Home Affordability Get Worse

April 17th, 2008 at 11:45 am by David Farrar

Bernard Hickey blogs that home affordability got worse in March – to an all time low in the Fairfax Media home loan affordability series.

The median house price increased slightly in March, and interest rates crept up another 10 basis points to produce the worse ever result:

The proportion of median take home pay required to service the mortgage on a median house rose to 83.1% in March from 80.2% in February and surpassed the record 83.0% seen in November last year when house prices hit their peak.

This is also worse than the 77.8% seen in March last year and almost double the 44.2% seen in March 2003 when housing was seen as only just affordable. Most bankers believe anything more than 40% of after tax pay is unaffordable.

In Wellington it is even dimmer. One would need to spend 90.7% of your take home pay to service a mortgage on the median house. In Auckland 96.8%.

Nationally one needs an after tax income of $1,421.76 a week to have only 40% of your take-home pay go on the mortgage. That is $2,100.95 gross a week or $109,549.50 annually.

So if you earn less than $110,000 a year you can’t afford the median house unless you devote more than 40% of your net income to the mortgage.

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41 Responses to “Home Affordability Get Worse”

  1. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    Yeah well some poor people will find it even harder to afford homes as of today: See the shameful closure of Fisher Paykel in Mosgiels. Who is its MP Again? http://monkeyswithtypewriter.blogspot.com/

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  2. Tane (1,096 comments) says:

    Must be a case for higher wages then.

    [DPF: Actually higher wages will have very little effect compared to the big drivers of house prices and interest rates. But higher after tax income will help to some degree yes]

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  3. vto (1,131 comments) says:

    The only reason the affordability thing got worse in March was because the median price went up. Being at the coal face on a daily basis I can assure you that the reason that price went up was because less lower priced houses sold and more higher priced houses sold.

    The ‘bottom’ end of the market is dead quiet at the mo’. The ‘upper’ end less so.

    So this is a case of stats confusing the reality. The reality is that it is a very good time to buy at the lower end. There is such a low level of buying activity that buyers have virtually no competition and can negotiate very favourable terms. There are already super-bargains out there.

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  4. getstaffed (9,186 comments) says:

    Tane, the Labour government – whose feet you worship at – has presided over a period of rosy economic growth. And who has benefited? Not workers, with rampant tax take being diverted to umproductive bloating of the public sector and wall-to-wall waste. If you want wage growth you must have increased productivity per unit of activity. Unless you’re a senior civil servant. Wage growth there is a reward for party loyalties.

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  5. He-Man (270 comments) says:

    When keys becomes the PM, I wanna see home affordability get better.

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  6. Inventory2 (10,340 comments) says:

    Dunedin South? Oh dear, it’s that Benson-Pope fella, about to be displaced by Clare Curren – she’ll need all her “spin skills” to mitigate this!

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  7. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    HI Tane fucking around on the internet are you while another factory your union represents goes to the wall? Let me guess. ‘It’s nothing to do with me…”?

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  8. Pascal (1,969 comments) says:

    Tane: Must be a case for higher wages then.

    In your fairytale world where one can just raise wages at will, what happens when you’ve eaten all the profits of a business and it has started running at a loss?

    How long can you keep on raising wages before it becomes uneconomical to run a business and provide employment?

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  9. Inventory2 (10,340 comments) says:

    Lee – not quite -it’ll be “That’s just the way of the world…”

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  10. big bruv (13,894 comments) says:

    So a few thousand “rich pricks” are struggling, do you really think that this government gives a shit?

    Of course they don’t, the only solace I can take from these peoples suffering is that if there are any who voted Labour last time they sure as hell wont this time around, it is amazing how you can drop your chardonnay socialist tendencies when things get tight at home.

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  11. Spam (588 comments) says:

    Sigh… my tax money is taken to shell-out bribes on interest free student loans, a bloated public sector and lots of welfare for families. Net effect is that Labours tax n spend policies drive inflation, and push interest rates up. My mortage has gone up $100 a week. So double whammy for me.

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  12. mike12 (183 comments) says:

    And the news just gets better http://www.stuff.co.nz/4484671a11.html
    roll on November..

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  13. burt (8,269 comments) says:

    roger nome was saying yesterday that as he’s not a dairy consumer he didn’t care about rising dairy prices – so is it valid for people who already own houses to say they don’t care about home affordability?

    I think if one Labour ‘workers rights’ activitist can scoff at people suffering because the cause of the suffereing isn’t effecting him then all home owners can say “diddums” to home affordability.

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  14. burt (8,269 comments) says:

    Pascal

    How long can you keep on raising wages before it becomes uneconomical to run a business and provide employment?

    Ask F&P that question !

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  15. Short Shriveled and Slightly to the Left (786 comments) says:

    “Tane, the Labour government – whose feet you worship at – has presided over a period of rosy economic growth. And who has benefited? Not workers, ”
    umm plenty of workers have benefitted
    the rosy period saw plenty of home owners have seen their asset value sky rocket
    its only people who have recently entered the market who have got it bad
    so to say that no one has benefitted fromt he ‘rosy period’ is bullshit
    but you knew that anyway

    and on Fisher and Paykel
    isnt businesses using the cheapest labour and making as much money as possible exactly what you right wingers like???
    you should be celebrating
    its another profit before workers move
    hooray
    oh no wait
    its another chance to bag Labour
    cant let that slip now can we

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  16. Doc (91 comments) says:

    “So if you earn less than $110,000 a year you can’t afford the median house unless you devote more than 40% of your net income to the mortgage.” …why would anyone earning 110k need a mortgage? They’re already a rich prick aren’t they?

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  17. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    Must be a case for higher wages then.

    What has the Labour government done to increase wages Tane?

    If you really think legislating a higher minimum wage will improve housing affordability then you are rather deluded.

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  18. getstaffed (9,186 comments) says:

    SSSL- glad you’re so optomistic. seems fewer and fewer NZers join you though. as you know, business is about delivering product and services that customers choose ahead of competing products and services. pretty simple. there are cost/quality/qantity/market tradeoffs made all the time. if you want to assume that businesses exist to oppress workers then i’d suggest you’re living in your great-great grandfathers time, not 2008. of course the socialists position is the free enterprise should be outlawed and the state should run everything. there are countries where this less-than-sightly-to-the-left untopia can be enjoyed.

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  19. Ramsay (123 comments) says:

    Labour does it again. Another huge manufacturer and employer closes plants. Well done Helen – the loss of Fisher and Paykel will have a strong negative impact on the local economy in Dunedin. Will someone please educate this stupid academic and her smarmy offsider Cullen on how the economy actually works.

    PS: David F – please use your spellcheck!!

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  20. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    SSSL: “oh no wait
    its another chance to bag Labour
    cant let that slip now can we”

    So let me get this straight. The Government is not to be criticised, regardless of how people at ground level are suffering under their policies?

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  21. Captain Crab (351 comments) says:

    This is all Cullens fault. When he raised the top personal tax to 39cents he instigated a huge rush from the middle class into tax deductible rental property and an even bigger blowout of debt raising to fund it which has very nicely blown up to a sizeable domestic current account deficit.
    Yep all Cullens fault. Fiddle fiddle burn.

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  22. Bevan (3,924 comments) says:

    hooray
    oh no wait
    its another chance to bag Labour
    cant let that slip now can we

    You’re sounding rather like an elitist prick. Whats you response to the critics? Lock them up? Stop them from voicing their concern? Make the Police arrest anyone who dares speak against the current government? Listen to yourself for one minute, how would you feel if National was the government and were enabling legislation you did not agree with, or factories were closing down? You would be the loudest bastard on the line bemoaning any and all laws they have enacted.

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  23. Short Shriveled and Slightly to the Left (786 comments) says:

    Lee
    no it was more a comment about how everything is the governments fault
    you’re free to criticise the government
    but I’m free to criticise the desire to complain about everything

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  24. Short Shriveled and Slightly to the Left (786 comments) says:

    Bevan
    if it was National it would simply be called progress
    but since its Labour its bad

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  25. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    SSL “but I’m free to criticise the desire to complain about everything”
    I guess that means I’m free to call you a witless f**ker, then.

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  26. dime (9,972 comments) says:

    allow Dime to put on his labour policy generating hat.

    “instead of tax cuts, we will increase “working for families” to include a large housing/mortgage suppliment”

    “we will also include a huge grant for first home buyers”

    “because of the econmic conditions and housing issues, we can not afford to give a general tax cut.. dime can get fucked, too bad he bought houses after working hard. fuck him”

    “we will also require new property developments to include low income housing and state houses. we think “kiwis” want neighbourhoods full of people from different cultures an economic breakdowns”

    “we dont believe in swimming pool’s those are somehting rich people have. however if one of these rich pricks insists on having a pool, it must be made available to all tennants in the street, including state houses”

    in summary

    Labour = Motherfuckers!!!

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  27. PaulL (5,981 comments) says:

    SSSL, you only benefit if you sell. You either buy another house (also at an inflated price, so no benefit), start renting, or leave the country. I think only the last gives any real benefit, not sure that is the recommendation of Helen Clark though.

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  28. Short Shriveled and Slightly to the Left (786 comments) says:

    “I guess that means I’m free to call you a witless f**ker, then.”

    Yes you are
    but why wimp out with the **

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  29. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    SSSL because I assumed you are about 12 so it was a child-protection issue jeez SSSL I was only joking, mate. Just jerkin’ your chain! Lighten up bro! T O U C H Y Or what?

    w**ker.

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  30. Spam (588 comments) says:

    This is all Cullens fault. When he raised the top personal tax to 39cents he instigated a huge rush from the middle class into tax deductible rental property and an even bigger blowout of debt raising to fund it which has very nicely blown up to a sizeable domestic current account deficit.

    Yes. Then he reduced the corporate tax to 30% without changing the top personal tax rate, and INCREASED the incentives to do this (especially when sky-high interest rates mean that tax deductability will be even higher….)

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  31. Short Shriveled and Slightly to the Left (786 comments) says:

    Lee said “because I assumed you are about 12 so it was a child-protection issue”

    Wow! you would call a 12 year old a witless f**ker
    why would you do that?
    does it make you feel big?

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  32. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    sorry.

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  33. PhilBest (5,121 comments) says:

    OK, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, the underlying cause of this is the restriction on the supply of land since zoning and conservation got a stranglehold. If it wasn’t for THAT, no amount of investment, speculation easy credit, etc, could have driven the values up like they have been.

    PAYING THE PLANNING TAX

    by Randal O’Toole

    This article appeared on American Spectator (Online) on December 6, 2007.

    “Easy credit fanned the flames of the recent housing bubble, but the bubble was first inflated by anti-sprawl plans that created artificial housing shortages in many American markets. If planning laws hadn’t boosted median housing prices to several times median family incomes, few homebuyers would have had to resort to sub-prime mortgages.

    As I write in a paper published today, the housing bubble really only affected a dozen states. In the remaining states, increases in housing prices were relatively modest. While housing prices grew by more than 130 percent in California and Florida from 2000 to 2006, prices in Texas grew by only 30 percent. With few exceptions, the states that saw the biggest bubbles were ones that had passed growth-management planning laws. And with one exception, every state that has passed such a law also saw a housing bubble.

    The exceptions were New York and Nevada (where prices grew without a growth-management law) and Tennessee (where prices didn’t grow, in spite of a 1998 growth-management act). New York prices only grew in the New York City area, which is surrounded by states and suburbs that have growth-management laws and plans. Nevada prices grew because Las Vegas has literally run out of private land; it is surrounded by federal land and federal land sales have not kept up with growth. Tennessee’s prices haven’t grown because regional growth-management plans included lots of vacant land in their urban-growth boundaries, so there is, as yet, no shortage.

    Americans want to live in single-family homes. Anti-sprawl restrictions increase the price of such housing. But people will go to great lengths to achieve the American dream of home ownership, including bidding up the price of scarce housing and taking out various sorts of sub-prime mortgages to pay for that housing.

    Anti-sprawl plans effectively imposed a $250 billion tax on homebuyers in 2006. Nearly 93 percent of that tax affected only 11 states, all of which (except New York) have growth-management planning laws of one sort or another.

    The lessons should be clear: If more states pass growth-management laws, the next bubble will have even more detrimental effects on our economy. Instead, states that have passed such laws should begin to repeal them. Cities that have written growth-management plans should expand or eliminate their urban-growth boundaries, eliminate impact fees, reduce the time and red tape required to get subdivision and building permits, and remove other planning obstacles that prevent home builders from meeting the demand for housing.

    A key finding of the Cato report is that anti-sprawl planning is driven by municipal finance. If developers can subdivide and build on land in rural areas, cities have to offer low-cost, growth-friendly environments in order to attract development (and the resulting tax revenues) within their borders. But if cities can prevent development outside their borders, they have no incentive to maintain growth-friendly policies, and so they will hike impact fees and take other actions that make housing unaffordable.

    Thus, housing prices increase when cities use growth-management planning or other tools to get control of the rural areas that surround them.

    If more states pass growth-management laws, the next bubble will have even more detrimental effects on our economy.

    Some writers have speculated that regional governments can keep housing affordable, but because they are likely to be controlled by their largest cities, they practically insure that housing becomes unaffordable.

    Of course, existing homeowners benefit when housing prices rise. But the costs to society as a whole are much greater than these benefits. First, many homes sold each year are new, and no one benefits from artificially high prices for them. Second, not all existing homeowners benefit: those who want to buy larger homes, for example, will face the same obstacles that confront first-time homebuyers. Third, existing homeowners tend to be wealthier than new homebuyers, so anti-sprawl planning effectively taxes the poor and gives the money to the rich.

    The saddest thing is that many of the states and cities with growth-management plans consider themselves “progressive.” In truth, they are extremely regressive, as they favor wealthy homeowners and penalize low-income families and first-time homebuyers. As Joseph Perkins, head of the Northern California Home Builders Association, puts it: “smart growth is Jim Crow.”

    An old Russian proverb says that Americans don’t have real problems, so they make them up. Urban sprawl is one of those made-up problems. In reality, the costs of sprawl are far lower than the costs of anti-sprawl planning. Cities should stop doing such planning and states should repeal laws that give cities control over the surrounding areas outside their borders.”

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  34. PhilBest (5,121 comments) says:

    WHY CALIFORNIA HOME PRICES ARE SO HIGH

    by Randal O’Toole

    This article appeared in the North County Times on November 3, 2007.

    “Thanks to land-use planning and regulation, California has the least-affordable housing in the nation. The most affordable housing market in California is less affordable than 90 percent of the other housing markets in the U.S. These high prices impose hardships on low- and middle-income families and discourage employers from locating in the state.

    Under the mantra of “stopping sprawl,” urban planners have crammed nearly 95 percent of Californians into just 5.1 percent of the state’s land area. The nation’s three densest urban areas, and 11 of the 20 densest urban areas, are all in California. Thanks to urban-growth boundaries, greenbelts and other planning restrictions, the average California urbanite lives in communities that are 80 percent denser than in the rest of the country.

    In addition to extraordinarily high housing prices, this density drives up business costs, taxes and traffic congestion.

    LAFCOs trap taxpayers

    It wasn’t always this way. In the 1960s, California was growing much faster than it is today, yet housing was no more expensive than in most other parts of the country. California was growing so fast that cities often competed with one another over which would get to annex (and collect taxes on) land suitable for development.

    To minimize such competition, in 1963 the California Legislature created a local area formation commission (LAFCO) for each county. These commissions could approve or veto the formation of new cities or special service districts and annexations to those cities or districts. Most commissions were dominated by representatives of the city councils in each county.

    The cities soon realized they could use LAFCOs to keep most taxpayers within their boundaries. No longer could a developer build houses on vacant land outside of a city’s limits and incorporate a new city or service district to provide the water, sewer and other infrastructure needs for those homes.

    After eliminating the competition from such developments, cities could impose costly and time-consuming planning restrictions that further drove up housing costs. What was portrayed in public as a war on sprawl was, in reality, a war on taxpayers seeking to escape the high tax rates imposed by cities.

    Scarcity drives up prices

    In fact, a war on sprawl was and is unnecessary. If Californians could live at the same densities as the rest of the U.S., the state’s urban areas would cover 8.5 percent of the state instead of 5.1 percent. Is it really worth paying three times as much as most of the rest of the country for homes in order to save 3.4 percent of the state from development?

    In effect, California has become like an exclusive country club, open only to the very wealthy.

    Homeowners may think they benefit from high housing prices, but that is not necessarily the case. An artificial land shortage not only makes prices high, it makes them more volatile as well. Since prices fall during recessions by more than in other parts of the country, California suffers more foreclosures and bankruptcies.

    Even if you can pay for your house, you only benefit from the high prices if you are willing to sell and move to a less-expensive state or a smaller house. Those who want to move up to a larger house in California face as big an obstacle as first-time home buyers.

    California Country Club

    The effects of high housing prices fall hardest on low- and middle-income families. One reason why some Californians commute such long distances and congestion is so bad is that people have to go far from work to find housing they can afford. While America is known for its mobility, research has shown that when housing is expensive, unemployment rates go up because people can’t afford to move to places where they can find jobs.

    In effect, California has become like an exclusive country club, open only to the very wealthy. While its members may enjoy its amenities, everyone else is either denied access or forced to pay an extremely high price just to peer inside the club’s gates.

    California’s artificial land shortage also increases costs to businesses and stifles growth. Despite being home to fast-growing high-tech industries, for example, Silicon Valley actually had fewer jobs in 2006 than it had in 1990.

    Restore the dream

    Historically, the American dream of homeownership has been key to California’s prosperity. Land-use restrictions threaten that dream, stifle growth, and are particularly unfair to low- and moderate-income families.

    Restoring the dream would mean allowing developers to build outside of existing urban boundaries. Since California is nearly 95 percent rural open space, developing a few thousand acres of marginal farm and rangelands will not hurt the state’s economy or its environment, but it will greatly improve the state’s affordability and livability for both present and future residents.”

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  35. bwakile (757 comments) says:

    “This is all Cullens fault. When he raised the top personal tax to 39cents he instigated a huge rush from the middle class into tax deductible rental property and an even bigger blowout of debt raising to fund it which has very nicely blown up to a sizeable domestic current account deficit.”
    People
    read Captain Crabs comment and store it in your brain for future reference.
    Everyone has flocked to property as an easy way to reduce tax.
    Cullen has raked cash in during the best economic conditions for years and pissed a hellava lot of it up against the wall.
    We are left with overvalued properties and huge debt.
    When you govern with your head up your arse shit eventually happens.

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  36. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    Philbest read an articial in New Scientist, probably last year, about urban sprawl. You would probably agree with it. It was estimated if all urban areas in the world were combined to make a super city the area would only cover the land surface similar in size to Spain. But the problem lies in the amount of rural land needed to support a city. Can’t remember the exact numbers but the figures ( ratio ) is very large.

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  37. Fred (163 comments) says:

    bwakile, the other factor has been the increase in the OCR, along with a favourable tax break for foreign investors, which has attracted money into the country fuelling the increase in house prices. see here http://tvhe.co.nz/2008/04/16/why-does-the-target-rate-matter/#comment-1692 for another thread. Yes, immigration also played a large part, but the point is that all of these factors have combined to produce the situation we have now.

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  38. bwakile (757 comments) says:

    i agree fred but most people I know that have got into propertyinvestment have a very simple view of things

    Paying too much tax
    Buy house, pay less tax
    Feel good that they are “safeguarding their future”

    Edit Could be argued that it is the other way round
    Pressure to safeguard future
    Buy house
    Pay less tax as bonus

    either way

    I am always amazed how easily people are talked into putting their family home up as security for some “unbelievable” deal
    being promoted by blue chip and hundreds of other similar ‘Big hat no cattle” operators.

    It all sounds far easier than investing a business, upskilling or putting money into the stock market

    They really have no idea what a complicated decicion they are taking, as the “experts” tell them it is simple. So they accept what they are told, as they don’t what to feel like idiots.

    as you point out the reality is that there are huge forces acting out there which we have little control over,

    Except the right to be governed by people who have our best interests at heart as a country
    Labour have pushed their own political agenda at our expense
    and many good people have ended up in a very deep hole.

    It may all stem from the education system we have now where “risk” is something that is so managed, that people actually don’t understand it.
    Not that Labour would be interested in “dumbing down ” people.

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  39. Fred (163 comments) says:

    “Except the right to be governed by people who have our best interests at heart as a country” Well I take the charitable view that the current lot do have our best interests at heart, but generally speaking there’s not a lot of talent there because they aren’t paid enough (disclosure regimes, transparency etc.) instead of spending time on chipping dogs, EFA. . .

    Right now people are hurting through, job losses, bad property deals, finance company failures, share value destroyed (AIA) I blame economic mismanagement starting about 3/4 years ago. National are going to inherit a dire situation, in fact I don’t understand why there is hasn’t been a vote of no confidence (under FPP there would have been one already).

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  40. NZD.JPY (130 comments) says:

    I’d bet that higher wages would push up demand for houses proportionally thereby pushing up their price so the income/house price multiple would stay the same. NZers seem to have have changed their preferences toward owning houses and are prepared to hunker down and commit to huge mortgages. Rentals have long since lost pace with the capital value of houses. Capital increases are trailing off, interest rates are up, inflation is up putting further pressure on the RB to lift rates even more. mmm wonder how this is going to turn out? I don’t think National should try to win this election. Let Labour face the stampede. Sit on cash and come back in a years time. There’ll be some…I was going to say bargains but they’ll probably be fairly priced for a change.

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  41. NZD.JPY (130 comments) says:

    Councils will have to find another method of calculating rates so they can continue to live in the manner they’ve become accustomed um I mean continue to deliver the range of services that we need them to.

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