AFFORDABLE HOMES CRISIS Our dream has evaporated
One in five Kiwis has given up on home ownership, writes Susan Edmunds.
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.