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Foreign buyers housing data released

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 10/05/2016 Paul Purcell

Just three per cent of New Zealand properties sold in the first three months of 2016 were to non-residents, new data shows.

A total of 1158 properties were sold to buyers who provided Land Information New Zealand with an overseas tax residency, while 1089 of home purchases did not involve New Zealand residents.

However, the three per cent figure may not include foreign beneficiaries of trusts and non-residents on student and work visas.

Ninety per cent of the 45,115 properties sold had a home on the land.

Chinese buyers were the largest group with 321 (27.7 per cent) of all foreign purchases, closely followed by Australians (26.9 per cent) and then those with a mixed residency (13.9 per cent) which must included one New Zealand resident.

LINZ chief executive Peter Mersi says the data released on Tuesday should not be confused with a foreign ownership registry since tax residency is not the same as nationality.

"For example, a New Zealander living and paying tax in United Kingdom who bought a house in New Zealand would be included in this information as having overseas tax residency," he said.

READ MORE: Reaction to the new property data

About half of the total land transfers between January and March were to New Zealanders, while just over a third did not need to provide tax information because it involved their main home.

A contract date exemption meant 10 per cent of buyers did not need to provide their tax details because sale and purchase agreements were signed before the law came into force at the end of October.

The Auckland market was most attractive to Chinese tax residents, accounting for more than half of the 474 purchases by foreigners.

The data released by LINZ on Tuesday has been keenly awaited by the government, who have previously considered a land tax if non-resident purchases were overwhelming.

Land Information minister Louise Upston said the data has its limitations but the government does not expect to make any moves on housing policy in the short-term.

"It's about what we expected," Ms Upston told reporters.

"But it's early days. We want to look at the picture in 12 months, 18 months. There's no time-frame set."

An individual may be considered a New Zealand tax resident if they have been in the country for more than 183 days in any 12-month period or have a permanent place of abode in New Zealand.

The data on non-residents was the first release of quarterly reports.

Non-resident buyers of NZ homes between Jan 1 and March 31

* Chinese tax residents - 321

* Australian tax residents - 213

* Mixed tax residency, including one NZ - 162

* United Kingdom - 99

* United States - 51

* Singapore - 36

* Hong Kong - 33

* Other countries - 41

Source: Land Information New Zealand

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