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Mike's Minute: Blame it on the bank? NZ's true housing crisis

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Tue, 13 Feb 2024, 10:01am

Mike's Minute: Blame it on the bank? NZ's true housing crisis

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Tue, 13 Feb 2024, 10:01am

Wouldn’t it be nice to think that rent-to-build could break the cultural and psychological barrier it needs to so that you can have a large building of renters co-existing happily with the sort of pride and joy you get in neighbourhoods where the bulk of people own their homes? 

The build-to-rent story and its desire for the Government to change some rules to make it more attractive, came on the same day we got some numbers that made real the hurdle the Reserve Bank is about to put in front of many of the same people when it comes to borrowing and buying with their debt-to-income measures. 

At six times your income you need an income beyond what most people have and that’s after the 20% you need to stump up for a deposit. 

That dovetails into the survey that shows an increasing number of young people don’t see owning a home as part of their future. 

On that last part I have some current experience. Our eldest kids think that way, that the concept of ownership is currently beyond them. But what they don’t know, because they are too young and inexperienced, is that their view will change. One of them worries about her student debt. It seems to her monumental, but it isn't, not given what she will earn. 

But what has changed since I bought my first house is attitude. 

I bought my first house with zero deposit. I borrowed every cent, and I borrowed it at 22%. 

What's changed is the Reserve Bank is actively looking to keep people out of the market and that is a social crime. 

What we know about housing in this country is the value roughly doubles every 10 years. Rightly or wrongly that’s the figure. On an annual basis it can go down, as it has over Covid, but not by a lot and certainly not by more than what it goes up by. 

Housing is what we do in this country for identity, for pride, for savings and for living. What the Reserve Bank is doing is increasingly ruinous for no good reason. 

You don’t need 20% deposit and you don’t need an income ratio because that’s what banks do anyway. They don’t lend to people who can't pay. 

Yes, first homes might need to be in poor areas or small towns. I bought in Port Chalmers when Port Chalmers was the boondocks and, although I liked it, a lot of people didn’t. But it got me on the ladder. 

People owning their own homes is important. Renting for life for some may be a solution but that solution should be a choice, not forced on you. 

No, not everyone will own a home. But the Reserve Bank and its policies now make it way harder than it needs to sensibly be. 

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