After all the media speculation on how many of our houses are being sold to people who live overseas, finally, we received last month actual figures from Land Information New Zealand.
It is good to have some data.
The government immediately started crowing that ‘only’ 4% of houses in Auckland are bought by overseas residents.
Well, I do not think that is good news, because 4% means a few thousand families in New Zealand did not get a house.
A foreign speculator got one instead – and in doing so, added to the demand and lifted prices for everyone else.
That is the real, human cost of that 4% figure.
Meanwhile the Government continues to deny that there is a crisis in the housing market, with Housing Minister Nick Smith calling it ‘media hype.’
The Prime Minister says it is a ‘challenge,’ but not a crisis.
They are obviously not reading newspapers or hearing the almost daily stories of Kiwis who are saving diligently, yet going backwards in relation to a housing market that’s out of control.
John Key has been in charge for eight years, and we haven’t seen the courageous policies that we need to help Kiwi households get their own home.
The dream is merely getting further and further out of reach.
Auckland’s rampant housing market will be subdued by building more houses – something the government has failed to do. Labour has policies for that. Our bold Kiwibuild Policy will see 100,000 warm, dry, affordable homes built for first-time homeowners.
Meanwhile, demand could be instantly reduced by 4% simply by banning non-New Zealand residents from buying houses.
It is that easy.
That would mean houses generally would be more affordable and more Kiwi families would have the opportunity to buy them.
So why not get on with it?
Our government can make all the claims it likes about houses being cheaper than they used to be. They are not, and the increasing numbers of Kiwi families living in rentals or mortgaged up to their eyeballs, the young couples struggling to save a deposit, Generation Rent, and the parents who worry about their kids never being able to own their own home, know it too.
When New Zealanders find themselves kissing the Kiwi dream goodbye, something is dreadfully wrong.
The government should not ignore it any longer.
David Shearer is an elected Member of Parliament from Mt Albert in Auckland and Labour Party’s spokesman for Foreign Affairs.