The Soap Box: Budget won't do much for housing crisis

Barry Soper,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 16 May 2018, 5:24a.m.
Housing Minister Phil Twyford likely won't get much help from the budget tomorrow. (Photo / NZ Herald)
Housing Minister Phil Twyford likely won't get much help from the budget tomorrow. (Photo / NZ Herald)

Kiwis were brought up with a bricks and mortar mentality. The idea of putting money every week into a landlord's pocket was an unpalatable prospect, it was dead money, it could be used paying off a mortgage and that's what most of us did.

Buying a house has always been a bit of a struggle but the more attractive God's Own has become as a place to live, the more unaffordable housing has become.

People just a few years back living in a hovel in Howick are now millionaires and that's made those of us who didn't have the dosh as a down payment feel dismal. Chances of getting a foot on the home ownership ladder don't look like improving in the foreseeable future with ownership rates in this country now at a 60 year low.

Just five years ago houses across the country were worth 30 percent less than what they are today while the money you're earning's increased by just 15 percent.

Not only is the wage/house price gap widening, so is the amount of money you're required to come up with for a deposit, 20 percent thanks to the Reserve Bank's loan to value ratios.

The Government's election promise of a hundred thousand affordable houses over the next ten years has seen them now courting cash-strapped developers to rework their plans to churn out cheap houses under the Kiwibuild brand.

But since the election add fifty grand to a $600,000 affordable house being talked about then and don't think of Auckland with Jacinda Ardern saying the million dollar city's now obviously off limits.

Expect a lot of talk about housing in tomorrow's Budget but don't expect a solution to the problem other than to provide shelter for those who're down and desperate.

They are still looking at ways of getting people into their own homes though with Ardern mentioning share equity schemes, essentially where a third party investor comes up with a second mortgage which is paid back along with the capital gain when a house is sold. But given the market's not nearly as buoyant as it was just a year ago the return on investment isn't remotely as attractive.

Perhaps it's time we changed our mentality about ownership and put our money into other, more productive endeavours.

If you look at home ownership rates around the world, the highest are predominantly with the old Soviet bloc countries with this country's ownership in the mid to low 60 percent which includes Australia, France, the United States, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Japan and Korea.

Feel better? Probably not.


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