KiwiBuild fails to attract any buyers in Canterbury

The Government may have to purchase KiwiBuild homes in Canterbury because they failed to sell after being listed three months ago.

Housing Minister Phil Twyford struck a deal with Mike Greer homes in February to underwrite 65 KiwiBuild houses in Canterbury. 

It's a government promise to either purchase them outright from the developer or top up any shortfall should the developer sell them at a discounted price.

The underwrite is only triggered if the Kiwibuild houses do not sell within an agreed timeframe. None of the first seven Canterbury KiwiBuild houses first marketed on February 20 have sold - houses that ranged in price from $459,000 to $480,000.

The National Party's housing spokesperson Judith Collins has attacked Twyford's claim that there was "strong demand" for KiwiBuild houses in Canterbury.

"There is little-to-zero demand for houses in this price bracket in Christchurch, despite Mr Twyford's assertion to the contrary. It shows just how little thought was put into his KiwiBuild policy, which has been a spectacular failure."

A KiwiBuild spokesperson said nationwide, 83 homes have been completed, 78 have been sold, and nearly 400 are under construction.

"Some homes sell immediately, others take longer. We are improving our systems as the KiwiBuild programme matures, so more families can own an affordable home of their own."

KiwiBuild key figures (nationwide):

  • 78 homes sold
  • 83 homes complete
  • 378 homes under construction
  • 7 homes for sale currently in Canterbury, no sales yet.

It's not the first time KiwiBuild houses have failed to attract buyers. The Government was forced to buy 10 homes in Queenstown Lakes District last year that didn't sell in time.

Collins has raised concerns about a pattern developing with KiwiBuild homes failing to sell and the taxpayer having to pick up the tab.

National's housing spokesperson Judith Collins.
National's housing spokesperson Judith Collins. Photo credit: Getty

"The Canterbury houses have gone unsold for so long now there is a real risk taxpayers will either have to buy them back as surplus to requirements.

"Taxpayers should be worried. The Minister of Housing and Urban Development has already committed to underwrite $660 million of KiwiBuild homes across the country."

Collins has regularly grilled Twyford about the underwrite scheme, labelling it "welfare for developers" and questioning the Government's guarantee of KiwiBuild houses, some of which were already built when they were signed off.

The Government had promised to partner with the private sector to build 100,000 affordable homes between 2018 and 2028; half of them in Auckland, and only New Zealand citizens or permanent residents would be eligible.

Housing Minister Phil Twyford.
Housing Minister Phil Twyford. Photo credit: Getty

But Twyford's $2 billion KiwiBuild scheme has been facing difficulties. The programme's interim targets were dropped in January, and more recently Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern would not commit to the goal of building 100,000 houses in 10 years.

"We are going through the process of a reset around the KiwiBuild programme," Ardern said earlier this month, adding that her Government remained committed to building affordable homes.

Collins said Twyford should "admit defeat and dump this terrible KiwiBuild policy now before he throws any more of New Zealanders' tax dollars at developers to cover up his failings".

She said if National was elected in 2020, its focus would be on reforming the Resource Management Act, to bring down the cost of building for all New Zealanders, and support community housing providers.

Twyford told Newshub last month the Government supports the concept of a rent-to-buy housing scheme which has been floated by the community housing sector.