New Zealand has got a previously unheard of problem – homeless families are sleeping in cars, while nearly half of the houses in our largest city Auckland (49%) are being snapped up by foreign investors and then sitting there empty! The Chinese were the biggest group. Last year in June it was 41% of Auckland homes.
John Key, our prime minister and former banker who worked at Merrill Lynch, glibly believed most of the investors in the property market would be locals. It was clear the government either didn’t have a clue or didn’t care. NZ doesn’t have a foreign buyers register or any rules around speculation on houses.
Last year a whistle-blower from the real estate industry said mainland Chinese money snapped up at least 80 per cent of residential sales in parts of Auckland in March but were nearer 90 per cent in May, 2015. Of course the whistle blower lost his job.
Here’s the radio interview about it: Property insider: It’s bigger than you think
“Property speculation is rampant, and I believe on the strength of these numbers that offshore Chinese investors are a very significant part of what’s going on,” said Phil Twyford, the MP for Te Atatū. When he was accused of being racist for pointing it out, he said “I’m speaking for young New Zealanders who want affordable home ownership. If we solve this problem, if we ban foreign buyers, that will make a big difference.”
Leaked data shows Chinese offshore buyers fuelling ‘rampant’ Auckland property speculation, Twyford says.
“What I’m saying is that there is a tsunami of Chinese investment headed towards international real estate markets, including New Zealand. These numbers are coming from Juwai.com, the preeminent Chinese website that markets real estate, including New Zealand real estate. There’s a whole industry marketing our houses to Chinese investors.”
There are more than 6,000 real estate agents in Auckland.
Here’s a quote from Juwai.com about their buyers,
“Property is investment of choice – a stable investment exemplifying wealth & status. Chinese buyers spent US$37 billion on international residential property in 2013. 70% pay cash for property purchases.”
It quoted there are 63 million upper-middle-class Chinese and 2.8 million high-net-worth Chinese. Less than 1% of them can read English.
The Chinese have deeper pockets than New Zealanders. Our children will be the tenants of Chinese landlords – if they’ll even rent to them.
And then we hear that while people sleep in cars as the city grapples with homelessness, more than 33,000 Auckland dwellings are officially classified empty. They’re called ghost houses.” That’s the size of a NZ town. Running on Empty: Auckland’s “ghost” house problem.
The Minister for Housing Nick Smith replied “Diddly Squat” when asked about the percentage of foreign property buyers. In fobbing the journalist off, it appears our government favours money over people.
This is an article from 2012: Bernard Hickey: Govt eyes blind to housing crisis