Can Australia solve Auckland's housing crisis?

LAURA WALTERS
Last updated 16:13 02/07/2014

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Property experts are divided over whether first-home buyers finding the Auckland market too hot to handle should turn to Australia for investment opportunities.

The Auckland project marketer of real estate firm Remax, Mike de Seymour, said New Zealanders who invested in Australian property were usually baby boomers looking for an equity investment or a retirement opportunity on the Queensland coast.

However, the lack of affordability in Auckland housing was driving first-home buyers looking to get into the property market to buy in Australia, he said.

Kiwis looking to get into the property market were not necessarily moving to Australia to live, but they wanted to put their money into property, and homes in Australia seemed more affordable, especially with the lower interest rates there, he said.

First-home buyers looking to Australia for a property investment was an "emerging trend", he said, adding that there were no exact statistics on the number of Kiwis buying Australian property.

De Seymour said New Zealanders were capitalising on the strong New Zealand economy to invest in properties in Queensland's Gold Coast-Brisbane corridor and suburbs to the north of Brisbane with good infrastructure, services and a convenient rail or road commute to the central city.

"Banks are lending in Queensland again."

Australian banks were offering up to 90 per cent finance, he said, and the strong New Zealand dollar made it easier to afford property across the Tasman.

Kiwis' first choice would be to buy in Auckland, but that was often out of the question, de Seymour said.

There was high demand for rentals in Queensland, and landlords could expect gross returns of up to 6 per cent a year, he said.

"This is a real alternative to purchasing older, tired homes out of Auckland," he said.

The managing director of Auckland real estate company City Sales, Martin Dunn, said New Zealanders buying Australian property was an "occasional trend" that usually ended in tears.

When this happened, investors were stitched into overpriced Gold Coast apartments, he said.

Stamp duty was added to the purchase price and the mortgage on real estate purchases in Australia, Dunn said.

Kiwis would have to pay capital gains tax, and there was the risk of changes in the exchange rate.

First-home buyers would have "no clue as to what they were doing" when they invested in Australian property, he said.

Continuing to rent in Auckland when people had a chance of buying in New Zealand was a "dreadful mistake", Dunn said.

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Property investor and commentator Olly Newland said the strong New Zealand economy meant people were returning from Australia and Asia to buy property in New Zealand.

People who could not afford to buy in central Auckland were looking to the cheaper suburbs in South Auckland, Newland said, adding that central-city properties in Australia were just as expensive as in central Auckland.

- Stuff

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