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Foreign buyer stats 'misleading'

Foreign buyers continue to account for around three percent of property sales in New Zealand, the latest Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) data reveals.

Monday, August 1st 2016, 3:45PM

by Miriam Bell

Labour Party leader Andrew Little

LINZ released its second report on the tax residency of people buying property in New Zealand.

The report, which covers the period from April 1 to June 30 2016, shows that foreign buyers bought 1,749 of the 57,678 properties sold in that period.

That figure equates to three percent of the total.

LINZ deputy chief executive Russell Turner said this was the same percentage as was shown in the data from the January to March 2016 quarter.

In the April to June quarter, the number of property transfers in New Zealand overall increased by more than 12,000, he said.

“But with a similar split of foreign and New Zealand tax residents. This includes trusts and businesses as well as individuals.”

In Auckland, foreign buyers accounted for 900 of the properties bought in the April to June quarter.

That figure equates to five percent of the total and is an increase of one percent on the January to March quarter.

Chinese tax residents were the biggest group of non-New Zealand tax residents to buy property in New Zealand and in Auckland.

They were responsible for 495 Auckland property purchases between April and June.

Turner said that while the data is not a register of foreign ownership, it can add to the picture of what’s happening with property in New Zealand.

Land Information minister Louise Upston also said the numbers of foreign property buyers indicated in today’s data was similar to the numbers in last quarter’s data.

“Over time, the data collected will give us some useful information on the property market.”

However, Labour Party leader Andrew Little said the LINZ data was selective, misleading and underestimated the impact of foreign speculators on New Zealand’s housing market.

Labour has long said that foreign buyers are having a significant impact on the country’s housing market.

Last year the party’s housing spokesperson, Phil Twyford, released Barfoot & Thompson information which indicated that the percentage of buyers in Auckland with Chinese names, between February and April 2015, was 39.5%.

Today Little pointed out that all of New Zealand’s major banks have stopped lending to foreign buyers.

This was an acknowledgment that foreign buyers are a significant presence in housing market, he said.

*The data in the LINZ report, which can be read here, does not specify whether the property has been bought for investment.
 

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