Government slammed as 'most anti-landlord in history' despite rising house prices

A high-profile property expert has claimed Jacinda Ardern is leading "the most anti-landlord Government probably in the history of our nation".

Ashley Church's comments come as new data shows house prices are continuing to rise, despite earlier predictions the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crunch would see them crash. 

"I don't know whether it's deliberate or whether it's just something they're doing out of naivety, but when you look at the combined impact of some of the policies they've introduced over the last two or three years, there's some pretty scary stuff on the horizon when it comes to supply, and that supply has a knock-on effect on rental prices," Church told The AM Show on Monday.

Church is the former head of the Property Institute of New Zealand and the Auckland Property Investors Association, and these days provides commentary on real estate matters. 

New figures from show despite whatever "anti-landlord" moves the Government is making, they're still making bank. Asking prices nationwide were up 3.9 percent between June and July, for a rise of 12.9 percent in the past year to $756,250.

The biggest drivers were record-highs in Northland, Auckland, Hawke's Bay, Coromandel, and Manawatu/Whanganui, as well as an 11 percent drop in the number of homes for sale compared to July 2019.

"It has been three months since the country moved to alert level three and, while we can never say never, we simply haven't seen the drop that many were predicting," said spokesperson Vanessa Taylor.

Kiwis coming home to avoid the pandemic overseas could be a part of the reason, with a 13 percent rise in visitors to the website from overseas.

"People are actually purchasing homes from overseas and utilising digital tools to do the walkthroughs rather than actually physically seeing it, as they sort themselves and their families out to come home." 

July's figures also show over half of regions had an all-time low number of houses for sale. 

West Coast saw the biggest jump in asking prices - up 24.9 percent - followed by Marlborough (10.7 percent), Wairarapa (6.7 percent), Taranaki and Northland (5.7 percent), and Manawatu/Whanganui (5.2 percent).

Ashley Church.
Ashley Church. Photo credit: The AM Show

But some regions did see drops - notably the Central North Island (down 6.3 percent), Central Otago/Lakes (4.9 percent), Nelson and Bays (4.3 percent) and Southland (3.4 percent).

Central/Otago Lakes would be struggling with the loss of international tourism thanks to the border restrictions. 

While basic economics says prices will increase as long as demand outstrips supply, Church says the differing outcomes across the regions shows there's something else behind the sector's continued resilience.

"Confidence is probably the bigger factor at play here. What we can draw from this is the talk of a drop - two or three months ago some commentators were talking about a market crash, in some cases in excess of 20 percent - I think we can clearly take from this that that's not going to happen."

Church said it's also proof previous factors blamed for keeping house prices high - such as a lack of supply, 'ghost' homes and foriegn buyers - don't' have as much influence on prices as people think.

"None of those things have turned out to be the case. What this tells me is that invariably, it's about confidence - it's about confidence on the part of the vendor in respect of what they think they'll actually sell for, and it's about confidence on the part of the purchaser in respect of what they're prepared to pay." 

Taylor says it's a seller's market.

"If you are looking to sell or wanting to sell, it's actually a great time because there's so much demand in the market at the moment."

Newshub has contacted Housing Minister Megan Woods for a response to Church's claims.