Merepeka Raukawa-Tait: Hard to get on home ownership ladder

By Merepeka Raukawa-Tait

I admire the young couple I know who knew it wouldn't be easy to buy their own house.

In their early 20s, one with a student loan, they nevertheless decided to buy a house.

They both have jobs and live off one wage. The other wage goes straight on their mortgage.

They calculated it would take them seven years to pay this off. They tell me they'll now do it in five. They enjoy socialising and spending time with family and friends.

They don't smoke and rarely drink alcohol. If you visit them you are welcome to bring your own if that's what you prefer to drink. They enjoy the outdoors and find plenty to do that costs very little or nothing at all.

They are planning to have children when they are mortgage free. That will be in three years when they are both 25. They wanted to buy a house and decided, with careful planning and prudent spending, they could manage it.

Everyone's circumstances are different of course.

It must be heartbreaking for some who haven't, or can't, plan to this degree. These are the other young families wanting to buy a house too.

They can't get to first base and come up with the required deposit. Most could probably cope with a mortgage as a considerable number are paying more in rent now than they would if they had a mortgage.

A first home wouldn't be their dream house at the right address but it would be a start on the home ownership ladder. They would at least be able to buy a reasonable first home in an affordable area.

The shortage of affordable houses for first home owners has been in news lately. We are told the problem is getting worse.

Is this true? Is there really a shortage of affordable houses and what can be done? Over recent years every second person I meet, especially baby boomers, seem to have rental properties.

Some have only one or two while others have significantly more. In New Zealand we have never lost our love affair for owning our own house. It's just who we are. But with baby boomers, although not exclusively, they seem to want to own their own home and then some. If they retained only a couple of rental properties and put the rest on the market I'd wager New Zealand would have enough houses for first home owners to buy. Young families who must pay market rents are helping to pay the mortgage for the homeowner.

With baby boomers, they tell me their rental properties are their retirement savings. I can understand that but I still find it sad that thousands of young families will most likely never own a house and never be in a position to save enough for their own retirement.

Housing needs have changed over the years. After World War II we experienced the building boom with houses springing up everywhere in well planned suburbs. A house on a quarter-acre section was seen as the desirable size for bringing up healthy children. Times are different now. Section's today are smaller but the houses bigger in area.

Gone is anything like the large size backyard and detached garage that was standard for decades. Larger houses now take up most of the section. This does make sense I suppose because you don't see children playing outside as we used to.

The TV and computer use have all but killed that pastime for today's children.

This is probably one reason why we don't know our neighbours as we used to. When children played together with the other children from the neighbourhood, parents usually got to say hello, getting to know each other as well.

But when young families rent there is not the same connection with other families in the street who own their own homes. Neighbours will often point out that the family living at number 23 are renters. They are viewed differently.

I hope the Government will put politics aside and work with the opposition and other parties to come up with a solution that will assist young families into their own homes. These families need to be accruing assets of their own and not continually helping others add to theirs.


- Rotorua Daily Post

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