8 Nov 2019

Rapid house price growth creates a lot more Kiwi millionaires

5:37 pm on 8 November 2019

A global wealth report has revealed that 185,000 New Zealanders - more than the population of Hamilton - can now claim to be millionaires in US dollar terms.

Stack of New Zealand Dollar

Photo: 123RF

According to Credit Suisse's 10th annual Global Wealth Report, this is up from 16,000 in 2010.

But Infometrics senior economist Brad Olsen said most of this wealth was locked up in property.

"The really rapid house price growth we've seen over the last couple of years has been the key driver in that change around just how many Kiwis seem to be millionaires or not.

"Certainly on paper they might be millionaires. In terms of whether they feel like millionaires in their homes, that might be a different picture."

Overall, New Zealanders' average wealth per adult rose by just under $NZ14,140 ($US9000) in the 2018/19 financial year.

Australians were the biggest losers last year, with their wealth dipping more than $43,991 ($US28,000) on average individually.

Mr Olsen said while the richest 20 percent of New Zealanders have seen an increase in their net worth according the latest figures from Statistics New Zealand, the bottom 40 percent have stayed the same.

"So the question is, yes we might have more millionaires, but is that because the economy been growing or because house prices have been growing?

"Is that prosperity being shared, or is it being concentrated in a certain group?"

Globally, more than half of all adults have a net worth below $US10,000, while the top one percent collectively own 44 percent of the wealth.

However, the report notes the trend toward increasing inequality has eased since a recent peak in 2016.