The ground has shifted on home ownership in New Zealand and this has long-term implications, with more people renting and fewer people entering retirement with mortgage-free home ownership. Wealth inequality between those who own homes and those who do not has grown as a result of the 80% increase in house prices between 2002 and 2007.
The recession following the Global Financial Crisis brought house prices off those peak levels and reduced interest rates but prices in the main urban areas are trending up again and affordability remains a problem. High house prices, limited access to mortgage finance, high debt levels and an uncertain economic outlook mean that home ownership is difficult even for relatively affluent middle class households.
Home ownership is becoming beyond the reach of more and more people and there is no prospect of this improving in the near future. There have been numerous studies of housing affordability, among the more recent and reliable ones are:
- Homes People Can Afford edited by Sarah Bierre, Philippa Howden-Chapman & Lisa Early
- Productivity Commission inquiry into housing affordability reported in 2012.
- New Zealand Housing Report 2009/10, Department of Building and Housing.
- Review of the NZ Housing Sector, Gravitas, 2009.
- The Prime Minister’s Department led a comprehensive review of housing affordability in 2008 that captures the key issues.
More recent data on the housing sector and housing market activity is available through the New Zealand Housing and Construction Quarterly (NZHCQ) prepared by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment.