Waimakariri home ownership leads country

LIZ MCDONALD
Last updated 05:00 25/03/2014

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Waimakariri district has topped New Zealand's home ownership rankings, with more than four out of five households occupied by their owners.

New census data puts Waimakariri's home ownership rate at 80.3 per cent, higher than any other local body area and well above the national average of just under 65 per cent.

The figures were part of a strong trend of South Islanders out-owning North Islanders revealed by the census, which was taken last March.

Other parts of Canterbury also recorded high levels of home ownership, especially Selwyn and the Timaru district. The figures include properties owned by family trusts.

Lincoln University senior property lecturer Lawrence Hill attributed Waimakariri's housing status to its settled population, rural-based economy and higher percentage of older residents.

As well, homes were cheaper than in nearby Christchurch, he said, and less competition from landlords kept first-home prices down. This attracted people unable to afford to buy in the city.

"Because it's got a more stable environment and lower prices, there's more of an opportunity for people to get into housing.

"Typically, the smaller the population in an area, the higher the number of people in their own homes."

Home ownership has fallen across the country since the last census in 2006, but the Waimakariri drop was small at less than one per cent. The district has experienced a large amount of home-building since the quakes.

Roger and Gail Keith recently built a house in Kaiapoi after their Christchurch home was damaged in the earthquakes, and said the district offered good value.

"You couldn't buy what we have here in town - you'd probably be talking about another $100,000," said Roger Keith.

Waimakariri Mayor David Ayers said the district did not have the nation's cheapest homes or highest incomes, although many residents commuted to higher-income jobs in Christchurch.

But with fewer young people to rent, and more retired residents who were homeowners, the district had the right demographic for high ownership levels, Ayers said.

"People who make a choice to move into an area like Waimak are often wanting to buy."

Meanwhile, Ashburton district has had the biggest drop in home ownership in New Zealand, a decrease from 72 per cent in the 2006 census to around 67 per cent in 2013. The district had a large number of arrivals from Christchurch after the earthquakes.

HIGHEST IN NZ

Home ownership rates: Waimakariri 80.3 per cent Selwyn 78.7 per cent Timaru 75.6 per cent Waimate 73.3 per cent Hurunui 72.1 per cent Christchurch 67.6 per cent Ashburton 67 per cent

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- The Press

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