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Image: Tina Tiller

The BulletinMay 31, 2023

Is the housing crisis over?

rows of town houses
Image: Tina Tiller

A report from ANZ suggests we’re short of houses again while 24,081 people sit on the social housing wait list. Unified by crisis, National and Labour now won’t budge on their approaches to housing, writes Anna Rawhiti-Connell in this excerpt from The Bulletin, The Spinoff’s morning news round-up. To receive The Bulletin in full each weekday, sign up here.

Willing to work together but will not budge

Just look at this opening line from RNZ’s report last night on where we got to on Medium Density Residential Standards (MDRS) yesterday: “The main parties both say they are willing to work together on policies to build more housing, but neither seems likely to budge over their approach.” That’s a far cry from the “consensus-required-to-deal-with-a-crisis” mindset that drove the bipartisan housing accord in the first place. Crisis is a handy word at times. It can help promote unity. With the National and Labour no longer unified in their approach to building more houses, can we say we’re no longer in a crisis?

Housing market to rebound in second quarter

Based on a humble fact check, I’d say no? At the end of April, the median house price in Auckland was just a jot under a million at $995,000. In March, Auckland was ranked as the seventh least affordable housing market in the world. Stuff has been tracking how much a median-income household needs for a deposit and what home loan repayments will cost since December 2020. For April, they estimated you’d need to save for 243 weeks for a deposit and that fortnightly home loan repayments were up by $94. We’re all aware that house prices have fallen, but ANZ bank economists were out yesterday saying they are picking the housing market may start to rebound in the second half of the year.

New Zealand has widening housing deficit, rents increase

ANZ’s latest property report released yesterday says “once again, New Zealand has a widening housing deficit” with “new demand for housing now outstripping new supply”. Taking net migration numbers at face value while acknowledging the difficulty of forecasting that, the bank says the shortfall between new housing supply and demand has come in at around 5500 dwellings. New home consents in April were down by more than a quarter on last year (paywalled). National median weekly rent to the 12 months to the end of March increased by $15 a week. Auckland continued to escape that trend and it is with some irony that the “radical move in 2016 to liberalise zoning laws in New Zealand’s largest city” was cited by Michael Read in the Australian Financial Review yesterday as one of the reasons the city has avoided ongoing rent increases. Read holds Auckland up as an example for Australia to follow.

Social housing likely to become “political plaything”

National’s housing policy released on Sunday talks about supercharging social housing but as Rebecca Macfie writes in this excellent report from a major social housing conference over the weekend, “it seems more likely that the ChiP [colloquial acronym for community housing provider] sector itself will become a political plaything in the run-up to the election.” At the end of March there were 24,081 applicants waiting for social housing. That’s a decrease of 10.4% from the same time last year but you only need to look at the graph dating back to March 2018 to see it’s still not a number worth popping corks over.

Graph showing the number of applicants on the Housing Register since March 2018
The number of applicants on the Housing Register (Source: Ministry of Social Development)

To end, a “dream come true” story in The Post (paywalled) as one woman moves into a warm, dry, house enabled by a rent-to-buy scheme run by Habitat for Humanity. A good reminder of what we’re aiming for amid the scrapping.

Keep going!