PM John Key denies non-resident buyers a major factor in Auckland house prices; says Labour's revelation of data on Chinese sounding names shows desperation; won't work politically

By Bernard Hickey

Prime Minister John Key has returned from a week's holiday in Hawaii to criticise Labour's revelation of data showing buyers with Chinese-sounding names bought 39.5% of homes through Barfoot and Thompson from February to April this year.

Key said any non-resident buying from China was likely to be a much smaller figure than the 39.5% presented by Labour and that the decision to release the data would not work politically. He said the Government would soon have better data on the amount of non-resident buying and remained open to considering actions if necessary, although he personally believed the level of foreign buying was not a significant factor in Auckland.

"It was desperate," Key told Radio NZ in an interview.

"They know the information is wrong and they know the information is misleading," he said.

"They will know the people on that list -- the vast bulk of them -- who have Chinese surnames -- will be residents or citizens -- many of whom Labour will have welcomed to this country, and yet on the same point they're desperate enough to dress that up as some sort of argument around housing."

Key said better information was coming.

He said he believed the bulk of the 39.5% of buyers with Chinese sounding names that bought Auckland property were either residents or citizens of New Zealand.

"It's highly likely. There's not that many people who get up in the morning who live in Guangzhou and say, randomly, I'm going to buy a house in Auckland with no connection to this country at all. There'll be some. Some people on that list will definitely be people with no connection to New Zealand, but not very many. Most people buy property because they have a connection," Key said.

"They either live here or they want to live here or they've got a child studying here, there'll be a range of reasons. But we'll get that information. The Government's always been prepared to be pragmatic," he said.

"I have always said if the data shows there's a real problem, and we if need to consider further steps, then the Government will consider those further steps."

Key said implementing Australian style restrictions on foreign buyers only buying new homes or 'off the plan' homes would not work as it had not worked in Australia.

"Are they really saying we don't want to allow someone who is not a resident or a citizen to buy a property in Queenstown or the Bay of Plenty or the Bay of Islands," he said, asking how Labour would carve out different types of non-residents buying in different regions.

"There'll be a percentage of people on that list who are non-resident, but it will be far lower than they are trying to present," he said.

"And that's why I don't think it's worked because from a political point view. New Zealanders are a fair, even minded people. They know we're a multicultural society and they know the Labour Party I've hung around for the last 13 and a half years in politics has always been the one talking about an open multicultural society," he said.

"So they can see that what they did last week was either so out of character or so desperate, it's hard to believe they even believe it themselves."

Polling suggests otherwise

However, two poll results released over the last three days suggest Labour's revelation of the data on July 11 and a slowing economy are starting to eat into support for the Government and into optimism about the economy.

The monthly Roy Morgan poll of 886 voters conducted from June 29 to July 12 found support for National fell 6.5% to 43%.

Support for Labour rose 6% to 32%, its highest level since March 2014, while Green support was unchanged at 13% and New Zealand First rose 0.5% to 7%. The combination of the three would be enough to win Government.

Roy Morgan's Government Confidence Rating fell 17.5% to 118 points from June, it's lowest point since September 2013, which was just before the introduction of the Reserve Bank's first version of the high LVR speed limits.

Colmar Brunton's opinion poll for TVNZ conducted from July 11-15 confirmed the turnaround in the opposition's poll fortunes. It found support for National fell 1% to 47%, while support for Labour rose 1% to 32% and support for Green rose 3% to 13%. New Zealand First was unchanged on 7%, giving the opposition a combined 52% to National's 47%.

John Key's position as preferred Prime Minister fell 4% to 40% in the Colmar Brunton poll, while Andrew Little's support as preferred PM fell 1% to 8% and Winston Peters' support fell 2% to 7%.

The poll found 41% of respondents thought the economy would deteriorate over the next 12 months, up 10% to its worst level since April 2011. The poll found 36% expected the economy to improve, with the remainder expected it to remain the same.

Key upbeat on economy

Elsewhere, Key downplayed suggestions of a significant economic downturn or the need for a Government response, pointing to the positive effects of the automatic stabilisers of lower interest rates and a lower New Zealand dollar.

"We've got very sound fundamentals. We're a lot more competitive than we were," Key said.

"Just because dairy prices are down a bit and China is growing at a slightly slower pace than we would like, does that mean we should be hitting the panic buttons? Absolutely not."

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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73 Comments

Post deleted.

Key should have had some informal conversations with the big 4 banks on this issue.

My guess is that the banks told him that foreign buyers/investors are indeed minimal, however, locals (residents and citizen) using foreign $ are abysmal.

foreign or not foreign - it can be easily checked by running their list of names against the electoral roll

if it's anything like Australia then it's probably true that most of Auckland is being bought by mostly Chinese - it's not a racism thing - it's a numbers game - you only need a small percentage of China's new rich to swamp a market like NZ

Key denies it because like many others of his ilk he has invested in property and is making a killing selling it to the mostly Chinese (stat speaking)

now where have we seen all this before

oh yeh right - only a century or so ago the same type of people were making a killing selling the same land to mostly whites - but back then it was only the Maori who were to loose it all

this time?

we shall see

Buyers rush to beat Govt property change - agent

11:30 AM Monday Jul 20, 2015

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=1148...

You mean "lose it all"" of course??

ah good point - but maybe both words are appropriate, in a way

Just releasing my inner pedant ( in case I start pulling ponytails and having flag referendums)

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The 4 quarters of GDP contraction (starting Q1 of 2008) is what pulled the plug on the last Labour administration.

The forth coming contraction is what will pull the plug on the Nats.

Kiwi voters may be blissfully uninformed on most issues that might influence their voting patterns, but they don't tolerate economic pain, and will lash out at the Nats

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I suggest that Mr Key will go to few auctions. See what is happening and how it looks.
It would be great if our PM took action to protect NZ citizens, residents, their families, kids and their future!

Yes, because you can tell by looking at a person whether he's a "real Kiwi" and what his intentions are in buying a property.

If the ethnicity of those in the room is nothing like the ethnic makeup of wider society, it's not solid evidence of anything but it does suggest a trend.

People of Chinese decent make up 9% of Auckland's population. Of those 9%, only 5% of them earn more than $50k per year and therefore stand a chance in hell of buying. Are we to believe that ~0.45% of Auckland's population is buying around 40% of homes?

I think it would be safe to conclude that a serious amount of Chinese money is coming in, either through direct sales to non-residents or by money channeled through residents. This is not good for New Zealand and the electorate would not vote in support of it therefore it should be stopped by the government.

Chinese buyers aside, how many more homes are going to the British, American and Australians? When we're all tenants in our own country in fifty years time, we're going to look back and wish the government had acted.

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he is delusional if he thinks people still believe what he says, he burnt those bridges a while back and people now disreagard his statements as irrelevant.
i cant list his untruths here because we would go into page after page of dribble

Kiss your next term good buy

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Its probably already bought.

It is not all his fault Jerry. There are a lot of New Zealanders borrowing stupid amounts of money to buy homes in Auckland and thereby putting pressure on other areas of their lives such as having enough money for decent food, power and transport costs. JK is hardly putting a gun to their heads and making them put their hands up at auctions.

And yet many don't see that as a future problem! That debt has to be rapid by someone. Debt NEVER goes away. Someone's asset is someone else's liability. It's only going to be a matter of who gets lumped with it. If it isn't today's debtholders it will be tomorrow's future debt holders. One day, that has to end, as wages are unlikely to catch up, ever, until the debt has been taken onto someone's balance sheet. Once % rates are so low that the principal amount of new borrowing is all that there is left to recognise the 'risk factor', then....that's it. Game over, and we aren't that far away from that....

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John Key has one overriding objective in this issue, as in every other which concerns China and New Zealand, which is to avoid giving the least offence to China.

During his visit to NZ late last year, the Chinese Premier and John Key celebrated the creation of a 'comprehensive strategic partnership' between our countries. While no-one outside government discussions fully knows what this 'partnership' means, it may mean considerably more to China than it does to easy-going, friendly-old John Key. But what is a gravy-train of Chinese investment for some is Chinese economic colonisation for others. The effects are certainly very different for different sectors.

Housing investment is merely the canary in the mine. It will be interesting, when or if any authoritative data is produced, to hear what it's really squawking. Until then, Key prefers us all to follow his practice, and keep our fingers in our ears.

If his objective is not offending the Chinese, then his approach of total denial is half witted. It has been predictable for quite some time that there would be a Kiwi backlash against sales to foreigners. If he wanted to avoid offending the Chinese then, before this occurred, he would have put broad sanctions in place that addressed all nationalities equally and if he was really smart, lumped the Kiwi property investors into the same boat.

John Key may be 'really smart' in his areas of competence, but I don't believe these include custody of the national interest. I would say he's a lazy thinker at this level, and that his approach to things, including the housing issue, could fairly be categorised as 'half-witted'.

Perhaps a good deal of his appeal (for he certainly has some) is to people who are even lazier thinkers - satisfied with the quick answer, the throw-away line, the quick buck. His manner, in effect, whatever the issue,is to say there's nothing really to think about. This is very satisfying to those who don't want to think about anything - whether it's shutting the door on home-ownership to young people in much of Auckland (and that involves closing off many schools to them too), or the accelerating degradation to our environment.

'His approach of total denial' seems to have served him well in just about everything. If denial doesn't stack up, it's always possible he can't remember.

Elsewhere, Key downplayed suggestions of a significant economic downturn or the need for a Government response, pointing to the positive effects of the automatic stabilisers of lower interest rates and a lower New Zealand dollar.

I thought lower interest rates were the cause of the disquiet enveloping residential property ownership in Auckland.

Keynes completely ignored the constraints of finance, including the elementary fact that ex nihilo nihil fit (nothing comes from nothing). In particular, he ignored the fact that there is obstruction to suppressing the rate of interest (namely, the rising of the bond price beyond all bounds) and, likewise, there is obstruction to suppressing the bond price (namely, the rising of the rate of interest beyond all bounds). Thus, then, while Keynes was hell-bent on impounding the “unearned” interest income of the “parasitic” rentiers with his left hand, he would inadvertently grant unprecedented capital gains to them in the form of exorbitant bond price with his right. Read more and then more here - for bond price read property price, it matters not.

High rise building on Queen Street

226 Units and only 14 carparks for the entire complex

Unit without carpark $386,000
Unit with carpark $1,200,000

I wonder what a secure car park building would bring in (near subway) in Auckland.

Auckland is oversupplied with carparking. CBD starts at about 150/month for uncovered and 300/month for covered.
http://www.sharedspace.co.nz/listings/detail/carpark-space/auckland/3261...

If anyone wants to buy a carpark for 900K, please send me PM.

The Polls are wrong again as to be expected when the left wing work themselves up to a frenzy.

NBR 20th July

"Phil Twyford’s campaign against Chinese non-resident house buyers has failed to dent the government’s support – at least according to the latest poll.

A One News-Colmar Brunton poll has National down 1% to 47% and Labour up 1% to 32% -- movements within the margin of error (see full results in graphic below).

Unlike a Roy Morgan poll released Friday, which caught just two days of Twyford campaign across its 13-day survey period, the One News poll (July 11 to 15) was all taken after the Labour MP’s data dump.

link:
http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/twyford-effect-nothing-poll-ck-175805

that is still to close for comfort remember national have no partners key has seen to that, they can only rely on PD and ACT for 1 seat each and they will be lucky this time if favell can stick his one seat.
that means they need to win 48 seats to govern so 48% of the vote.
also keys poll has dropped 4% so the gloss is starting to wear off as the sheeple start to turn away from the great hope and as our elections are run USD style where the leader is everything that has to worry those in the national party

Dont underestimate NZ Labour's ability to lose the next election and the one after that. I am not convinced either they or the Green's have taken a long hard look at themselves unlike UK Labour on why they lost so badly this time.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/labour-party-is-heading-fo...

Labour only have to do two things to win at the next election:
.
- Introduce a measure to slow down the Auckland housing market, a stamp duty type tax would be ideal (rather clip the ticket at the start of the transaction than at the end)
- Declare themselves to be against the TPPA and promise not to sign (if it hasn't been signed already, by that stage).
.

National are a lot craftier than you give them credit. If I was a politician I would cut taxes next budget and increase spending in the budget just before the next election. Cutting taxes seems to have a lag of 12-18 months before the benefits come through and increasing spending has a 6 month lag. At the moment they are still in "running a tight ship mode" but as the election appears over the horizon this will change to "growing the economy" mode.

i am expecting just that under the guise of getting the economy going again, it wont matter that the budget will still be in the red, this lot dont seem to know any other colour ironically

have to wonder on tax cuts when,

a) We owe so much money. yet of course only the left are incompetent economy managers. Lets ignore Cullen paying down the national debt and starting the Cullen fund.
b) Tax cuts for the well off have the effect of porking the property market, and worse dont do much for an economy see George Bush's plan and how that didnt turn out well.
c) Govn one off spending infrastructure type in a depressed market has a multiplier of 1.2 to 1.5 to 1 unlike tax cuts that seem to be less.
d) Post peak oil world with expensive energy, ie you cannot grow an economy expotentially on a finite planet.

Well, at the end of the day, our "cutting edge" Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) and New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS) could provide all the information about who has bought what. When I say "At the end of the day" I am being literal. Our "Secret Squirrels" could provide their Masters (the NZ Public, not The Club), the information that we require by 5.30 pm Monday, July 20, 2015. This information is Foundation Intelligence. If they can not provide us with simple basic info, how on Earth can we rely on them to protect us from external threats? What a sad joke.

Of course they had and have that data and have placed it in Cabinet's hands. The joke is on us.

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Australia and Canada do have some better statistics and they show foreign speculators are a very significant force in the market. As does the statistical analysis from Labour.

So where is the evidence they aren't John? And how convenient it is that your "half-baked" statistics collection starts at the same time as some of the anti-money laundering legislation finally gets enacted, which no doubt will lower the "official" stats from October.

Time for me to go take a chill pill. Nothing makes me more angry than this idiot.

This "oldy, but a goody" won't help you then! (It's got money laundering, corruption, coverups...everything!))
http://theliesofkeys.blogspot.co.nz/2011/08/open-letter-to-governor-gene...

Smile and wave.

Smile and shrug shoulders

oh dear

another one for the chop at Barfoot and Thompson coming up - Kevin Liu

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=1148...

yes it will be interesting to see if they sack him for leaking the secret ,that is not a secret but we are told it is not known so must be a secret

There is a distinct narrative emerging

Over on NBR on the weekend there was an opnion piece by Victoria Young a born and bred New Zealander of chinese lineage taking it personally and bemoaning the fact the spotlight is being shone on people of chinese descent - which is having an un-welcome effect on the long established chinese community - they are not happy about what is being visited upon them

commenter number 2 sums it up concisely - (and Kevin Liu of Barfoots is is typical of those who are doing the damage - and spoiling it for the rest - they can't help themselves)

quote - annoyingly for Asian descended Nzers the new money pouring out of China takes no prisoners, your sensitivities are collateral damage
http://www.nbr.co.nz/opinion/do-we-dare-show-our-yellow-faces-auctions-o...

LOL.

The upside, I suppose is it suggests we can have a bit more confidence in National's 1 Oct. policy changes :-). But then agents will say just about anything to drum up listings.

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Third Term Governments classically become out of touch. And so it is with this one.
Matthes Hotton (NBR on Friday and National Radio just now) says Key is cunningly not rising to the bait which Labour wants him to. Well maybe, but that is the analysis of somebody saturated in the tit for tat of politics.
But there are other realities than party politics.
The other reality is that Auckland house prices are twice, perhaps thrice what they should be. New Zealand citizens are suffering. A young generation is shut out of house ownership with social implications that will last generations. And those who get into housing there will have no spare cash for decades.
Key and the national party have not noticed, have not regarded the interests of these citizens. They will suffer for it.
Leadership coup soon, as some of MPs start to notice voters abandon them ?

yes like on any sinking ship rats always looking to save themselves first,
there will be a few backbenchers and list Mps that can see there career coming to an abupt end and they will swing in behind someone that may lift the polls to ensure there survival

in case you dont understand mr key he is referring to overseas investors that you say are not buying here
talk about B & T kicking another own goal
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=1148...

Well then, all sorted, thanks

Government ministers and backbenchers alike are proclaiming the wisdom of the great leader John Key. At the same time they will be acutely aware of the chatter from the voters, and they are hearing a problem that is hurting New Zealanders and that some votes are being lost.
Expect the appearance of happiness to last a while yet, but one day they will turn on him. The turn will be sudden.

The pm, of parnell seems to be operating on the principle that you can fool some of the people for some of the time but you can fool all of the Kiwis all of the time.
For example he is saying the economy is fine - "dairy is only 5% of the economy" - totally ignoring the fact that it makes up a "almost a third of New Zealand’s annual merchandise exports" (quote from Gov Wheeler). His distancing of himself from the dairy industry is remarkable. As dairy suffers so does the vast hinterland of rural NZ towns and communities that are dependent upon it -. 5% is only the starting point.

Smile and wave - its the do NAThing party back in action.

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It amazes me that John Key can flat out lie and misled over and over again and the public falls for it.

For starters the man is entirely perverted pulling ponytails of children and adults that he does not have a relationship with and it amazes me the general population finds this acceptable. If he touched other parts of a strangers body he would now be in jail.

The man has continually made false comments whether it be about the Chch earthquake and the government handling of it, or the recent removal of Kiwisaver kickstart not reducing enrolments when ANZ says they've halved.

Clearly Key exudes a pretence of infallibility that people accept as they don't want to or can't be bothered to question further.

I can quite happily refer to Key as a liar, because there are so many statements in the public domain that he made as matters of fact that he will do that he then changed his mind about, which by most people's definition makes him a liar. (Pike river, ChCh EQ, GST increase the list goes on).

So why do we listen to a recidivist liar??

because a big enough % wants to believe him.

This country really is starting to feel like a banana republic now isn't it, I can't remember any government have such total control of the media as now, TVNZ as state owned who used to be quite questioning of government now have spriukers like Hosting singing their every praises, and TV3 as virtually state owned, given the government gave them a massive bailout, now we know what the conditions of that bail out were don't we.

Was it conditional on culling Key's nemesis John Campbell?

[ off topic. Removed because unrelated to this story. See Commenting policy. Ed ]

[ off topic. Removed because unrelated to this story. See Commenting policy. Ed ]

[ off topic. Removed because unrelated to this story. See Commenting policy. Ed You are welcome to post general comments about most things 'unrelated' in one of 90 @ 9, Top 10, of the 4pm wrap-up. ]

1) Well I hope that the NZers of Chinese decent have taken notice of the Left's behaviour and only support National in the next election.

2) Was it necessary to mention that our prime minister was on holiday in Hawaii?

It is starting to look as though Key etc may be able to successfully defuse the issue by playing the race card. It will be an interesting test of Little's resolve & resilience to see if he can stay the distance on this one. History seems to suggest not.

http://www.smh.com.au/business/comment-and-analysis/negative-gearing-jus...

The Aussies have data on foreign buyers, looks like it is of the order of 20% or so, which must make quite a difference to house prices; can't see why we would be much different

Or even more, given our lack of regulation and taxation, and our downright encouragement of it all, so I am saying, "Govt, it is now up to you to demonstrate that it is less than 25-30% of property selling into foreign hands."
I am pretty comfortable with that guess.

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I am not surprised with the same old same old response from the PM. He and the rest of his ministers have been singing the same tune for over 18 months while house prices rose by 20+%. This government has shown no leadership on an issue which is very vital for the economy and well being of NZ citizens. I voted National last time, never again lost confidence in them. This is a government that is completed unconnected to people's views and prefer to govern with their heads firmly stuck in the sand.

I don't know what y'all expect the govt. to do about the problem. The buying is one part of the equation but y'all might want to consider the fact that there are sellers involved in this as well. Are y'all expecting a law to stop the buying (chucking a tax on it aint gonna stop it), a law preventing y'all from selling at the highest price possible - something y'all can choose to do yourselves.

Y'all are missing the cause of it all. Everything happening now is merely the consequences of our belief in getting/being rich, our primitive concept of wealth and prosperity and the illusory "storage" of so called wealth. Until this belief system changes, aint nothing else gonna change.

Not expecting that much, just what pretty much every other in the world country has already done.

And his tax payer funded personal spruiker Hosking on TVNZ comes strongly to his defense as expected.
What other country in the world would the tax payer fund programs on prime time that are so politically biased that it's ridiculous? outside of Northern Korea and Russia.

Should we take advice from a man who went to Linwood High and drives round in a Ferrari?

Yes he has done well, but a lot of that is luck.

It doesn't make him qualified to make statements that are pro migration and pro China without balance on prime time. Hosking reckons we should have 18m people, what basis is there for that? Who does that help except TV hosts who get bigger audiences...

The prophecy of us being tenants in our own land, quickly becoming reality for more and more Kiwis.

What you do is nip it in the bud. Have seen another country ruined by invasion of the hordes. Don't want the same for NZ.

It's ok. The PM has changed his mind. He will act now if data evident of foreign sales:
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=1148...

He has not really said anything much, especially as to what level of foreign buying would trigger an as yet unspecified wet bus ticket slap

He won't act, it's part of our free trade agreement with China to sell them assets.

David Parker today has finally put that particular myth to rest. And he should know.
Page B4 NZ Herald. Quote:
"Under the China FTA negotiated by Labour in 2008, any NZ Government can further restrict or ban the sale of farmland or residential land to Chinese investors or introduce a stamp duty on foreign buyers. This is consistent with what China has itself done since the FTA was introduced".
Makes you wonder at the motivation for the misleading nonsense spouted by the Nats China lap dogs such as Don McKinnon.

t is my understanding that , like cars, owners of property are listed on pubic records... along with address etc....And also including in loan mortgage registrations etc.
Therefore, with a bit of work going thru these over say the last 5 yrs, one could get a ball park idea of of who, living where, if any loans regist where are

But then we do have the case of off shore purchases 'owning' thru someone in NZ.
Surely then , not declaring actual owners is falsifying official documents..making false declarations which from my understanding is a criminal offense.

Then take this further is such cases are found, and the real owners have not declared income from trading in NZ products in NZ (ie houses) then this is also falls into criminal practice of tax evasion ....

And if the above records of who owns property in NZ is on public registartion and same with loans then how is it the media / reporters/ labour party/ IRD/ etc not gone down this route long before now?

Well I never knew that steganography Down Under was capable of that data volume...

About 30% of all property (houses are involved in around 80%-85% of all property) is owned in ways that do not identify individuals- companies (mostly) and trusts.