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Where is National on house prices?

Written By: - Date published: 10:04 am, January 16th, 2013 - 41 comments
Categories: economy, housing, labour, national - Tags: , ,

Plenty has been written on the damaging effects of NZ’s house price inflation. It prices young families out of owning their own home (slowly destroying what has been part of the social fabric of the country), it sucks investment out of more productive sectors of the economy, and so on. And – it’s out of control again:

$389,000 to buy a Kiwi dream

House prices have reached new heights, with the median price for a Kiwi home $389,000 – but to buy your dream home for that amount, you may need to move to Oamaru.

Latest data from the Real Estate Institute shows the national median house price reached a record $389,000 last month, up almost 10 per cent from the previous year.

Ten percent in one year is insane! It’s a massive increase in a cost that every new family faces, and it isn’t reflected in the (therefore artificially low) CPI and the linked measures that depend on it.

Just as a reminder, Labour has policies which address the most damaging aspects of the house price binge. KiwiBuild, to increase the supply to first-time buyers. Capita gains tax, to redirect investment. So where exactly is National on this issue? What is their policy? I know I know, leave it to the market. That worked so well in America…


41 comments on “Where is National on house prices?”

  1. Mike 1

    House prices are included in the CPI – ‘Purchase of newly constructed dwellings (excluding land)’ makes up around 4% of the ‘basket’
    Arguably this isn’t fully representative of house price change though

    • DH 1.1

      What do you mean ‘arguably’. It’s not arguable, it doesn’t represent house price changes. That covers only the material & construction cost of building a new house and tells us only that house prices have been rising considerably more than the cost of building them.

      The 4% weighting is a good indicator of how useless the CPI is for measuring real inflation too. If the cost of building a house doubled in a year it would add only 4% to the CPI.

  2. vto 2

    National leaves everything to the market, except the following;

    1. Property owners in central Chch.
    2. Farmers in greed of more water.
    3. Hollywood and Peter Jackson.
    4. Stephen Joyce’s ex-business Mediaworks.
    5. Quota issue in the fishing sector.
    6. The New Zealand sharemarket.
    7. (please add as appropriate)

    They are a fraud.

  3. vto 3

    Every time house prices rise so too does the amount that our economy pays to the banks. I don’t see no benefit to it.

    Should take a leaf out of Foodstuffs book and work to limit the capital value of pretty much everything. High capital values have no benefit, except to the banks

  4. Pascal's bookie 4

    “So where exactly is National on this issue? What is their policy? ”

    I seem to recall that they fixed this shortly after being elected by step-changing the economy with some tax changes or somesuch.

    • QoT 4.1

      I remember that, it was completely fiscally neutral and took the sharp edges off the recession.

      • tracey 4.1.1

        LOL @ Pascal’s bookie and QoT

        It’s okay though, English says there isn’t a crisis and they will build a thousand houses in a year or two. Can’t get much more detailed on policy than that!

        Interestingly when Labour announced their housing plan the Nats criticised it by saying where will these houses be, on the outskirts of Auckland (insert scoff here). Yet the “opening up of greenspaces” will also be n the outskirt, unless he means Cornwall Park???

  5. bad12 5

    There are 2 housing problems inherent in the New Zealand economy, one is of affordability for first home owners, the other is the cost of rental accommodation in the private sector sucking 50%-80% of income from the pockets of tenants thus denying those monies their normal transit through the economic cycle of the local economy,

    The answer to the first problem of ‘ownership’ has been addressed by Labour and we await the ‘numbers’ to be provided by Labour to address the second problem of ‘rental costs’,

    As far as National goes we await nothing as that is what National has as policy and Hell will freeze over before we see National adopt any rational solution to either of the housing problems facing us be that in the owenrship or rental market,

    The answer to both of the housing problems, rental and ownership, is of course to build, such building to address both issues creates employment and economic activity of an ongoing nature as the number of households increases and rentals decrease more monies are released to the local economy…

  6. DH 6

    Gareth Morgan has quite a good article on it here;


    The major problem with housing is successive governments have allowed the market to go down a one way street and turning it around isn’t going to be easy. From an investment perspective a rental property has to return more than a term deposit and without capital gain and/or tax breaks rents would need to go up a hell of a lot (or house prices fall considerably)

    At current term deposit rates a $389,000 house needs to return an investor about $450 per week after expenses & before tax so if they got rid of capital gain & removed all the tax concessions you’d be looking at rents of over $500 a week on that median house. Labour & National have both really made a mess of it.

    • bad12 6.1

      This is the basic math at the heart of the housing ‘problem’,

      At it’s height HousingNZ had 75,000 rental units it rented out to tenants for a cost of 25% of the tenants income with a New Zealand population of some 3.3 million souls,

      For a population of 4.4 million of us HousingNZ now has only 69,000 homes to rent,

      Just those numbers alone would suggest a demand for low cost rental accommodation of at least 100,000 HousingNZ rental’s,

      the fact that Governments both Labour and National have not kept building HousingNZ homes at the pace the population has risen and instead relied upon the market to provide such housing is the root cause of the current housing ‘problem’…

      • DH 6.1.1

        Yep. They’ve let house prices rise so much that capital gain & tax breaks have become an entrenched component of the return on investment. If the market was forced back to a standard investment portfolo where rents comprised the sole return on investment we’d see a massive increase in rents well beyond what many people can afford to pay. That would drive low income earners further into poverty.

        Labour’s housing policy won’t help much there. A $300k house still has to return a good $450 week and $450 in rent is far too much relative to real wages in this country. It’s not solving the core problem.

        • bad12

          You seem there to be suggesting that Labour’s ‘fix’ Kiwibuild will simply become rental accommodation????,

          The ‘fix’ for affodability of housing is as it always was, State Housing en masse rented out to the tenants at 25% of income, build enough of them and demand for rental accommodation will drop like a stone as will the actual price of housing for those wishing to buy,

          As Gareth Morgan has pointed out, the ‘investment in private rentals’ is suppressing any investment in private sector business,

          The higher rents payed by tenants in the private sector (50%+ of income), as opposed to what they would pay as State tenants (25% of income) is also acting as a major factor in the local economy where as demand increases for rental property more monies are diverted from consumption to pay rents,

          Bill English on RadioNZ News at 3 o,clock made the laughable assertion that National is doing it’s bit to alleviate housing inflation as it will have in a year or 2 according to Bill built the huge total of 1000 State houses in Auckland,

          That’s more than pathetic from the Finance Minister who has overseen the dismantling of parts of the Governments housing estate in Auckland leading to a loss of at least 500 State owned rentals…

          • DH

            No I don’t think they’ll end up as rental properties. I just agree with Karol’s assertions that a $300,000 house is still well beyond the reach of many NZers. The policy is an appeasement to the better-paid middle class.

            I do think it’s a given it will be watered down anyway once people realise the impact it will have. Houses don’t sit empty, 100,000 houses will need some 250-300,000 people to fill them. Unless they’re planning on ramping up immigration to match the increase in housing stock the property market would hit a seriously big wall if they put that many extra houses on the market in such a short space of time.

    • bad12 6.2

      We have to remember also that ‘investors’ in rental property are acting as agents for the banks which are the ultimate beneficiaries of the ‘Accommodation supplement’ paid to many individuals in private rental to the tune of $1.2 billion annually,(a quarter of the profits taken off-shore by banking organizations annually),

      I only disagree with Gareth Morgan on one point of His excellently written article, there is one fundamental driver in housing besides tax breaks as an ‘investment’ and that of course is demand for rental accommodation,

      My other comment covers the root cause of that demand…

  7. Tiresias 7

    Labour’s “policies which address the most damaging aspects of the house price binge” are a disgrace for any supposed Left-wing party, and simply buys into the ‘property-owning is king’ fixation of the Right.

    Let’s say it’s implemented. Is there to be any cap on the price to be paid for the land required? Presumably this will have to be close to town and cities, where any land with even the potential for building on is already worth more than if it had oil under it. Or is the labour Government going to push through re-zoning of green-belt and good agricultural land and then have to pay the new market-price for it in competition with private developers?

    Let’s say it’s implemented. Are you going to stop these new, low-price houses being gobbled up by private investors for rent by saying they’re only for “new families”, or “deserving Kiwis” or “persons approved by local screening panels” or can jump through whatever hoops the Govt of the time imposes? How are you going to deal with parents who might want to help their kids make such a purchase but want to hold the title against the possibility of future break-ups, or the death of their own kid and the re-marriage of their partner?

    Let’s say it’s implemented. Let’s say they’re all bought by honest, deserving Kiwis who do their best to service their affordable mortgages, and the rates, and adequate property insurance, and all the little costs of proper property maintainence, but lose a job, or have to take a pay cut, or Mum gives up her job to bring the kids up and suddenly there isn’t the money there was. What goes first? Repairs and maintenance? Insurance? What happens to the neighbourhood when even one property grows shabby and badly-kept, or is damaged by fire not covered by insurance?

    Let’s say it’s implemented. How are you going to stop these ‘new families’, deserving Kiwis’ or the locally approved poor flicking their nice new houses on to private investors for a small profit after six months – or putting them onto the market because job-loss makes it impossible for them to maintain even a modest mortgage, or their job/work prospects requires them to move, or they split with their partners, &tc?

    A socially responsible Government should be providing quality houses for rent so that it can set the rent appropriate to the occupier’s particular situation and social needs, incidentally driving down rentals in the private sector, and making property available where it’s needed so that when necessary to follow a job people can move with minimal difficulty and expense, and should maintain and insure the property out of the rent so that the ‘new family’ occupying it should be able to devote all their time, energy and efforts to keeping and improving their jobs and bringing up the kids instead of worrying about keeping a roof over their heads.

    When I grew up on a ‘Council Estate’ in the UK there was no stigma attached to renting. It was something you did while you got established and gave you a stable base to do it from. Going ‘upmarket’ and buying your own home was something you did when you had climbed the employment ladder far enough to earn a solid wage and the kids were no longer costing you a fortune. Now tho’ “owning your own home’ is apparently every Kiwi’s dream – a dream sold by estate agents, property developers, mortgage-selling banks and the Right. It’s Napoleon selling the cart and its harness to Boxer.

    Labour’s “policies which address the most damaging aspects of the house price binge” should be repugnant to everyone on the Left.

  8. tc 8

    Gareth Morgan’s got some good points, that one way street Oz blocked off with a CGT on a sliding scale along with compulsory super.

    We’ve allowed housing to become easy tax free wealth storage for the few who can get onto it and stopped building State houses.

    NACT have helped this along, Labour have looked good by default with their policy which is just left of centre enough without really fixing much.

  9. Fortran 9

    The problem with a CGT is the years it will take to be effective. The idea is good in principle but needs to be explained as to how it is to work.
    A start up Department will be required which over the first 10 years will cost far more than it gets. The starting date and database is the critical factor from where and when the tax can start.
    I remember when a CGT was introduced in UK many years ago, it took well over 15 years to balance income over expenditure, and the businesses started up to circumvent the tax did a roaring trade.
    It sounds good – a Capital Gains Tax but some explantion will be needed as to what and how it is to be covered, and the taxes implemented, and where this additional tax is to be spent.
    However, we need it to start asap.

    • Rich 9.1

      You wouldn’t need a new department, IRD would handle it. With all transactions (going back a long way) in LINZ, checking the capital gain would be fairly straightforward.

      However, I’d agree that CGT is an incomplete solution. What’s actually needed is a (negative) inflation target for house prices as we have for general inflation, and a range of control/revenue measures:
      – tax on mortgage interest
      – land value tax
      – transfer tax (aka stamp duty)
      – LVR maximums

      • Herodotus 9.1.1

        Just what these 100k new Kiwibuild owners want to see their investment into home ownership worth less than what the paid for, it what you are saying regarding -ve inflation for houses then should the govt then promote private landlords as they will be paying the cost and with property dropping also having to battle reducing rents?

        • just saying

          The idea is supposed to be that the buyers would be buying a home to live in rather than “making an investment” If they move home, the next home will likely be equally affected by deflated prices.

          It irks me that every aspect of life has been transformed into a function of the market, as opposed (in this case) to housing being primarily about, say, housing.

          • Herodotus

            The Kiwibuild IMO now fills is hole that has been created by the “market”. That being how to introduce new players in, as 1st home buyers are for all intense purposes excluded. (This os also the failure for the ability to earn a fair wage, as our pay packs have been suffering for many many years)So what happens ? there is govt intervention to fix this. So govt money is transferred to private coys and this neoliberal monster is feed.
            No I understand all the positive aspects that owning your house has (connection to a community, the feeling or worth etc)

  10. Chris 10

    I don’t agree with really any of that except your last point:

    – there already is tax on mortgage interest?
    – rates are a land value tax – if you mean additional levies from the government there is no way that will hurt anyone other renters or people on low – middle incomes
    – CGT essentially will be a transfer tax, having both will just confuse things. Far more effective and efficient just to have a higher CGT
    – Agree with this.

    • tracey 10.1

      Rates are pretending to be a land value based tax. I have a piece of land in Marlborough which I can’t sell, not even for 50% less than its rateable value. Yes, we have tried to sell it far lower than we purchased and its rated value. Rated values are a joke.

      Can people explain how to address the rental prices in Auckland without building more houses? I am genuinely interested in this.

  11. bad12 11

    The latest from Bill English on housing affordability is that Len Brown should commit political suicide by using the Auckland City Council’s planning procedures to restrict the size of houses built in that city,

    Your the f**king Government Bill, present the Auckland City Council with Legislation requiring them to restrict house sizes,

    Even if the Dull one from Dipton did that it would make not an iota of difference, the first home buyers would still be out-bid by the ‘rental investors’,

    There is in fact only one means of ensuring that first home ownership is affordable and there is only one means of making sure that rents become affordable and that’s for Government to simply by-pass the market and build the size and type of property that is needed for either sale or rental…

  12. bad12 12

    Bill, the dull one from down Dipton way who just happens to be masquerading as the Minister of Finance just makes things worse every time He opens His mouth,

    This time on Prime TV News Bill says there is no housing crisis despite what the Salvation Army say, Bill also says that He and the Salvation Army worked out ‘a plan’ for accommodation 3 years ago,

    Yeah sure Bill, you would know sitting in your ivory tower whether there was a crisis or not wouldn’t you, if the same bloke you were working with 3 years ago who being ‘on the ground’ would see the problem far better than you in your ivory tower says there is one then i for one am more inclined to believe Him,

    PS Bill, who would have thunk it, not you obviously, but, it appears ‘the plan’ hatched 3 years ago just hasn’t worked has it….

    • tracey 12.1

      Yes, Major Campbell seemed like a liar and a fraudster in the that piece, a guy with a vested interest to talk up a non existent crisis…

      Oh, and so much for keeping central govt out of local govt following the Super City creation. Now we see why they needed a supercity, they only have to bully one body instead of 8 councils.

  13. Housing is cheap anywhere in NZ compared to many places in the US. As for property tax, you can multiply by a factor of ten over what you pay in NZ. Pay $1,600 in NZ, you’d pay 16,000 in San Francisco Bay Area. You don’t have a housing crisis but you sure as shit do have an infrastructure crisis and a land supply crisis.

    • higherstandard 13.1

      Frankly that’s rubbish Monique – housing in many parts of the US is very much cheaper than NZ both in terms of new builds and existing stock.


      • Colonial Viper 13.1.1

        Did Monique also just miss the US$2T – $3T infrastructure run down which currently exists in the US? Power grid, roads, schools, subways falling apart and unused?

        I read that Eddie Murphy did recently sell his home for US$12M so maybe that proves that housing is more expensive in the USA than in Mt Wellington?

    • tracey 13.2

      I think using San Francisco’s Bay area as your example of american costs is drawing a longish bow.

      Do you also suggest that if some children are not living off garbage dumps (as in some poorer nations) they are not really poor or in need of help, until they are living off a garbage dump?

  14. infused 14

    Labours policy is yet to be seen.

    10% where? I’d say Auckland is pushing that up. It hasn’t moved around Wellington.

    • tracey 14.1

      …and National’s policy? Over 4 years now… they are anti assisting Auckland transport issues (other than more motorways) but now say they want to build on green spaces… that’s not policy that’s a cynical nothing masquerading something in response to labour focusing on housing and transport infrastructure.

  15. MrSmith 15

    People pump money into domestic housing because it’s a safe bet, we need a roof over our heads along with food and water.

    Over here on my ‘Right’ tho you have some other options, the share market, finance companies, businesses, spin the wheel, you can’t lose, huge profits, this is a once in a life time opportunity, all our investments are guaranteed.

    Until there is a safer place to put our money we’ll probably have to put up with high house prices, and the Right will have to put up with high finance rates for there ponzi schemes, unless they can find any more suckers.

    • tracey 15.1

      that’s why the Govt brings you an exciting opportunity to invest… in 4 power companies…

  16. Herodotus 16

    So the increase of prices just returns the average house price to we’re it was ore GFC, some analysist could refer to this as a correction.
    “isn’t reflected in the (therefore artificially low) CPI and the linked measures that depend on it.” Glad someone else has spoofed this, pity this has been lost on all those who cheerleed the past govts performance!!
    And you are wrong in that the 2 policies of labour will address the issue. CGT as others have mentioned will take 10 + years to take effect (and what is thhe money raised to be put to ? As the $5k tax free threshold has Ben eliminated. And for Kiwibuild policy this will take the best part of the 1st term for any houses to be built, and that $300k build in today’s $ will be in 5 years time incur another 10% cost increase due to inflation-far better as many other thoughtful people have mentioned to increase HNZstock and reverse the dreadful labour policy of guaranteed rents to private landlords to cover the deficient HNZ investment.

    • tracey 16.1

      and how would you address the “issue”? For what it’s worth we should be applauding a party prepared to look at long term policy instead of knee-jerk poll driven policy… not that I am saying this isn’t just that… But ten years to begin to impact shouldnt be the only reason to dismiss something.

      • Herodotus 16.1.1

        What has been suggested is part of a long term fix. But for the next 5-10 years there will be little to be seen.
        Build more HNZ stock. All those school closures that mallard and co announced use that land to build HNZ.( also any other govt closures that have a land component) (Unless there are treaty clauses to use this land to compensate for past wrongs)
        Reduce the banks ability to “create” money with capital controls, limit the amount of interest that can be deducted for rentals, if as some have commented that rates are a land tax, then do not allow this also as a tax deduction.
        John key is doing some of what he can to reduce the cost of property by having policies that result in 50k emigrating to Aussie ( from all over nz) problem is that these are replaced by 50k immigrants all wanting to reside in Auckland, which is where there is severe shortages and this is being reflected IMO stupid prices being paid(but then in 2004 I thought the same thing)and since the early 70’s nz has never felt any property downturn for any length of time.

  17. tracey 17

    “Build more HNZ stock”

    That will also take time, but I agree.

    There are also over 80,000 homes effectively out of the Auckland housing market because they leak, badly, and the owners cant afford to repair them or sell them, they canmaybe rent them but have to live somewhere themselves. That’s a lot of homes to take out of the equation.

  18. kiwi_prometheus 18

    Good stuff from Gareth Morgan:

    “…property prices here remain massive compared to household incomes on any international comparison.

    The two questions of course are whether our property prices should or will fall (or in economics parlance, “correct”)?

    When in Opposition the politicians are more prone to advocate the tax loopholes on capital ownership be closed, but when in power their conviction evaporates…

    …everybody is agreed about the disease, even on the causes of the disease. But we are either too intellectually lazy or politically cowardly to fix it.

    It will persist until this crisis manifests itself in a form that cannot be avoided…”


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    The number of working New Zealanders needing to stop Kiwisaver payments is another sign that many people are not seeing benefit from growth in the economy, says Grant Robertson Labour’s Finance spokesperson. "There has been an increase of 14 ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Fight Club failings
    The Corrections Minister must take full responsibility for the widespread management failings within Mt Eden prison, says Labour’s Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Rethink welcomed
    The Labour Party is pleased that Craig Foss is reconsidering the return of New Zealand soldiers buried in Malaysia, says Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Shearer. “For the families of those who lie there, this will a welcome move. The ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Disappointment over UN vote
    Helen Clark showed her characteristic drive and determination in her campaign to be UN Secretary General, and most New Zealanders will be disappointed she hasn't been selected, says the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. "Helen Clark has been an ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Māori need answers on Land Court job losses
    Māori landowners, Māori employees and Treaty partners need answers after a Ministry of Justice consultation document has revealed dozens of roles will be disestablished at the Māori Land Court, says Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Key’s ‘efficiencies’ = DHBs’ pain
          John Key’s talk of ‘efficiencies’ ignores the fact the Government is chronically underfunding health to the tune of $1.7 billion, says Labour’s Acting Health spokesperson Dr David Clark.       ...
    3 weeks ago
  • More than 1,300 schools to face budget cuts
    The latest Ministry of Education figures reveal thousands of schools will face cuts to funding under National’s new operations grant funding model, says Labour's Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Speculation fever spreads around country
    House prices in Wellington, Hamilton and Tauranga are going off as a result of uncontrolled property speculation spilling over from the Auckland market, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “Speculators who have been priced out of Auckland are now fanning ...
    3 weeks ago
  • New Zealand lags on aid targets
      The National Government needs to live up to its commitments and allocate 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income on development assistance, says Labour’s spokesperson on Pacific Climate Change Su’a William Sio.  “The second State of the Environment Report ...
    3 weeks ago
  • War on drugs needs more troops
    The Minister of Police must urgently address the number of officers investigating illegal drugs if she is serious about making a dent in the meth trade, says Labour’s Police spokesperson Stuart Nash.  “Answers from written questions from the Minister show ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Doctors strike symptom of health cuts
    The notice of strike action issued by the junior doctors today is the result of years of National’s cuts to the health system, says Labour’s Associate Health spokesperson Dr David Clark. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Government starves RNZ into selling Auckland asset
    Just weeks after TVNZ opened its refurbished Auckland head office costing more than $60 million, RNZ (Radio New Zealand) has been forced to put its Auckland office on the market to keep itself afloat, says Labour’s Broadcasting spokesperson Clare Curran. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Government must be more than a bystander on the economy
    Despite what he might think John Key is not a political commentator, but actually a leader in a Government who needs to take responsibility for the conditions that mean a rise in interest rates, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson.  “John ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Māori Party all hui no-doey on housing
    The Māori Party should stop tinkering and start fixing tragic Māori housing statistics in the face of a national housing crisis, says Labour’s Māori Development spokesman Kelvin Davis. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Labour committed to eliminating child poverty
    Labour accepts the challenge from Children’s Commissioner Andrew Becroft to cut child poverty and calls on the Prime Minister to do the same, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    3 weeks ago