Housing affordability

Date posted: 22 June 2011

Housing affordability in New Zealand comes under the spotlight as the newly established Productivity Commission releases its first Issues Paper today.

Housing affordability goes straight to the heart of the wellbeing of New Zealanders. It can also have significant ramifications for the wider economy as housing comprises the main share of both household assets and debt, and given the scale of the housing industry and its employment.

Releasing the Issues Paper today, Commission Chairman Murray Sherwin said that New Zealand housing prices remain significantly higher than they were a decade ago despite some recent market falls.

“Overall, there is concern that this trend has been associated with declines in housing affordability. This underpinned the Government asking the Commission to evaluate factors influencing housing affordability and to find ways to improve it”.

The issues paper is the first step in the inquiry process. It elaborates on the context for the inquiry, the approach that the Commission intends to take, and identifies key questions. The Commission will use the issues paper to help engage with interested parties – from home-owners and renters to industry organisations – as it takes a fresh look at this issue.

The Commission’s role is to increase productivity and, as a result, the wellbeing of New Zealanders. Mr Sherwin stressed the importance of affordable housing to the wellbeing of New Zealanders.

“There is nothing more central to wellbeing for most people than affordable high quality housing,” Mr Sherwin said.

“Our first task is to better understand the key drivers of housing affordability and to what extent there are distortions in the housing market. The Commission wants to maximise quality housing options for all New Zealanders, regardless of their income or whether they rent or own.”

The inquiry will examine demand and supply factors driving housing affordability, such as land supply, infrastructure, building costs, government regulations, taxes and levies, availability of finance and the preferences of New Zealanders. It will draw together existing research as well as undertake new analysis.

The Commission is due to release its draft recommendations for improving housing affordability in October this year. It will deliver its final report and recommendations to the Government by 1 February 2012.

The Commission encourages New Zealanders to get involved in the inquiry. A copy of the Issues paper can be found on this page in PDF format, and you can read details on making a submission here.

For further information about the Productivity Commission or its inquiry into housing affordability, please contact Christine Langdon.

T: (04) 460 2383
M: 021 448 428
E: christine@senatecommunications.co.nz