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21 Sep 2017

Housing and the Election

The New Zealand election is just days away, with housing one of the key issues addressed by politicians over the course of the election campaign. The main political parties have outlined a number of new and existing policies related to housing supply and affordability, including policies related to new developments, first-home ownership, property tax, foreign buyer rules, and plans to increase housing supply in Auckland and other high-demand areas. Let's take a look at how the major and minor parties plan to tackle some of the most significant issues facing New Zealand.

National Party

The National Party has plans to boost grants for first-home buyers, with couples eligible for an extra $10,000 under changes to the HomeStart Grant system. This takes the total to $20,000 for an existing home and $30,000 for a new build, something which should help more people get their feet onto the property ladder. The National Party also has plans to increase housing supply in the tight Auckland market, with 34,000 new homes to be built immediately and a $1 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund created to enable long-term supply. Other policies include tighter tax rules for property speculators and reforms to the existing Resource Management Act.

Labour Party

Housing supply has become an election issue for the Labour Party, with the KiwiBuild project promising 100,000 high-quality affordable residences over the course of a decade. Half of these new dwellings are designed to address demand in Auckland, with 10,000 homes in total constructed each year. Other plans are designed to regulate the market and support first-home buyers, including banning the sale of existing houses to foreign buyers, stopping the sale of state houses, and passing legislation that introduces standards for heating and ventilation in rental properties. Labours' Affordable Housing Authority will attempt to improve housing affordability by cutting red tape and working with the private sector, with the party also planning to close the negative gearing tax loophole.

Minor Parties

New Zealand First has a policy to completely ban foreigners from buying New Zealand housing, with state assistance given to first-home buyers and a new state agency developed to buy land in Special Housing Areas. The Green Party has come out in favour of sustainable building practices and energy efficiency, with emphasis also given to improving public transportation as a factor of urban design and minimising private vehicle use. The Green Party also has plans to support Housing NZ Corp and cap rents at 25 percent of income for state and community tenants.

The Maori Party has a new target to eliminate homelessness by 2020, including expanding papakainga as an urban solution to land scarcity and supporting cultural practices of extended whanau living arrangements to accommodate basic housing needs. The party plans to create a new position of Minister for Maori and Pacific Housing and develop a national housing strategy to make it easier for people to enter the property market.

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