badly). Why aren’t the Nats making a better job of housing? Is it because they don’t want to? An anonymous editorialist explains:

A government of big property owners doesn’t want to tax itself

New Zealand used to pride itself on being an intimate, property-owning democracy. Well, we own much less property than we used to. Our rulers, on the other hand, own much more.

MPs own an average of 2.43 properties each, according to the latest register of MPs’ interests. About half of New Zealanders own a home, whereas two-thirds of the MPs own more than one. … National MPs, for instance, own about three properties each on average. National Cabinet ministers own slightly more again.

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it,” the great American novelist Upton Sinclair once wrote. This profound truth applies in general to politics, and perhaps even to particular policies.

The suspicion remains, however, that the Government is not nearly as keen to cool down the housing market as it says it is. Perhaps it’s not in its interests to do so.

Short term profit and bugger the consequences. It’s the National way.

57 comments on “Housing crisis ”

  1. Sabine 1

    the undoing of this current National Party led Government will by the Housing Mis-managment. Simple as that.

    After years of telling Aucklanders to move if they can’t afford to live in Auckland anymore (even if they have lived there all their lives, may even been second/thrid/fourth generation Aucklanders) , well guess what they are now moving. To a town near you dear Heartlander. And they, plus the migrants that can’t afford Auckland will move elsewhere and fuck the housing market up there.

    Tauranga already to expensive for the people that live there, Windy Wellington going that way, Hamilton, Whangarai, etc etc etc .

    To me that is the big elephant in the room that this current National Party Posse, or shall we call them cohorts of National MP’s are doing their best to ignore. People need shelter, if they can’t buy it, or rent it what are they supposed to do? Lay down in a ditch and die? I can see Bill English considering that the people that he sees as hopeless to just simply do that, but I doubt that it will happen peacefully.

    • Bearded Git 1.1

      +1 Sabine

      I heard a quote the other day on RNZ from a real estate company something like “the fear that Auckland house prices are beginning to drop has been put to bed by the latest house price rises”.

      So it is reported as bad news when the stratospheric prices for houses in Auckland drop a couple of per cent. In reality what is needed is a 30% drop tomorrow; the media should be reporting it thus.

      • Jacks 1.1.1

        Doubt it will drop, too many off shore investors with lots of money happy to pay top prices & keep pushing it up making it more and more unaffordable for NZers who dont own a house

    • AsleepWhileWalking 1.2

      Couldn’t agree more.

      The article states that the government has to subsidise 60% of rental properties, but this isn’t the full story as many mortgages are also subsidised (sometimes more than one owner is assisted as people band together to buy).

      And why does anyone need a subsidy? Because they can’t afford it without one.

    • Jacks 1.3

      Well said Sabine!! Some from the regions months ago were saying ha ha Auckland while ignoring the obvious ie that eventually, with time, there would be a flow on effect. This is something that will have major consequences for the whole country long term.

  2. DH 2

    I’ve become resigned to the fact that this issue will only be resolved when a new political party is formed which specifically represents renters & aspiring home owners.

    Forget the left & right bullshit. Housing is a genuine political divide and until renters start fighting for their rights they’ll remain second class citizens.

    • Sabine 2.1

      No it is not the renters that need fighting.

      it is the homeowners that can’t afford their rates, that see their children move hundreds of kilometers away, that see their grandchildren once a year that need to pull their heads out of where the sun don’t shine and understand that they have been lied too. They may be asset rich, but they are cash poor. And the day they can’t afford their ever increasing rates they too will have to sell up, and move out to the next affordable ditch.

      There is nothing wrong with renting per se, but sadly in NZ there is no proper regulation to make renting a viable solution to house owning. The only reason many in NZ buy houses to begin with is to have a sense of stability and to have the right to hang a picture on the wall.

      And it is all the NZ’lers that need to start fighting, as they are the ones supporting unaffordable rents with the Accomodation Supplement ( no it is not a benefit, its a supplement cause i guess it is for Landlords, benefits are for poor people). 2 billion of our Tax payers coin goes to Landlords every year, and that amount will increase.

      • DH 2.1.1

        You’re in fantasyland. Homeowners want their house prices to rise or at least not fall.

        • Sabine

          Homeowners are also parents, they are also on fixed incomes, they are also old.

          there is a certain homewoner, better called speculator that wants prices to go up, that is the only way for them to make money.

          I think you need to differentiate between these two groups of people.

          Heck when you have people like the Roughans Family, that is pretty much standard upper middleclass heartland family from southland participate in a TV Show in order to get their well to do kids (certainly not hopeless kiwi blokes here) on the housing market you have an issue.
          And when that house then does not sell for a ‘good’ price you have got an even larger issue.

          Chicken coming home to roost.

          And even the very rich Kiwi will be bested by some very rich from elsewhere. Karma, what goes around comes around.

          Maybe all the homeless should just start pitching tents in the rugby parks and domains of NZ. After all, what was good for Hoover should be good for Key and English.

          • DH

            What’s age or income got to do with it? Homeowners have an inflation-proof asset, their financial situation constantly improves against those who don’t own a home.

            You sound a bit naive. With the odd exception no homeowner in Auckland or anywhere else will willingly give up their capital gains to make housing more affordable. Yeah they’ll bleat about their kids, their incomes, rates blah blah… but will they give up their newfound wealth? Will they ever vote for a party who promise to lower property prices? Not a fucking chance.

            • Rosie

              DH and Sabine. I’ve read your discussion with interest. I’m with Sabine.

              I’ve owned a house for four years now, my first one. I WOULD vote for a party that seriously addressed housing inaffordabilty. I want to live in an equal society, not a society where people are compelled to fight for accommodation. This only creates desperation and mistrust between haves and have nots. That’s an unhealthy state of affairs.

              I would happily see my house value drop to the equivalent of the purchase price if it meant access to housing was levelled out.
              As it is our rates keep going up because the value has increased and because expensive houses are being built around us. Those explanations have been provided by the bank and by the council. I even had an investigation done by the council into our rates increases, at the suggestion of our local councillor, who thought our rates were out of kilter. Increased value has been counter productive for us and is contributing to hardship in our single income household.

              Increased value in your house only provides greedy people with a fake sense of wealth. I’d rather have genuine wealth (more financial stability and comfort really) in the form of employment and decent wages. That’s honest wealth.

              • dave

                home ownership is vapor wealth here to day gone tomorrow house drops but the debt stays the other group subsidizing the home owners are anyone trying to save money we are in a low interest rate nightmare but i do be-leave there is no soft landing of even a hard landing out of this bubble the disconnect from reality income is so huge it can only end in a economic collapse.NZ house hold debt is staggering by its irresponsibility.
                NZ is a house of cards with foundations on a very slippery slope.

              • Jacks

                Rosie & Sabine, I agree. I would prefer to live in an equal society too. House prices rising = rates rising. You only get capital gains if you sell. House prices rises if you only own 1 house is of little value. I would prefer it if the price of my house went back down to what I purchased it for, rates dropped & the market was more obtainable for all New Zealanders. Rentals are subsidized so the tax payer is subsiding greedy speculators & increasing the hopelessness the poor & working poor who dont own property.

            • miravox

              ” With the odd exception no homeowner in Auckland or anywhere else will willingly give up their capital gains to make housing more affordable”

              It’s not that straightforward. I’m a homeowner. We have home that we expect to retire in. If we don’t, we’ll sell it and buy another more suitable. I don’t care about capital gains. If we change houses we’ll be buying and selling in the same market so capital gains are just on paper really. They’re not looking to cash up. I worry about increasing house prices because it is difficult for my kids in terms of rising rents and the cost of buying. I think there are a lot of homeowners with these concerns.

              Others are buying and selling for business so capital gains and rising rents are important to them. I agree with Sabine – there are a fair few homeowners that are not into home ownership for the capital gains or rent value. For these people a house they own is a home – no more, no less.

            • Jacks

              DH: Guess it depends where you values lie. I dont agree with you.

  3. save NZ 3

    Perhaps cutting down on ‘lazy immigration’ might be the obvious solution to Auckland’s housing bubble. There is approx 40,000 people being in settled in Auckland per YEAR. The population of Auckland is 1.42 million so that is a 2.8% gain per year of Herald reading, newbies often from countries considered far more corrupt than NZ. As well as pretending that this has nothing to do with high rents and house prices it also has another important gain for National.

    From wiki of election fraud.

    “Immigration law may also be used to manipulate electoral demography. An example of this happened in Malaysia when immigrants from neighboring Philippines and Indonesia were given citizenship, together with voting rights, in order for a political party to “dominate” the state of Sabah in a controversial process referred to as Project IC.[7″

    The composition of an electorate may also be altered by disenfranchising some types of people, rendering them unable to vote. In some cases, this may be done at a legislative level, for example by passing a law banning prison inmates (or even former prison inmates),….. Since this is done by lawmakers, it cannot be election fraud, but may subvert the purposes of democracy. This is especially so if members of the disenfranchised group were particularly likely to vote a certain way.”

    “Corrupt election officials may misuse voting regulations such as a literacy tests….”

    Seems Bill English’s “pretty hopeless’ assessment of young Kiwi men, has an even greater purpose for National… can’t read, can’t vote.

    • save NZ 3.1

      I guess you can also price certain ‘disenfranchised” people out of an electorate too by having high rent and house prices or selling off their state houses….

  4. Nic the NZer 4

    More confusing rhetoric from the media commentators. National don’t want to impose taxes on housing due to the fiscal risk to the government. Presently spending increases are being supported be additional private debt obligations being taken on. If the govt succeeds in ending this then either they will need to take up the spending slack or allow spending to fall (maybe into recession). Both results being a massive fiscal risk (risk of creating a deficit) or worse a govt policy induced recession.

    • Jones 4.1

      So… let’s see how big we can blow this bubble… knowing all the while it has to go some time. National are going to wait and just hope like hell that it doesn’t happen on their watch.

  5. Save NZ 5

    You should be aware that ‘housing stories flood the MSM’ when National has been caught out AGAIN (tax evasion, Murray McCully etc).. to deflect the left…

    Lets see the headlines today in Granny.

    Few housing options left in Auckland
    Disappointing result for Our First Home
    Larry Williams: Correction on house prices is coming
    Arguing the case for urban sprawl
    Liam Dann: Serious disconnect in housing boom

    Here is an interesting one, this is PAID article “brand inside” in conjunction with CBRE
    CBRE: Kiwi investors – not Chinese – fuel commercial property boom

    • Sabine 5.1

      Might more have to do with the fact that the house up on “My first home” did not go as high as expected and that maybe just maybe, people are not happy to pay any price to get a dwelling.

    • AsleepWhileWalking 5.2

      My suspicion is that NZ home (as opposed to investment) buyers are fueling the property boom in a mad scramble to escape rental hell.

  6. Shifty 6

    I find it amusing how certain individuals equate home ownership with upstanding character. Those who can’t afford are simply lazy bludgers apparently. Actually that extends to all have nots. Action needs to be taken and not necessarily by a political party

  7. jcuknz 7

    On a practical side to this it was disturbing to hear a report this morning that the building Industry lacks the numbers to build more than half of the 30,000 houses needed to attack the problem even if the government had the will as suggested above..
    Then there was last year or so Fletchers saying it would be unecomical to mass produce houses …I remember the British solution of post WW2 … not the most luxurious but at least a roof over peoples heads in time of need.
    As for the homeless I also remember reading about the Japanese solution of unfurnished but dry and warm ‘pigeon holes’ … just a small space to sleep and move on next morning while they were washed out … better I think than a cardboard box under a bridge or tree.
    When I hear National speaking on the radio about problems, I do not have TV or buy papers, all they seem to be is papering over the cracks and saying how much more they are putting to the problem ignoring fiscal creep which makes their utterances worthless.

    • save NZ 7.1

      Gosh 8 years of National, approx 60,000 new migrants per year (able to change Auckland’s demegraphic alone nearly 10% per year per election cycle). But still not enough builders? Maybe Nats lazy immigration policy like John Key’s attempts at nailing up his own election sign, is not efficient? Perhaps bringing if they bothered to invest in youth 8 years ago we might have quite a few more builders… and not so many fake qualifications http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10802026

      “Immigration New Zealand investigators – conducting a review of Nigerian cases – noticed irregularities on the birth certificates Chukwu had supplied and then discovered evidence at his West Auckland home that the documents were forged.

      The search warrant in November 2009 also unearthed a number of academic qualifications in Chukwu’s name, including an advanced plumbing certificate which he would have achieved as a 13-year-old.

      One of the men jailed, Chidozie Emmanuel Onovo, was working as a hospital psychiatrist in Christchurch when he was found to have falsified documents to hide a British drug-smuggling conviction.

      Another, Hakeem Amoo Ewebiyi, was working with sex offenders for a community health provider when he was discovered to have entered the country on a false South African passport.”

    • millsy 7.2

      Tiny houses.

  8. AmaKiwi 8

    When the bubble bursts, Key will act decisively. He will bail out the banks.

    • Sabine 8.1

      He will not be in NZ when that happens. And the double dipper from Dipton will be retired.

    • AsleepWhileWalking 8.2

      Actually NZ agreed to bail ins at the G20, meaning your money that you deposited in the bank will be used.

      After all deposits are not technically your money (although most people think of it as such). Deposits are in fact a loan to the bank.

  9. juknz 9

    I was talking to a contractor who had cleared my section for me and he was admiring my small cottage I built for myself around 25 years ago and saying he would like to build his own house …. but the trouble with that are the obsene charges that local government put on endeavour and equally restrictive safety regulations the ‘do-gooders’ have imposed on anybody wishing to get their A into G.
    Back in the seventies and early eighties when my wife and I built the family home the regulations [ building code ] where what enabled me as a non-tradesman do it …. but by the nineties when I built my cottage the helpful regulations were gone and instead the beaurocrats at city hall took three months to approve my plans. The protective industry has gone mad IMO.

    • maui 9.1

      You can still build your own home if you’re unexperienced or untrained in building, the catch is that it has to be less than 10 metres squared I think. Still if you’re a little creative you can have multiple small 10m2 “shed” structures butting up against one another and you’ve got a multi room house. If you’re willing to experiment you could build yourself a really interesting house in that way and save yourself hundreds of thousands of dollars in builders and materials costs. I’m sure there’s lots of videos on youtube too that can show you how to do each stage so you don’t stuff up the important bits like keeping it watertight as well.

  10. jcuknz 10

    It seems to me that the housing suppliment is a another ‘paper over the cracks’ action and really is a subsidy to renting house owners by their mates in parliament.
    It is dreadful that 60% of rents are actually paid by the government .. did I hear that right?

    • sabine 10.1

      2 billion
      yes you heard that correct.

      • Herodotus 10.1.1

        And as rents increase at levels approaching 10% and wages increase marginally by less than 2%. The result is that there is increasing spend by government on accommodation supplements.
        So when the work force is unable to afford the increased housing costs then according to market forces rents would remain static or even decrease, helping in reducing the attractiveness of investing in property. But no, thats to on going government intervention the free market theory is propped up and allowed to fuel the property market, by subsidising the greater part of rent increases.

        • Sabine

          sorry to burst your bubble, but the increased spend to make up the increased housing costs via the Accomodation Supplement is an increased spend the Tax payer needs to come up with.
          We the taxpayer finances the government. We give them the money they get to spend. So we are effectively financing a housing bubble that none of us can buy in, none of us can afford to rent in and so on.
          Dumb really , aren’t we?

      • Thom Pietersen 10.1.2

        “60% rents are actually paid by the government” That effectively is a subsidy.

        I don’t own a home, but I subsidise landlords via my tax!

        This country is f*cked!

    • AsleepWhileWalking 10.2

      Absolutely. I believe it was both Salvation Army and Christian Social Services warned in the early 90s that the introduction of Accommodation Supplement would lead to drastic rent increases.

  11. adam 11

    Ah newspeak wins again. “Low inflation on wages”

    Wow, so the left lost this one. Piss poor pay, is now low inflation wages. Can we even win the language game?

    My shitty pay, is now low inflation wages.

    It’s not even PC gone mad, it a lack of spine in the face of a government who have brutalised the workforce to accept really crap pay. Eight years of a government which has put working people on welfare, and food-banks.

    But no, lets get worked up about house prices, how many middle class prat’s are their on this site?

    Working people want food on the table, and somewhere warm to live, but food on the table first!

    Bugger the price of houses. Working people need rent controls. But nope, more whining about house prices. It’s not like it not only happening here…goggle is your friend.

    *Sigh* – Sometimes I just bloody despair.

    • save NZ 11.1

      Are those the middle class prat speculators like the ‘my first home’ contestants…

      You see, speculators are just desperate first home owners like everyone else working on NZ low wages. Even if you are a top wage earner in Auckland you would struggle to afford a place in the inner city if you did not already have equity. It used to be called ‘getting on the property ladder’.

      But yes, let’s blame Aucklander’s, like the ‘first home’ contestants who are openly speculating to try to make money for a deposit so they can actually get a home… not blame the National government who is clearly running a social cleansing agenda in Auckland in plain sight.

      When you look at how close Paula Bennet nearly lost her electorate, then have a look at how much the just 3 my first home renovations have increased the price of each house in West Auckland…. and that is just 3 families…. the question is, where do the former inhabitants of those properties live now? Can they still afford to live in Auckland?

      • Colonial Viper 11.1.1

        not blame the National government who is clearly running a social cleansing agenda in Auckland in plain sight.

        Just remember that Auckland housing prices had risen to internationally recognised ‘highly unaffordable levels’ by 2005/2006/2007.

        Who was in Government in the lead up to and during that period?

        Point: they’re all in the same club profiting from this situation, up there, above us.

        • Smilin

          Something similar to the Scottish and Irish clearances of the 1800s or worse AUSCHWITZ

      • Sabine 11.1.2

        well, the previous owner of the house the Roughans bought ‘owned’ it for three month and made a total of 70.000 $ on it. I am sure he would have paid taxes too, surely, but then he is a residence holder not likely to live in Auckland, as are most people that have bought houses in this area.

        I know that cause i live here, but then i am sure that were i to use a certain word to describe the vast majority of buyers in my neighborhood i would be labelled a racists.

        This neighborhood around Te Atatu South Raod has an aging homeowner group that are now selling and retiring.
        Couple that with years long road work on Te Atatu South road and you could call it gentrification by stealth.
        There is a new ‘affordable’ housing thingy coming soon, three full sections being raised and a 110 houses being dropped on it.
        slums in any other names. But its all good, if they can’t afford they can leave Auckland to fuck up the housing prices near you.

        The very best that could happen to AKL would be a complete migration stop into Auckland for a starter. IF you are not already living and working in NZ you can’t move to AKL, move to Dunedin, Invercargil, Wanganui, Whangarai, Gisborne etc etc, do your migrant business investment there. It would maybe increase job opportunities in these areas and take the heat of Auckland. But that is not gonna happen.

    • Colonial Viper 11.2

      For various reasons, the comfortable middle class characters who see themselves as “rescuers” of the working class and under class do tend to see the problems which need to be solved from their own perspective on the socioeconomic ladder.

      • adam 11.2.1

        Too bloody true Colonial Viper.

        Do people here even understand what it’s like to wonder where the next meal is coming from? Or missing meals so children can eat – then be called a bad parent. All the time working at a job which keeps you on welfare, and having to go to a food bank.

        Who has time to worry about owning a house when this is life?

        Then we get the right wing nut bars, who are completely out of touch.

        • Smilin

          Yes the bottom line and it should be a headline everyday until these Gnat corp bastards get it

    • AsleepWhileWalking 11.3

      I think we need to go beyond rent control and shave off at least 30% in rents across the board.

      Then we need to make charging tenants a “letting fee” illegal.

      Letting fees exploit and aren’t actually providing a service to the tenant, merely an extension of the service to landlords. *ducks for cover*

      Why doesn’t Labour pick up the letting fee issue?

      • Jacks 11.3.1

        AsleepWhileWalking agree re letting fee, no accountability either. Can get moved on after 3 months or 6 months after paying a letting fee by one of the convenient outs land lords have. getting more and more like feudal England

  12. Colonial Viper 12

    A government of big property owners doesn’t want to tax itself

    Yep, why would the 1% want to tax big property owners when they themselves all have portfolios of rentals and commercial properties.

    When will investment property owning Labour MPs reverse their decision to discard the CGT?

    Too soon?

  13. Brutus Iscariot 14

    By Christ that was abysmal from Bridges.

  14. joe90 15

    Rod Salmond puts the slipper in.

    But Smith was indignant. Of course he had all the land he claimed! Of course his land didn’t have things like power stations or cemeteries on it! Of course he could make a real difference for $54 million! Everyone else was just politicking!

    Fast forward to this year, and the truth is out.


    And that’s not even the worst part. Almost a year after starting his project, TVNZ discovered that Smith has secured only 5% of the land he promised, but has spent 100% of the money he was given.


  15. Smilin 16

    I hear the Rat Pack are still selling and doing well since their all gone it seems strange and buddies with the Mafia as well

  16. Philj 18

    Housing Crisis? I’m all right John, Simon, Bill, Steven ….

  17. Jacks 19

    The housing situation suits the government & developer cronies. Who knows who has what in ‘blind trusts’.

    Along with the housing crises comes the govt solution that is not really a solution ie Special Housing areas which is just big developers avoiding due process coupled with inadequate infrastructure. More disaster in the making. Especially when some of these developers dont have the best history eg leaky building which rate payers had to foot the bill for while the developers private wealth was protected behind liquidated limited liability companies.

    Seems the nats are basing the economy once yet again on flogging the country off while pretending not to (even to the point of trying to have us believe manipulated off shore sales figures). Anyone making a short term buck out of the situation has blinkers on but the long term consequences will not be good. NZ will never be the same. Any immigrants should be going to small towns. No more immigrants in Auckland we are already overloaded and its is ruining out city.

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