30 Jul 2013

Govt rejects claim overseas buyers inflating prices

10:15 pm on 30 July 2013

The Government has rejected suggestions that overseas buyers are helping drive up house prices.

But Labour Party leader David Shearer says banning overseas speculators from buying residential properties in New Zealand is just one part of a package aimed at making homes more affordable.

While overseas investors do buy residential property in New Zealand, there are no reliable figures on how significant a problem it might be.

Labour says if elected in 2014, it would bar non-residents from buying existing houses, flats or apartments, in an effort to reduce house prices.

But Finance Minister Bill English on Tuesday dismissed Labour's plan.

"Rather than spend our time on working out around residents and citizenship and all this stuff for what looks to be quite a small group of buyers and sellers, we're focused on the big issue which is getting more houses on the ground."

David Shearer says the National Party is not doing enough to make property more affordable for first-home buyers.

"The onus is on the National Party to come up with a policy that'll actually help first home buyers and up to now, they've done nothing. They won't look at capital gains tax, they won't build more houses and they won't clamp down on overseas speculators.

"So what have they done for those young couples out there that I speak to that are desperate to get into their own home?"

During Question Time in Parliament on Tuesday, he asked Prime Minister John Key about the Government's commitment to making housing more affordable.

Mr Key responded by saying housing affordability was most difficult in 2007 under a Labour-led Government and its policy to bar non-residents from buying existing property has been dreamed up and won't make a difference.

Meanwhile, Housing Minister Nick Smith says advice he's received indicates the number of overseas home buyers who do not intend living in New Zealand is tiny.