By Alex Tarrant
The Green Party says the government needs to impose restrictions on foreigners buying New Zealand residential property after an Auckland real estate agent warned Kiwi home buyers were finding it hard to compete with offshore Chinese buyers.
The NZ Herald this week reported Barfoot and Thompson agent Ian Thornhill saying he was worried about the effects of Chinese buyers "offloading some surplus funds" into the New Zealand housing market.
"I don't think it's a good thing at all. Kiwis are getting really upset. They can't compete with Asians who have the money and they pay more. You can see Kiwis only have a certain amount of money to spend but they do stretch themselves. This is all having an impact on us. It's as plain as the nose on your face, what's happening in the auction rooms each week," Thornhill said.
Green Party co-leader Russel Norman used the opportunity to point to the Greens' foreign investment policy.
"Hong Kong has imposed a 15 per cent emergency tax on foreign buyers of residential property. Hong Kong took this step after investors from Mainland China drove up prices creating a housing bubble," Norman said.
“Real estate agents in Auckland are raising concerns that overseas buyers are driving up house prices in Auckland. Many of these buyers may not even be intending to live in the homes they have bought," he said.
“Australia also has restrictions on overseas buyers purchasing residential properties. Overseas buyers cannot buy established dwellings as investment properties or as homes, unless they meet certain strict criteria.
“The situation as it stands in New Zealand is that foreign buyers only need approval under certain conditions such as when the deal is worth more than NZ$100 million.
“Our weak overseas investment laws mean New Zealand is a good place to speculate in property for overseas investors," Norman said.
“This situation may be great news for real estate agents but in an already tightly squeezed market, is bad news for New Zealand home buyers. Reducing price pressure from overseas investors is just part of the Green Party’s solution to making housing more affordable,” he said.
“A capital gains tax (excluding the family home) will further reduce speculation while greater government investment in affordable housing, a warrant of fitness for rental properties, and assistance for first home buyers will ensure more Kiwi families get to live in warm, healthy homes.”