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More state house sales on the agenda

Next wave of Government’s state house sales gets underway with market sounding meetings in the Horowhenua and Kapiti region this week.

Thursday, July 28th 2016, 12:00PM

by Miriam Bell

Housing New Zealand Minister Bill English

The Government’s controversial social housing reform programme, which includes the sale of up to 8000 state houses over the coming years, has been flying under the radar of late.

This is surprising due to the public focus on Auckland’s various housing market related problems, one of which is increasingly visible homelessness.

It is probably because, to date, there have been no state house sales scheduled for the Auckland region.

Rather the first round of the state house sales were scheduled for Tauranga and Invercargill.

Negotiations with three interested parties still continues over the 1,134 state houses up for sale in Tauranga.

But the Government suffered a set-back to the sale programme in May when the sole party (the PACT group) involved in the Invercargill sale process decided to pull out.

At the time, Housing New Zealand minister Bill English said the Government remained committed to transferring between 1000-2000 properties to registered Community Housing Providers (CHPs) this year.

He also announced that a joint sale of around 250 Housing New Zealand properties in Otaki, Foxton, Levin and Shannon and 115 pensioner units owned by the Horowhenua District Council was being explored.

It now looks as though those sales might be going ahead.

Following iwi consultation, the Government and the Horowhenua District Council are undertaking a market sounding exercise to get feedback from interested CHPs this week.

Treasury and the Council told media the properties will only be sold to a new provider if better tenant services would result from the transfer.

They also said that, at this point, the sale is a proposal only.

Under the terms of the transfer programme, the state houses can only be sold to CHPs – although there is scope for private investors to get involved in social housing.

It would be possible if a private investor was to become a registered CHP themselves or if they partnered with a registered CHP.

A number of existing CHPs have previously indicated they would consider partnering with commercial entities to achieve better social housing results.

However, Labour Party leader Andrew Little said the Horowhenua market sounding meant the Government was “forging ahead with its ideologically-driven plan to hock off thousands of state houses throughout the country”.

He said that only 20% of those who expressed interest in the state house sell-offs in Invercargill and Tauranga were registered CHPs and that anyone could register as a CHP anyway.

Little also said that, despite the lengthy process to date, as yet no state houses have been sold.

“Invercargill was a spectacular flop and three bidders have been locked in negotiations over the Tauranga houses for many months.”

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ANZ 5.54 5.15 5.85 6.15
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ANZ Special - 4.55 5.25 5.55
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BNZ - Mortgage One 5.55 - - -
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Heretaunga Building Society 5.95 4.80 5.50 -
HSBC Premier 5.49 4.39 5.15 5.39
HSBC Premier LVR > 80% - - - -
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HSBC Special - - - -
ICBC 5.25 ▲4.29 ▲5.09 ▲5.35
Kainga Ora 5.43 4.57 5.58 5.85
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Kiwibank Special 5.00 4.55 5.19 5.39
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Nelson Building Society 5.95 4.95 5.85 -
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Median 5.45 4.55 5.25 5.52

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