Mike Hosking: Govt can't, and won't, do anything about the housing market

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Tue, 19 Jan 2021, 4:03PM
(Photo / File)
(Photo / File)

Mike Hosking: Govt can't, and won't, do anything about the housing market

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Tue, 19 Jan 2021, 4:03PM

You might have noted over the holiday period one of the flags we raised before Christmas was not to get sucked in by the government who were, once again, playing us for fools when the heat in the housing market spilled over to the political world.

The politicians got embarrassed over the fact they'd banged on endlessly about affordable housing while in opposition, but in government and had done nothing about it apart from watch the prices go up, and up, and up.

So as a pre-Christmas distraction Grant Robertson wrote to the Reserve Bank Governor and made some noise about prices, in the vein hope that we'd all think that actually meant something.

It meant nothing, of course. In fact, it meant so little Robertson, just as we headed off on holiday went to the extent of telling us they'd be doing something about house prices but not until next year, which is now this year.

Meantime Adrian Orr got hacked. On a side note, and to his credit, he did what all good leaders should do and owned it, apologised unreservedly, and said this was on him. So, refreshing was the approach, one, a lot of people could look and learn. And two, I'm almost of a mind to forgive him for showing such rare honesty and integrity.

Back to the houses, new numbers last week for December. Records, records, records. A lot of record prices, record sales, and record increases.

Only 27 days to sell a house on average, that’s another record. There's no stock, that's another record. One of the banks is offering money at barely over two percent, that's another record.

In other words, housing is doing what housing always does, getting on with it. While the noise makers do what the noise makers do, little if anything.

If the government were honest like Adrian Orr, they'd say "look there's not a lot we can do, short of forcing councils to free up more land. Consents are right up there so there's no shortage of building. We're building social houses, but that doesn't really address regular pricing so, that's about it."

That, at least, is the truth.

And never, ever forget a lot of this debate is predicated on the idea that rising house prices are bad, which, of course, they are not. We love housing. Always have, always will.

No, it can't continue the way it is, and it won't. But if you honestly thought Grant Robertson was going to do anything tangible more fool you.