Expert says there's 'no silver bullet' to solve first-home buyer crisis, calls on need for commissioner

A housing expert says New Zealand needs to have a first-home buyers commissioner to help the dire property market, as there is "no single silver bullet".

It’s official, 2022 is the worst time to buy a house in 65 years. A new report by Infometrics said there is a "perfect storm" of factors, including record house prices, inflation and limited further potential for growth.

But for those who do manage to get on the property ladder this year, they sign themselves up for almost a lifetime of debt, with the report finding buyers are expected to be paying one-third of their income on their mortgage for the next 25 years. 

First Home Buyers spokesperson Lesley Harris said the report is nothing new to want-to-be homeowners who have grappled with the frustration of trying to achieve the 'Kiwi dream'. 

"I think people are feeling really disheartened, but they've been feeling disheartened for quite a while," Harris told The Project. "I think what we've seen in the report that's come out today is, I suppose, just solidifying what we already knew - that the current time that we all live in is probably the toughest ever for people to actually get into their first homes."

She said the problem extends past first-home buyers and affects the whole country.

While it's our children's problem, 'bank of mum and dad' is the fifth biggest lender to the first homes in this country, which Harris said has implications on parents' retirement.

And unfortunately, the solution is not that simple.

"It's a really complicated one because it's not just one problem and there's no single silver bullet and that's the frustration for me as we've seen a lot of these single bullets thrown into the pot," Harris said. 

"We need to have a first-home buyers commissioner here because there's three problems: it's saving for the deposit, it's getting the lending across the line with a lender and it's finding an affordable house."

Harris said we need to be working a lot closer with lenders to look at possibly carving out first-home buyers or saving the under 20 percent lending for first-home buyers.

"There's certain things that we could be doing to nurture these people through," she said.

But what seems like an impossible task can be done. Harris said people are still getting into their first homes, but by making compromises such as buying in groups or buying a portion of a house.

"We are seeing people do it, but it's certainly very, very tough."