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Home ownership slipping, says Census

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  • Home ownership slipping, says Census

    Home ownership slipping, says Census
    Friday December 29, 2006
    By Anne Gibson

    Increasing numbers of New Zealanders are renting their homes, rather than buying them.

    This year's Census shows the number of dwellings owned by their occupants has fallen by 116,808 in the past 10 years, from 860,760 to 743,952.

    The number of households paying rent rose almost 100,000 in the same time, from 290,124 to 388,272.

    Ten years ago, about 80 per cent of dwellings were owner-occupied. Now the figure is about 60 per cent.

    A spokesman for Housing Minister Chris Carter said the new figures showed more people renting, particularly in Auckland.

    The 2001 Census showed that nationally, 67.8 per cent of people lived in dwellings they owned, but that figure was down to 66.8 per cent this year, the spokesman said.

    In Auckland, the 2001 figure was 66 per cent; this year, it was 65 per cent.

    "The minister took out of the latest figures that home ownership trends are still moving downwards," the spokesman said.

    But it was almost impossible to draw firm conclusions by comparing the 2001 and 2006 Censuses because Statistics NZ had altered some questions, he said.

    This year's Census distinguished between people who owned their homes directly and those who lived in a house owned by a trust, he said.

    And although many people were living in houses owned by their own family trusts, this made comparisons difficult, the spokesman said.

    Statistics NZ warned that because of classification and questionnaire changes, comparisons between 1996, 2001 and 2006 should be treated with caution.

    This year's survey showed two-thirds of privately occupied dwellings were either owned by their occupants (54.5 per cent) or held in family trusts (12.3 per cent).

    The remaining third were not owned by their occupants, it said.

    A Statistics NZ spokeswoman said the number of dwellings had increased by 200,000 since 1996, partly because of the apartment boom but also because of the rising population.

    Carter predicted in September that the new Census figures would show the tenure shift because an increasing number of 25- to 44-year-olds were unable to buy houses.

    The discrepancy between the wealth of homeowners and non-homeowners had become much wider in the past five years because the young tended not to own homes but the older did, he said.

    "My generation has got that much richer than our kids and it has got far harder for our kids to get on the property ladder we have benefited from so spectacularly," Carter said.

    Real Estate Institute president Murray Cleland said he was concerned about the Census figures.

    "We get less stable communities and more crime if home ownership levels fall," he said.

    "I have nothing against people who rent, but statistics tell us that where you get high levels of home ownership, you get a better quality of life."

    Ireland has one of the world's highest rates of home ownerships at 77 per cent. Britain follows at 70 per cent and the United States at 68.5 per cent.

    New Zealand and Canada have roughly the same rates, followed by France at 56 per cent, the Netherlands 55 per cent, Denmark 53 per cent, Sweden 46 per cent and Germany 45 per cent.

    In July, ACNielsen research for Wizard Home Loans showed the number of homeowners fell from 1.44 million in March last year to 1.27 million last March.

    In March 2005, half the population aged over 15 owned or lived in their own houses. A year later, the figure was 44 per cent, the survey showed. In Auckland, the number of homeowners dropped 95,138.

    Wizard's national director, John Grant, said the survey showed New Zealand was divided into "property haves" and "property have-nots".

    The trend was alarming because it was accelerating, he said.

    But Deutsche Bank senior economist Darren Gibbs and BNZ chief economist Tony Alexander said the ACNielsen figures did not tally with national real estate sales data.

    The 173,000 drop was a remarkable result because institute members made only 101,000 sales in that year.

    So even if every home sale in that year had been a sale by a homeowner to a landlord - a ludicrous assumption - the ACNielsen figures still wouldn't stack up, Gibbs said.

    "There's one way to find out if a man is honest-ask him. If he says 'yes,' you know he is a crook." Groucho Marx

  • #2
    The Trust ownership question in the Census was asinine.
    So that needs to be added to the variations consequent
    upon, "classification and questionnaire changes."
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    • #3
      Does anyone know what it means when it says privately occupied dwelling.

      Does this exclude publicly owned properties like Housing NZ or council properties.
      What about all the people that live in hotels, caravans, hostels, and flats above commercial properties.

      Looking at the figures for Nelson I think it includes all dwellings including HNZ. Who knows. There surely must be a reason for using such a term. Even if they know did the rest of the population understand what it meant when they filled in the forms.

      I sent off a question to Stats and they said that they still have not got the final figures out yet. They are yet to publish details on urban areas.

      Any comments readers ?


      • #4
        My guess is that "privately occupied dwelling" would be similar
        to the RTA definition: residential premises means any
        premises used or intended for occupation by any person
        as a place of residence.

        That would appear to exclude hotels and motels, etc.
        You'd think the Stats people would use the KISS principle.
        Or, at the very least, provide helpful definitions to remove
        ambiguity potential for respondents.
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