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Who's to fear most – foreign buyers or talkback hosts?

I didn't want to tell anyone about a house we loved, in case that jinxed it. I couldn't wear the clothes I wore to a failed auction to the next one and I started looking up which numbers the Chinese considered lucky, after reading in the newspaper unlucky street numbers would steer Chinese buyers away from some houses, and thus reduce the competition.

The number 4 sounds like "death" in Chinese, so that's unlucky. Excellent. But 8 – that's a lucky number, and put them together 48 is, apparently, very auspicious indeed. Oh dear.

Sounds ridiculous now, doesn't it? But such was the fervour and fear in the media coverage of the Auckland housing market.

We still don't actually know whether there is anything to be feared from foreign buyers, because the data is woefully inadequate. Data out this time last year suggested overseas residents only accounted for 3 per cent of sales, but it counted corporations and trusts as residents, as well as those on student and temporary work visas.

But if the commentary this week is to be believed, I've had my #48 goldmine cruelly snatched away from me by Labour's nifty workaround to ban foreign buyers by making housing "sensitive".

"What on earth is sensitive about housing?" asked talkback host Leighton Smith, ignoring the fact housing gets a bit sensitive when there aren't enough of them for everyone to live in one. "Sounds a bit PC to me," he huffed.

Tell you what, talkback hosts might be a little down in the mouth now the lefties have taken over, but with so much for listeners to take generalised, anecdotal umbrage over, their little capitalist hearts will soon sing, when ratings bonuses are paid.

Mike Hosking then plucked some figures out of the air, suggesting that, for some reason, an American might offer you $1.3million for your house, while Bill and Sheila from down the road might offer just $900,000.

"The poor old home owner" he opined. "How much equity has the Government just ripped out from under you?". Then in the same breath he argued foreign buyers don't affect the market, so why ban them?

He seems to have been reading straight from the playbook of Steven Joyce, who says the ban won't make any difference – except "restricting the ability of New Zealanders in terms of how they handle their own property".

So, which is it? Is the Government stealing away our hard-earned (read: un-earned) capital gains, or do foreigners not make a jot of difference to our house prices?

If non-citizen and non-resident buyers are a non-issue, the ban is a non-issue for your sale price. Just like the difference between living at number 4 or number 48 always was.

Real Estate Investar Editor
Real Estate Investar Editor
Real Estate Investar provides intelligent software, tools and data to help you save time and make money in the residential property investment market.

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