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'I see no way of ever being able to own my own home'

Radio New Zealand logo Radio New Zealand 10/05/2017
Bill English: no caption © RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King no caption

Young Aucklanders have given up on ever being able to afford a house, they say, but Prime Minister Bill English insists the government's approach to housing is succeeding.

Tyson Beckett, 26, works full time as an assistant manager at a food retailer in Auckland and said if she ever wanted to own a home she would have to leave the city.

She spoke as new government analysis - the Housing Affordability Measure - showed two thirds of renters and 80 percent of potential first home buyers could not afford their housing costs.

Read the report here

"The only people who that I know who are in my age group who own their own home have only been able to do so because of KiwiSaver and having of a lot of help from their parents - it's not something anyone I know can do by themselves," Ms Beckett said.

"I live and I work in the city and I don't have a car, I have very low outgoings, and yet I see no way of ever being able to own my own home."

Jill MacDonald also rents in Auckland after moving to New Zealand from Canada seven years ago.

"I think the dream always is, even growing up in Canada is to own something, but once you come to the realisation of how expensive it is to live and the wage you're on, you have to re-adjust your goals.

"We've come to the realisation owning is not capable for us currently with our incomes."

Rudy Pereira has also rented in the city for seven years.

"I'd love to buy a house but at the moment the price is a little bit inaccessible, I'm not giving up but at the moment I'm single and to buy a house when you're single it's a little bit harder than if you have a partner."

But Prime Minister Bill English denied the new measure showed his government was failing to get people onto the property ladder.

"Our approach to housing is succeeding - there's more houses being built that ever."

"If anything, the main constraint at the moment is just having enough builders and enough materials to get the houses built," he said.

" This data is incredibly useful" - Minister for Building and Housing Nick Smith (6 min 4 sec)

Labour leader Andrew Little said Mr English's comments showed just how out of touch the government was.

"Kiwis who are in the housing market trying to buy their first home - they know how bad it is and the obstacles they have to leap to try to get their first home.

"[The figures are] an indictment for a country that once upon a time celebrated some of the highest levels of home ownership around the world," Mr Little said.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) developed the new housing affordability measure, which factored in mortgage rates.

While house prices have surged in many cities between 2009 and 2015, MBIE claims low interest rates have offset those rises, and housing affordability has remained stable.

ACT Party co-leader David Seymour said the government was trying to take credit for the sun rising in the morning.

"The government can't realistically control global interest rates when they go down, and it won't be able to control them when they start to come back up.

"What you are going to find is $400 billion in private debt, much of it in mortgages suddenly becomes much more expensive and I think history will judge this government's treatment of the housing market very harshly indeed," Mr Seymour said.

He said the government was in denial about the housing crisis and described its efforts to address it as a joke.

Finance Minister Steven Joyce said the measure reflected the challenge of very low interest rates, combined with a shortage of housing to fuel high house prices.

He said the government had been clear that buyers needed to be cautious.

"Since I've been in this role ... I've been saying to people - do be careful, don't overextend yourselves, because you can't just operate on the principle of mortgage rates you have today," Mr Joyce said.

"We're probably coming towards an end of a period of very low - historically low - interest rates, and so it's important people think carefully before they stretch themselves too far."

While the measure shows renters are better off than first home buyers, the Salvation Army said rent costs were also far too high for many people.


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