27 May 2018

New stats to give fuller picture on overseas property buyers

12:47 pm on 27 May 2018

Changes to property transfer figures will give a fuller picture on overseas buyers, according to Stats NZ.

auckland housing

Photo: 123RF

The old system was criticised by opposition parties after it was introduced in 2015 because it only showed tax residency, and because they believed it underestimated the number of foreign buyers.

The latest quarterly figures, from last December, showed three percent of buyers provided an overseas tax residency, although 41 percent of property transfers did not require tax information because they were classed as the owner's main home.

Stats NZ said it had taken over responsibility for collating the data from Land Information.

The new figures will show home transfers by location in New Zealand and will separate out property transfers to resident-visa holders from citizens, providing a fuller picture of who is buying and selling property in New Zealand, it said.

"Some new features of the Stats NZ releases will be the time series of the data, and details of home transfers by their location in New Zealand," said property statistics manager Melissa McKenzie.

The first Stats NZ figures on property transfers will be published on 7 June.

Labour and New Zealand First slammed the previous Government for failing to collect adequate data on the extent of foreign ownership of homes in New Zealand.

Labour's housing spokesman Phil Twyford said the data was "'shonky" and a deliberate attempt to confuse the debate about foreign buyers.

The data had 'more holes in it than Swiss cheese', New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said.

But the National government defended the figures and said the effect on house prices from overseas buyers was peripheral.

In December, the Government introduced the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill, reclassifying residential land as sensitive.

It means most overseas buyers who do not have a commitment to reside in New Zealand, will not be able to buy homes unless they build new houses on the land as well.