Locking in housing inequality

Written By: - Date published: 3:20 pm, February 9th, 2015 - 37 comments
Categories: class war, housing, poverty - Tags: , , ,

A good piece by Maria Slade in the weekend on the way in which housing is becoming a matter of intergenerational wealth:

Bank of mum and dad now a home truth

A survey by real estate agency Barfoot & Thompson shows almost half of Aucklanders who bought their first house in the past five years received financial assistance from a family member. And commentators say it’s creating a two-tier market where only those with wealthy parents can hope to own a home.

Property Institute chief executive Ashley Church said loan-to-value restrictions had made “not a jot” of difference to house prices, but had badly affected young people’s chances of buying a home.

“What we’ve now done is we’ve basically said unless you’re in the fortuitous position where you have the ability to fund that deposit through some other means . . . in this case your parents or some other party, then basically you can’t get into the market.

“All we’ve done is move the problem from one area to another and in doing so we’ve created a two-tier buying society.”

Before the old time conservatives start up with the “it was always this way” “nothing to see here” lines, note that this is provably a growing problem. Here’s Bernard Hickey:

The survey showed 47% of first home buyers now have to rely on a handout from their parents to get on the property ladder. Only four years ago fewer than a third of first home buyers had to rely on parents. Back in the 1970s that figure was just 13%. The change shows the increasing role of family wealth in allowing young families to get their start and will raise political debate around social mobility.

“Social mobility” is one of the political Right’s favourite obfuscations. “Sure” (the argument goes) “things are terrible for the poor now, but social mobility proves that things could get better for them if they were only motivated to get out there and work hard!”. It always was a bullshit excuse, but squeezing more and more mobility out of society (locking in inequality through the intergenerational ownership of housing) makes it even worse.

We’re in the process of creating a nation of landed gentry and serfs. Doesn’t that sound like fun…

37 comments on “Locking in housing inequality”

  1. McFlock 1

    Capital and power securing their rule, like their acestors before them, yea, unto the middle ages…

    The people were winning for a while, though. We will again.

  2. Ad 2

    Are we close to the place now where the problem are too big for any state-instigated supply-side intervention to make a real impact?

    Is “market correction” the only possible change?

    Or will neither matter if immigration sustains the Auckland housing economy for the foreseeable future?

    Personally, I think we are close to yes on the first question, yes on the second, and yes there will be no change to the pattern in the foreseeable future.

    • Brendon Harre 2.1

      No the State can solve the affordable housing problem any time it likes if they have the political will. John Key does not have the will.

      Governments (at the national and local level) create urban areas -by providing the infrastructure -roads, public transport, schools, hospitals… while the private sector fills out this framework to create cities -the drivers of modern economies.

      The problem of housing affordability basically boils down to reversing escalating urban land prices. You do this by either a right to build causing so much land being available it is priced at farm prices or by compulsory acquisition.

      In the 1930s, in response to the economic horrors of the Great Depression the UK politicians listened to Keynes, left the gold standard thus loosening credit, the government went on a fiscal stimulus programme that included improving infrastructure such as the London underground. The private sector uninhibited by the post war Town and Country Act went on a massive building boom of houses that cost workers only three times there incomes. It was the economic progress of building many affordable homes for workers that contributed to the UK escaping from the Great Depression.

      Meanwhile in NZ the First Labour government did something very similar but also built the houses -State Housing.

      Don’t be fooled that this housing crisis cannot be solved. At any point we can build houses that ordinary workers can afford. We have done it before and we can do it again.

      • Ad 2.1.1

        We are not in the 1930s. There is no New Deal. There won’t be.

        The market is saying that homeownership is the wrong place for local capital. Painfully weaning NZ off housing as an asset class is good. Home ownership is NZ’s huge productivity sinkhole.

        • Brendon Harre

          The global economy has more similarities to the 1930s than you realise -deflation, currency wars…. Luckily much of the globe still has some of the ‘New Deal’ supports, like the welfare state because without it who knows what sort of extremism would result.

          But we don’t really need to complicate this issue with grand global ideologies and so on. It is enough to know that there are a number of policies that different countries and our own history have proven to provide affordable housing whilst sustaining a strong economy.

          It is all about political will and our current PM has repeatedly shown he lacks it.

  3. Draco T Bastard 3

    We’re in the process of creating a nation of landed gentry and serfs.

    Which seems to be what the old rich families wanted. It appears that they’ve been pining for the old feudal ways to return and the governments of the world have been working to bring those days back.

    • Chooky 3.1

      …dont think so…John Key hardly came from the “old rich famiies” of New Zealand …he came out of a State House…and his parents were new immigrants ie not New Zealanders…and not with the traditional NZ values of egalitarianism

      • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1

        John Key is part of the governments that are returning us to feudalism.

      • Sacha 3.1.2

        Key’s mother came from a wealthy merchant family, and their lessons are what he heard at the dinner table.

        • Brendon Harre

          Also John Key is a social climber who since a very young age has endeavoured to get in with the rich crowd.

          That is why he learnt golf.

          That is why he is beholdent to Cam Slater, because the Slaters are ‘old money’ with political connections, they greased the path for John’s entry into NZ politics. Old money like the Slaters/Collins…. use the likes of John Key as political tools to dupe a trusting public.

          Kiwis need to join the dots to work out what is going on.

        • Brendon Harre

          John Key also appeals to other social climbers like Mike Hoskings. A rich boy from Cashmere Christchurch with an inflated sense of entitlement that he now belongs to the Auckland rich boys club.

          These social climbers lack the kiwi egalitarian trait, they don’t care about creating a system where through hard work everyone can do well. It is all about me, me, me….

          Anything that threatens that must immediately be stamped on. Hence in the last few days he has been calling Andrew Little a muppet.

    • Tom Jackson 3.2

      Meh. The best thing you could do is stop pretending that anything can be done about it. A Labour government won’t do anything other than piss and moan about it, but even they can’t afford to alienate property owners.

      • greywarshark 3.2.1

        @ Tom J
        TIt isn’t true that nothing can be done. If all you have to offer is negativity instead of looking at the options that do exist, you are just performing as a trole. Pressure can be taken off the low cost housing through such a increasing state housing that is rented, leased or licensed and never goes out of state hands. That’s one way.
        There are others.

  4. b waghorn 4

    It’s the same in farming there would be very few making it to farm ownership with out a hand up from somewhere and with farms getting bigger the problem will only get worse.

  5. Ed 5

    It must be having a detrimental effect on business in the regions outside Auckland. If they want to grow and recruit additional staff, those prospects that own a house in Auckland will be reluctant to leave, as if they sell out of that market they cannot be sure that they will be able to buy back in at the same or higher level as Auckland prices seem to be moving more quickly than the rest of New Zealand. Some will of course keep their house and rent for themselves elsewhere, but many will not want those complications – it helps to make a two level economy.

    The problems of prices and transport make Auckland less efficient than it could have been with better planning – and National’s interventions in both detail and priorities in Auckland do not appear to have helped in that area.

    The reality is that by their lack of action, and poor judgement relating to major transport decisions, National are bad for many businesses.

    • crashcart 5.1

      I actually think you have this a little backwards. I own my home (or what the bank doesn’t still own I do) in Auckland. I have a high paying job and can afford my mortgage. I was just talking to some work mates today saying that if I could get a job even at a far more modest income doing what I enjoy in a cheaper town I woudl really look at it. I would happily sell my house to get a free hold one somewhere else.

      Problems prevent it though. As mentioned work in my field is difficult to come by outside of Auckland. I have a disabled son and moving away from the support of Starship is a big thing. Also access to schooling for my kids is concerning as rural schools seem to keep getting the squeeze.

      There needs to be a concerted effort to grow the regions. This includes providing better infristructure and support in those area’s.

  6. Clemgeopin 6

    The capitalist pro rich right wing will NEVER be able to solve this issue. They MUST be voted out of power and a Labour led left oriented government be installed to achieve a fairer less unequal country for all, in social, environmental and economic aspects of society.

    • Chooky 6.1

      +100 Clemgeopin

    • b waghorn 6.2

      What’s your evidence that labour would do anything to stop the free market survival of the richest scheme we live under in this country,

      • weka 6.2.1

        They’re saying that Labour would make a less unequal society, not overthrow the capitalist agenda.

        • b waghorn

          Mmmm I see , it might take more than that to get donations and the odd vote out of me in future.

          • Brendon Harre

            I contribute to the Labour party so we have a fairer society by practical means -in particular affordable housing. Not so they can go on some untested tangent by completely overthrowing of the entire capitalist agenda (whatever that means).

            • b waghorn

              I would choose labour ahead of the nats every time.
              But Are you not getting sick of the tinkering around the edges that don’t really make much difference .

              • Brendon Harre

                Labour should leave the tinkering to the National party and re-learn the reform lessons from the likes of Savage and Keynes…..

          • weka

            “Mmmm I see , it might take more than that to get donations and the odd vote out of me in future.”

            which is why some of us vote Green or Mana 🙂

            • b waghorn

              I toyed with voting mana but with dotcom involved there was no way in hell that was going to happen .

          • Clemgeopin

            If you are dreaming that New Zealand and the world will be ever have an EQUAL society, you are dreaming. Won’t happen, can’t happen.

            No one has been able to achieve that and no one will EVER be able to achieve that, except in wishful thinking and nice dreams.

            Great thinkers like Jesus Christ, Gautama Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, Karl Marx and nations such as USSR, China etc aspired for it. Didn’t happen, Won’t happen UNLESS every government in the world and every human thinks and acts in a completely altruistic, unselfish, humanitarian and enlightened manner. Won’t happen. Not human nature.

            So, the best to aspire for is to try and REDUCE the economic and social disparity and injustice between the wealthy/privileged and the less privileged, the workers and the poor.

            THAT is eminently possible to do if there is a will from the government and people who vote with their conscience, fairness and common sense without succumbing to RW lies and spin.

            A pro-wealthy right wing rogue pro-capitalist government is NOT the answer. Will NEVER be the answer. Think about it, because that is an impossible oxy-moron.

            Only a pro-socialist, fair and caring government is our best bet. For New Zealand, the BEST bet is a Labour led government in pragmatic electoral terms.

  7. Murray Rawshark 7

    Auckland housing is a pyramid scheme and will crash one day. There will be a lot of pain, much of it deserved. In a sane world, the government would deflate the bubble by building and renting state houses at affordable prices. This wouldn’t work instantly, but is the only acceptable way I can see of doing it. Banning non-resident buyers would also help, but we’d hear a lot of screaming from those who want money for nothing. It’s ironic that most of these are NAct voters, who wank on endlessly about the virtues of hard work.

    • Brendon Harre 7.1

      +100 for the overall theme. But it doesn’t have to be just Government building State houses, private sector built houses can be good too, as long as they are affordable to ordinary workers.

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