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How do we fix the housing crisis? An expert AUT professor answers your questions

The housing crisis has dominated the news cycles this year, but there’s still a lot we don’t know. Professor John Tookey is an expert in the area and is ready to answer your questions.

Housing makes me money.

Take it easy though. I’m not a property investor or a builder. In fact, I only own one house.

My name is John Tookey and I’m a Professor of Construction Management at AUT. I’m also one of several lead researchers working on the Government’s National Science Challenge 11: ‘Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities’.

The author, in front of some houses.

The author, in front of some houses. (image: supplied)

My area of expertise is supply chain management. I’ve worked as a consultant around the world, and have worked at universities teaching and researching across Europe, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. We can’t deny there is a housing problem in Auckland. Here’s what I think about the likely future in housing:

  • It is unlikely that there will be a ‘catastrophic collapse’ – more an incremental hit on values.
  • For a major collapse to happen there needs to be a hell of a lot more houses built, or international investors need to panic and all pull out of their investments quickly.
  • Rezoning won’t work in a worthwhile length of time. It isn’t at the moment.
  • We need more big scale construction companies. 98% of construction companies are small-fry operations. They can’t solve the problem because they can’t bulk buy materials or mass produce in order to make housing affordable.
  • The government needs to help fund mechanisms to build housing – such as housing associations. The housing association can co-own the property while residents live in them. Residents would pay a fractional mortgage and rent the rest, in the end residents can either choose to sell their stake or buy the whole house off the housing association
  • Building cheaper housing increases the chances that builders will try to substitute cheaper materials and products from overseas in order to cut corners. Don’t be surprised if we have something similar to the leaky home crisis in 10 years as a result of poorly made products.
  • Builders will never build housing so fast that there is a surplus. They cannot afford to build housing that does not sell. If you were a builder, how fast would you work if you knew that this contract was the last you’d have for the time being? This is the reason why the market is not reacting faster to the demand for housing in Auckland.

The government and council need to do more to get things to change. For that to happen we need all New Zealanders to be understand the problem and lobby for improvements.

What do you need to know to make this happen? Ask me anything, either publicly via responding to this post on Facebook or Twitter, or privately by emailing info@thespinoff.co.nz with ‘housing questions’ in the subject line –  we’ll pick the best questions received by midday on Friday 28 October and reply to them in a post next week.

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