Land sale delays blamed on buyers

MICHAEL BERRY
Last updated 08:49 24/06/2013

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Delays in processing Overseas Investment Office applications are usually the result of poor information supplied by buyers, the office says.

The foreign land investment regulator was responding to a claim by Bayleys real estate that some prospective overseas buyers of vineyards were being hampered by the time taken to process their offers.

The Overseas Investment Office, a division of Land Information New Zealand, ensures that foreign investors are of good character and will benefit the country by taking control of sensitive land.

Manager Annelies McClure said she had no evidence of vendors going for a quick sale instead of waiting for a foreign buyer with a better offer.

Applications involved time being processed by the office, time waiting for further information from buyers, and consultation with ministers.

The viticultural applications averaged 53.5 working days to process.

They spent 26 days in the Overseas Investment Office. Awaiting information or ministers' approval took up the remainder of the time.

"Other than the time the OIO takes to assess the application, [it] has no control over time frames.

"The primary factor that will influence assessment times is the quality of the application submitted. A poor-quality application will take longer to assess."

The Campaign for Foreign Control of Aotearoa has said the process was little more than a rubber-stamping exercise, given the rare rejections.

McClure admitted most applications were granted, but argued it was because of the transparency of the process weeding out unacceptable buyers early.

In the year to June 20, four out of 38 viticulture applications were processed and approved.

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