The idea that thousands of returning New Zealanders will boost demand for housing and help prop up the property market and boost prices in the process may be nothing more than an urban myth, or perhaps some wishful thinking put about by players within the real estate industry itself.
The latest migration figures from Statistics NZ show that while there was a significant turnaround in the migration patterns of New Zealand citizens in the second quarter of this year, it was overshadowed by even bigger changes in the migration patterns of non-New Zealand citizens.
In the second quarter of last year, 6830 New Zealand citizens returned long term after an extended stay overseas (these numbers exclude short term travel), while 9841 departed long term, giving a net loss of 3011 New Zealand citizens for the quarter (see table blow).
In the second quarter of this year those flows had reversed, with 2487 New Zealand citizens arriving long term, which was down 64% on a year earlier, while just 402 departed long term, down 96% on the same period of last year.
That gave a net gain of 2085 NZ citizens in the second quarter, compared to the net loss of 3011 a year earlier.
So yes, that would have boosted demand for housing from returning New Zealand citizens.
But overall demand for housing from migrants would still be way down from what it was a year ago, because more migrants from other countries are leaving New Zealand than are arriving.
In the second quarter of last year 23,111 non-NZ citizens arrived in this country long term, while 12,320 departed long term, giving a net gain of 10,791 non-NZ citizens for the quarter.
But in the second quarter of this year those flows had reversed, with just 913 arriving long term and 2197 departing long term, giving a net loss of 1284 non-New Zealand citizens.
Statistics NZ's data series for those figures go back to 2001 and the second quarter of this year was the first time they have ever recorded a net loss of non-NZ citizens.
Overall, that reduced the net population gain from migration from 7780 in the second quarter of last year to just 802 in the second quarter of this year.
That suggests demand for housing from migrants, whether they be returning New Zealand citizens or citizens of other countries, was down by 90% in the second quarter of the year compared to the second quarter of last year.
With the supply of new homes coming on stream remaining buoyant, that will have a considerable impact on the balance of supply and demand.
While demand for housing from people already living here should remain as strong as ever, migration driven demand has likely tailed off to the point where it is now only having a minor impact on the market.
If current trends continue, that should ease housing supply pressures over the coming months.
There has also been talk of more wealthy migrants from countries such as the UK and the USA moving to New Zealand as a safe haven from COVID-19 and the related social and economic turmoil it is causing. But so far, the numbers do not support that theory.
There were more long term departures from New Zealand by UK and USA residents in the second quarter of this year than there were long term arrivals, giving a net loss from both countries.
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|NZ Migration Trends by Citizenship|
|June Quarter 2020 compared to June Quarter 2019|
|Q2 2019||Q2 2020|
|Country of Citizenship||Arrivals||Departures||Net Gain/Loss||Arrivals||Departures||Net Gain/Loss|
|Total non-NZ citizens||23,111||12,320||10,791||913||2197||-1284|
|Total All Citizenships||29,941||22,161||7780||3400||2598||802|
|Source: Statistics NZ|