New $200k leasehold homes in Tauranga could help with Auckland's housing crisis

Tauranga leaseholds with a 10-minute stroll to the beach and a price tag of just $200,000 could help ease Auckland's housing crisis.

Ann McNaull sold her freehold Tauranga house and brought a new home in the Golden Sands development in Papamoa for just $200,000, because while she owns the house, she leases the land.

"I don't have a mortgage; I've got a life," she says. "I can travel. I can do all the things that I dream of when I retired basically, and I love my home."

She says leasing the land doesn't concern her, because if she has to she will pick the house up and move it.

Developer Bluehaven is planning to build 300 leasehold units, all with 30-year leases and annual ground rents of about $6000.

"The model that we have created we've got a demographic we're targeting, which is 55 years and over, and with 30 years on top of that 55-year bracket people are going to be 85 years or plus," says Nathan York, the chief executive of Bluehaven.

"We felt that it would meet a different type of housing need at that stage of their life."

Leasehold has a chequered history in New Zealand, with some Auckland leaseholders recently hit with massive ground rent hikes because of the housing boom.

But the Property Institute's Ashley Church says the Tauranga development could be a good model for first-home buyers - as long as they can one day buy the freehold title.

"That's a very, very good model - and it's one that the Government should be looking pretty hard at when it comes to affordable housing in places like Auckland," he says.

Bluehaven's latest project, Emerald Shores, wants to gain Special Housing Area status with Tauranga City Council. That would allow it to be fast tracked as affordable housing.

Ground rent increases will be capped at the rate of inflation, but house owners won't ever be able to buy the land.

"This is the product we are trying to create ourselves," says Mr York.

"It is a fixed-term leasehold product. It is a very affordable rate, and we can create this type of community with like-minded 55-year-old persons, but it is a leasehold product."


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