Bill aims to boost regional housing

By John Maslin

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Phil Twyford, Labour housing spokesman.
Phil Twyford, Labour housing spokesman.

Wanganui's housing market could well be in line to benefit if a Labour Party bill gets some traction.

Opposition housing spokesman Phil Twyford said if a Labour Government was elected next year, it would move to exempt first-home buyers from the recently introduced loan-to-value ratio (LVR).

The LVR is the measure of how much a bank lends against residential property, compared to the value of that property, and it usually means a buyer must have a deposit of at least 20 per cent.

But Mr Twyford told the Chronicle that the "Kiwi dream" of home ownership had evaporated with the Government's decision to implement LVR and it was having a marked impact in provincial centres such as Wanganui.

He said Labour would exempt first-home buyers and certain regions from LVRs and also target speculators through a capital gains tax.

"We haven't been that selective yet in deciding region by region but I certainly expect to see Wanganui in the mix. In some areas where the market is smaller - and that includes Wanganui - pulling first-home buyers out of the mix has a huge impact on the market.

"Labour believes home ownership is a good thing and we don't think this Government has thought this through properly," he said.

Mr Twyford acknowledged regional economy was also part of the equation.

"Quality of life in places like Wanganui is superb but without jobs for those home buyers to go to then how can they take advantage of that? For that reason we're going into the 2014 election with regional economic growth as a key election platform," he said.

He said Census data released this week showed home ownership had dropped from 67 per cent to 65 per cent nationally since 2006.

"That's why my bill, if passed, will allow only New Zealand citizens and residents to buy any existing house, flat or apartment."

The Census showed that in 2006 67 per cent of homes in the Wanganui-Manawatu region were privately owned. In the 2013 Census that number had dropped to 65 per cent.

However, Wanganui real estate companies say the new lending restrictions are not having a big impact on the local market.

Tim Hocquard, Ray White Wanganui director, said there were simply not a lot of first-home buyers active in the market here at the moment.

- WANGANUI CHRONICLE

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