The big state housing sell-off

By Anne Gibson

Housing New Zealand is selling 15 Auckland state houses for an expected $12 million windfall and has already put seven of them up for sale as part of a plan to exit the mansion market.

Housing Minister Maryan Street said yesterday seven valuable Auckland state houses had gone on the market as part of the Government's plan. Fifteen houses would be sold in total.

State houses in exclusive suburbs Orakei, Freemans Bay, St Heliers, Herne Bay, Mt Eden, Grey Lynn, Pt Chevalier and Ponsonby would be sold, she said.

But none of the 15 houses would go on the market with their state tenants in them. All were being sold vacant.

One large property on Herne Bay's exclusive Jervois Rd, near West End Rd, had already sold for about $2 million, she said.

A Housing NZ spokesperson in Wellington said another property at 8 Hopetoun St in Auckland had fetched $1.29 million in February.

The seven state houses now for sale are in Orakei, St Heliers and Mt Eden.

She cited 4 Puna St in leafy Orakei. The two-bedroom house is up for tender in a process closing on April 22.

Quotable Value's data on the property shows it has a capital value of $770,000, made up of $700,000 for the land and just $70,000 for the house.

The 90sq m brick house built in the 1930s is standing on a 910sq m section in the upmarket suburb.

Other houses up for sale include:

* 33 Dexter Ave in Mt Eden, a large 190sq m house in a 799sq m section. Quotable Value puts its capital value at $860,000. The house is advertised on open2view.co.nz (access number 178823). The tender closes on April 16.

* 2 Leamington Rd, Mt Eden, also advertised on open2view.co.nz (access number 178824), a nine-bedroom, five-bathroom house being advertised as "the white elephant, a monstrous abode, rooms for Africa". Quotable Value puts its capital value at $915,000. The tender closes on April 15.

In 2006, the then Housing Minister Chris Carter introduced a policy to assess whether 141 state homes worth more than $700,000 each should be kept, sold or redeveloped to build more homes on the land when tenants left.

Ms Street said Housing NZ would reinvest sale money into new stock.

"We expect to buy two or more state houses for the value of one and buy them in areas where the need is greatest."

The National Party has called for far more million-dollar homes to be sold so that cheaper houses can be bought to ease Auckland's housing shortage.

Housing spokesman Phil Heatley said when the sell-off was announced that it was "a joke" that million-dollar state homes could not be sold until the tenants moved out, including $2 million properties in Glen Innes and Orakei.

"The Government has been negligent for not doing this sooner. It breaks your heart to think that over the last several years we could have been housing 35 desperate families instead of a lucky 15.

"I don't know what Labour are going to do," Mr Heatley said, "but National would be reinvesting such massive sale proceeds straight back into the housing stock, buying many more houses and increasing the number of desperate families getting housing help."

* SALES IN FEBRUARY

284 Jervois Rd $1.96m

8 Hopetoun St $1.29m

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