New Zealand: We don't want foreign buyers — except Singaporeans?

Contributor 20 Jun 2018

Auckland Sky Tower crop

View from the Auckland Sky Tower. mbrand85/Shutterstock

Singapore nationals to be exempted from controversial law banning home sales to foreigners.

By Property Report

The New Zealand government has announced that Singapore will be a “carve-out” nation, granting citizens in the Southeast Asian city-state the right to buy property in the archipelago, Stuff reported.

Singapore nationals will join Australians and certain types of visa holders in an exemption from a controversial bill seeking to ban sales in the Kiwi residential property market to foreigners.

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters noted that New Zealand has a side-letter agreement with Singapore if denizens from the latter begin buying homes at such significant quantities.

Proponents behind the bill have imputed declining affordability in Kiwi homes to a large presence of foreign speculators in the market.

In addition to exemptions for Singaporean buyers, the Kiwi government announced it would relax provisions of the foreign buyers ban for apartment seekers, a move Peters called a “smartening up” of the law.

As suggested by members of the Finance and Expenditure Committee, the bill will allow foreign buyers to keep apartments bought off-plan, as long as the units are part of a project with 20 or more units.

More: It’s a ‘hiatus’ for the Auckland housing market

The bill originally called for foreign buyers to sell the apartments once the building was completed.

Up to 60 percent of apartments may also be purchased by offshore buyers under the new provisions.

Trade Minister David Parker acknowledged that the the ban, in its original language, could have hurt investment in new housing in Auckland.

“We’ve decided that if they are multi-storey apartment they can be held for leasing but not owner-occupying,” Parker said.

Local and international bodies have criticised the ban, with the IMF calling it “discriminatory”.

The Real Estate Institute of New Zealand expressed some measured enthusiasm over the new rules.

“We welcome the fact that the Select Committee has listened to some of the criticisms around restrictions on off-the-plan sales,” the institute’s chief executive Bindi Norwell said.


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