Philip Macalister: Investors wary of next tax move


The anti-property investing brigade will be salivating at news that the Government may be heading down the track of making it harder to be a landlord.

In this year's Budget Finance Minister Bill English announced plans to ring-fence the tax losses from holiday homes.

Essentially, the owner of a holiday home no longer can use these losses to offset other income if the gross income from the property is less than 2 per cent of its land value.

The plan got some attention, but it doesn't have an impact on too many people.

Also, it was considered, generally, to be a reasonable move.

There are growing fears amongst people who invest in residential property that once this law is on the books it can be easily expanded later to capture the ordinary property investor.

This is a retrograde step and, while the Government may try to introduce such a change by stealth, it would create a huge backlash from property investors.

The Government and others seem to have this perception that property investors are all gung-ho speculators looking for a quick buck.

Sure, there is a handful of these people, but the bulk of property investors are ordinary, middle-class Kiwis holding down daytime jobs.

The recent Pero Mortgages survey shows that.

Investors are being prudent and using the savings from cheap home loans to repay debt, rather than using the money to buy more houses.

They are being sensible business people and increasing prices (rents) to cover their increasing costs.

And they are taking advantage of the current market conditions and locking in low home rates by moving some of their lending from floating rates to fixed rates.

That gives them a degree of protection from the time - which we all know will certainly come - when home loan rates increase.

People who own their own homes can look to property investors for tips about what they should be doing at the moment.

Instead of spending the extra cash from cheap home loans on extras, such as boats, cars and holidays, use it to pay down debt.

Philip Macalister is the publisher of NZ Property Investor Magazine and

- Herald on Sunday

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