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John MacDonald: Hope of home ownership is fading amongst the young

Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Mon, 12 Feb 2024, 12:33PM
(Photo / NZ Herald)
(Photo / NZ Herald)

John MacDonald: Hope of home ownership is fading amongst the young

Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Mon, 12 Feb 2024, 12:33PM

If you own your own home and you’ve just spent most of the weekend doing stuff around the house, how about this for a statistic?

85 percent of us would be keen on renting the places we live in, if we didn't have to deal with quarterly inspections; if there weren't strict rules on customising rental properties to make them feel more like home; and if there wasn’t the risk or threat of having to move out at short notice.

Which I get. Because different landlords have different expectations, don’t they? Yes to hanging stuff on the wall. Or no. Yes to painting the kitchen a different colour. Or no. See what I mean?

And the idea has been, hasn’t it, that if you own your place, you’ve got the freedom to do what you want with it.

But is that really the be-all and end-all? Well, according to new survey results just released by Kiwi property Group, maybe it isn’t the be-all and end-all. Because it appears to show a change in attitudes.

The survey’s also found that hopes of owning a home in New Zealand are fading, particularly with younger people. Only 59 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds think owning your own place is the kiwi dream.

There’s a bit more enthusiasm for home ownership among those 30 and older. The survey found 70 percent of people in the 30-plus bracket think owning your own home is the be-all and end-all.

Well, that might be exaggerating it a bit. But you get the gist.

But what I find most interesting is the fact that so many of us aren’t writing-off the idea of renting. And I do get the reasons why people who took part in this survey give as the things that put them off.

Of course, if you want to be settled somewhere, you don’t want to feel that you could be chucked out anytime.

And, of course, it would be nice to make the place you live, feel like your own. Or feel like you.

What I don’t agree with in these findings, is the thing about quarterly inspections. Because I think anyone who owns a rental property has every right to make sure it’s being looked after.

I don’t have any rental properties, but I reckon that would be the thing I’d worry about most if I did. That the place wasn't being wrecked. So I’ve got no problem with the old flat inspections.

But as for the survey results, that 85 percent of us would consider giving renting a go, that doesn’t surprise me at all. And I reckon the results come down to a couple of things.

You’ve got the younger people realising that buying a home is getting more and more out of their reach. So, of course, being able to rent somewhere - maybe with a bit more longer-term stability than renting normally provides - I get.

The only problem is, while attitudes might be changing, expectations of people haven’t. And what I’m getting at there, is the view alot of us in the older generations have that you haven’t really made it until you own your own home.

Which is, maybe, understandable when you think that - for most of us - we bought our first home when houses were cheaper, when deposits could be smaller, and when everything else in life just wasn’t so expensive.

It was almost a given that you would buy a house, wasn’t it? Or could buy a house.

Just like people who get married or get a civil union. Then people ask them when they’re going to start a family. Then, if they have a child or can have a child, they start getting quizzed about when “number two” is on the way.

It’s like that with property. A person or a couple, they’re renting somewhere and people start asking when they’re going to buy. Then they do eventually buy a place - if they can - and then they start getting questions about when they’re going to buy a rental property.

See what I mean? Exactly same as the baby pressure.

And I think our expectations of ourselves and other people need to change. Because what’s so bad about renting?

Yes, when you pay rent, it’s money in the landlord’s pocket. Whereas if you own a place, even with a mortgage, the money that would go on rent creates equity for you.

And yes, when you rent, you don’t necessarily get to decide how long you stay there. If the landlord wants you gone, there are ways and means.

I know the rules have tightened up a bit. But, generally, you can’t sign-up to rent somewhere and assume you’ve got the place for as long as you want, can you?

But, despite all that, I think it’s a great thing if we are starting to think that owning your own place isn’t the be-all and end-all.

That could be because I’m in the relatively lucky position of being a homeowner myself. And if you’re a renter, you may feel completely differently.

But I think if the day is coming where we stop obsessing about property ownership, then that has to be a good thing

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