Poker faces over housing

Tuesday 5 February 2013

One thing that is already becoming clear this year is that one of our biggest issues is housing.

By The Landlord

It's a bit like a game of poker at the moment.

The Greens have shown their hand. One of the most interesting things is that they are proposing a scheme where tenants can buy the property built by the Crown.

Some property investors do this under schemes known by various names, including lease options.

Essentially the landlord becomes the bank in this deal.

The Greens, as can be expected, don't plan to make money out of their scheme - while property investors who adopt this approach do.

Labour has an interesting hand but appears to be struggling with how to play it. Judging from some of the reaction, the idea to build 100,000 new homes is one the public likes. Well, not all the public.

The reality of such a scheme, if it gets off the ground, would be to put downward pressure on house prices. This will hurt not just property investors but also owner-occupiers.

As for National, one wonders if they were dealt any cards to play in this game. They haven't offered much yet, except to say they will free up more land for development.

However, they have substituted their player at the table. New Housing Minister Nick Smith isn't known as one who sits around.

He is what you could call an "activist minister", and someone who throws ideas outside the box.

He likes a good scrap and is certain to take the game to Labour and the Greens.

While political parties are revealing their hand on the issue, one key player who is keeping his cards close to his chest is new(ish) Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler.

His comments this week when he made his latest Official Cash Rate pronouncement have been seen as a warning to the housing market.

He has already made noises that he will consider reaching into his new bag of tricks to play some hands that will hobble the housing market.

Whether his bluff will be called is something we are unlikely to know until later on this year.

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