Exodus warning by house seekers

Last updated 05:00 03/02/2013

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The Government should step in and do more to help New Zealanders into homes or else face an increasing exodus of people heading over the Tasman or further afield, say those struggling on the property ladder.

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler last week held the official cash rate at 2.5 per cent but fired a warning shot at rising house prices.

Wheeler pointed out that house price inflation had increased, and said the central bank was keeping a close eye on that.

House prices rose 6.7 per cent last year, according to the Real Estate Institute's Housing Price Index.

According to a Sunday Star-Times nationwide reader poll, 65 per cent of respondents said the "housing crisis" was a critical issue with 58 per cent that the Government should take steps to help people into home ownership.

"When I moved here from the United Kingdom I thought New Zealand was a better place to live," said one respondent. "I was so wrong, people cannot afford to get on the housing ladder here and they need to be able to."

Many said if New Zealand did not become more affordable people would continue to leave for Australia or the United Kingdom.

The sentiment largely centred around Auckland and Christchurch where up to 90 per cent believed the issue to be critical.

In Auckland, many said first home buyers were shut out of the market by foreign investors and developers who real estate agents warmed to with "open arms".

"Our year-long search has been one of constant disappointments and shock at the amount people are prepared to pay," said a respondent who was searching for a home with his fiancee. "Some sort of tax on those who have more than one or two properties or those purchasing properties for family members who do not reside in New Zealand seems a fair and realistic solution to me."

Christchurch respondents said outrageous prices were forcing difficult decisions for many families.

"The earthquakes have left a lot of people out of pocket to buy a new or second-hand home now," a Christchurch respondent said.

"I don't want to be left out in the cold because of something I had no control over and have been insured for this occasion."

However not everyone shared the sentiment.

"There are plenty of houses in Auckland but prices increase out of all proportion in some suburbs," said one. "First-time buyers need to lower their expectations as there are many houses in need of a bit of TLC."

Others said home ownership was not a human right.

"I don't see why my taxes should help others get into the house purchasing when I had to save for my deposit and pay the mortgage."

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- Sunday Star Times

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