Data shows 2.3 per cent of Tauranga homes were bought by non-residents in the first six months of the year.

This amounted to 96 homes sold to overseas tax residents out of a total 4221 homes sold between January and June.

In the Western Bay there were 18 properties sold to overseas tax residents out of a total 1560, which equalled 1.2 per cent.

The data released by Land Information New Zealand was a snapshot of the level of non-resident activity in the housing market, but it was not a register of foreign house ownership.

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Overseas tax residency was not the same as nationality, an overseas tax resident may be a New Zealand citizen working or travelling overseas or may be an overseas citizen who lived and worked in New Zealand but was counted as overseas for tax purposes.

Since October 2015, the tax residency of people buying property in New Zealand must be recorded under the Land Transfer Amendment Act.

Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller said he was relaxed about the fact non-tax residents could buy property.

Bay of Plenty National MP Todd Muller said he was relaxed that non-tax residents can purchase property and Tauranga's 2.3 per cent did not suggest a problem. Photo/file
Bay of Plenty National MP Todd Muller said he was relaxed that non-tax residents can purchase property and Tauranga's 2.3 per cent did not suggest a problem. Photo/file

"The key point here is the importance of having data. What it shows us at the moment is that overseas buyers are not a problem in terms of impacting the housing market in Tauranga.

"It's very hot but that is a function of New Zealanders wanting to come and move here, and that's a good thing," Mr Muller said.

Mr Muller said if the data began to show overseas tax residents buying property was getting to a level where it was distorting the housing market, then it would be worth looking into policy change.

"But that must be data driven and informed, not just anecdotal."

Tauranga-based New Zealand First MP Clayton Mitchell said the data collected was not comprehensive enough.

Tauranga-based New Zealand First MP Clayton Mitchell said the data collected was not comprehensive enough. Photo/file
Tauranga-based New Zealand First MP Clayton Mitchell said the data collected was not comprehensive enough. Photo/file

"That data doesn't take in trusts, companies or foreign students, 2.3 per cent is short of the actual number of houses being sold to foreign nationals."

He said it was a small part of the bigger picture and there needed to be a register of foreign ownership.

Mr Mitchell was worried about speculative buyers owning property causing strain on the housing stock while not contributing or investing into the country.

"NZ First is 100 per cent not against immigration. We are just anti the current immigration policy ... we need a policy that allows people into this country who are going to add value and grow our economy."

Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless said he would prefer that people owning homes in Tauranga lived, worked and were part of the community here.

"If you're going to own a house, it's good to contribute as well. In many countries if you don't live, or are not a citizen, there you can't buy property."