Fasten your seat belts, all those rich or ancient enough to have a ticket on the property gravy train. After a little hiccup last year while assorted foreigners were shown the door, crazy spiral upwards has resumed.
And with our parliamentarians eager players in this tax-free, easy-money game – between them, our 120 MPs admit to ownership of 307 houses, apartments, farms and commercial properties – sanity is unlikely to return to the market any time soon.
Last month, the Real Estate Institute was crowing about median house prices across New Zealand increasing by 8.6 per cent in the year to November, pointing an accusatory finger at Auckland for dragging down the average with its meagre 2.8 per cent rise. Since then, the latest official QV House Price index shows Auckland has started to bounce back.
It appears last year's market nervousness, fanned by talk of a capital gains tax and the foreign buyer ban, has passed.
Two year ago, following Auckland Council's revaluation of my modest 212sq m slice of Ponsonby, I wrote that nothing brought home to me the bonkers state of the housing market as the news from the city valuers that in the three years since the previous valuation, my 100 year old pile of bricks had earned me $260,000 per year in untaxed capital gain, just by not falling over. It was an annual untaxed income I'd never dreamed of earning in my decades of toiling over a hot keyboard.
On Monday I read that based on median sale prices since 2000, my house's increase in value over the past 19 years had been a rather more modest, but still loony, $73,644 a year.
Is it any wonder that contemporaries more commercially-minded than myself, had long ago decided the smart money was on farming villas, bungalows and old state houses for their tax free appreciation in value. Especially as they could fund the exercise by extracting rents from their tenants.
Last week, for the first time, Herald reporter Kirsty Johnston , revealed just how deeply entrenched in the property market these part-time mum and dad investors are - all competing against each other – and first time hopefuls - to buy their stake in the best gold mine in town.
With analyst company, Ramifier, Johnston probed official records and calculated that just under 40 per cent of New Zealand houses were likely owned by part-time property investors. Of these, 13 per cent are owned by people with two homes, 6 per cent by those with three, 10 per cent by those with four to six, and 10 per cent by those with seven to 20 homes.
How mum and dad are crowding out the hopes of a generation
A further 16 per cent of homes were assumed to be owned by professional investors with portfolios of more than 20 homes. Only a minority of houses – around 30 per cent, are owned by people with just that one house.
Not so long back, foreign buyers were blamed for out-bidding young couples at auction. This was partly true, but despite the new ban on some foreigners, prices are again heading up, with local mum and dad investors accounting for 26 per cent of sales in August last year. The result for "ordinary" New Zealanders is that the dream of a property-owning democracy will remain just that.
In 2016 the solution of former Reserve Bank chief economist Arthur Grimes was to flood the Auckland market with 150,000 new homes and cause a 40 per cent crash in house prices, "back," he said, "to a level at which ordinary people can afford."
The new 2017 Coalition Government came up with a very watered down version of this, pledging to build 100,000 affordable houses over 10 years. It was a promise, which bombed two years in, with hardly a new house to be seen.
As for a capital gains tax, that sank without a fight, when Labour abandoned its long held commitment, after junior partner, New Zealand First, said no.
Which leaves it up to young voters. Either lie on the tracks, or the old folks gravy train will leave the station again, and there's no room for you.