Anne Gibson

Property editor of the NZ Herald

China push worries critics

Homeowners are urged to target Chinese buyers in the North Shore edition of  Property Press . Photo / Supplied
Homeowners are urged to target Chinese buyers in the North Shore edition of Property Press . Photo / Supplied

Auckland homeowners are being encouraged to sell their houses to wealthy Chinese investors in a television marketing push.

For $7000 a month a Chinese television producer is offering to aggressively advertise Auckland houses in daily 30-second commercials to potential buyers in mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and Australia.

Estate agents, developers and buyers have complained that wealthy Chinese buyers are ramping up prices in Auckland's already over-stretched housing stock.

But Xuefei Leng, WTV8 Chinese TV producer, said Chinese buyers were not to blame for rising Auckland prices. And she said she was trying to get the best deal for sellers.

Her series of half-page full-colour ads in Property Press encouraged sellers to "get the attention of the majority of the affluent Chinese community" and said a two to three-minute video of the property would screen.

CTV8 would do the voiceover "or you can do it yourself. Free translation into Chinese".

Hundreds of houses had sold since the show started last June, said Miss Leng, originally from Shanghai and living here for the last 10 years.

Auckland housing developer Grant La Hood of Citywide Homes said wealthy Chinese had pushed up prices and he renewed calls for deterrent measures.

"I spend my days looking for suitable development sites and it is almost impossible to compete," he said of rich China-based buyers, allowed to purchase houses here without residency which is unusual internationally.

Ian Thornhill of Barfoot & Thompson raised concerns after an Epsom deal when a Chinese investor bought a house then left it empty, saying he worried about the future for his family.

"I don't think it's a good thing at all. Kiwis are getting really upset. They can't compete with Asians who have the money and they pay more," Mr Thornhill said.

In Vancouver, foreign buyers, mostly from China, have been blamed for increasing housing demand and prices and turning friendly neighbourhoods into ghost towns by not living in the properties.

No official figures are kept on non-residents buying houses here. The Overseas Investment Office says foreigners only need approval under certain conditions, such as when a deal is worth more than $100 million, when more than 5ha of land is involved or if the land is deemed sensitive, such as farmland or adjoining a reserve or on the edge of a lake.

Auckland councillor Dick Quax blamed high prices on the council's policy of ring-fencing the city's growth.

Auckland has a housing shortage estimated at between 20,000 to 30,000 homes.

- NZ Herald

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