Saturday, June 22, 2013

Auckland house prices are a ticking time bomb.

When a couple go to an auction knowing that they can spend about $600,000 only to see their 'dream home' selling for $150,000 above that figure, two things are possibly happening. The price was either exorbitant (for a range of reasons) or they were playing a game that was unrealistic to begin with. Let's take a closer look at that statement.
Auckland (and other cites) house prices are going through the roof. The last time I can remember this happening was in 2007/2008 when I bought my last home. Luckily I was already on the crazy treadmill which tended to neutralise the affect of rocketing process. If I had waited a few months (because I had sold my previous house and was temporarily renting) I could have made a better deal as prices first stabilised then dropped. Oh for 'if what I know now,'----you get the picture. Instead I listened to the pundits who claimed that one had to get back on then wagon as quickly as possible.
Such pressures are operating now, at an even more frenzied pace and there are reports of 'deals' going on that push agents into signing off on sales that include some pretty unusual caveats.
Some blame immigration for the increased pressure and no amount of rationality will point these people away from labelling various groups for 'causing this.' The fact is that Auckland simply does not have enough houses for sale and in the market economy, 'less means more' in  what we have to pay. Forget politicians who use the former 'fact' to suck in more voters so that they can continue to drink from Welle-trough.'
One could also wonder at the relatively recent phenomenon that says---'I have a right to live where I wish and I should be able to afford it.' By that they mean that they only want to buy in the leafy inner-city suburbs so that they can live a life that they perceive to be their right. They tend to forget that many people started in more 'average' or indeed poorer suburbs and gradually worked themselves up. Not all of the inner-city inhabitants had help from mummy and daddy! Starting with a two bedroom unit in a southern suburb, paying it off and  moving 'up' seems to be a pathway that is shunned by todays' young couples (or not so young).
There is another growing group however, who would be happy to settle into any suburb if it meant that they had a stake in the housing market. This group may be on an 'average' New Zealand income and often even with both members of the 'unit' working, the dream of owning a modest home, well away from the city centre will remain but a dream. That is because they would have to raise a mortgage well above $500,000 and as for the remainder of the populace, who fall well below average earnings, well the dream does not even exist.
It is these two groups who are becoming increasingly marginalised in Auckland. What hope do they have? Hearing politicians going on about affordability in so-called new suburbs is just a further reminder that they are not part of this brave new Auckland. When does this frustration transfer into actions that threaten the peace of those who have 'made it,' albeit with their huge debts? The truth of the matter is that the point has already been reached.
Many live their lives in abject poverty as rents continue to spiral and the dream recedes even further. Crime figures may be down in some areas, but the time bomb is building in strength, waiting to burst. Politicians who don't recognise this and who continue to describe false dreams are living in 'lula land.'
Playing around the edges of the problem represents sitting around while the gap between those who 'own and those who can never,' gradually increases. Have we learnt nothing from history? Must we repeat the experiences that we see every night on our screens? Will a Greek-like New Zealand or a Brazilian dawn be already upon us?
Gone are the good old days when New Zealanders could borrow from the State at 3% interest rates and own a modest house in the suburbs. Is there a message here or will Governments keep selling a lie?