Housing Minister apologises for 'confusion' on price of KiwiBuild homes

Housing Minister Phil Twyford has apologised for a mistake he made about the price of a KiwiBuild home.

On Friday morning on The AM Show, Mr Twyford said the price of a one-bedroom Kiwibuild home would be $550,000.

That's $50,000 more than a document sent out just two days ago by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), which said the homes in Auckland and Queenstown would be priced at $500,000.

Mr Twyford now admits he was wrong.

"I misspoke this morning when discussing the KiwiBuild price points. I apologise for any confusion caused," he said in a statement to Newshub.

Mr Twyford was asked repeatedly what the price point was and the minister said $550,000. He was given the opportunity to correct himself when host Duncan Garner asked "Wasn't it $500,000?"

"Yeah, it's gone up slightly. We did the original modelling for those price points two years ago, and under Judith's [Collins, National housing spokeswoman] Government's policies, build costs are rampant," Mr Twyford told The AM Show.

Newshub asked to speak to Mr Twyford so he could clarify, but he instead sent a statement. He was adamant this was down to a scheduling issue.

"I am not refusing to front for Newshub; in fact I dedicate every Friday morning to appearing on your AM Show.

"Unfortunately I am unavailable because I have back-to-back meetings in Auckland today with people building houses."

Labour's KiwiBuild policy before the election was that standalone houses in Auckland would be priced between $500,000 and $600,000, and apartments would be priced $500,000 or lower.

But the tender documents show that's now changed. All new homes built under the policy will now be costed by room.

One bedroom will go for $500,000, two bedrooms $600,000 and three bedrooms $650,000 - that's $50,000 more than Labour promised in the election.

Judith Collins and Phil Twyford.
Judith Collins and Phil Twyford. Photo credit: The AM Show

The Government has also been under fire from the Opposition over its plans to buy homes currently under development in order to reach its ambitious KiwiBuild targets. Documentation on the scheme now says it "aims to facilitate the delivery of 100,000 affordable dwellings", rather than just build.

Will KiwiBuild be another broken promise by the Government?

Mr Twyford promised the $2 billion earmarked for KiwiBuild would be spent many times over, on Friday saying it would be around 20 times, as it recouped costs from buyers. Homes will be sold for exactly what the Government paid for them, with no margin.

Mr Twyford says there's a lack of affordable homes being built at present.

"Less than 5 percent of new builds in the market are in the lower quartile, are affordable," he told The AM Show, hoping the Government's new plans to purchase homes off the plans will spur development at the lower end of the market.

"By underwriting or buying affordable KiwiBuild homes off the plan, what we do is we de-risk and speed up developments that otherwise might not take place at all."

Ms Collins said the real reason that affordable housing isn't being built is because of the Government's overseas buyer ban.

"They can't get their presales because one of your policies, which is stopping anyone from overseas buying anything. All the developers have got the message."

Mr Twyford said that policy was yet to be implemented yet.

"The National Party have got so many excuses about why we shouldn't build affordable housing - apparently it's 'KiwiBuy', apparently we can't make new developments because we have to build infrastructure or the density's too high. This is the reason we have a housing crisis."

Ms Collins said the combined effect of the new 'KiwiSubsidise' scheme and the foreign buyer ban would be a "cluster", and defended her own party's record on housing as "fantastic".

The Overseas Investment Amendment Bill, which would tighten restrictions on foreign property ownership, is currently at the select committee stage. Submissions on it closed in April.