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Mikes Minute: Home ownership and the 'rich'

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Thu, 16 Nov 2023, 10:07am

Mikes Minute: Home ownership and the 'rich'

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Thu, 16 Nov 2023, 10:07am

If a problem is, by and large, one of perception, we seem to have very successfully managed to work ourselves into a weird sort of lather over home ownership. 

The banks have all been announcing profits in the past week or so and there has been plenty of profit to announce. 

ANZ in Australia decided to tell us that they feared home ownership is becoming the domain of the rich, and upon hearing that the local CEO of the bank, Antonia Watson, entered the debate suggesting she thought the same thing. 

Yet, we do this against the backdrop of first home buyers being represented by the largest presence in the market ever; 27% of all home sales go to first timers. 

Are they all rich? 

That, I guess, is your first question - what is rich? 

Who decides what rich is? Is it kept simple by defining it by just house ownership? 

We forget in our modern-day obsession that home ownership has always been hard. It doesn't mean you had to be rich, but it was always hard. 

Chris Luxon's story in the campaign debate about him and his wife sitting in a furniture-less lounge in their first house painted the picture of many a first home buyer. 

I was the same at the age of 18. I had a house but that was all. 

There is some truth in the idea that expectation has changed. Once two or three beds with a bathroom would do, now it's two bathrooms and a good area for schools, or a deck, or some indoor-outdoor flow. 

Then you've got the banks themselves, or at least the Reserve Bank. Needing 20% for a deposit in a major city is a couple of hundred grand. Now, that is hard. Harder than it needs to be. 

5% is plenty. Housing is a very stable commodity in this country and if you are in a town or city where the average cost is $600,000, 5% is $30,000. That’s doable. 

For better or worse, we obsess about housing. We think it’s a right, which it never was. But that’s part of the angst and that's why we obsess about prices and builds and consents. 

The simple truth is for some, housing was always a stretch and always will be. But there are too many of us who started with barely anything, sacrificed hard, did our homework, bought smart and started the climb. 

You want it? You can do it. 

The 27% number tells you that is still the reality. 

The rest, the commentary - that’s just rhetoric. You buy into that, you lose before you start. 

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