Large number of unoccupied homes throughout the country, is this the cause of the housing crisis in New Zealand?
In 2018, the country median house price increased by 1.5% bringing the average price to $560,000. This 1.5% rise was a far cry from the rise during years 2015-2017. All figures however, must be taken in context. A house with a price tag of $560,000 in Southland in 2015 may have be almost a mansion. Whereas, in Auckland the same amount would barely buy an standard average 3br in a medium area.
Statistics don’t really show the true story. Census reports tell the government how many primary, intermediate and secondary schools will be needed in the next 5 years. This information is gained by families filling in forms that show their children’s ages and where they live. The information gathered for statistics from census forms differs from analytical data, a lot of which is projection.
Who would have ever believed, house prices in Auckland would have risen by over 11% in 2015. Over another 13% in 2016 and again in 2017 by over another 6%? Auckland homeowners in large quantities sold their homes. Then moved to other areas of the country, where the price hike had not yet hit. By relocating they not only bought a nice new home, they also found themselves with a very tidy nest egg. Therefore, enabling them, the lifestyle they could not have afforded otherwise.
Many homes in many areas are just not occupied. With the Far North having almost 30,000 homes, and 6,000 plus of these unoccupied. Moving to the other end of the country Southland District has 15,210 houses and over 3,000 are not occupied either. No one can force a home owner to let their home for rent but it seems strange, so many are sitting empty.
We know Queenstown, as a huge tourist destination. The statistics show that 28% of the homes are unoccupied, but they class many homes as ‘Holiday Lets’.
So why has NZ got such a high rate of homeless people searching for homes while councils must know the number of homes sitting empty? While the price of renting a property is assisted by Work and Income, the discrepancy is sometime too great.
You can still get, in some areas of Auckland, a property to rent for $450 per week, and receive a maximum of $160 from Winz for accommodation help, while rent costs in places such as Kaeo, a tiny rural town near Kerikeri with virtually no public transport and very few shops has rents up to $420 for a 3 bedroom home, but the accommodation help is only $70 maximum.
Many times too, families want to stay together ad while offering parents a suitable home to rent it may be far away from family support. Housing the population will always be a problem but until the true state of homelessness and the true number of homeless are identified all the empty houses in the country will not fix the problem.
So what do you think, is this the cause of the housing crisis in New Zealand?
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By Anne Freeman.