Huapai KiwiBuild homes had already been tried for sale on open market

MORNING REPORT/RNZ
Developers still sceptical about Kiwibuild.

KiwiBuild homes for sale in Huapai, West Auckland, had previously been listed – and did not sell – on the open market.

Construction firm Mike Greer has partnered with KiwiBuild to provide more than 100 homes for the scheme in West Auckland and Christchurch.

But the Huapai development, where six two-bedroom properties are currently listed for sale through KiwiBuild for $600,000 each, is a 12-unit development that was initially offered pre-construction entirely to private buyers.

Mike Greer national sales manager John Callaghan said the houses had been advertised off the plans before the deal was done to offer six of them through KiwiBuild.

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Three or four of a total development of 12 had sold that way.

Now, six completed homes are listed for sale to KiwiBuild buyers.

He said the company had to discount the houses to get to the KiwiBuild price threshold, which caps two-bedroom properties in Auckland at $600,000.

The houses are not being sold via a ballot but are available to eligible KiwiBuild buyers on a first-come, first-served basis.

The houses for sale for $600,000 in Huapai.
The houses for sale for $600,000 in Huapai.

Callaghan said there had been strong interest in the properties.

A spokesman for KiwiBuild said it was not unusual to have a mix of non-KiwiBuild and KiwiBuild properties within a development and for some to sell privately.

"The non-KiwiBuild ones have been on the market for several months while under construction and some of them have sold.

"The terms of individual KiwiBuild contracts are commercially sensitive, but speaking generally, KiwiBuild negotiates with developers on the terms of a Crown underwrite for KiwiBuild homes.

"This has value to developers, which is reflected in negotiations. This enables KiwiBuild to get good value on homes for KiwiBuild buyers.

"One point which is not negotiable is the KiwiBuild price caps. So, to participate in the programme, developers' price points must be at or below the caps."

Gareth Kiernan, chief forecaster at Infometrics, said whether bringing properties that had not otherwise sold into the KiwiSaver scheme rendered it redundant depended on its aims.

"If the aim is to increase the supply of housing because we're not building fast enough and that's contributing to the affordability programme, then Phil Twyford's modus operandi to date of walking down the street, finding a house that's already being built, and slapping a KiwiBuild sticker on is patently stupid and nothing more than window dressing," he said.

"However, if the aim of the programme is to effectively provide a taxpayer subsidy to help a select and lucky few people into their first home, then selling at a discounted rate to first-home buyers fits the objective.

"Because, as I've previously argued, the Government doesn't really know what it wants to achieve with the policy beyond virtue signalling, KiwiBuild is fast slipping towards the lesser latter aim than the more admirable and fundamentally more important goal of genuinely trying to fix the housing affordability crisis.

"This loss of proper focus is, at least in part, a natural consequence of the Government not really understanding what has caused the affordability crisis in the first place – and if you don't know what the root causes of the problem are, you have no chance of being able to address them and correct the situation."

Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford's office referred queries to the KiwiBuild unit.

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