New Zealand needs more than KiwiBuild – housing strategist

The AM Show 20/07/2018

A housing strategist believes that Government, local councils and the private sector all need to be interconnected in order to solve the housing crisis.

Auckland property strategist Leonie Freeman told The AM Show that we need to be more creative in assisting New Zealanders in joining the property ladder.

As of Tuesday, 35,496 people have registered interest for the Government's KiwiBuild programme. But over 60 percent of KiwiBuild applicants expressed interest for a house in the Auckland region.

We need to be more creative with how we assist people into housing.

The Labour-led programme aims to build 100,000 affordable homes over the next 10 years, will be sold at up to $650,000 to first-time buyers.

But Ms Freeman advises those who have expressed interest in a KiwiBuild home to “keep looking” because of the programme’s ballot system.

In order to meet the demand for housing, Ms Freeman emphasises that KiwiBuild on its own won’t be enough.

“We need to be more creative with how we assist people into housing,” she told The AM Show.

Ms Freeman suggests that shared-ownership schemes, where an owner co-owns a property with a bank or government agency, could be a solution worth investing in.

In March, Housing Minister Phil Twyford said the Government is looking into a shared equity scheme to supplement its KiwiBuild programme. The obstacle is simply how the Government could finance such a scheme.

With shared-ownership schemes already offered by several not-for-profits, Ms Freeman reckons that up-scaling existing offerings could be a way to go.

A lack of collaboration between the Government, not-for-profits and the private sector makes it harder for potential buyers, explains Ms Freeman.

Nevertheless, Ms Freeman hopes that KiwiBuild helps catalyse other housing projects to make easier for New Zealanders to afford their first home.

“We’ve got to be quite disruptive in our approach and we are not doing that yet.”

Watch the full interview with Leonie Freeman above.

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