KiwiBuild homes are being snapped up near Tauranga, in what could signal hope for the Government's flagship housing programme - but Judith Collins isn't convinced.
Classic Builders, the developer behind 200 KiwiBuild homes earmarked to be built in Omokoroa just north of Tauranga, says 14 out of 18 homes have been sold so far in its development.
When the developer released the first round of KiwiBuild homes in the Kaimai View subdivision on 21 May, four out of eight were sold within the first two days.
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A further 10 KiwiBuild homes were made available a week ago, bringing the total to 18, with 14 sold so far. In total, 27 homes will be built in the subdivision.
The two- and three-bedroom properties priced at $485,000-$500,000 were sold via direct sale, without a ballot.
A KiwiBuild spokesperson said even though the KiwiBuild properties have been popular, introducing a ballot system is not under consideration.
That's despite the Government's announcement last year that a ballot system would be used to ensure fairness. If a home didn't sell to the winner, it would be offered to other eligible buyers.
The system was used in some of the early developments but is not being routinely used anymore, with direct sale options being used more frequently.
You can view the eligibility requirements here.
National's Housing spokesperson Judith Collins pointed out that the Kaimai View subdivision was part of the Special Housing Areas programme, and was granted consent in 2017, before the current Government came to power.
"If that's true, which I believe it is, it would seem that these properties were already being built in the first place before KiwiBuild," Collins said.
A Classic Builders spokesperson confirmed this to Newshub.
Classic Builders group director Peter Cooney said in a statement on Thursday that interest continues to be high for KiwiBuild homes in Omokoroa and further sales are expected.
"I think our homes are selling within the KiwiBuild frame because we understand in depth how to create quality homes that are more affordable," he said.
Collins said it would be difficult not to sell affordable houses around Tauranga, which earlier this year was ranked the eighth most unaffordable housing market in the world when measured against income.
"Places like Tauranga, Hamilton and Auckland are the areas where housing needs to be prioritised, given the lack of housing available in those areas."
She said $500,000 is "significantly cheaper" than $650,000 price tag for some KiwiBuild homes. But she said it's still a lot of money for people to buy their first home.
"It's a real difficulty for people trying to buy their first home in the areas that they want. Just building houses all over the countryside or in various parts of the country where there's no demand is ridiculous and is a waste of money and time."
Earlier this year the Government had to purchase seven unsold KiwiBuild houses that didn't sell in Canterbury and Auckland.
KiwiBuild is now under the guidance of Megan Woods, who replaced Phil Twyford as Housing Minister in the Prime Minister's recent Cabinet reshuffle.
Newshub asked Woods for comment on the success of Omokoroa and the possibility of introducing ballots there, but she didn't respond.
The Government has stalled on a "reset" of the entire programme, announced in January, after it was revealed KiwiBuild would not meet its initial targets.
"We're now in July and still nothing other than a new minister, so look I'm not going to hold my breath on KiwiBuild and what it's going to be reset, and I'd suggest nobody else hold their breath either," Collins said.
The 14 KiwiBuild homes sold in the Kaimai View subdivision represent about 11.3 percent of the 123 KiwiBuild homes sold across Northland, Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Canterbury and Otago, so far.
- Northland: 5
- Auckland: 92
- Bay of Plenty: 14
- Canterbury: 5
- Otago: 7