AF­FORD­ABLE HOMES CRI­SIS Our dream has evap­o­rated

One in five Ki­wis has given up on home own­er­ship, writes Susan Ed­munds.

Sunday News - - FRONT PAGE -

NATASHA and Mark Pad­di­son have wanted to buy a house for the past seven years. But the Whangarei cou­ple say it’s just get­ting harder.

‘‘He works 50-plus hours a week but the dream of a home is just that, a dream,’’ Natasha says. ‘‘There is no help for the mid­dle class. When we look at the prices in this town, it’s de­press­ing. As Auck­land grows, so does the want for homes up here.’’

She is de­pen­dent on a neb­u­liser be­cause of her asthma, so needs to make sure that any house they live in is free of mould. ‘‘Find­ing an af­ford­able, healthy home is not an op­tion. Mar­ket prices rise but wages don’t match them.’’

The fam­ily of three are on one in­come, and pay $300 a week in rent. ‘‘We have a lit­tle boy who is three. We want more chil­dren but we don’t have our own home.’’

New re­search from Realestate.co.nz shows that 22 per cent of New Zealan­ders have de­cided, like the Pad­dis­ons, they will never be able to live in a home they own them­selves. That is up from 19 per cent in Novem­ber.

Econ­o­mist Gareth Kier­nan, of In­fo­met­rics, said that was not an un­re­al­is­tic num­ber, given how un­af­ford­able hous­ing had be­come in many cen­tres.

The Gov­ern­ment’s most re­cent hous­ing af­ford­abil­ity data showed 80 per cent of rent­ing house­holds could not com­fort­ably af­ford a first home.

‘‘It’s pretty daunt­ing to look at house prices in Auck­land and other ur­ban cen­tres and re­alise how much money it takes to get into the mar­ket and the de­posit re­quire­ments, how much you need to save to get there.’’

He said the out­look might change if house prices stalled for a sus­tained pe­riod, giv­ing in­comes a chance to catch up.

Vanessa Tay­lor, spokes­woman for Realestate.co.nz, said home own­er­ship was still an im­por­tant goal for many peo­ple.

‘‘For Ki­wis it’s much more than just an as­set class. We have a deeply en­trenched emo­tional con­nec­tion to own­ing our own home,’’ she said.

The sense of achieve­ment for those who man­aged it was huge.

She said Ki­wiSaver was in­creas­ingly be­com­ing a big part of the so­lu­tion. Just over 40 per cent of first-home buy­ers were us­ing their Ki­wiSaver savings to buy a house.

But she said some buy­ers were also hav­ing to think lat­er­ally.

More par­ents were us­ing ‘‘liv­ing lega­cies’’ to help their chil­dren with de­posits – ei­ther through giv­ing money or rais­ing a mort­gage against their own homes.

‘‘It might be the case that if peo­ple have been in their houses for 20 years it might be they have an area on the back where they can put a one- or two- bedrooom house. If it’s un­der 80sqm, it doesn’t have to be sub­di­vided. You could put a ready­made house on the back so your kids can live out there. It’s just think­ing about other op­tions.’’

Oth­ers were pooling their re­sources to get a de­posit, Tay­lor said, or get­ting in board­ers or flat­mates to help pay the rent.

‘‘We know of one young cou­ple who live in the self­con­tained garage and rent out their three­bed­room home on the front of the site. By liv­ing on the prop­erty, they can also en­sure that it’s well looked af­ter.

‘‘These types of ar­range­ments can also help flathunters who are strug­gling to find some­where to rent in the cur­rent mar­ket where rentals are in high de­mand.

‘‘While the heat is in the rental mar­ket, there has been a slow­down in the time it takes to sell a prop­erty, so home-buy­ers do have more time to make a de­ci­sion or put in le­gal ar­range­ments for groups of friends to co-own.’’

Natasha Pad­di­son did not share Tay­lor’s op­ti­mism. She said their Ki­wiSaver savings were not grow­ing fast enough to help them.

She did not like the idea of re­ly­ing on any­one else.

‘‘It’s so hard cur­rently – to be re­ally hon­est, I trust no one in my home.’’

Only a rent-toown scheme would help, she said.

Natasha Pad­di­son

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