House price hopes un­der scru­tiny

Rob Stock runs the ruler over the ma­jor par­ties’ house-price poli­cies.

Sunday News - - BUDGET BUSTER -

WHENchal­lenged dur­ing the lead­ers’ de­bate on whether he wanted house prices to fall, Prime Min­is­ter Bill English said: ‘‘I want them to stay flat while in­comes rise.’’

His ri­val for power, Jacinda Ardern, said: ‘‘For home­own­ers, the ones who cur­rently have their homes. We don’t want them to lose their value, but we want more af­ford­able hous­ing in the mar­ket as well, and that is what is miss­ing.’’

Ex­perts doubt that ei­ther party’s poli­cies will achieve their leader’s hopes. English’s an­swer may pro­vide com­fort for home­own­ers en­riched as a re­sult of a fail­ure to build enough homes to meet de­mand, but it of­fers none to a gen­er­a­tion of peo­ple left rent­ing thanks to as­tro­nom­i­cally high house prices.

Af­ford­able-hous­ing cam­paigner Hugh Pavletich said: ‘‘There has al­ready been a gen­er­a­tion that’s been se­verely mis­treated be­cause of this hous­ing is­sue, and what Mr English is say­ing is an­other gen­er­a­tion should miss out. That is grossly ir­re­spon­si­ble.’’

Pavletich said prices must fall, grad­u­ally, un­til they are around three times me­dian in­come.

English’s vi­sion of prices stay­ing level, but fall­ing in real terms as wages rise, wouldn’t achieve that.

Auck­land needed only look to Christchurch for its hous­ing so­lu­tion, Pavletich said. Spread out. Free up land sup­ply. Let peo­ple build.

Pavletich does not be­lieve Na­tional has the poli­cies to keep prices flat as in­comes rise.

When Na­tional came to of­fice un­der John Key, the me­dian house in Auck­land cost 6.4 times me­dian house­hold in­come, he said. ‘‘It’s now a ‘‘strato­spheric’’ 10 times.’’

Hous­ing strate­gist Leonie Free­man, who has just re­leased a re­port on restor­ing hous­ing af­ford­abil­ity, can’t see Na­tional’s poli­cies achiev­ing English’s hopes.

The Gov­ern­ment’s phi­los­o­phy was to sort out land sup­ply and in­fra­struc­ture and leave the rest to the mar­ket. ‘‘The mar­ket hasn’t done that,’’ she said.

Pamela Bell from Pre­fabNZ said: ‘‘It’s highly un­likely that our in­comes will rise to meet house prices. It’s a lovely idea, but I can’t see how it could work.’’

Un­der pres­sure in the polls, Na­tional has an­nounced an over­haul of ur­ban plan­ning to make it eas­ier, and faster, to build homes. Na­tional says it is mak­ing ‘‘good progress’’ in get­ting houses

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