Why not just have the Govt build and own all the homes?

January 24th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Kate Shuttleworth at NZ Herald reports:

The Green Party has announced ambitious plans for a shared-equity housing ownership model designed to help low-income families with dependent children into home ownership.

The plan was announced days after a report showing Auckland had among the most unaffordable housing in the world. The median price has reached $500,000 in the past few months.

Under the ’ progressive home ownership model, the Crown would build houses for up to $300,000 which families would live in, and eventually own if they chose to. The Crown would initially own all the equity in the house because families would not need to pay a deposit.

Families would make weekly payments, similar to rent, to cover the Crown’s investment cost – $200 a week on a $300,000 house at a government bond rate of 3.5 per cent. They would make additional weekly payments to buy equity in the property until it is owned outright.

The payments would be about $100 a week, but that figure would be flexible if circumstances changed.

Why don’t and the Greens go the whole hog, wave a wand, and declare free homes for everyone?

Let’s even assume that the Government can magically construct a house for $300,000 in Auckland. They can’t but play along.

The NZ Super Fund says the long-term risk-free fate of return for the Government is 5.1%. We’ll use 5.0%. What this means is that sticking $300,000 into a house has an opportunity cost to taxpayers of $15,000 a year. You charge rent of $200 a week and that is a $5,000 a year subsidy to the lucky Lotto winners whose names get pulled out of the ballot for a house. And it is a subsidy for life. Doesn’t matter how wealthy they become. The poor slob earning $30,000 a year will be subsidising the dinkie couple on $200,000 whose name got pulled out of the ballot. And far worse than that as chump taxpayers also pay for rates, maintenance ad the likes.

Why would you buy equity in the house? You’d be mad to. Take their example of $100 a week. Over a year you pay $5,200. This is 1.7% of the $300,000 equity. So the weekly rent would drop from $200 to $196.53. That means you have paid $180 less rent. You’ll get more than that if you put the $5,000 into even government bonds.

The Labour policy is shonky.. The Greens policy is nutty. Combining them together will mean the Government taking on over $3 billion of extra debt a year.  And all this money would not go to the poorest familes, or families most in need. It would be like Lotto. They will draw names out of a hat, as demand will of course exceed supply. Yes that is Labour’s official policy – to determine these taxpayer subsidised houses on the basis of a random draw. And to make it worse, the Greens will make those lucky Lotto winners a winner for life – subsidised rents for ever and ever – no matter how much you earn.

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37 Responses to “Why not just have the Govt build and own all the homes?”

  1. BeaB (2,056 comments) says:

    Do you think the MSM would ever pick this up and expose it for the nonsense it is? Would John Campbell ask the Greens some hard questions?

    Or will he continue lambasting the government for not doing something it already actually is, and better than Labour did, ie assistance for grandparents which he attacked Paula Bennett for last night. In fact I thought he had tapped a rich seam for new stories. Find out what the government is doing, pretend they aren’t doing it and mount a campaign to force them to confess they are already doing it. And let Labour and Greens take all the credit!

    Much more fun that holding Labour and Greens to account for their lunatic and expensive housing policies.

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  2. Manolo (13,303 comments) says:

    The Luddites could also give away a grey tunic with matching cap and a copy of Mao’s Red Book to every happy homeowner.

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  3. Colville (2,057 comments) says:

    Also they make no mention on who would pay the rates, insurances and maintenence. Those items alone would be more than $300 a week.

    What is the tennants want to make an alteration? who pays? Or do they live in an original house for 25 years? build a fence or a deck? maybe some landscaping?

    Completely fucked in the head lightweight bullshit that we have come to expect from the Gweens.

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  4. pq (728 comments) says:

    I have this dream , I am Green, look Farrar you pay taxes and I use. I will divert your money to better causes than you. What is it about my political ambition and redistribution that you do not understand Farrar. Is there something wrong with you , do you not understand tax

    http://garethmorgantax.blogspot.co.nz

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  5. Peter (1,576 comments) says:

    Not sure why anyone would want equity in a house that is being self-trashed on a weekly basis.

    When the house is in need of serious repair, or demolition, simply “buy” another housing lotto ticket.

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  6. Prince (90 comments) says:

    BeaB, yes I was confused last night as much as Campbell appeared to be. Paula Bennett was brilliant. Wonder if she could double in Education.

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  7. swan (657 comments) says:

    “$200 a week on a $300,000 house at a government bond rate of 3.5 per cent.”

    I would love one of these houses. Based on the greens numbers, they must require no maintenance, they never depreciate, are fire and earthquake proof (no need for insurance), and somehow attract no rates. That or they are planning to subsidise the tenants even more that the $5000 DPf calculates.

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  8. Clint Smith (1 comment) says:

    David, let’s examine your concerns.

    First, Progressive Ownership is economically quite similar to State Advances, the programme that was created by the first National Government (because they wanted a home owning society, rather than the working and middle class only being able to afford state homes). The Government essentially passes on its low cost of capital to young families.

    In the example in the materials we’ve used a 3.5% interest rate on Crown debt. That’s more than the 2.9% that 5-year bonds are currently going for. Of course, over time the borrowing rate of the Crown fluctuates but, as John Key’s hero Keith Holyoake did, we would see the basic payment being based on a long-term average. In State Advances, that was 3%.

    Second, why would you buy equity in the house? Simple. Every $1,000 you buy in the house with a Crown interest rate of 3.5% is $35 less you pay in rent every year thereafter – ie. a 3.5% tax-free rate of return. You’re lucky to get that in the bank. On top of that, your equity increases in at least nominal value as property values rise over time. Put those two together and you’ve got every reason to buy equity – just as someone with even a very low mortgage rate currently is better off paying down principle if they can without facing a fee than they are putting that money in the bank. It is an option in the policy to require equity purchase at some level if families’ finances permit but we decided not to come to a firm decision on that – it’s a discussion paper, after all.

    Third, you say “the poor slob earning $30,000 a year will be subsidising the dinkie couple on $200,000 whose name got pulled out of the ballot” which means you haven’t bothered to even read the basic facts of the policy. Progressive Ownership will be open to families with dependent children and will have an income limit – your dinkie family is in the top 5% of households by income. You should really have a word to the Nat research unit about not showing you up like that, or you can always give us a call to check they’ve given you the facts straight.

    Fourth, of course, funding these homes until the equity in them is bought has to come from somewhere. In the Budgets we will be part of setting – 2015 onwards – there is $700-$900m a year in unallocated new capital spending allowance. Also, there is $80 billion of surpluses projected for the 2015-2025 decade. And you’ll be surprised how much money you can save when you’re not bailing out finance companies and subsidising pollution. Unlike National, we’re not going to be racking up $50 billion of debt in a series of record breaking deficits while completely failing to create jobs… that kind of incompetence is hard to come by.

    Remember too, that capital investment does not impact on the surplus/deficit – it is not operating expenditure. Nor is there a net debt impact because the Progressive Ownership agreements by which the families commit to cover the Crown’s interest costs create a financial asset on the Crown’s books of equal value to that investment.

    Cheers,

    Clint Smith
    Green Party Political and Media Advisor

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  9. pq (728 comments) says:

    so vote here .
    yes : we will continue with a loser society, NZ Government owes us
    no : we will look after ourselves

    OMG you mean what we have to actually do something, how absurd is that , you owe me

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  10. queenstfarmer (742 comments) says:

    Families would make weekly payments, similar to rent, to cover the Crown’s investment cost – $200 a week on a $300,000 house at a government bond rate of 3.5 per cent

    Yes great idea Greens, budget it at the record low bond rate. What happens when the rate goes up? Typical Green dishonesty.

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  11. Peter (1,576 comments) says:

    Yes great idea Greens, budget it at the record low bond rate. What happens when the rate goes up? Typical Green dishonesty.

    Didn’t lenders get slapped for doing this prior to the GFC? i.e. selling customers a home at a low rate, only to increase it at a later date?

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  12. RRM (9,414 comments) says:

    :neutral: Or perhaps people could just learn to adapt their expectations to their capabilties, and buy where they can afford to?

    RRM, Mrs RRM and the two little RRMs finally got onto the property ladder last year. Our budget was about $250k as we wanted to be able to do it on my income alone, so that Mrs RRM could be mum at home for as long as we liked. Initially that meant Wainuiomata, Taita and Stokes Valley were the only viable areas in Wellington… until we discovered we could live over the hill in wine country and have a shit load of a better lifestyle for the same price.

    So now I spend over an hour in the evenings commuting home from work, past ghettoes full of shit hole houses I couldn’t afford, on my way home to a place that I can afford.

    But according to today’s political left, if a house in area XX costs more than $YY that is somehow “wrong” and is a “problem” that the government needs to spend my taxes on “fixing”… for a few lucky recipients. Fuck that.

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  13. Ross12 (1,143 comments) says:

    Well done RRM.

    As I’ve said on another site , the way I understand it to get into the Green scheme people have to find another $200/week from their budget. Assuming they can do it , why are they not saving that NOW. Thats $10,400 plus interest per year. After a few hard years saving the banks will put out the welcome mat for them –not only do they have a deposit but they have shown they can sAVE.

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  14. Rick Rowling (799 comments) says:

    Of course it’s expensive. Buying elections is an expensive undertaking.

    We’re still paying the interest bills for the outstanding student loans to the likes of graduate lawyers etc (the cost of the 2005 election).

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  15. mikemikemikemike (301 comments) says:

    I agree with RRM, we bought our first home at $250k in Auckland about 8 years ago….we have recently moved into a flasher house but are now expecting another wee one. This has forced us to reassess where we are and if the missus wishes to be stay at home mum then we will simply move out to the sticks and start again in a smaller home. We are making this choice as its a way that we can maintain our lifestyle (annual holidays, reasonable food sports) on one income. It’s not a ritzy life but its suits us just fine….It pisses me off to hear the a government is going to allow people to get a free ride on the high taxes my (apparently) sensible decisions have cost me.

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  16. kowtow (7,580 comments) says:

    mike,
    you moved into a flasher house,did that come with a dirty rain coat?

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  17. mikemikemikemike (301 comments) says:

    LOL – Nope but it did have an attic full of porn!

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  18. Red Sam (122 comments) says:

    You won’t get much criticism on Green Party policy when the journalist is Kate Shuttleworth.

    I remember her as an active Green Party youth activist about ten years ago and “Kate Shuttleworth, CHRISTCHURCH representing Nandor Tanczos” in the 2000 Youth Parliament.

    Of course, her politics may have changed since she became a journo.

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  19. Jinky (166 comments) says:

    Doesn’t the Singapore Govt own most of the housing there? where is Redbaiter to offer his support to the Greens?

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  20. stigie (886 comments) says:

    Mike, is that where you are going to hide away from the misses ?

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  21. wat dabney (3,655 comments) says:

    Perhaps the “Green Party Political and Media Advisor” could do the maths for us and tell us how much each vote thus purchased will cost the taxpayers?

    Corrupt bastards.

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  22. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    I would like to congratulate Clint Smith on the most economically illiterate piece of writing I have ever seen.

    No fucking idea would be an apt title. Christ us if these clowns ever get near the Treasury benches aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

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  23. Monique Watson (1,062 comments) says:

    Clint. How much are the legal fees gonna cost alone? The people going into the wrapped properties should be legally protected. What happens if they pull out after putting 20,000 of their own money. From what I see of your policy, they forfeit this equity. I can’t see that flying.
    And what about the 3 D’s that affect the outcome of home ownership and the value and desirability of properties? Death, Divorce and De Paedophiles.
    Fucking paedophiles are more common than one might think. As a property investor, if it’s not paeds that I’m dealing with it’s under-aged prostitutes.
    Say you get a paedo buying a house alongside a family with young children. All of a sudden they wanna get the hell out of the house they’ve lived and built up equity in. Where is their protection. Normal families are very mobile and won’t want to hang around for the thirty years it takes to get title when all of a sudden Mary has a hankering to move near to her grandkids and BIll’s idea of retirement is to cruise around the country on a Harley. Most people don’t have kids till they’re over thirty these days. That means Bill and Mary are approaching retirement when they’ve paid it off and are no longer retricted in their movement.

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  24. Viking2 (11,125 comments) says:

    Average ownership of a housing property in NZ is about 7 years. Has been for a longtime.

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  25. Nostalgia-NZ (4,896 comments) says:

    Both Labour and Nat’s governments of the past have offered assistance for tenants to buy state houses from existing housing stock. I can’t see a big difference to this proposal compared to policies of the past. All the parties will have some ‘blend’ of those previous polices and newer versions for 2014;

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  26. greenjacket (415 comments) says:

    Clint:
    If people are unable to afford new houses (though for $300,000 you are talking about an apartment), then isn’t it because NZers are relatively poor? I mean, an average house price of $500,000 may seem like an awful lot to us, but its bloody cheap if you have an Australian or US level of income.
    And the reason why New Zealand is relatively poor is because our productivity is so low – so what are the Greens going to do about improving NZ productivity?

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  27. chris (556 comments) says:

    It seems fairly clear to me that the Green (and Labour) policy can’t possibly include building any “affordable” housing in Auckland. Ain’t much change from $300k once you buy a section and pay for building consents etc etc.

    “Auckland’s median section price has increased by 8.8 per cent over the same period, from $285,000 in 2007 to $310,000 this year. And that increase has come during a period of subdued building activity, lending weight to the argument that there is a supply problem.”

    Source: http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/money/7324389/Funding-required-for-new-housing

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  28. chris (556 comments) says:

    I know that you can argue they can open up more land and buy it directly off the farmers who currently own it, which is much cheaper, but their policies seem to not want to increase city limits. (Although they’d then have to pay for the new infrastructure themselves which would push the cost up, whereas developers normally pay for it, from my understanding.) So they’re left with having to buy up land from within existing city limits.

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  29. SPC (5,334 comments) says:

    Something has to be done about the decline in home ownership.

    Rental insulation subsidy extending to warrant of fitness is fine – and is proposed by Labour and Greens.
    The government’s own focus on efficient managment of existing state housing stock is fine.

    But there is not enough state housing supply and extending it is debt load expensive. This problem will worsen if a generation without home ownership reach retirement with insufficient saving to afford rent even with accomodation supplement.

    Labour and Green proposals are not perfect, but are a response, rather than inaction.

    We either make a serious effort to reign in house prices relative to incomes, or we leave it to politicians to spend money on the problem.

    The government has said it will take the lead in developing irrigation programmes because of private sector inaction, but despite lack of private sector investment in house building in Auckland in recent years the government has done nothing.

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  30. chris (556 comments) says:

    One of the problems is everyone wants to live in Auckland (demand) but there isn’t enough housing stock or land available to build on (supply). Somehow, we need to encourage people to not want to live in Auckland (i.e. immigrants and returning NZers). The Greens seem to live in a fantasy land that you can build a house (with land) for $300k. If they can do it and help people into homes, great. But I can guarantee that it’s going to have to be somewhere other than where people want to live, or in houses that people don’t want to live in.

    Viking2 sums it up nicely here http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2013/01/housing_affordability-4.html#comment-1084766

    We either make a serious effort to reign in house prices relative to incomes, or we leave it to politicians to spend money on the problem.

    I don’t think we can do much/anything to decrease the prices of housing in NZ (it’s overpriced relative to our income, but we live in a global economy after all) so we need to increase incomes. It’s a question of productivity, which we are sadly lacking in this country. And our leftist govt policies don’t help.

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  31. pq (728 comments) says:

    Farrar is funny, he polls for his boss, and boss pays him well, I will talk about how well later

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  32. Spam (593 comments) says:

    Awesome.

    I paid-off my student loan when they attracted interest from day 1. Now I, as a taxpayer get to pay everyone elses’ interest on their loans.
    I support my own family, but as a tax payer I get to support everyone elses’ through working for families.

    Now, if the Greens get their way, having worked hard to pay-off my own mortgage, I will now get to pay for everyone elses’ mortgage.

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  33. ex-golfer (144 comments) says:

    So the Gweens put up someone who complains she can’t afford to buy a house.
    Yet as Cactus Kate points out, this young woman has only lived in NZ for 6 years, has been a student for most of those and therefore has received an excellent tax-payer subsidised education (we, afterall are paying the interest on her loan) and now wants us to subsidise her into a nice new home for life?
    If she doesn’t like NZ I suggest she takes her Masters degree back to South Africa – surely life is better back there.

    http://asianinvasion2006.blogspot.hk/2013/01/come-to-nz-nice-stupid-people-will.html

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  34. Paulus (2,486 comments) says:

    Due to the size of Singapore most properties are high rise apartments, and they are Government owned.
    God help you when regularly inspected they are not kept immaculately.
    Out on your ear within max 24 hours and no follow up.
    Due to the serious class society only the wealthy or well connected own properties.
    Look at the taxes and rules for car ownership – 3 years ownership and off the island irrespective.
    And you wonder why Singapore does so well – strict rules for everybody – transgress at your peril.
    “Like New Zealand ” ?

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  35. valeriusterminus (245 comments) says:

    No comment above negates the moot;

    “Why not just have the government just build and own all the homes?” [implied: - "homes for strugglers"]

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  36. valeriusterminus (245 comments) says:

    For Profit Landlords are aghast at the prospect of tax on the gains of their expectations – rather than any Value addition to the accommodation equation.

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  37. Peanut63 (1 comment) says:

    I would agree with your arguments of Labour and the Greens; and this is well stated by your other bloggers. All be it the idea of assisting Kiwis to own their own home being a good one, the plan has to be one of equality and realistic to the economy of the times. Above all a random draw seems in breach of our government’s loyalty to the taxpayer. Unlike a business where there clearly is no loyalty required to its employees as there is simply a contract between the two parties; the relationship between government and taxpayers is different where we as taxpayers have self-interest but Labour and the Greens must surrender this aspect in place or loyalty. As stated by Duska (1983), ‘loyalty is incompatible with self-interest’. Our government cannot have self-interest; yet we can argue here there is an underlying interest to pursue a ‘shonky and nutty’ vision with the self-interest of generating votes and throwing a random draw in the mix seems thoughtless. The biggest investment an average family makes is the purchase of a home, yet between Labour and the Greens they have made it into a ‘poker game’! Whatever happened to integrity as to how choices are made? Surely a review for each application based on income and expenses would be a better determination in selecting people that are in real need of owning such a home. I will come back to this self-interest argument later.

    Your argument appears sound with regard to ‘Why would you buy equity in the house?’ After all when we invest our hard earned money we want a good comparable ROI.

    The reality of this population niche is they have tendencies to take an offer without much thought. Which leads to answering why this population would buy equity in such a house. You need to reverse your argument in order to get your valid points across.
    My own argument being; the majority of this demographic would buy into this scheme without doing the math – they have no other option if they are being sold the vision of owning a home as being the ultimate kiwi dream and the making of a sound financial future. It seems too good to be true and the deal is done. However if these buyers really gave it even a superficial thought; the budget set aside for each home is $300,000; we have to envision what we can build on that budget in Auckland? Are we talking homes for families or one bedroom ‘sardine cans’? Similar to open polytechnic (n.d) ‘Cranford’s analogy; where if we think an employer is entitled to use other information seeking activities, then by analogy, we should think an employer is entitled to use drug testing.’ Similarly it can be analogous in saying the campaign to encourage low income families to buy into this scheme will earn them a house in the same way the marketing of pay day loans will get this same group cash now; no pressure required just a bit if enticement!

    Who do you think the target population is within this scheme? We know it is low income families but why? Has the Government run the risk factors on this group? Is it only the population that can afford to invest on their own steam that are needing to ensure they ‘qualify’ for the privilege of borrowing to invest? Let’s not stop here, why don’t we ask the Greens and Labour to lend the lower risk population an equivalent to this sort of capital. What great rates they are offering compared to the banks current lending rates.

    One has to ask if this ‘owning a home scheme for lower income families’ is fair? Not only on the target population as susceptible ‘buyers’, but on the taxpayers who work so hard to achieve their own goals independently. This plan of home ownership will place a further dent of $3 billion on top of our already existing deficit. Influencing the masses with the underlying objective of self-interest requires a scheme, and this is a good one! Kennon, J (n.d.) states ‘Real estate is often a more comfortable investment for the lower and middle classes because they grew up exposed to it (just as the upper classes often learned about stocks, bonds, and other securities during their childhood and teenage years). It’s likely most people heard their parents talking about the importance of “owning a home”. The result is that they are more open to buying land than many other investments.’ Without going into the numbers it is equally easy to ask this simple question of someone that is considering buying a house. If you were to invest $5000 in Apple stocks and every year received a call asking you to pay an additional $5000 in order to keep the company afloat so you could be paid your dividend; would you consider this a good investment? Absolutely not! In the same way Labour and the Greens are asking lower income families to pay far more than they may ever gain from buying a house under this scheme – all to follow this cleverly staged kiwi dream.

    Back to the argument of self-interest. We are dealing with a demographic population that is being targeted with an underlying agenda– that of increasing votes. What Labour and the Greens tend to overlook is the statistics of voters. How many voters are actually voting that fall within this demographic and at what cost is this campaign to the voting taxpayer?

    As stated and argued by Pillay, P (n.d.) ‘the act of deception within the business situation is actually detrimental to the individual’, in this case the individuals are low income families. Leading our nation is a business, get real, and take a look. Despite the media hype and human natures ability to focus on the desperation of others, John Key and his National leadershipare doing well in a tough economy; however the Greens and Labour are transparently leaching off the poor to empower themselves.

    References:
    Farrar, D. (2013). Kiwi Blog. Why not just have the govt build and own all the homes. Retrieved 29/01/2013 from: http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2013/01/why_not_just_have_the_govt_build_and_own_all_the_homes.html
    Duska, R. (1983). Whistleblowing and Employee Loyalty.
    Open Polytechnic (n.d). The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand.Business Ethics 71203.Module 2.Cranford’s Analogy.
    Kennon, J (n.d.). Investing for beginners. Real Estate vs. Stocks – Which Is the Better Investment? A Comparison of Real Estate Investments vs. Stocks. Retrieved 30/01/2013 from: http://beginnersinvest.about.com/od/realestate/a/real-estate-vs-stocks.htm
    Pillay, P (n.d.). Chapter 3. The Ethical Boundaries of Business: Questions of Integrity. Retrieved 30/01/2013 from: http://www.crvp.org/book/Series02/II-7/chapter_iii.htm

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