Winston Peters has apparently convinced David Cunliffe that when foreigners buy New Zealand property they make New Zealanders worse off. Mr Cunliffe has announced his intention to adopt Winston Peters’ policy of banning foreigners from buying homes. Even John Key is now saying he will look into the matter.
There is no need to. Mr Peters and Mr Cunliffe are wrong: allowing New Zealanders to sell their homes to foreigners benefits New Zealanders.
To see why, start with the benefit to New Zealanders that occurs when one Kiwi buys a house from another Kiwi. To make the matter simple, suppose Kiwi John buys a house from Kiwi Jane for $500,000.
John must value the house more than the $500,000 he paid for it, otherwise he would have been unwilling to swap this amount for the house. Suppose the maximum he would have paid is $510,000. Then he benefits $10,000 from the purchase, this being the difference between the $500,000 he lost and the value (to him) of the house he gained.
Similarly, Jane must have valued her house at less than $500,000, otherwise she would not have been willing to swap it for this amount. Suppose she would have sold it for no less than $490,000. Then she benefits $10,000 from the sale, this being the difference between the $500,000 she gained and the value (to her) of the house she sold.
So the total benefit of the transaction to Kiwis is $20,000, split evenly between the buyer and the seller.
Now suppose instead that a Foreigner Fred had out-bid Kiwi John. To do this, he must have paid at least $510,001 since, by hypothesis, John was willing to spend up to $510,000. What is the benefit to New Zealanders in this case?
Well, John is where he started, still with his $500,000 and no house. He gets 0 benefit from the sale of Jane’s house to Fred. But Jane’s benefit has risen from $10,000 to $20,001. In other words, the total benefit to New Zealanders has increased by at least $1. (In reality, the net gain will usually be in the thousands.)
Some will be tempted to say that when Foreigner Fred buys the house Kiwi John is $10,000 worse off because he has lost the $10,000 benefit he would have got if Fred had not bid. Fine. But then you must say that, in the initial case, where Fred does not bid, Jane is $10,001 worse off because she has lost the extra $10,001 she would have got if Fred had bid. So the net result ends up the same, with New Zealanders being better off when Fred bids.
And let’s not forget the benefit to Fred, who must have valued the house at something more than $510,001 to have paid this for it. Fred is not a New Zealander, of course, but he is still a human being and his welfare should still be a matter of concern to civilized people.
As this example should make clear, Mr Peters’ policy simply creates a transfer of wealth from Kiwi house sellers and foreigners to Kiwi house buyers, and one that makes New Zealanders worse off as a group. The cost of this transfer is not worth incurring, if only because, over the long run, house sellers and house buyers are the same people.
Indeed, the policy is so economically ludicrous that I suspect its real motivations lie elsewhere. To mangle Samuel Johnson’s famous saying, xenophobia is the last refuge of the political scoundrel.
“It shows how little regard Labour have for private property and how unsettling a Labour-led government could be for the economic recovery. They clearly don’t have any no-go zones.
Recommendations by the Human Rights Commission for a cross-party accord, a national housing plan and guidelines for rent control measures in the aftermath of a disaster have been rejected by ACT Leader John Banks.
“Christchurch people tell me that they are impatient with slow moving bureaucracy. They want less of it not more, he said.
“While this 184 page report cites the Productivity Commission report on housing affordability, it misses the central lesion of that report: land use controls by local government are driving up the prices of homes by rationing the land.
“I actually think the Productivity Commission pulled its punches. The Resource Management Act is failing New Zealand as planning law.
“The Human Rights Commission completely misses the point that the RMA is making homes unaffordable; the RMA is destroying jobs and economic growth. It does not adequately recognise or protect property rights.
“If we want more and better homes we need to be a wealthier country where people can get ahead under their own steam. The RMA is stopping that.
“The do-gooder Human Rights Commission report suggests that more government planning would solve the problem that current planning creates.
“I think the Human Rights Commission’s rights based analysis of the housing affordability issue is unhelpful. We can’t make a rule that makes housing affordable.
“The housing affordability crisis is an issue of supply and demand. That’s basic economics.
“It will not be fixed by more planning, more rules, rent controls, changing tenure in residential tenancies or political party accords” Mr Banks said.
“National’s plan to subsidise the sale of state houses to first home buyers in provincial areas will do nothing to tackle the housing affordability crisis which is occurring in our biggest cities, ACT Leader John Banks said today.
Housing Minister Nick Smith today unveiled a plan which would see around 400 state houses located in provincial areas sold to first home buyers. The buyers could receive a direct subsidy of up to $20,000 to purchase the homes.
“Vacant state houses should be sold outright, with no subsidy, Mr Banks said.
“It is a very poor use of tax payers’ money to subsidise first home buyers in areas where the housing affordability crisis is the least pronounced.
“People struggling to buy a modest home in Auckland or Christchurch will feel aggrieved that those in much more affordable areas are being given a hand out by the Government.
“In addition, a plan that only focuses on the state house sector fails to tackle the issue of rising house prices in our biggest cities.
“The majority of people live in owner occupied housing or private rentals. That is the sector of the market that needs to be tackled.
“ACT’s Freedom to Build policy would significantly increase the supply of land in areas like Auckland, so developers can start responding to the high demand and build more houses.
“A core part of this policy is to significantly reform the RMA so that people can more easily subdivide their land and build on it.
“We should not be giving tax payer subsidies for people to buy their first homes in relatively affordable areas. We should be removing the current restrictions that are stopping enough new homes be being built”, Mr Banks said.
“国家党出售公房给首次购房者并给予补贴的政策对解决大城市住房负担危机起不到任何作用。” 行动党领袖 John Banks 今天说。
房屋部长 Nick Smith 今天宣布推出一项新计划， 该计划预期将分布在各省级区域的400套公房出售给首次购房者。 购房者将得到最多 $20,000 的直接购房补贴。
“闲置的公房应该没有补贴而直接出售。” Banks 先生说。
行动党的“开放建设限制 （Freedom to Build)”政策将显著增加奥克兰等地的土地供应，开发商将响应高住房需求，建设更多房屋。
我们不应让纳税人给那些房价相对较低地区的首套购房者补贴。 我们应该做的是移除现有的限制足够新房兴建的政策。” Banks 先生说。
Labour leadership hopeful Grant Robertson’s proposed rent controls in Christchurch will create turmoil in the housing market and do nothing to assist with the Christchurch recovery, ACT leader John Banks said today.
“Rather than helping those wanting to rent, artificially restricting prices will make it harder for them to find a home,” Mr Banks said.
“When housing is limited it must be rationed. Higher prices create an incentive for people to make houses and rooms available for renting. It encourages renters to economise by taking less space – e.g. boarding, shared flatting or no spare bedroom. This makes rented accommodation available to more people.
“Lower rents imposed by rent controls increase demand for space and reduce the incentive to meet that demand. This will make the rental housing shortage worse. It will particularly disadvantage those who are looking to rent and their desperation will make illegal under-the-table payments inevitable.
“Rent controls will also reduce the quality of rented accommodation in Christchurch. As landlords are restricted in the rents they can charge, they will be less likely to repair and upgrade their properties. When price goes down, quality goes down.
“Mr Robertson knows that rent controls are destructive. That’s why his proposal excludes new homes. He knows that it would stall new developments.
“The outcome of rent controls will be a shortage of supply and poorer quality homes, none of which will assist with the Christchurch recovery,” Mr Banks said.
The Reserve Bank’s new restrictions on high loan-to-value ratio housing mortgages are a classic illustration of how bad policies are self-propagating.
The originating problem is the artificial shortage of land for housing:
- Not enough homes have been built to cater for a growing population
- House prices have become too high relative to incomes
- Mortgage burdens for the average house buyer have become too high as a result.
The banks are not to blame for this problem.
The Reserve Bank is not to blame for this problem.
And the Reserve Bank's new restrictions will not solve the problem, as it freely concedes.
To the extent that the restrictions reduce house prices, they will reduce the incentive to build more homes.
National’s policy of subsidies for first home owners will not make houses more affordable. Instead it will increase demand and make houses less affordable for others.
Tackling the issue of supply is the only policy that will get more New Zealanders into affordable homes, and ACT's Freedom to Build policy is the only one that really cuts to the chase.
It will free up land for residential housing and make subdivision easier. This is the quickest and most effective way to make housing more affordable.
It doesn't matter whether the Unitary Plan allows for relatively intensified development inside the Rural Urban Boundary, or greenfield developments outside of it, aka subdivisions.
That is because the problem Auckland has at its core is anti-development legislation - the Resource Management ACT (RMA).
It isn't right when developments in Long Bay, for example, take 18 years to get off the ground and can be held up by people living in the Coromandel.
The RMA came into effect in 1991.
At that time the ratio of median house price to median income was around 3 to 1.
That means before the RMA, a median house price was $300,000 and the median household income was $100,000. That's easily affordable.
Today it is almost 6 to 1.
Even if median incomes moved to $150,000 (which they haven't), median house prices have increased to $750,000. That's quite unaffordable.
It takes too long to build a house in Auckland, and it costs too much.
The RMA has created the situation in Auckland where perfectly responsible developments are opposed and delayed to the extent that, if they ever get off the ground, the extra costs have pushed up the price of the final product. It has made housing unaffordable, and created a crisis.
It is therefore irrelevant what the Unitary Plan says about where properties can be built, and what land can be developed.
Unless the RMA is dramatically reformed to create a presumption of development and a restriction on the opposition to developments, the Unitary Plan will mean nothing.
And that is because people in Coromandel will still be permitted to oppose, and thereby delay, developments in Auckland.
Author of this blog post, Nick Kearney, is the Local Board Member for the Kaipatiki Ward.
The inner Waitemata Harbour suburbs of Beach Haven, Birkenhead, Chatswood, Birkdale, Northcote Peninsula, Glenfield, Hillcrest and Marlborough make up the Kaipātiki local board area. It is bounded by the Northern Motorway to the east.
Labour’s policy to restrict foreigners from purchasing a home will hit Kiwis in the pockets and will line lawyers’ wallets, ACT Leader John Banks said today.
On Radio New Zealand this morning, David Shearer confirmed that Labour’s policy would put the onus on conveyancing lawyers to determine whether those purchasing a home are New Zealand citizens or permanent residents and are buying the home for themselves with their own money
“Housing is already unaffordable without Labour’s added proposition of more red tape and higher lawyers’ fees,” Mr Banks said.
“Under Labour’s policy, when any New Zealander buys a house, a lawyer is going to have to establish whether or not they are a foreigner.
“As there is no list of foreigners handy, every purchaser will have to be questioned by their lawyer and will have to prove their citizenship.
“Labour also expects lawyers to prove that the purchaser will be the beneficiary of the purchase and is not purchasing the home on behalf of someone else. But how would they know? Lawyers only know what they’re told by the purchaser.
“Labour’s dopey ban on foreigners purchasing housing is going to cost every New Zealander through increased legal fees and more red tape.
“It is recent immigrants to New Zealand who will sadly come under the most scrutiny from this policy that is not actually going to do anything to solve the problem of housing affordability.
“Instead of focusing on this kind of dog-whistle claptrap, Labour should be doing something about the real cause of the housing crisis – the lack of land supply for residential development,” Mr Banks said