10 Jun 2013

Debate on home ownership

9:05 am on 10 June 2013

There are calls for a debate on whether New Zealand needs a high rate of home ownership.

A report by the New Zealand Initiative, formerly the New Zealand Institute and the Business Round Table, has looked at why housing has become increasingly unaffordable. It partly blames tight building and land restrictions.

Auckland University professor of planning Jenny Dixon said now would be a good time for a debate on whether home ownership is the best option.

She said a lot of work been done on bringing down the price of homes but not much on making a more stable rental market.

Professor Dixon said overseas there are often large institutional landlords which like long term tenants and therefore offer stability for renters.

New Zealand Institute of Economic Research economist Shamubeel Eaqab said renting a house is usually a lot cheaper than buying one.

He said renting and investing well can offer just as much financial stability as owning a house.

But, he said, it would take a big cultural shift for New Zealanders to move away from the dream of home ownership.

Mr Eaqab said New Zealanders may also have to face the fact that owning a house will involve a much smaller piece of land than the quarter acre section.

No land shortage

Luke Malpass, one of the authors of the report, told Morning Report that New Zealand does not have a shortage of land.

Mr Malpass said cities need to become more densely built up, but not at the cost of suburban growth.