The political D-day is nearly upon us and we should all by now know what party we are going to present our ‘Party vote’ to. If not, then with this blog, I may be able to assist with your decision on which party you want to partner with. Within this blog are the policies from the major political parties that relate to housing and a few opinions/predictions from the writer. If you happen to be on the fence, hopefully after reading this, I have knocked you off and you sit firmly entrenched with the party you want to move forward with for the next three years.

The policies published by the various parties are as follows (1):

Labour

  • Retrofit of up to $18k for landlords changing their homes from gas to electricity and insulating/double glazing (great, as long as there is a plan for the impending huge electricity demand)
  • Build an extra 6000 state houses by 2027 (whoa)
  • Build 1000 state houses every year (same as National)

National

  • Allow Councils to ‘opt-out’ of medium density law set by the Government(2)
  • Provide $1B incentive for Councils to increase housing (3) (Interesting)
  • NZ Transport will be incentivised to increase housing (Interesting)
  • Red tape will be reduced for developers to fund infrastructure (fantastic)
  • Kiwibuild will be scrapped (Well it has failed)(4)
  • New taxes on foreign property buyers (15%)(5)
  •  Build 1000 State houses per year (same as Labour)
  • Scrap the Auckland regional fuel tax (great)
  • Change the 10 year bright-line test from 10 years back to 2 years (ok, as long as there is a different rule for speculation)
  • Allow under 30 year olds to use Kiwisaver to pay their tenancy bond (good)
  • Incentivise Build-to-rent for overseas investors – revising the OIA
  • Reverse the Labour governments ‘Ute tax’ on diesel vehicles (yahoo)
  • Re-instate interest deductability for property investors (thank god)
  • Bring back no-cause-tenancy terminations (90 days notice)
  • Plans to scrap the higher tax bracket for earners of $180k +
  • Reinstate 90 day trials for employers with starting employees

ACT

  • Cap the top tax rates of companies/Trusts/Personal to 28% (great!)
  • Set the new retirement age to 67 (fair enough- we are working for longer now)
  • Sell up to half of the State owned enterprises (will increase taxes as more profit)
  • Sell off Landcorp (State owned farms)
  • Abolish Bright Line test entirely (whoa – could encourage speculation)
  • Abolish RMA (now the National and Built Environment Act)
  • Allow builders to bypass getting a building consent and allow them to obtain private insurance as an alternative. (Insurance companies wouldn’t insure unless perfectly safe)
  • $1B of GST revenue handed out to Councils depending on their issue numbers of Building Consents (providing incentive for the councils – brilliant)
  • Codes of Practice would be incentivised to take the place of Building Consents

Greens Party

  • Put a cap on rent increases up to 3%
  • Introduce a rental home WOF system (might be a good idea)
  • More community housing and Maori-led housing
  • A wealth tax of an extra 2.5% on those earning above $2M (bye bye investors)
  • Interest free loans up to $30k for solar power and other efficiency related additions (great)

Te Pati Maori

  • Majority of changes are racial policies which remove ownership from the state and New Zealanders then give to the people that have Maori blood.

Housing policy in the past (4)

Over at least the last two terms of government, the promises of increasing housing growth has fallen well short of what was promised. The term ’Kiwibuild’ has almost become a swear word uttered only in the company of people that don’t know any better.

The main reason why the promised houses didn’t arrive is the interpretation of the law and the wide discretionary power provided to the Councils in NZ law. Developers and even the government itself could not break through the local Council’s modus operandi.

The National government has scratched their heads on this issue and followed their usual policy by giving more to those that actually produce results. By incentivising the Councils and NZTA financially to create more houses, it will be interesting to see if the discretionary power the Council have, majically start to sway and start leaning toward more and faster approvals for Resource Consents! Afterall, in the end, money talks. 

Foreign Buyers (5)

The National party has stated that they will re-open the NZ gates to foreigners with a caveat (so to speak) attached. The properties they can buy will need to have a $2M+ price tag and the buyers will need to pay a 15% tax on the purchase price.

This policy along with the Bright Line being reduced to 2 years is likely to create speculation, so the government will need to careful not to encourage this. We have all seen in the last boom that a 15% tax on top of the purchase will mean very little when the value of the property increases by an average of 7.5% every year (6). If the past 20 years is anything to go by, with National’s new policies in place, a foreign buyer can purchase a property and sell it in three years for a profit and no tax will payable on that profit.

Empty Homes (7)

The problem with holiday homes and with some property investors, is that they would prefer to leave their homes empty. When investors from a large population overseas start buying property with the intention of leaving them empty and just mowing the grass for the next seven years, then this will (and has in the past) become a real issue. We have seen this in other countries around the world, countries with geographical areas larger than ours, ignore this and have suffered the consequences.

Some countries such as France, Australia, Scotland, Vancouver and Ireland are taxing people who leave the house vacant for 6 months. Ireland was specifically hit with this issue after an investor- fuelled-development-boom pre-2007 and consequently they will now charge a property owner 3 times their rates bill if left empty for half a year. (8)

It remains to be seen at the date of this blog if this policy goes ahead in NZ, will holiday homes be exempt and if they are not, then no doubt Airbnb, Bachcare, bookabach and similar companies will most likely boom. We also don’t know how many of the houses left empty are from overseas owners, but what we can make an experienced assumption is that if the foreign policy for overseas buyers is relaxed, then the pool holding the extra ‘tax’ for t\leaving the house empty, will be increased.

Immigrants (9)

In the 2018 Census (the 2023 results are not published yet), the NZ population of 5.2M people mainly consisted of: 70.2% European, 16.5% Maori, 15.1% Asian and 8% Pacific people. I believe most people would agree that the Asian percentage would equal or surpass the Maori population percentage when the 2023 results are out.

If the National party govern the country, post 14 October 2023, it is likely the chinese property investors in China will turn their collective giant head and take notice. It is safe to predict that after a further term with the National government that the percentage of Asian investors and immigration would increase. As the higher percentage becomes a force to be reckoned with, policies to appease these new voters will start to emerge.

Cultural change is upon us and contrary to some beliefs, I believe it should be embraced. To remain in our comfort zone of similar cultures is an anti-growth stance as is evidenced by some of our tribal brothers and sisters in the third world countries. ‘Ching-lish’ and ‘Hind-ish’ may become official languages fifty years from today and NZ will be better for it. This is how the world is evolving, inter- marriage is common and coffee coloured people will no doubt be the main theme in outskirt countries such as ours as political instability throughout the centre of the planet continues.

Summary

The various parties are providing policies that are typical of their nature with the Labour/Green acting for the lower social-economic community and the National/Act parties acting for the people who want to grow their individual wealth.

We need both sides over a period of time, National may create a wealth gap for those that fall behind and then we need Labour to scoop them up and put them back on their feet. It is because this life is so hard for the majority of the population, that in turn creates a need for most to focus on taking actions that will provide security and comfort.

We therefore need to oscillate the parties that govern to keep the country balanced. If we don’t do that and a Labour government rules the roost for too long, individuals with a better-than-average wage will cross the ditch and the poor will become comfortable receiving free money.  This will lead to uncontrollable debt and all that is associated with that.

This oscillation needs to happen in our economy to keep it balanced, however I believe the governance term should be increased to 4 years to avoid parties promising enticing policies to start in 1 to 2 years from now, which seem to be enacted that way to keep them in power post the next election.

Regardless of the opinions in this blog, no doubt there will be some readers that are conflicted on whether they should vote for the policies that enhance their personal security or the policies that are best for the country with its current needs. Maybe you believe that what benefits you, will, on a macro level, benefit everybody. That will be your decision to make.   

References

  1. https://www.rnz.co.nz/programmes/news-extras/story/2018902030/election-2023-rnz-s-guide-to-party-policy
  2. https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/132164048/national-announces-housing-growth-election-policy
  3. https://www.national.org.nz/nationals_going_for_housing_growth_plan#:~:text=%E2%80%9COur%20%241%20billion%20Build%2Dfor,the%20council%20will%20receive%20%2425%2C000.
  4. https://www.1news.co.nz/2022/07/20/kiwibuild-a-totally-failed-policy-nicola-willis/
  5. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/foreign-buyer-ban-national-expects-foreigners-to-snap-up-one-in-two-high-priced-luxury-homes/W2AEUR6G3NEMFDJPNYWRBEUSU4/
  6. https://www.corelogic.co.nz/news-research/news/2022/new-zealand-property-values-up-by-almost-300-since-2003
  7. https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/on-the-inside/497269/as-nz-struggles-to-resolve-its-long-running-housing-crisis-investors-should-be-taxed-for-keeping-homes-empty
  8. https://www.irishtimes.com/ireland/housing-planning/2022/09/27/new-tax-on-vacant-homes-all-you-need-to-know-if-you-have-one/
  9. https://www.stats.govt.nz/news/new-zealands-population-reflects-growing-diversity
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