NZ passes ban on foreign homebuyers into law

Buyers of New Zealand property include billionaire investor Peter Thiel

At the time, the choice sliver of land - which measured just a tenth of an acre - was on sale for $840,000.

In recent years, there have been many anecdotal stories of wealthy foreigners from Silicon Valley and beyond buying ranches in picturesque rural New Zealand as a "bolt hole" or escape option from a turbulent world.

"We don't believe that banning foreign buyers from purchasing property in New Zealand is going to have any impact on house prices, nor will it help young people into their first homes", Bindi Norwell said.

The goal is simple, according to the bill's backers: to correct a domestic housing market that has seen prices skyrocket and home ownership plunge in the past decade.

He said it was the birthright of New Zealanders to buy homes at a fair price.

"This Government believes that New Zealanders should not be outbid by wealthier foreign buyers".

According to Associate Finance Minister David Parker, the bill's passage is a significant milestone in making the dream of homeownership a reality for more Kiwis.

Figures released by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand on Wednesday showed median house prices had slipped 1.8 percent to NZ$550,000 ($360,140) in July from the previous month, although they were still 6.2 percent higher than the same time the previous year.

Australian and Singapore citizens will also be exempt from the ban due to their countries' free trade deals with New Zealand.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. In 2017, there were 71,100 non-New Zealand migrants in the country with Australia making up 20 percent, the United Kingdom for 12 percent and China 10 percent.

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FILE PHOTO - Houses can be seen on the hillside behind a rower and motor-boat as they pass a container ship as it sails into Oriental Bay in the New Zealand capital city of Wellington, New Zealand, September 17, 2011. That was almost 10 percentage points lower than where the number stood in the early 1990s. Her government passed legislation Wednesday banning most foreign homebuyers.

Official figures suggest that the overall level of foreign home buying was relatively low - about 3 percent of property transfers nationwide.

The ban only applies to non-residents.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation added a caveat to the statistics, noting that "the data did not capture property bought through trusts and also showed property transfers involving foreigners were highly concentrated in certain areas, such as downtown Auckland and Queenstown".

He also blamed foreign buyers for creating a domino effect in the secondary market: when they purchase expensive homes in places like Metro Vancouver, the sellers use the profit to buy someplace cheaper, like Victoria or Nanaimo and then raise home prices there.

In July, the International Monetary Fund called on the government to reconsider the ban, warning it could discourage foreign direct investment needed to build new homes in the country.

Judith Collins, a lawmaker with the center-right opposition, raised still another concern in her speech to Parliament on Wednesday.

"This is a bill without principle".

New Zealand has rolled out legislation banning foreigners from buying existing homes in the country amid an ongoing housing crisis which has left tens of thousands of people on the streets.

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