2 Nov 2018

Housing affordability crisis - are we winning?

From Nine To Noon, 9:09 am on 2 November 2018

It's going to take more than one initiative to solve the housing crisis, commentators say.

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Photo: REINZ

The government announced yesterday a ban on letting fees and is said to be working on shared-ownership housing model.

Meanwhile last week, the first KiwiBuild families moved into their homes.

But supplying the affordable housing market with KiwiBuild homes doesn't support people with lower incomes to buy a house, chief executive of the Property Council, director of Goodman Property Trust and a former general manager of Housing New Zealand, Leonie Freeman told Nine to Noon.

Housing commentators say that's why a shared-ownership model could be vital in targeting the so-called "missing middle". Also on the horizon, hope the Central Bank's Loan to Value Restriction (LVR) review, due later this month, could lead to lower deposits.

"That's where the shared-ownership type schemes come into play."

She said while it's important the government was now looking at shared-ownership schemes, they already exist and need the government's support to expand.

And, she said, these scheme's need to run alongside KiwiBuild.

"We need to pull a whole lot of levers at the same time. To solve the housing crisis that we have there isn't just one initiative that will solve it," she said.

"Effectively, what we want is we want people moving rightwards down that housing continuum towards greater independence rather than needing more support."

Both ownership and supply were important, she said.

"There has to be a range of different models that are out there because one size doesn't not fit all in this sort of situation," Professor John Tookey said.

"Unfortunately, because the KiwiBuild scheme in itself is somewhat, shall we say, shrouded in mystery as to what it actually means... there is a little bit of 'we don't quite know' at the moment."

Real Estate Institute NZ chief executive Bindi Norwell said shared-ownership was a fantastic initiative.

"The fact that home ownership is its lowest in 60 years, we need to look more broadly at other models that will make it easier for people to get on to the property ladder."

But there needs to be enough houses for people to buy.

And a clear vision with clear targets, Ms Freeman said.

"We're not even having the data to actually give us the idea of how we're progressing," she said.

Multiple electoral cycles over the eight or nine years it would take to build the amount of homes New Zealand needs was a major drama in itself, Prof Tookey said.

"The countervailing position is if we over supply the market too quickly then we will actually bring about a house price collapse potentially, or certainly extreme watering down."

Escalating supply and a flat lining in values is the best New Zealanders could realistically hope for, he said.