An Auckland developer building houses for under $400,000 says Chinese are using property as a ticket into this country because owning real estate increases immigration visa points.

Grant La Hood of Citywide Homes said Chinese buying Auckland houses had pushed up prices and he wants deterrent measures.

He backed a Herald article last Tuesday about the high number of Auckland house sales to non-resident and migrant Chinese.

He said that was the first story in the debate that dealt with the real issue behind rapidly rising prices.


"I spend my days looking for suitable development sites and it is almost impossible to compete," he said of wealthy Chinese.

He completes about 10 to 15 houses a year and said the housing market should represent the domestic economy, but that instead it represented the wealth of people from much larger economies.

"Let's remember housing is a necessity and not just a commodity to be bought, sold and traded. Politicians need to spend some time in the auction rooms and see the demoralised faces of first-home buyers to truly understand why Kiwis are fleeing to Australia. Aucklanders would be shocked to know how much of our rental stock is owned by investors living in places like Hong Kong and China."

One real estate agent told him 60 per cent of his agency's rent roll was non-resident Asian investors.

"The investor category allows foreigners to buy land to secure points for their visa application. Buying property is like buying a ticket into this country," La Hood said.

But Marcus Beveridge of Queen City Law said New Zealand had always been an immigrant country and he is acting for non-resident mainland Chinese investors, particularly in the commercial sector.

Meanwhile, Spain was considering offering rich investors from countries such as Russia and China the right to settle in return for them buying up property in the stagnant housing sector. Spain has more than a million empty homes across the country.

Hong Kong and Singapore introduced a 10 per cent stamp duty on non-resident property buyers to deter mainland Chinese who had been big investors. The stamp duty has acted as a cooling measure.