Key says doesn't accept affordability harder for first home buyers now than when he bought; says plenty of affordable homes in Auckland on Trade Me

Key says doesn't accept affordability harder for first home buyers now than when he bought; says plenty of affordable homes in Auckland on Trade Me

By Bernard Hickey

Prime Minister John Key has rejected suggestions that housing is much less affordable for first home buyers in Auckland than when he bought his first home, saying interest rates were over 20% when he bought and it was much harder to get a big loan.

Key told reporters before a National caucus meeting first home buyers in Auckland should look on Trade Me, where he said there were more than 2,000 homes on sale for less than NZ$400,000.

"Pepole always, from my experience, struggle when they buy their first home. You typically pay a bit more and you typically have to borrow a lot more than you would want to do. If you go on Trade Me to look for Auckland housing under NZ$400,000 there are over 2,000 properties listed. So there are properties for sale, and for some people that will be a pretty big stretch, and affordability is an issue that the Government is very focused on," he said.

"It's why we've been taking all those steps on Special Housing Areas and the likes, and we've been following, not in totality, but in part, the recommendations from the Productivity Commission," he said.

"But at least we are doing something about it because Labour didn't do anything about it. and house prices doubled on their watch," he said.

"If you look at the Roost Index, which is a pretty good measure of things, we (New Zealanders) were more unaffordable under Labour than under us. That doesn't mean there's not a problem for a particular home buyer, but it does say that this has been a long-running problem which the Government is addressing with lots of its measures."

He rejected questions about whether affordability would worsen as interest rates rose, and in particular whether a Treasury forecast of a rise in annual net migration over 41,500 later this year would push mortgage rates up to 9% by the end of next year.

"Lots of things might happen. The Blues might beat the Sharks on Friday night," Key said.

"That's the reality that lots of things might change. All of those things are estimates and guesstimates and we don't know all of those facts. They're talking a long way into the future that that might happen and it's subject to lots of different factors that might take place." he said.

"Obviously, rising interest rates have an impact on affordability, arguably the biggest impact, which is one of the reasons why the Government has been very focused on the kind of policies to help the Reserve Bank keep interest rates as low as they can."

Asked if it was harder for first home buyers in Auckland to buy a home than when he bought, he said: "I don't know. The first house we bought was in Wellington. Interest rates then were 22% so if you actually had a look at it, I suspect you've got better access to leverage than you did back then. The fact that you've got LVR (limits) doesn't stop the bank from making 95% or 100% loans and lots of people have done that."

Key later said he and his wife Bronagh Key had bought a house in Hataitai in Wellington for NZ$260,000 in 1986 or 1987.

"The baseline underlying interest rates would have been about 13 - 14% probably. Second mortgages and things were much higher back then. It's all relative to income and everything else. All I am saying is we've had periods in our history when interest rates have been much higher and accesibility to capital have been much lower," he said.

Turei questions Key in Parliament

Later in Parliament, Green Co-Leader Metiria Turei challenged Key on housing affordability.

Turei said there were only 11 three bedroom homes being advertised in Auckland on Trade Me for less than NZ$300,000, and only 36 below NZ$400,000, once relocatables, apartments and two bedroom houses were taken out of the searches. A full video of the exchange in Parliament is above.

Elsewhere, Labour Leader David Cunliffe proposed to support the part of RMA reforms relating to speeding up building consents. See my article here. Key later said the reforms could not be split up in that way and described as a "hollow promise."

(Updated with more detail, link to video)

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For the record there are over 1500 2-3  bedroom houses for sale on Trademe under $400K in the greater Auckland area today.
These would house up to 5000 people immediately.
This excludes apartments, units, sections or listings on other websites..
What shortage?

$400k is affordable for a household income in the $100k range which is about 10% of Auckland households.
What about everyone else?

A $400 k house could have  a mortgage of $320,000 (80%LTVR) and a weekly interest cost of around $395 / week .
Its very affordable when one looks at current rents 

Yessss, yessss good boat man. Only calculate interest repayments ignore rates, insurance, maintenance, PRINCIPAL etc and completely forget about having to find eighty thousand dollars.

are you by any chance over the age of 40?

Exactly. The real figures don't add up. Average household income of like $1200 a week (generous) can't make it work.

I get 1052 properties - Units, Houses, townhouses and apartments. Need to put in up to $300K and then sort by "highest priced". 
Not really that many in a place where 1.5m people live. 

And how many of those are leasehold were you are actually renting? For most people owning their own home means just that, own, not lease.

Why exclude units and appartments?  If people want to live near the centre of a city of 1.5M people, they need to accept higher density living.  Personally i wish central auckland had far more terraced housing with a decent garden, where a section is about 200sqm.  Not really a fan of appartment towers, though each to their own, they have their place, especially in the CDB.
If you want loads of space, you can commute from a satelite or move to the provinces, or spend $10M on a historic mansion.

What absolute uninformed rubbish BigDaddy.
Firstly, many houses are listed with no pricing hence in your '1500' houses there will be many actually with price expectations potentially in the millions!
Secondly, up to $400k will actually give you all listings up to $450k.
Thirdly many apartments and units are listed as 'houses'.  Also many leaseholds and relocatables are listed as houses.
To get a true sense of the numbers of houses under $350k (which is what Key originally stated),   Search 'houses' priced from $150k to $300k (will give all listings under $350k that are priced over $50k).  Result 275 listings.  Now scan through the listings excluding the gulf islands, leaseholds, apartments and relocatables, then exclude rural areas (such as Mercer, Waiuku etc) and there are less than 100 properties almost all in South Auckland.

Cheers you saved me going through the exercise was going to break down just the first page which is full of no price/auction listings, apartments, and properties closer to $500,000, so you are left with a couple of genuine houses mostly in, as you say, South Auckland in mostly what have become extremely undesirable areas, bar one, in Hill Cres Papakura.

Keys first house would not have been in a dodgy area. Also it would not have cost many times his income. He is being deceptive. Chinese 'investors' are raping Auckland and all the fool can do is hide his head in the sand hoping it will all go away. For FHB all he is doing is ensuring Labour gets their votes.

His first house was in Hataitai, an innercity suburb by the water, sounds like times were real tough for him back then.

A better suburb than I could or can afford.  Not bad for sun, can be very cold in winter and the houses are old...better surburbs for the money.

What planet is this guy on?  He doesn't accept that a median house price being 8 times median salary is harder to purchase than a multiple of 3?
 Last time mortgage rates were 20% was 1987 and inflation was running at 18%.  2% real interest rates?  Oh so tough.  I

Yup. Unfortunately most folk can't think that far and will believe his nonsense.
Always voted national, not this time.

What planet are you on mate .......dont quote statistics you dont remotely understand
1) Was Inflation EVER 18% in NZ ?
2) Look up the definition of Median , and you will understand that if 5 houses sell for $400k, and 1 sells for $2mill the median  is $666,000
That median price is a whopping 14 times the median salary  of $45k

1) Yes.
2) We're talking stats, they show a trend. The trend is that there's a massive disconnect between a normal house price and a normal household income.

1) yes it was, 1980 & 1986->87
2) no, the median is 400K in your example

I suggest that you look up the definition of median Boatman.
Probably related to inflation-banning Piggy who presided over the 18% inflation and 20% plus interest rates I was paying at the same time.

"What planet are you on mate .......dont quote statistics you dont remotely understand
2) Look up the definition of Median , and you will understand that if 5 houses sell for $400k, and 1 sells for $2mill the median  is $666,000"
The above quote is from boatman.
Oh dear, oh dear Boatman.
I suggest YOU look up the definition of Median.
Perhaps your house is made of that case.......well, you know the rest.

OMG!!  Boatman cracks me up!!  What a retard!!~

Superb analysis and critique of Key's comments HERE:

So.....Our Prime Minister says:
Look on Trademe for Houses........gotcha
House affordablility is about the same as when he brought......aha
Increased interest rates would obviously degrade affordability.........righto.........well they obviously will

OOOOOOhhh!  So that's the problem!  FHB's just never thought to look on TradeMe.  It's all so obvious now. Of all the ridiculous claims made by those with a vested interest in denying the existence of an affordability problem that takes the bloody biscuit.  What does he think they're doing?  Wandering about putting 'i can haz house plz? kthnxbai' notes under random windscreen wipers?
Silly low-earning FHBs, who can't save fast enough to catch up with inflation.  If they were really motivated to be able to buy a house they'd show a bit of pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps spirit and go-getting initiative and bribe a politician.

So Wellington at 22% means (with a bit of basic googling) he bought his first house when he was Head Foreign Exchange Trader at Elders Finance in 1987. That is the only time rates have been up near then. Gosh here is an article about people who compare house prices in 1987 with the present

Yeah the poor guy, he probably had to live with his parents into his 30s in order to save up a deposit, what with the ratio of house prices to his salary being what they were back then.   He could really teach the kids these days a thing or two.

I sincerely wish he will keep talking in this vein. Completely out of touch wih the average person struggling to pay for housing, power, food, education, heathcare.
The more he blathers on about how hard he's had it and how it's all fine and dandy now, the better chance he'll be turfed out in September.
Good riddance, I say.

Yip , get rif of John Key, problem is ,  the alternative is too ghastly to contemplate  :-

  • A bunch of leftwing rabble rousers who cant even decide who to lead them
  • A Maori Racist
  • A fat German fugitive
  • Winston Peters whose aging  voters are frightened of the changing order of things
  • and of Course the Greens led by Doctor Russel Norman who I am pretty certain is not a Doctor of medicine or any of the hard sciences like Engineering or economics

So we end up with a dysfunctional alliance of hapless losers , thieves , geriatrics and rougues running the coutry .
Nah !

LOL -  you think economics is a science? Ha!
And the alternative looks a whole lot better from where I'm sitting, than a 3rd term of National.

Sure economics is a science , why else would a Nobel Prize be issued in that field along with Chemistry , Physics,  or Medicine

It's a social science. The prize isn't strictly a Nobel Prize, as it was not one of the prizes originally endowed by Alfred Nobel in his will. It's actually officially called the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.

along with those well known pure sciences 'peace' and 'literature'. economists trying to pretend that what they do is not a social science and, instead is a pure science, usually so they can hoist their field of study up the academic totem pole and get some props with other academics, is one of the massive problems with economics. 

So does that make Peace and Literature sciences too?

First his weak handling of Judith Collins, now this.
You'd think he doesn't want to win the next election!

Maybe he doesn't. The pay sure is alot less than I imagine he thinks he's worth and it certainly seems he misses Wall Street. Perhaps he and Obama are going to talk about his next job prospect given the peasants seem to be revolting down here :-).

Question: what's wrong with living in an apartment?  
If the answer is other than "nothing" then we do have a housing issue in Auckland 

We don't build apartments. We build shoe boxes suitable for investment only.

Also, in a city like Auckland with systemically unaffordable housing, the cheaper the "housing", the MORE unaffordable it is compared to a systemically affordable city.
In a city with a median multiple of 3, there tends to be "housing" available at 3 times household income, for ALL levels of household income. Yes, $90,000 homes for people on $30,000. Depreciated townhouses and manufactured housing.
Apartments? Some of the cheapest in the world. Like for like, typically 1/5 the rents of systemically unaffordable Auckland. 
"Downsizing to restore affordability" is a fraud, one of many frauds and lies emanating from the rentier classes and their useful idiots. All that happens when you zone for density instead of sprawl, is that the price of land inflates to take up any slack in what people can stand to pay.
Bear in mind that rents advertised in the USA are traditionally "monthly" - Kiwis will look at those prices and assume "weekly". Bear in mind too that anything with a Zip code beginning 770-- is within the ringroad in Houston and quite close to the CBD. That CBD has more fortune 500 Company head offices located in it than any other city. 

John Key is right AGAIN , the problem is the average Kiwi does not want to live in the average house in Manukau or anywhre south of Ellerslie or west of the Zoo , or ..........
Then the median house price statistics are hopelessly distorted by the high end sales .
The fact is there are many cheap houses for sale all over Auckland , you just need 20% deposit , which in this time of instant gratification and reckless spending most young folk do no save

Factually incorrect.  It is hard to save a deposit today.

Still getting that median confused Boatman.
Median is a totally different animal to mean or average.


The median of a data set is the value that lies exactly in the middle when the data have been ordered from the lowest value to the greatest value.

Numbers in a statistical data set that are extremely high or extremely low compared to the rest of the data are called outliers. Because of the way the average is calculated, high outliers tend to drive the average upward. Low outliers tend to drive the average downward. However, these outliers have no effect on the median.
I suggest you read it.

And that's one of the ways the media obfuscate earnings data.

They bang on about average incomes rising, when the figures that are most relevant to the most people are the median income and the minimum wage.

The one percent cream the system, pushing up average wages for thirty years, while real median income steadily falls.

We have been tracking the median take-home pay in New Zealand since 2002 on a monthly basis.
The data we track is from the enormous IRD PAYE record, published as the LEEDS series.
We track median payroll incomes for both male and female workers for two age groups - 25-29 year olds and 30-34 year olds.
We convert this to take-home pay by deducting M income tax. When we calculate household incomes, we add back WFF credits benefits when applicable.
This shows a long term trend of median incomes rising about 3% per year on average over the period, slightly lower for 30-34 year olds, slightly higher for 25-29 year olds.
But there are major breaks higher when there were the series of tax cuts. And virtually no increases in the 2010 period. After the last tax cut, the rises have been at a slightly lower rate ~ <3% pa.
Then again, inflation has been a lot lower in this period too.
All data is median (not average). Half will have done better, half worse. Easy to find random examples either side. But on a median basis, NZ earners of wages and salaries have actually done ok over almost this whole period.

Is this data presented on the site somewhere David?

No, actually it's not. It is an integral part of the Roost home loan affordability calculations.
But you can see part of it displayed in tables in our Median Multiple, and Roost Home Loan Affordability summaries, here, here and here.
But the time series just focusing on the take-home pay bits are not online.
I will look at writing an explainer story over the next few days (other projects permitting) that will set out the long-term take-home pay growth. Charts shows it nicely.

Thanks for the backgrounder.
From memory, the population median individual income has lost a little bit of ground if you inflation adjust between the 06 and 13 censuses.
Because it is the PAYE record, would I be correct that it is excluding unemployed & other beneficiaries that would get picked up in general household income figures? I ask this for if I have a look for comparaible data from other countries I want things to match as much as possible.

Interesting, David, that you refer to WFF as a benefit, as opposed to a credit. Isn't WFF really just a targeted tax cut for the working poor? Or, a labour cost subsidy for the low/minimum wage employers (just as the accommodation supplement is a subsidy)?
I just think the public deserves the right language around these programmes - becuase if our wages were generally higher (i.e. a living wage) - then perhaps everyone could afford to pay some income tax and their own rent!
Even the Salvation Army voiced its concern with the A/S.  There really is no substitute for decent wages.

fair enough. I have corrected that above.
Thank you. You are right.


The problem with "home loan affordability" as a guide to potential first home buyers, is that they may not take into account the risk of the way things could move in the future.
Compare the current position of astronomical house price and loan at record-low interest rates, with a seemingly similar position from 30 years or so ago, of an astronomical interest rate with a low house price and loan.
The people who got the small loan with astronomical interest rate 30-odd years ago, firstly were in a condition of high CPI  inflation, hence the high interest rate. This meant that within a single decade at most, and often within a mere 5 years, their income would have doubled due to the inflation rate, while the home loan in nominal dollars was the same size. 
Is anything like this happening for the current borrowers with astronomical loan principals and low interest rates?
Furthermore, the condition of high CPI inflation and high interest rates is something that the authorities are always determined to solve; and they did solve it in the past. Mortgage borrowers could not lose whatever happened. If and when CPI inflation and interest rates fell, their repayments fell. If CPI inflation and interest rates did not fall, the mortgage principal was "inflated away".
The current borrowers, in contrast, cannot win. Interest rates are extremely unlikely to fall by 50% plus, as happened to the lucky generation. It is impossible for the current borrowers loan value to be "inflated away" without interest rate rises instantly bankrupting them. 
Complacent old boomers proffering "wise advice" to the young about "how tough we had it too" are abetting a fraud and a breach of the civilisational compact between generations.  

Apartments: bodycorp fees. These add to the cost of buying/living in an apartment. Also not that straight forward to raise young kids in an apartment, I think
The jobs are in Auckland central, most people can be forgiven for wanting to live close to where they work. Commuting is getting to be very expensive. What's the point of buying a house far away if it means you can't afford to travel to your job?
it's also not that simply to say that young people don't save...most of them have massive student loans to pay off, can't a get a job in the field they studied for, have to make do on a starter-wage which does no leave much room for saving....
It's easy to preach from the sidelines....

most of them have massive student loans to pay off, There is a horticulture employer that employs 135 seasonal workers - mainly over Dec-Jan.  Before student loans became available all their employees were kiwis.  This year they employed 5 kiwis and 130 foreigners.  Applications from kiwis basically dried up the year student loans became available.  

JK should get his mouth stitched shut, he losing the election all by himself.
Keep it up John boy, LOL.

So Westpac economists think that a capital gains tax will decrease property values by around 20%.  It would be interesting for them to speculate what the total drop would be if all Labours proposed measures were put in place.  Labour are promising to build 100k Auckland homes when there is only a 40k shortage, this massive over supply would drop the market say another 10%.  Labour are also proposing to cut immigration, this could account for another say 10%.  Then add in the fear factor that would kick in at this point and you easily get another 20%...  giving an estimated total fall in house prices under a Labour govn of 60%.  
It then becomes a question of who wants to vote for 60 % drop in house prices and the general economic carnage that comes with that, will vote for Labour.  The people who want to see a stable market, economy and government will vote National. 

One possible problem is a continuation or deterioration of Australia's woes - not unlikely - prompting tens of thousands of Kiwis to scarper back to New Zealand.

100,000 new homes over 10 years could be the least we'd need.

That wouldnt be good, and not only hosuing but WINZ etc etc...
That is going to happen IMHO. Those with work permits will I think be sent home as the economic conditions get worse and worse.

We may even have to add a few Aussies to the mix. And Yanks:

An older American couple with residency looked at our house in Wanganui yesterday - it's up for sale.

We ran into them later in the supermarket. Seemed like nice people. Say I, "Are you escaping the Tea Party?"

Says he, "We ARE the Tea Party."

Says she, "It's terrible what's going on at home, you have no idea. We watch Fox News all the time and you wouldn't believe what they're saying."

Dear, oh dear.

No, I wouldn't believe what Faux News is saying. But I don't think she'd have shared my reasons.

So if Labour are only going to build the "least we'd need" how will that bring down house prices?  Labour's mantra is "make houses more affordable" the only way to do that is to force prices lower so that begs the question...  
how far does Labour plan to crash the housing market? 
If they're not planning to force prices lower then what's the difference between them and National?

He's a one man comedy show. The other day on Morning Report it was that there were heaps of sub $350K Auckland houses on TradeMe - today it's sub $400K. So, he must've had a look at the real world and upped the affordable debt figure by $50K in one fell swoop.
I wouldn't trust this guy to manage my grandchildrens piggy bank - they'd be over-leveraged in no time :-)!

One good thing would come about if JK lost the election ... the currency would fall , because of the reckless TAX AND SPEND  policies of the left .

  • Dr Norman wants money for a new Bank
  • Winston wants the Goldcard holders to be upgraded to Platimun
  • Labour wants to build sub$300k houses for everyone  . Imaging what they will look like
  • The German fugitive wants to base his crooked buisness here ( and list in on the NZX ) and not get deported to face trial
  • Hone Harawria no doubt wants the foreshore , seabed , the airwaves , the oil , Gas, radiowaves the wind the rain  and anything else that could never be owned anywhere else on the planet and of course a handout

God only knows who is going to pay for all of this

No problem. Everbody whinges about our dollar being too high. Print a few billion.

Boatman aren’t you embarrassed about your cliché right wing views that you don't really understand and the fact my 11 year old has a better grasp of statistics than you?   There is very little difference between Labour and National whereas you have this weird view that the choice is between some extreme libertarian party and the Communists.

Can't tell if he's ignorant..... or just trolling?

Mostly just looking for a reaction , but I am pretty ignorant on most topics anyway, so I stay away from those

Can't argue with that.

I have a challenge for anyone who wishes to take it up. Give me the two income figures, house price and number of children and I will calculate how much of their incomes goes on unavoidable expenses.

Keys a speculator, one of the few who thrive in this type of environment. Most are not, but simple ordinary working people.

He conveniently fails to mention houses were more affordable when interest rates were at their short peak of 22% and then dropped - very in genuine statement.


Property is Key for Capitalists, knowing the fundamental need for shelter and exploiting it for all its worth.


Worked well for the lucky few feeding of the working mass. But not now when people are paying more than half there income on interest; money that goes overseas.


So they bring in rich Foreigners to keep prices up and exasperate the problem.


Key has got this one wrong as he steers the Country into his capitalist ideology for the rich.

Sociopathic characteristics:

Anyone we know?
One that's not on this list is a propensity for making very quick decisions. Good for money traders and the Steve Jobs and Bill Clintons of the world.

  • Superficial charm and good intelligence
  • Absence of delusions and other signs of irrational thinking
  • Absence of nervousness or neurotic manifestations
  • Unreliability
  • Untruthfulness and insincerity
  • Lack of remorse and shame
  • Inadequately motivated antisocial behavior
  • Poor judgment and failure to learn by experience
  • Pathologic egocentricity and incapacity for love
  • General poverty in major affective reactions
  • Specific loss of insight

Key is saying, tough luck, young and the poor, we don't care, learn to live with this or leave...?

maybe its the panic and we are seeing JK's true metal...
They can vote him out, which is looking more likely every day as he continues to dig his way in deeper into the poo. His spin doctors must either be comatose or non-existant.  

What do you expect from a PM who has a big vested interest in property?

or in banking

Have you looked at house prices in much of the USA, they are cheap as. Also building products are so cheap. Plasterboard is less that half the price. One reason why houses are so expensive, is that building them is now so expensive due to construction prices, material prices, and compliance costs. And there are different level of people clipping the ticket along the way. 
So often it makes more sense to buy exisiting houses, which pushes up the prices on existing stock.

They also have almost 400million ppl, and huge competition across states, we have nothing like that, ergo I cant see how you can compare very much for scale.  For competition yes I suspect here isnt competitive, (and actually it may well be rigged) not a big enough market to be worthwhile.

So were houses the least affordable in the world according to the OECD when key bought a house? I would think definitely not, so something or a number of things in this economy are majorly out of wack.

John Keys and his 'head in the sand' minions (English and Smith) have no idea and are so out of touch its not funny. I bought my first home in 1986 at 20% interest, BUT it only cost 3 x my annual salary so was paid off quite quickly.
It is virtually impossible now (Trademe stories are a red herring carefully inserted by Keys) for FHB to even amass the deposits.
400,000 homes are not cheap to buy for FHB or to maintain, and are often in areas that are plain dangerous. Keys did not buy his first home in bad neighbourhoods I'll wager.

He says is first house was in Hataitai in 86 or 87.  I don't know wellington well, but an innner city suburb, by the water, doesn't look it would be a rough neighbourhood to me.  Quite the opposite infact.,+Wellington&hl=en&ll=-41.30153...

@Rob | 20 May 14, 6:20pm
I still think one of the biggest factors in making houses less affordable is the building materials and compliance costs.  Just before we left to Australia in 2011, a building permit for our carport was around $8000 and took weeks to get it approved.  In Brisbane, we had our house extended (extra 68 sqm), the permit for that was $1200, took 4 days. 

Of course there is housing shortage, and for the moment it is keeping the economy alive.

The system of capitalism requires portion of its participants to be winners, one way or the other. By default this also creates numerical majority of 'losers'. So we cannot all be savers, or owners, or losers, or it would tip over.
Keys job is to try to hide this from the losers who might still think they have a chance of breaking through the glass ceiling if they continue running on the treadmill, while pretending he has empathy for them. It looks like he has given up on that.