How the world reacted to New Zealand's foreign buyers' ban

New Zealand's changing approach to the world has been highlighted by international media in response to the Government's foreign buyers' ban.

The bill's passing has piqued interest around the world, with international media outlets giving their take on the controversial policy. In some reports, like this one by Al Jazeera, New Zealand's high homelessness rates have been highlighted as an explanation for the ban. 

Al Jazeera took information from a Yale University study released last year which claimed New Zealand has the highest rate of homelessness among member states of the OECD. But the study's findings have been questioned for noting that "definitions and policies on homelessness are mixed among nations".

Al Jazeera quoted the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand's chief executive, Bindi Norwell, who opposed Wednesday's law change: "We don't believe that banning foreign buyers from purchasing property in New Zealand is going to have any impact on house prices, nor will it help young people into their first homes."

The report also notes New Zealand's bilateral trade agreements with Australia and Singapore - the two countries exempt from the international buyers' ban. It also says overseas buyers will still be able to purchase new homes in New Zealand and land to be used for house building projects. 

Criticism of the foreign ownership ban was picked up by Reuters, in a report which underlined New Zealand's grapple with a "housing crunch" that has seen "average prices in the largest city, Auckland, almost double in the past decade and rise more than 60 percent nationwide". 

The majority of overseas buyers in New Zealand were from China and neighbouring Australia, Reuters reported, citing Statistics New Zealand. The report quotes Dave Platter of Chinese real estate portal, who says the ban is neither wise nor useful. 

"Foreign buying... tends to be focused on new development, making clear again that foreign investment leads to the creation of new dwellings. That's vital in a market with a housing shortage, like Auckland," he said. 

A Canadian report by Global News took a different approach to the ban on foreign buyers' policy, noting how New Zealand's approach to the world appears to have changed, saying New Zealand "doesn't want visitors to get too comfortable". 

The report describes New Zealand as an "escape option" from a "turbulent world" where wealthy foreigners from Silicon Valley and beyond want to purchase land in "picturesque rural New Zealand". 

But the New Zealand property market, "previously open to investors worldwide", is now closing up, which Global News insinuates is an indication of New Zealand's changing attitude towards the world. It notes how New Zealand and Canada are "grappling with some of the same" concerns. 

The Global News report says foreign buyers "have been blamed for driving up the cost of housing, particularly in Toronto and Vancouver. Ontario and British Columbia have instituted foreign-buyer taxes in an effort to cool interest in those markets."

The article was posted by Global News to Facebook, receiving a mix of positive and negative feedback about the new policy. One person said it "must be nice to have a government that cares about its people". 

But another Facebook user slammed the Government's decision, saying: "If discrimination was soccer, New Zealand could win the World Cup," adding that it's "unhealthy to whine about foreigners" and that people should be more prepared to move somewhere cheaper. 

An editorial in the Guardian on New Zealand's foreign buyer's ban also labels New Zealand a place where people want to escape to. It says people view New Zealand as a "safe haven from a potential nuclear conflict, the rise of terrorism and civil unrest, or simply as a place to get away from it all". 

The report also mentions that the ban will "induce construction companies to build more smaller, family-friendly homes" after US multimillionaires such as ex-NBC host Matt Lauer and entrepreneur Peter Thiel purchased sections of paradise in high-demand places like Queenstown.