Katie Holland is the Rotorua Daily Post deputy editor

Opinion: House crisis not so foreign

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For those of us lucky enough to live in the regions, the constant talk about Auckland's housing crisis can get a little boring.

It's not that we don't care about our big city friends - it's understandable they are disappointed, frustrated or downright angry about not being able to find a house they can afford in the city they choose to live. It's just it doesn't seem directly relevant to us.

Despite our local housing market also now booming, our houses still remain relatively affordable - which is why those frustrated Aucklanders are now eyeing up our housing stock.

Which is probably why the controversy over foreign ownership of homes has never been such a contentious issue in the regions.

Figures released this week show just 1.25 per cent per cent of Tauranga homes sold in the six months from October 2015 to March 2016 were bought by overseas tax residents.

Even acknowledging there were limitations to this data, it is still a very small proportion of sales.

Even the 4 per cent in Auckland is much lower than some of the crazy numbers bandied around before this data was released.

My problem with the argument against allowing foreign ownership of homes was that so often it has been made in either an explicitly or implicitly racist way, which would immediately get my back up. All too often it lumped all "foreigners" (usually Asians) into one basket - anyone who looked "foreign" or had a "foreign-sounding" name was automatically classed as "stealing" homes from "real Kiwis".

That was repugnant and ridiculous.

But I do see some merit in the argument that if a buyer has absolutely no links with this country, other than trying to make money from investing in our property market, why should we allow that?

After all, a government's first obligation is to look after its own residents - whatever they look like or whatever their surname.

And in New Zealand, people want to own a home. Something has to give.

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