New Zealand homes ‘no longer for sale’ to foreigners

New Zealand homes ‘no longer for sale’ to foreigners
Foreigners will soon not be allowed to buy existing homes in New Zealand as the country is facing a housing affordability crisis due to soaring property prices.

"We have agreed on banning the purchase of existing homes by foreign buyers," said Prime Minister-elect Jacinda Ardern, adding the ban only applied to non-residents.

A bill to ban purchases will be introduced by Christmas, she said, also announcing plans to slash immigration and focus on regional development and job creation.

Strong immigration, low interest rates, and limited housing supplies have propelled New Zealand house prices in recent years.

Foreign ownership and a housing shortage were among the major issues in the lead-up to the September 23 election which brought an end to nine years of rule by the conservative National Party.

Ardern, who campaigned on social issues including housing affordability and improved healthcare, has described capitalism as a “blatant failure.”

"There is going to be a change, and a clear signal sent internationally that New Zealand is no longer for sale in the way it has been. We're happy with that," said Winston Peters, the leader of the populist New Zealand First party whose support is crucial for Ardern to form a ruling coalition in the 120-seat parliament.

According to a survey by property consultants Knight Frank, annual house price growth in New Zealand was 10.4 percent. Prices in the capital Wellington rose 18.1 percent in the year to June 2017. Residential prices in the country's largest city Auckland grew by 9.8 percent over the same period.

Chinese investors were among the most prominent offshore buyers of property in the New Zealand market.

Last year, the Australian government blocked the purchase by a Chinese-led consortium of 11 million hectares belonging to the country’s largest private landowner.