Nearly 60 per cent of Auckland houses sold to foreign buyers went to Chinese investors, new data show.

The data released by Land Information New Zealand (Linz) yesterday showed that 474 out of 11,955 houses sold between January and March went to non-residents.

Of the sales to foreign buyers, 276 houses went to Chinese residents. The next biggest investors were Australians, with 45 properties.

Across all of New Zealand, 3 per cent of houses sold between January and March went to people who were not New Zealand citizens or holders of a residency, student or work visa.


Chinese tax residents snapped up 321 of those properties (29.5 per cent of non-resident purchases), followed by Australians on 312 properties (28.6 per cent).

Last year, the Labour Party prompted a public uproar after producing data which showed that up to 40 per cent of Auckland houses were being sold to people of Chinese descent, who only made up 10 per cent of the city's population.

Labour's estimate was based on people with Chinese-sounding surnames and did not differentiate between non-residents and residents.

Labour Party housing spokesman Phil Twyford said that the new data were not an accurate picture because they were collected at a time when offshore speculators had temporarily left the market.

"For most of the six months this information was collected, the Auckland housing market was in a temporary lull," he said.

"Most analysts attributed this to the new requirement for foreign buyers to register with the Inland Revenue and the Chinese Government's crackdown on illegal financial transfers out of China. It also excludes trusts and businesses. A further 45 per cent of the Auckland sales were also excluded because of exemptions for those buying family homes and those who signed contracts before the law came in."

Mr Tywford said the data were effectively useless in terms of the housing debate.

The data revealed yesterday were the first snapshot of the level of non-resident activity in the housing market.

1089 HOMES SOLD TO NON-RESIDENTS (March quarter) ACROSS THE COUNTRY. Number of sales/tax residency of buyers:

321 - China (29.5%)
312 - Australia (28.6%)
162 - People with mixed tax residency - including at least one NZ buyer (14.9%)
99 - United Kingdom (9.1%)
51 - USA (4.7%)
36 - Singapore (3.3%)
33 - Hong Kong (3%)