Not too long ago houses were for living in and property was for doing something productive with. But these days, property is seen as something to make money out of just by owning for a while then selling.
It is a problem. Every time someone buys a house they don’t intend to live in, land they don’t intend to farm, or a commercial premise they don’t intend to run a business in, they make it that much harder for people who need a home, want to be farmers or to run their own business.
Even middle income earners can’t afford to buy a house in many parts of New Zealand. Small businesses and retailers struggle to rent affordable premises in good locations, much less buy them. And the most those who want to work on the land can aspire to is to manage a farm for an absentee landlord or corporation.
It may be politically expedient to blame residents of a particular country but it is irrelevant, and racist to boot. Absentee property owners drive up demand and with it the price of properties, whether they are New Zealanders, Asians, Alaskans, or Albanians. It doesn’t matter what country they live in. And the speculators who buy houses, land, or commercial property purely with the aim of making a quick profit by on selling it as soon as it increases in value, cause the most damage.
Unpalatable as it is, inequality is the real villain. People on very high incomes have too much money in their pockets. They don’t need it to live on so they have to do something else with it and preferably use it to make even more money that they don’t need. Speculation on property is seen as a good bet.
If we agree that everyone is entitled to a warm dry home to live in and our land and commercial properties need to be affordable to foster businesses and create decent jobs for people, the debate we need to have as a country is not about who should be allowed to buy property here but about ways to reduce inequality and to discourage property speculation across the board.
Who should be allowed to buy property in New Zealand? People who want a house to live in, land to work on, or a premise from which to run their business must have top priority.