Barry Soper: What happened to the Quarter Acre, Pavlova Paradise?

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The problem is that most people want to live in Auckland where the average house price is expected to reach a million dollars within the next year, writes Barry Soper.
The problem is that most people want to live in Auckland where the average house price is expected to reach a million dollars within the next year, writes Barry Soper.

Blame it on Austin Mitchell who lived in God's Own in the 60s and created the expectation with his book published in 1972 called the Half Gallon, Quarter Acre, Pavlova Paradise.

It was about life way back then when our expectation was sitting with a flagon of beer, washing down the iconic meringue pudding covered in cream with Chinese gooseberries on top, looking out at the expansive backyard of the house we'd built.

It was Mitchell's idea of utopia, the land of milk and honey, which has become the land of depressed dairy prices and money that'll buy little more than a pop up house.

The politicians squabble over who's to blame for the state we now find ourselves in. The answer is market forces, and the fact that we've now got migrants flooding into the country at the highest rate in a hundred years, which puts pressure on everything from health to housing.

We live in a country that's just as attractive as it's always been, particularly if you're an investor where interest rates are at the lowest level in 60 years, and where the tax system makes us a housing haven. Even Quotable Value NZ is now saying the market's being driven by those with an eye for what has been a handsome return on investment.

The problem is that most people want to live in Auckland where the average house price is expected to reach a million dollars within the next year. There are currently eighty thousand working in the construction sector we're told, and more are needed to keep up with the demand, which will present a migraine for employers with tradies unable to live within cooee of where they work.

John Key at times seems oblivious to the soaring prices going on around his multi-million dollar Parnell mansion, inviting reporters to check out TradeMe where they'll discover there are quite a few homes in the city for $500,000 or less. Well I did and you can remove the qualifier "quite" with a few, very few.

Today the Beehive will unveil their latest weapon to try and tackle the problem, a so called National Policy Statement, which is effectively a stick to wave at councils to free up land for houses. While they're at it they could look at restricting the sale of existing houses to foreigners and instead make them build some on the land that'll be freed up, as the Aussies do.

They can argue till the cows come home about house prices, but the cows might not have a house to go to as the Auckland housing refugees flood on to rural land when the city expands beyond the Bombay Hills.

Perhaps there's hope for the land owning dairy farmers after all!

Debate on this article is now closed.

- Newstalk ZB

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