Vision needed to plan for NZ’s housing needs: Harcourts

by NZ Adviser27 May 2016
Budget 2016 revealed yesterday that $100million in funding will go towards housing development on surplus Crown land in Auckland. 

“This capital funding will add momentum to the programme of using public land for increasing the supply of housing. The programme's goal is to increase the pace of housing development and to put a greater focus on bringing more affordable housing to the market,” said Building and Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith.

“The Government recognises that the Auckland housing situation is one of the biggest challenges the city faces and will soon be releasing its National Policy Statement on Urban Development, which will direct councils to adjust their plans to allow for more development if necessary. 

“Addressing the Auckland housing problem is taking time but I am confident that, just as in Christchurch, initiatives such as the surplus Crown land programme will play a role in resolving our biggest city's housing supply and affordability issues,” Dr Smith says.

But Harcourts CEO Chris Kennedy says if people were looking to today’s Budget to deal with the “housing crisis” they will be disappointed. 

Kennedy says low supply and high demand has been the stand out feature of Auckland’s property market for many years now. This is now having a “halo effect” on the rest of the country, with those priced out of the Auckland market looking to other cities and provincial New Zealand.

“Understandably people are looking to the government to do something about the ‘housing crisis’ but it is not that simple,” Kennedy says.

“Obviously we can’t stop our population from growing. The only answer is to make it easier and cheaper to build new houses to cater for the demand.”

Over the next 30 years, Auckland alone needs 13,000 new houses to be built each year to cope with population growth. Currently just 9,500 are being built – and building levels are higher than they have been for over a decade.

“I have said for some time now that local government needs to change their rules which effectively make it unattractive to develop new housing.”

Kennedy says Harcourts’ national residential figures for April 2016 show there has been a year to date drop of 20% in the total number of houses available to buy in New Zealand, but a 15.8% increase in the number of settled sales.

“People are still buying, but strong competition is driving prices up. The average house in New Zealand now sells for $548,208 – a year to date increase of 14%.”

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