Last week I suggested why the Government might want to start registering foreign buyers of investment property in New Zealand.
I mused that New Zealand was not immune to some property purchases being linked to money laundering (as has been well established in London) and that international laws could be broken.
One regular reader was quick to point out that there is no political appetite for a foreign buyers' register. That may be so, and of course if one doesn't want to know the reality of a situation, one tries not to count or measure it (or even ask the question, in case the answer is unpalatable).
You can get an idea of the impact foreign property buyers have on Auckland's house prices from something a seasoned real estate agent told me this week. I asked about the price of a property that was being marketed for a tender -- something I routinely do as part of my job.
I was shocked to hear that prospective buyers were talking in the range of between $6 million and $9 million -- a 50 per cent difference between the lowest tender and the highest.
Why such a huge disparity for one property, I asked. The answer shocked even me.
"Well, the foreigners fly in, see property, don't really know the local market, pick a figure out of the air, bid, and jet off again."
Many of us can't imagine the amount of money some people from overseas have, it appears very wealthy people are spreading their bets -- perhaps fearing another global financial hiccup (the gold price has been steadily dropping since September 2012).
Another reader tells me he was looking at two properties, one in Sandringham, the other in Three Kings.
"I was told prior to auction they would each sell for high $700,000s or low $800,000s. They sold for $941,000 and $960,000," he wrote. "The look on some of the Kiwis' faces were jaw dropping."
Of course, it is a sellers' market at the moment, and any seller and their real estate agent are bound to get the most they can for their property. Why wouldn't you? Particularly if one is trading down and cashing up. And if buyers want to pay over the odds, that is a matter for them.
People in the know assure me Auckland does not have a housing bubble that will pop anytime soon. High immigration, investors with cash to spend, and a shortage of housing stock mean nothing will change in the foreseeable future.
As for our official cash rate (3.5 per cent). If Reserve Bank Governor Graeme Wheeler is, as he says, not factoring in Auckland real estate prices when setting policy, I wonder if he will lower the OCR before the year is out.