Mike Hosking on rental property law changes: Government’s new rules don’t make a jot of difference

OPINION:

A real-world example for you today from the hot, hot, hot property market.

Have the Government’s moves on brightlines and tax deductibility made a difference to the market place?

Have they tilted it toward the first-home buyer?

The answer for me (us) is no.

We are dealing with a potential purchase of a property that we discovered before Finance Minister Grant Robertson ever uttered those fateful words about taxability around sales and deductions.

Has it made it harder? Of course.

Will it lead to an exodus from the market? I doubt it.

That’s the trouble with averages. Averages don’t tell specific stories like ours.

I can give you names of those who have bailed, I can also give you names of people like us that haven’t and won’t.

We are not in the house game for instant financial reward, we don’t rely on rent to make ends meet.

We may increase rent as a result of the Government’s moves, not because we are scurrilous bastards but because, like all business, one of the mechanisms used when costs increase is to pass them on.

If Grant didn’t think that was going to happen, Grant might not have a full grip on how markets work.

Speaking of which, have a look at Australia right now and their property market.

Perhaps not surprisingly it’s doing exactly what ours is, capital city increases are well into double digits, and the reason for that is cheap money.

The problem with that is, they already have a capital gains tax, they have stamp duty, they have the very mechanisms that this government has just introduced here to curb growth and shift the market.

So the question is, why isn’t it working in Australia?

The answer is because tax treatment isn’t the issue, cheap money is.

Specific to this country is of course land, and councils are not being made to free it up. This government, for whatever reason, has chosen to ignore that and blame landlords.

Landlords are easy targets and open to astonishing stereotypes.

Ninety-four per cent of property owners own one house, only 6 per cent own more than a handful.

So in looking to get the flippers and speculators out of the market you are in fact dealing with a very small number of people.

It’s not dissimilar to Labour’s last attack campaign against foreign buyers. Remember them, they were the last scourge driving house-price rises?

So they got banned and … whoops, the prices kept on rising.

Why? Because they only ever made up 3 per cent of the market.

Ironically, poor Housing Minister Megan Woods was rolled out the other day to offer a pitch to foreign investors to come and build multi-unit complexes, because forgotten in Labour’s “ban the foreigner” campaign was the fact that you could indeed still be a foreigner and build here as long as they were multiple units … that part of the message sadly got lost in the tirade of xenophobia.

Anyway, back to our place.

The ultimate irony is, it is by anyone’s measure a first-home buyer’s dream, it’s affordable, very affordable, yet intel from the agent tells us there’s been plenty of interest in the property, all of it from investors, not a single first-home buyer in sight.

Second irony is, it’s owned by first-home buyers who are now looking to take their equity and move onto something bigger and better, thus fulfilling the Kiwi dream.

Given we aren’t flippers or highly leveraged or slum lords, we’ve got a figure in mind to purchase, if it works it works, if it doesn’t we’ll move on to something else.

If we get it, we’ll do what thousands of other Mum and Dad investors do, give a home to most likely a young couple.

They will be decent people, like we are decent people, and the relationship like most rentals arrangements, will work out just fine.

Our return will be over time, as the simple truth of property ownership in this country continues to be told no matter who governs us.

We don’t make enough land available, we don’t build enough houses, New Zealanders love property and the price … over a decent period of time as history shows … always goes up. No bubble has ever burst and that’s not changing this time.

Grant can fiddle all he wants, but the truth about housing is that governments don’t drive markets, people do.

And we’ll still be landlords and investors well after he and his ideology have long left office.


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