The data on home ownership and the facts about affordability have become highly politicised says Muriel Newman. 'The figures simply don’t tell us the full story'

By *

“I know of no safe repository of the ultimate power of society but the people. And if we think them not enlightened enough, the remedy is not to take power from them, but to inform them by education.” – President Thomas Jefferson

Housing is set to feature strongly in the forthcoming election campaign as a result of widespread concerns about home affordability and the so-called declining rate of home ownership.

The problem is that both of these issues have become so highly politicised that it is difficult to differentiate fact from fiction. So, for the record, let’s set down some facts.

Firstly, the reported fall in home ownership rates.

The 2013 Census identified that there were 1.76 million dwellings in New Zealand – an increase of 133,000 since the last Census in 2006.1

Of those, 725,000 (41.3 percent) were owned directly by the occupants, 215,000 (12.5 percent) were held in family trusts, and 453,000 (25.8 percent) were rented. That leaves around 362,000 dwellings (20.7 percent) where the ownership status is unknown.

When no-one knows who owns one in five New Zealand houses, it becomes impossible to make serious assertions about the rate of home ownership.

As a result, claims by Statistics NZ, that the Census shows home ownership rates have fallen from 66.9 percent in 2006, to 64.8 percent in 2013, are simply not credible.

This week’s NZCPR guest commentator, Michael Littlewood, the Co-director of the Retirement Policy and Research Centre at Auckland University, explains:

There are too many gaps in the questions asked in the 2013 Census (and earlier equivalent questions) for us to be certain about any recent trends in home-ownership rates.  The gaps mean we have no ownership information for about 362,000 of all dwellings; that’s 20.7% of all 1.76 million dwellings on Census night in 2013.

There are two main holes in the data.  First, we have no information about who owns the 185,000 dwellings that were unoccupied on Census night (10.6% of all dwellings).  Neither do we know why they were unoccupied.  They might be holiday homes, between tenants, on the market, under renovation or the usual occupiers (owners or renters) may have been away on holiday or on business.  We just don’t know.

The other major hole is the occupiers who didn’t answer the question or who gave an unclear answer.  That was another 177,000 dwellings or 10.1% of all dwellings.

The data gaps seem to be growing – the 2013 gap (20.7%) was 19.4% in 2006.  Part of that is probably caused by the rise in family trust ownerships, though the Census questions tried to capture these.  Gaps in the questions also contributed.”

In other words, until the government improves the reliability of their statistics, claims that the rate of home ownership is falling are pure speculation.

Indeed, since the Census data also shows there has only been a marginal increase in the number of families who are renting – rather than the large rise you would expect if home ownership was in serious decline – a more likely explanation for the data anomalies is that more and more families are choosing family trusts as an investment vehicle.

Now to the issue of housing affordability.

This is a very complex policy area, with many different factors at work – some of which are completely glossed over by those seeking to politicise this issue.

First and foremost, we must not forget that KiwiSaver is now providing assistance to first home buyers, by enabling those who have been in the scheme for five years, to use their savings – including their employer’s contributions and a $5,000 government grant – as a deposit on their first home.

Secondly, when considering the affordability of housing, it is important to compare like with like – since today’s homes are much larger than they used to be, they will cost more.

Back in the early seventies, cheap loans for low income families had created a housing boom of smaller homes. According to the 1976 New Zealand Official Yearbook, “The standard house is about 94.95 square metres in area, is single-storeyed, and normally built of timber; fittings are of a reasonably high standard, especially in the kitchen. It now costs over $18,000 to build, and stands on a section costing more than $6,200 on average.”2

By 1986, the average floor area of a new house had increased to 134 sq metres, by 1996 to 175 sq metres, and by 2006 to 209 sq metres. 

When it comes to the cost of housing, we know that market prices are determined by supply and demand – if supply outpaces demand, then prices will fall, but if demand exceeds supply, then prices will rise. The market is able to correct these imbalances – if it is allowed to operate freely.

The problem is that housing market failure is evident in many parts of the country – especially in Auckland. Local and central governments have effectively obstructed the free market from being able to increase the supply of affordable housing to meet the rising demand. In other words, poor governance has created widespread market failure in those local authority areas where councils have failed to open up sufficient land for development.

In many such areas, a key cause of market failure is extremist environmental policies embedded in council plans – under such names as Smart Growth, Urban Limits, or Sustainable Development.

The ideology underpinning these policies is based on the notion that urban development is destroying productive land and that New Zealand can no longer afford to use more and more of its land area for housing. As a result, all sorts of draconian limitations will have been imposed by councils on property-owners to prevent them from subdividing and opening their land up for more housing.

However, those who subscribe to the viewpoint that rural land needs protecting from the encroachment of housing, should really look at the facts. According to data produced by the Ministry for the Environment in 2006, less than one percent of New Zealand’s total land area is used for housing, buildings, and roads.3

Out of the country’s 26,821,600 hectares of land, only 220,500 hectares in total have been built upon. That’s 0.82 percent of the total area of the country. Anyone trying to restrict the release of land for housing, because they think New Zealand will run out of it, not only has their head in the sand, but they are doing the country a grave disservice.

But it is not only a failure of councils to open up sufficient land for development that is causing a decline in affordable housing – it is their bureaucracy too.

Housing Minister Nick Smith recently provided some insight into the problem during Question Time in Parliament, when he explained that under Helen Clark’s Labour Government, the zoning changes required for major new housing developments in Auckland took on average 7 years! In comparison, under National’s new Special Housing Zone initiative, which was introduced to fast-track development in areas of housing shortage, the zoning changes now take 7 weeks.

As the Minister explained,

“At Hobsonville the previous Government announced a new housing development of 3,000 homes in 2002, with a lovely photograph of the then Prime Minister turning the first sod—in 2002. The only problem was that not a second sod was turned by 2008 - zip, zero homes. The special housing area at Hobsonville was granted in December and earthworks were consented a week later…”4

But the time delay is only a part of the problem.

The scarcity of land for building has pushed up the price of land, as a percentage of the total cost of a home, from around 40 percent to over 60 percent in some areas. And as the price of land becomes more expensive, it becomes less suitable for lower-cost housing.

Add to this, development impact fees, which were introduced by Labour during their reform of the Local Government Act in 2002 – to enable councils to access a new source of income to pay for infrastructure and other amenities for new subdivisions – and suddenly tens of thousands of dollars in council fees are added onto the cost of a new home.

The 2004 Building Act also added to the cost burden of building of a home by introducing a raft of new requirements, such as insulation and double glazing, along with additional costs such as a building levy. It has been estimated that together, government and council charges can easily add around $40,000 to the price of a new home.5

The leaky building crisis and the Christchurch earthquakes have also made councils more risk averse. Rather than encouraging development, some may actually be discouraging it by applying costs and controls that may not be warranted.

In 2012, the Productivity Commission’s report on housing affordability addressed many of these issues, highlighting the urgent need for councils to not only free up more land, but to speed up and reduce the overall cost of consents as well.

The Minister for the Environment has also weighed into the debate with a Cabinet approved submission on the Auckland Council’s Proposed Unitary Plan.6

The Minister was scathing about the council’s inability to free up sufficient land to meet Auckland’s future housing needs, and she was highly critical of their reticence to simplify and reduce the cost of resource consents. In particular, she recommended that the controversial requirement to consult iwi over sites of significance to Maori should be dropped, along with the onerous heritage protections that had been included in the plan.

Along with increasing the availability of land in areas of housing shortage, restricting development contributions, and fast-tracking the consent process, National is also reducing the cost of building by suspending duties and tariffs on imported building materials – a move they estimate will cut $3,500 off the cost of building a new home. In addition, they are attempting to reform the Resource Management Act to remove excessive resource consent requirements so it is simpler and cheaper to build.

And, to get on top of Auckland’s housing shortage, the Government has partnered with the Auckland Council to commit to the building of 39,000 new homes over the next three years – 9,000 in the first year, 13,000 in the second, and 17,000 in the third.

So what can we conclude?

Firstly, home ownership is probably not the crisis the opposition politicians and activist social housing groups would have us believe – the figures simply don’t tell us the full story.

And secondly, what we do know for sure is that sustained house price increases reflect a market failure that is being caused by restrictive planning rules and money grabbing councils.

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1. Stats NZ, Quick Stats about Housing
2. Stats NZ, New Zealand Official Yearbook 1976
3. Ministry for the Environment, Environment New Zealand 2007
4. Hansard, Parliamentary Questions – Housing
5. NZ Initiative, Priced Out
6. Hon Amy Adams, Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan Submission

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Dr Muriel Newman is the founder and Director of the New Zealand Centre for Political Research - a public policy think tank she established in 2005. This article was first published here. It is on interest.co.nz with permission.

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38 Comments

When it comes to the cost of housing, we know that market prices are determined by supply and demand – if supply outpaces demand, then prices will fall, but if demand exceeds supply, then prices will rise. The market is able to correct these imbalances – if it is allowed to operate freely.
 
Wrong. This is not like that in the real world. House prices are not only determined by supply or demand but also by speculation on how much a house could be worth in a few years and how much money I could make by buying one now and selling it later. Ireland and Spain are good examples of countries where the offer was vastly larger than demand in a "free market" and still prices were going up as long as credit flowed and people kept believing "buying today is better than buying tomorrow"
 
Houses are not a simple product that everybody needs, unfortunately houses have a huge speculation component and that component is what is mainly driving prices up.

People tend to be irrational with housing market. Some speculate and decide to "invest" in a house, some others are just driven by the fear to never being able to own a house and they prefer to buy now expensive than buying later super expensive.
 
But the common factor here is the wrong idea that house prices never fall. House prices will fall as soon as unemployment grows, as soon as exports are being hit hard (and land prices collapse, have a look at the Baltic Index to see that global demand is not growing as it shoult and it will decrease when oil prices get more expensive) and as soon as cheap credit stops flowing and as soon as people start thinking with their head and realising than using more than 5 times the annual income to purchase something of often poor quality and poorly located (kms away from their workplace) is insane.
 
I am a foreigner absolutely scared away from property market by seeing the irrational house prices in New Zealand compared to median salaries and considering the quality of most of the houses. I would like to buy something in the future, but engaging myself in a long term debt when the houses are already hugely overpriced is just something too irrational that makes me keep renting and enjoying the freedom of living in different places and not worrying about repairing what gets damaged (I call my landlord and all fixed! and if I change job I change home).
 
Do you want to make houses more affordable? Stop the cheap credit (national and international, because in Spain and Ireland the cheap credit came mainly from Germany, France, Uk..) and encourage companies (like IT sector or education for example) to relocate to places other than Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington. Rise taxes to property owners and END SPECULATION by taxing it, rise loan interests and invest public money in provinces rather than in big cities. I don't think it's a matter of lack of supply but a lack of good work opportunities outside the big cities that makes everybody wanting to live in Auckland or Christchurch (I cannot blame them as I have lived in Invercargill and didn't last long there before moving back to a big city where I earn almost double! and pay the SAME price for restaurants, beer in pubs and other goods).
 
It's not about free market, it's not about offer and demand as I said, and it shouldn't be about offer and demand when we are talking about basic human needs. It is about using the public institutions (everybody's State) to balance something that it's getting out of control and will make the whole financial system to collapse hurting those who NEED the financial markets to survive (mainly families and small companies)

I agree, as long as it is true that foreign money is driving the prices up..
Why the private debt of New Zealand families is so high then? Because New Zealand is one of the most indebted (private loans) countries in the world..

When the housing bubble corrects the losses are easily high enough to trigger bank insolvancy and the OBR.
regards
 

If you are a foreigner wanting to buy NZ housing to rent back to NZers then you are the very person that many of us want legislated OUT of the market 

What about new zealanders buying to rent back to new zealanders?
That's alright I assume as their passport says NZ?

The problem is not people renting houses which is a service many consumers like myself want. The problem is when these gains don't contribute to NZ economy.

Ps: There is not such a right as owning a house..The market is there. Overpriced but nobody puts a gun to anyone to make them buy. I decide not to buy because it is insanely high and because I am convinced that prices will go down when another global economy shake happens (oil barrels more than $125 for long time, national bonds bubble, china housing collapse..) You can blame foreigners for driving prices up (although speculation has not a specific nationality), but you should not pay attention to sale prices rather than rent prices. And everyone can afford current rentals. Houses are unaffordable? Don't buy! You'll see how prices would go down to meet market eventually. The problem is that people are irrational. I try not to.

What I expect is that when prices go down, and if some people are unable to pay their loans as their houses are suddenly worth much less than their loans, only those people/speculators who freely decided to enter the insanely overpriced house market suffer the consequences.

And for that to happen and for cautious and rational people that didn't enter the market not to suffer the consequences of someone's mistakes we need a healthy financial system. A financial market that says "I'm not going to give you a loan bigger than 4 times your annual income because it's a big risk in an already overpriced market)"

And that's why I am happy if mortgage interest rates increase, because it will scare away speculators and irrational people that put everybody at risk with their mistaken idea that house prices will never go down.

I don't want all the taxpayers to rescue banks when people cannot pay their loans. I don't want banks to restrict credit to the real productive economy when these banks have huge holes in their accounts due to unpaid loans.

And as I understand NZ has a problem in Auckland and Christchurch but not in invercargill (for example) the high interest would punish provinces economies so the State needs to balance that if they want to use the same recipe for everybody.

You sound like a spokesperson for the National government. How do you explain then, that about 50% of the families taking part in the Growing Up in New Zealand study are renting? The study they are carrying out would be quite representative of young New Zealand families. To say that only 50% of families with young children own their own home is quite concerning. This constant blame placed on local councils is a red herring and people will pick up on it eventually. The problem with New Zealand and the national government, is that the entire property market is geared towards property investors and those who already have equity. If you are a property investor you can get tax relief for mortgage interest and costs. You get tax free capital gains. You get the discounts from the bank on your mortgage interest rates. You also get access to the incomes of those young families who pay their income in the form of rent to you. What do those families get? Nothing. In many other countries they have this reversed in favour of owner occupiers who get the incentives. But not in this screwed up country where those who already have the security of home ownership to look forward to in retirement are easily able to use their equity to buy real estate so that young families can fund their incomes in retirement as well. And the system is organised completely in property investor's favour. Get real and do some proper research.

Well articulated article .. heavy on the politics .. flawed in what it leaves out and remains silent on
 
Dr Newman was born in northern England, arrived in New Zealand at the age of eight. Raised in Whangarei. Gained a BSc in mathematics from University of Auckland, and then a Ph.D. in mathematics education from Rutgers University in the United States. After working in the education sector for twenty years, she entered the business world with Michael Hill International (what ?? jewelry ??)
 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muriel_Newman

....heavy on the politics... flawed in what it leaves out and remains silent on
 
+1 Agreed

Flawed in what it leaves in too. Deputy Mayor Hulse was quoted here not long ago defending compact cities on the grounds of cost of infrastructure.
Anyone who does not understand that engineers rule our councils not planners should fix themselves a warm cup of cocoa and keep quiet.

Re: Firstly, home ownership is probably not the crisis the opposition politicians and activist social housing groups would have us believe – the figures simply don’t tell us the full story.
 
The full story in Christchurch is that there is a crisis in housing affordability as shown by http://www.interest.co.nz/opinion/70493/fridays-top-10-brendon-harr%C3%A9-national-vs-labour-housing-affordability-uk-councils-spy-  I think the rest of the country is not much better off.
 
Re: Secondly, what we do know for sure is that sustained house price increases reflect a market failure that is being caused by restrictive planning rules and money grabbing councils.
 
The problem is market failure caused by all levels of government. The National party led government have been offered by Labour to enact a National Policy Statement into the RMA to enforce Councils to take into account housing affordability. National declined this offer.
 
Christchurch has been run by a Brownlee led Fiefdom but has failed to deliver housing affordability. Despite promises in 2011 from Brownlee that the government could and would deliver affordable housing.  this video (Skip to 2.47 then play)
 
The facts are clear. The government is failing to deliver what they promised and what the public want.
 
 

... Dr Newman never once mentioned " peak oil " ....
 
Everything else here at interest.co.nz gets blamed on peak oil ( or on Chinese investors/immigrants ) ...
 
Of course , we could just knuckle down and actually get more houses built ....
 
... silly me , this is NZ .... we need spend all of our available time blaming someone for our housing bubble ... bloody OPEC !!!

 

11. 100 points to me for
blaming the most unexpected character for NZ housing affordability crisis -Winston Churchill ; ).
 

... just got around to the TOP 10 .... well done Brendon , good stuff ... Winston Churchill is to blame for our housing shortage ... obvious now that you mention it , silly me then ...
 
So you're a psychiatric nurse , huh  .... are you allowed to tell us if there's any improvement in steven's condition ?
regards

In the Great Housing battles of 2014. Two big armies continued the fight. But the Greenie battalions withdrew from the field. A litle foot soldier called Steven was heard to mutter 'So what was that all about again?'..... 

"Don't fight a battle if you don't gain anything by winning."
http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Erwin_Rommel
Yep, from a long term perspective there is no point in this.  Housing is massively over-priced and that seems substantially due to "tulip syle" speculation and it will correct.   Leaving aside Chch which has a genuine shortage, but i wonder on its viability as a city (of this size) now, hence it wont need the numbers of houses it once did.
regards
 

Steven's mate Murray from the PDK greenie faction was heard to reply. 'I know what you mean. I started out fighting for a simpler more sustainable life and ended up fighting so some rich bastard could make more money from mortgage and rent slaves. Bugger that for a joke. Lets get out of here. I have a solar powered spa, a good supply of organic wine....'

Why do you feel the need to put words in other ppl's mouths?
You just dont get and dont want to get that the world has changed circa 2006.
- Mortal danger is an effective antidote for fixed ideas.
regards

Definately no improvement in Steven's condition GBH.......please keep scrolling and reading!
It's a Right wing....Snapper-Steven....blow.

Thats right, no signs of me being a deluded, rabid, right wing nut job.
yeah!
regards

Market failure .... huh ... what?

Far from it.
The property market is functioning perfectly

Regardless of the councils/government imbroglio, when policy settings are such that the only investment game in town is the "tax-free property game" what would you expect
 
In this global era of the internet, anyone with a computer and a connection to the internet, anywhere in the world, searching for a safe-haven to plonk their money will soon discover that the tax laws in new zealand incentivise playing the property game and it's tax free which in the international language of "money" that becomes a return-on-investment of nearly 20% per-annum tax-free ie 10% grossed up using a 50% tax rate (50% for simplicity)
 
 
That's what's happening. The global market has come to town. There are no impediments. It's working only too well.
 
However, the global hunger that's flowing around the western world seeking a safe-haven conflicts with the very essence of what housing is to the needs of the local indigenous inhabitants
 
With a product that has two seperate benefits (according to your interest). Housing or money-bolt-hole
 
Which one wins. Who Wins? Who loses? The answer to that is evident for all to see

If there were bank restrictions on lending there would not be the unaffordabily there is now.  In my view it is uncontrolled bank lending that is the problem.  Impose the restrictions that existed on lending thirty odd years ago and only permit citizens to buy and then see what happens.   Free market be damned.

When I bought 20 years ago 80/20 was the max, if we had stayed at that ratio AKA texas the ever increasing debt factor wouldnt have been a factor for boosting prices.
regards

And if there were bank restrictions who will house the people that can't get a mortgage?

There wouldnt be any change, still the same number of people and houses.   I have no problem with professional landlords, I take great issue with speculators who only buy for capital gain.
regards
 

You don't need a mortgage to rent..
If buying is not an option then rent. The government must guarantee that there are rentals affordable in the market and if not, the government must subside house rentals.
There is not such a right as owning a house, but there should be a right to have shelter.
And if properties are unaffordable for many is because some people are making a lot of money with this business. Tax harder these people to compensate the public spending in subsiding rentals for those who cannot afford to pay a rent at the market price.

What a baised, right wing, and limited view you have.
Its a pity that we seem to be in an era where there are so few ppl who bring logic, data and strategic views to the discusion arena. Instead we see ppl such as yourself who ignore critically important aspects of an economy that dont fit your political views of never ending free market growth.
regards

So Steven, if you bought  house for $400k and one week later were offered $500K you would turn it down?
Yeah right.

If buying a $400k house to sell it next week for $500k means that the week after that I need to buy another house for $500 or more (because I need to live somewhere, right?). Then my answer to that question would be yes, I would turn it down.
The key here is that houses can be seen as some basic human need, and that should be guaranteed although that does not mean owning the house, and can also be seen as an investment object of speculation. The second point of view should be economically punished (taxed, prevented, discouraged..)

Is that a Tui I can hear singing?
Yes I think it is.

Let's not forget the other main woes of the Councils:  they are completely, utterly oblivious to the fact that they are major economic players in the local property markets.  So they blunder around, granting CG here, denying it there, happy to collect the windfall rates revenue if a development sits Inside their map-squiggle and not outside it, and of course, failing to equate the thousands of dollars added here, there and everywhere, with the COGS of the eventual house.  Someone else's problem.
 
And their expenses ballooned with the 2002 LG Act's 'four well-beings' which allowed Councils to do basically what they wanted, as no human activity could not be fitted into one of the Four.
 
Hence, events, 'cultural activities', community development advisers, and a whole strata of soft-degree'd empire builders.
 
It's proving hard to justify all this now, especially as the 2013 amendment wiped the 4WB's off the face of the planet.  It's even harder to fund this layer, because they've had a decade of Good Timez , have entrenched themselves, and they ain't about to go quietly.
 
Common taters are invited to try to unpick this Gordian Knot.

Muriel, mangling the Jefferson quote is sloppy. Trying to shoe-horn its meaning into some bizarre contemporary right-wing justification for urban sprawl is insulting. To quote the 3rd President of the United States correctly, he said "I know of no safe depositary of the ultimate power of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." Perhaps Andrew Jackson's doctrine of Manifest Destiny would be better aligned to your urban sprawl narrative? He was, however, a Democrat.

This is a failure of logic, ie a straw man argument.  Or can you actually justify your opinion? because it doesnt look like facts.
"The ideology underpinning these policies is based on the notion that urban development is destroying productive land and that New Zealand can no longer afford to use more and more of its land area for housing."
I am not aware this is a council viewpoint? can you provide some proof?  Otherwise it is out of context and more to do with the distance and the economic cost of transporting farm produce in a fossil fuel constrained world.
"As a result, all sorts of draconian limitations will have been imposed by councils on property-owners to prevent them from subdividing and opening their land up for more housing."
Or maybe its an un-willingness to waste? or the sprawl of infrastructure thatwould be required like sewerage?
"However, those who subscribe to the viewpoint that rural land needs protecting from the encroachment of housing, should really look at the facts. According to data produced by the Ministry for the Environment in 2006, less than one percent of New Zealand’s total land area is used for housing, buildings, and roads"
Again a mis-direction, its not the quantity left but, a) energy consumed, b) quality of land (cities are often cited on high quality farm land)  and again you seem to be quoting all land area ie incl mountians?  Also ignoring water availability?  climate/weather?
On top of that maybe NZers want a quality environment to live in?
choice...
regards
 

So, poor sucker that I am, I should have chosen to be born earlier, so I could buy at the right time and reap the gains now?
I'm a Millenial.
I work my freaking ass off, don't have parents who can kick in 100k to help bring the principal down.
Debt free, 150k in the bank, but pretty much I have to live in Ranui, Otara or Mangere unless I'm willing to saddle myself with a loan the size of which, even after a 20% deposit, if interest rates go north a little, will make losing it a possibility.
Bugger that.
I'll just keep saving & investing until sanity returns. If it never does, well, I'm mobile and what has this country done for me?
Market ain't working for anyone under 35.
 

I hear you brother jamsey, I was born ten years too late and my parents are broke but I have a good job and savings yet I have no prospect of buying within an hours drive of where I work in Albany. So I'm looking for a job outside of Auckland (I dont  know why I said that? there are no jobs out side of Auckland) or maybe I'll go overseas....or maybe I'll marry a rich girl.

Exactly, supply and demand.  A limited supply of phsyical houses within defined paramaters - that is, the borders of New Zealand.  Meanwhile, we have insatiable, unlimited demand from basically anyone within the realms of this entire planet - providing they have money, which generally comes in the form of cheap mortgages from other international banks, and sometimes the proceeds of crime because we all know real estate is exempt from money laundering laws in this quirky little country.
 
How could you exclude that from your article when you're claiming to be some sort of authority on economic principals?  And as for trying to use a dearth of information to prove that there IS NOT a decreasing rate of home ownership in this country - AMAZING!  You're obviously completely removed from reality.
 
The funny thing is that you thought you'd try and spout your ideological BS on this website?  Biased 'journalism' like this is dangerous to a society - but at least we're calling you on it.  I'm actually embarrassed for you, whoever you are...

I don't think I've ever read a more balatantly biased article on the subject. Yes, there's a housing crisis, but it's the councils' fault. And if it is the governments fault, then it's the previous governments fault.
Yeah, right.....
 
(the bit about the 'lovely photo of the PM' made me laugh, though, so it wasn't  complete waste of 5 minutes.