Polity on Housing

Written By: - Date published: 9:07 am, May 20th, 2015 - 39 comments
Categories: housing, national - Tags:

Two posts from Rob at Polity yesterday on National and Housing:

Auckland house prices

First, here’s John Key talking in a speech about a housing crisis in early 2008:

Well, I’ve got a challenge for the Prime Minister. Before she asks for another three years, why doesn’t she answer the questions Kiwis are really asking, like… Why can’t our hardworking kids afford to buy their own house?

Fast forward to today, and the REINZ house price data (based on a Reserve Bank calculation method), as published by Bernard Hickey.

Under Labour, Auckland house prices rose around 9.6% a year.

Under National, they’ve grown at 12% a year.

So, in John Key’s world, sustained 9.6% price rises equal a housing affordability crisis, but if you take those increases and all another 12% a year on top for another sustained period, the crisis goes away. Ridiculous.

National really is losing the plot on this issue. And hardworking families, especially in Auckland, are suffering as a result.

At the end of the day what most New Zealanders ackshully accept is… (Housing edition)

Capital gains taxes don’t work.

That’s why we’re not introducing one.

In fact, New Zealand already has a capital gains tax.

Which we’ve decided to strengthen.

It won’t affect house prices much.

Because Auckland doesn’t have a housing crisis.

Although supply is really the only answer to it.

That’s why building houses is crazy.

39 comments on “Polity on Housing”

  1. ropata 1

    When teachers and police and nurses cannot afford housing there are some pretty ugly consequences down the road

    • Brendon Harre 1.1

      If a teacher cannot afford to house themselves in a city that needs teaching what does that mean for the future of that city?

  2. Ad 2

    So far housing is Labour’s strongest policy area.

    I’m sure he tries, but we don’t hear enough from Phil Twyford on this. Twyford can and does make the links between more housing and funding transport infrastructure links to enable it.

    Twyford needs a strong response ready for Budget 2015 and its promise of government using its own land holdings in Aucklnd to build more homes faster. The risk is that government will essentially leave Labour no room to move on Labour’s main policy success. Labour will then be even more successfully snookered than they were by Key’s tax changes.

    Housing is the only thing that will shift enough votes to change government in 2017. If Twyford can’t get the cut-through, give it to Goff. Labour, it’s your move.

  3. Another bonkers, out-of-touch, Wellington-elite effort by Labour’s number’s guru.

    “[H]ardworking families, especially in Auckland, are suffering as a result”?????

    He can’t be serious.

    Hardworking families, especially in Auckland, are absolutely thrilled about house price inflation because they can use that increase in their equity to borrow for a boat or Aussie holiday.

    This may be bad economics it is the reality of the politics.

    (It has penetrated into Rob’s Wellington consciousness that there are around 500,000 home owners and 100,000 boats in Auckland, I assume?)

    • dv 3.1

      Yippee More debt Mathew
      And what about those renters!!

    • Lanthanide 3.2

      Some hardworking families, that own houses, are thrilled.

      Other hardworking families, that don’t own houses, are suffering.

      Some amazing insight you have, Hooton 🙄

      • But the “some” significantly outnumber the “other” and in political economy that is what counts.

        You will be aware of the wealth effect in economics and politics. It favours incumbents. Labour has got the politics of this all wrong, because its political staff is dominated by young and youngish Wellingtonians renting in the likes of Berhampore and Aro Valley.

        • Lanthanide

          So because more people in Auckland own homes than not, we should pander to them and ignore the minority.

          Tyranny of the majority, anyone? Pulling the ladder up after you? Who cares about social mobility or everyone getting a fair chance? You can even throw in shades of No True Scotsman with your phrase “hardworking families”.

          Oh right, it is Labour that cares about social mobility and everyone getting a fair chance. Not National. Why do they keep lying that they do care about everyone?

          • felix

            Yep and I heard him on the radio saying the same thing a while back.

            “Renters? But they’re the MINORITY!!”

            And in Matthew’s world, minorities don’t matter. Disgusting.

            • Matthew Hooton

              The relevance of property owners being the majority is that neither National nor Labour nor the Greens nor anyone else will propose a policy that reduces house prices.

              • vto

                And what is to be done about that Mr Hooton?

                Just carry on and barrel over the cliff full tit?

                • I expect the market will flatten sometime soon all on its own, and prices may even fall a small bit. But then whatever politically motivated left-wing interventions the National Government finally gets around to implementing will kick in, and drive prices down. If this happens before the election, National will then be kicked out of office by Auckland voters.

                  • vto

                    Yes of course I don’t disagree with what you are saying. Falling house prices will result in the incumbent being voted out, that is for sure.

                    However it is a fools paradise. High capital values serve to ensure the economy has more debt than necessary. And less money in our back pockets.

                    High capital values are in fact damaging to everybody except the banks.

                    When will the political will to address this be taken up?

    • Bunji 3.3

      Not all “hardworking families” own a house Matthew – I know a lot who can’t get into the market.
      And if you look closely I think you’ll find the “hardworking” is Rob using John Key’s words against him – if there were hardworking families in 2008 who couldn’t afford a house at a median $496k there’s more now who can’t afford one at a median $809k.

    • Anno1701 3.4

      “Hardworking families, especially in Auckland, are absolutely thrilled about house price inflation because they can use that increase in their equity to borrow for a boat or Aussie holiday.”

      These people THINK they are much wealthier than they actually are….

    • Pat 3.5

      youre right Matthew…many of those home owning Aucklanders are over the moon with their capital gains paper wealth….until their children want to enter the property market and are still living with their parents aged 25+

    • You_Fool 3.6

      I am a hard working AUcklander with a family and I own my own home and I have made a good capital gain in the last 5 years since I brought and I am using said gain to upgrade to a better hose, but I still think that it is all horribly horribly wrong.

      I need to sell my house at an overly inflated price just to be able to afford to buy anything else as they are all overly inflated. Everyone I know, who own houses or not, all are of a similar mindset that the current situation is not good and needs to be changed.

      I am pretty sure the ones who are happy with the current situation are those who have no ability to see outside themselves or past the next 5 days. Actual intelligent rational people who want to have a good, secure life know that the current situation will not last and will implode badly (like last time.)

      But you know Mr Hooton, you keep believing that everything will be alright, just keep borrowing more & buying property and I will watch as in the not to distant future you have a massive issue.

    • Brendon Harre 3.7

      ROB SALMOND SAYS: (on Polity in reply to Mathews same post)
      20 MAY, 2015 – 16:51
      Ah, Matthew. Welcome.

      Latest figures show that more than half the people in Auckland live in rented accommodation. So most people do not get the bourgeoise benefits you’re crowing about. Which, if we’re going to talk about “the reality of politics” seems important, no?

      • Yes, and Rob was wrong, unless there has been a change since 2013, when the census found that:

        “Almost two thirds (61.5%) of households in private occupied dwellings owned the dwelling they lived in, or held it in a family trust. The rate of home ownership had decreased from 63.8 per cent in 2006.”

        See http://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/EN/planspoliciesprojects/reports/Docu

        And even this understates the financial and emotional investment Aucklanders have in this issue. For example, when the kids go flatting they still have an interest in the value of their parents’ home. Phil Twyford understands this and is very careful to say he doesn’t want the value of houses in Auckland to fall – just for inflation to slow, which if course it will anyway.

        • Grant

          There is a difference (perhaps you missed it but I think you probably didn’t) between half the people in Auckland, on the one hand and 61.5% of households on the other.

          This is yet another clear example of the slippery intellectual dishonesty for which you are renowned.

          • Matthew Hooton

            I see. Where are these stats that show more than 50% of Aucklanders are renting? Do they exclude people from out of town? Say, people coming to Auckland to study at UoA, AUT etc? Or on short-term contracts?

            • felix

              More to the point, do they exclude people with matching socks?

              What about people with an aunt named Mabel?

              Or people who drive blue cars?

              Surely we don’t consider any of those people to be “living in Auckland” even though, by virtue of the fact that they’re living in Auckland, they are living in Auckland.

              🙄 🙄 🙄

              • I don’t think the socks or the aunt’s name are that relevant do you? Whereas cities will always have rental accommodation for people who are studying or working temporarily, and it wouldn’t make sense to include them in an analysis of the politics of home ownership.
                Still, it would be interesting to see the statistics that show more than 50% or Aucklanders are renters, whatever definitions they include.
                If it is true that the majority of Aucklanders are renters, then you would expect a political party to promise to try to reduce the value of houses (and therefore rents) but none do, as far as I am aware.

                • felix

                  The relevance, my dear fellow, is that you seem to have forgotten what you were arguing.

                  Rising house prices in Auckland are bad for people who live in Auckland and don’t own a house there.

                  It doesn’t matter a blind titfuck to that point whether someone is in rental acom short or long term.

  4. DH 4

    This is wrong, it’s damned annoying when people use housing as a political football.

    When interest rates were cut drastically in 2008/09 real house prices fell by nearly 30%. The real price of a house is what people pay for it and since they’re buying with borrowed money the price includes the interest.

    In 2008 mortgage rates were over 9%, a $300k 25yr mortgage cost some $580 per week. Today the same mortgage can be had for 5.5% with a cost of $424 per week.

    $580 per week now pays off a $410,000 mortgage, which should partly explain to people why house prices have risen so much. People today can borrow over 35% more at no extra cost to themselves. Rents didn’t fall when interest rates fell so the gap between rent & a mortgage closed creating a greater demand for houses.

    The real hurt being suffered by most low income earners is the higher deposit brought about by the LVR restrictions, higher house sale prices and lower interest rates on savings. For typical low income savers the deposit has increased over 250% since 2008.

    The higher deposit has squeezed out many lower income earners from the housing market and consequently increased the demand for rental properties. That pushed rents up, the higher rents in turn have been pushing house prices up further.

    IMO there’s too much dishonesty in talk about housing, from both National and Labour.

  5. Andrew 5

    I posted this the other day, but this post seems like a better home for it:

    House prices (in NZ) more than double between 2001 and 2008 and there is no problem:

    PDF Link

    Now prices are going crazy in Auckland, up to insane levels in my view, and pretty much static everywhere else in the country outside of Christchurch, and it’s all Nationals fault?

    • Colville. 5.1

      Exactly right.

      And during the same period of 01 – 08 personal debt rose by 60%.

      Everybody ticking up frivolous spending against their houses exactly as per Mathhew Hootons comment @ 9.59.

      • Who says it is frivolous?

        2008: $400,000 house, with $350,000 mortgage, meaning $50,000 equity, and no “boat” or “holidays with the kids” or whatever the family values, and a nervous bank that won’t extend the credit card limit.

        2015: $800,000 house with $450,000 mortgage, meaning $350,000 equity, and a boat in the drive, a whole lot of holiday snaps from Fiji and easily enough for the school rugby trip to Australia in August, and a happier bank willing to extend the credit card limit if asked.

        It’s called the wealth effect, and it benefits incumbents. It’s how Mrs Thatcher won the 1983 and 1987 elections, and John Major in 1992. And it significantly helped Helen Clark in 2002 and 2005. And Clinton in 1996. And Lange in 1987.

        Yet Labour’s Wellington-based strategists think it it good idea to tell these people this represents a “crisis” and that they want to either cut the value of their house (and destroy their equity) or “slow the rate of house price inflation”. (BTW, which is it, because the latter doesn’t seem much of a response to an affordability “crisis”?)

        Isn’t it obvious how Labour has got the politics of this so dramatically wrong in recent years? And what a new CGT that satisfies the RBNZ to deliver an interest rate cut next month, but will not in fact reduce the price of houses and may even further increase them, is such brilliant (albeit cynical) politics by John Key?

        • Lanthanide

          And it’s all built on debt, ie consuming future productivity now. To expect endless growth to continue forever on a finite planet is rather silly.

          Eventually the can will not be able to kicked any further down the road, and all of that $350,000 of equity will vanish in a bonfire.

          • John

            Total private mortgage debt in NZ went from $60b to $160b under Helen Clark – a 166% increase.

            Under the current government it has now increased from $160b to $200b. – a 25% increase – just 1/6th the increase in percentage terms.

            Which gives us a clue that a small number of house sales in a small number of suburbs in one city are giving a significantly skewed picture.

          • Enough is Enough

            I think you are missing the point Lanth.

            Yes it is bad.

            Yes it is unsustainable.

            But if you own a house that is worth $100k more than 12 months ago, you don’t want to hear about politicians ending the gravy train.

            • Matthew Hooton

              Yes, that is my point.

              • Ovid

                Nobody likes a party-pooper. When Irish economist Morgan Kelly kept on issuing notes of caution in that country’s bubble, he was vehemently shouted down by politicians and anyone else with skin in the game.

                We’re at a point where responsible governance and good politics are at an impasse and we can’t expect current conditions to last forever. There is a boom and bust cycle in property and as much as we may laud it, Auckland is not London or New York or San Francisco or Sydney. These chickens will come home to roost.

            • vto

              Thing is… it is not a gravy train at all.

              Where is the gravy you refer to?

  6. Charles 6

    On the upside, a bit of working-class-aspirational/middle-class “suffering” might crowbar open a few perspectives that wouldn’t otherwise reach consciousness.

    For example, back in the eighties, a hardworking aspirational/middle-class man turned into a Penny Bright style protestor over the interest rates issues – ran him ragged. Everyday he worried about losing his home. Every month he lost more money. He still hates Brash and certain banks, even ones that don’t exist anymore. But did it change his central core mindset? Nope. He didn’t lose all his money, he didn’t lose his home, because his job was safe. Unions were out in force. His industry had strict safety standards and regulations. The only thing he really had to lose was his pride and his sense of status above those dirty frikken renters. He turned out in support of National in the end, like, hardcore. He knew what “A Decent Society” really meant. Nothing he went through was really suffering, or enough to make him see.

    Since then I’ve seen some real suffering (not mine), and if that stuff happened on a larger scale, to the nice polite people, it’d change a nation’s perspective quick-smart. This blog would fall silent.

    So good one, National and John key, you keep lying and switching and screwing the working classes and the Mids. Screw ’em real good, push harder and faster, till they lose everything including their minds. Then we’ll finally see some change in people’s core beliefs – minus the 25% of Paula Bennet types who’ll come to the conclusion that screwing people isn’t such a bad thing, only not being the screwer is the bad thing.


    the parties on the Left can redouble their efforts to explain as simply as possible about what’s going on and what they’ll do about it from now until 2017. Simply. Loudly. Don’t discuss it. Don’t waver. No choice. Truth is truth.

    We can do it the hard way, or the easy way…The Left can’t lose in an equation like that.

  7. feijoa 7

    Well, I have read today ( sorry can’t find the link) an economist Shamubeel Eaqub is about to release a book called Generation Rent
    He states – of persons over the age of 15, FIFTY TWO percent are renters (based on the last census), so for the first time in NZ , renters are in the majority.

    Go and pull your head in Matthew

  8. Brendon Harre 8

    First home buyers numbers have dropped from 28% to 20% since 2007/08

    See this graph.

    What this and other housing facts means is that National are in full scale panic mode as there bull shit ‘aspirational, hardwork leads to success’ spin is proven as a big cover up for policies benefiting the usual well connected elites on the backs of others hardwork.

  9. Stuart Munro 9

    It’s astonishing that the supposedly fiscally aware party and fellow travellers like Hooton are ignoring the negative effects of a property bubble for short term political gain, especially when real growth rates, those excluding immigration and Christchurch are practically stalled.

    It would be interesting to see what proportion of hypothetical gains are in fact realised as boats and so forth, rather than being reinvested in property to reinforce the pernicious cycle.

    • I’m not ignoring them. I’m just saying what’s happening. And why the politics aren’t what Wellington-based Labour strategists think.

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