Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Shopless Press Release: The Kiwi Dream Home Revised

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Travon Marner
Travon Marner
Travon Marner is a seasoned journalist with nearly 12 years under his belt. While studying journalism at Boston, Travon found a passion for finding local stories. As a contributor to Business News Ledger, Travon mostly covers human interest pieces.

We have all heard the kiwi dream. Some of us are fortunate enough to have attained this idyllic vision. A lifestyle block – with the freedom to enjoy the kiwi outdoors while still being close to the city. But with the endless talk of increased house prices the kiwi dream seems less achievable. Have New Zealanders evaluated the kiwi dream home, and if so what does it look like today? Shopless has looked into the past and present of the New Zealand dream home, so see if kiwis have evaluated their future based on the current housing market.

The kiwi dream has been around since the 1980’s. The original kiwi dream centers around owning a quarter acre block of land, with a sizable home to accommodate a family and at least one motor vehicle. In the early 2000’s the desire for a new build became more popular. As new homes, particularly in the South Island were required to have good insulation and be double glazed. Many New Zealanders did attain this kiwi dream over this time – either a lifestyle block or a new build. However those looking to enter the housing market in today’s housing climate are said to be disadvantaged, despite government funds and grants for first home buyers. The house prices continue to rise, mortgage rates are also increasing and as cities grow the ‘lifestyle blocks’ move further from the city centre. The lending criteria for mortgages recently tightened in 2022, making it more difficult for those looking to get a mortgage.

Looking at past statistics the median house price in 2000 (22 years ago) was $150k, with Auckland in a slightly higher range at $150-$250k. At the end of 2021 the median house prices were now at $1milion. This is a 567% increase in the median house price since 2000. Median incomes of households and individuals have also increased but in the same way. The median NZ household income in 2000 was $794 per week, this has now increased to $1,880 per week in 2021. A 136% increase in median household wage/salary. This unfortunately does not keep up with the enormous growth in house prices over the 22 years surveyed. In 2021 alone the house prices across New Zealand increased by 22%, this was the highest percentage increase in a year since 2004, where we saw an increase of 24.5% in the overall house prices across the country.

With that in mind the housing desires of the New Zealand home buyers have now shifted. A Kāinga Ora analysis suggested that kiwis were more interested in a smaller house if it had a functional design. In their analysis they stated “ A good design is the key. If houses are functional, attractive, and clever, they can feel much more spacious than they really are. We proved for ourselves that good design is worthwhile and, actually, small houses are attractive” Showing that kiwis are interested in smaller homes if they fit the desired purpose. Additionally if a home is accessible to the required needs of the family or individual it also proves more desirable. Another article suggested that the kiwi dream, although still desirable, was being re-evaluated to fit with the efficiency of a home. With people embracing apartments, or homes with minimal land in order to be closer to public transport, work or social needs. As well as to reduce the land cost when buying a home.

Many media analyses on the kiwi dream suggest that the vision for a home with a section, or even a new build with less space is becoming unattainable. Indicating that now the kiwi dream is owning your own home. The New Zealand initiative suggested that there was such a housing crisis in New Zealand that “Even if the border stayed closed for the next 20 years, we would still need to build at least 20,000 new net dwellings every year to meet demographic changes.”  And in 2017 the Spinoff did a series on the housing crisis stating “Fewer people own homes now than they did 60 years ago.” The governmental focus has been to create even opportunity for home buyers across generations, with a focus on first home buyers. Despite this the current shortage of housing and median house price does not make it easy for those looking to enter the housing market.

Subsequently, the lifestyle dream for kiwi home buyers has now shifted. Many New Zealanders are solely looking to purchase their own home. Options of a large section, or new home is becoming less achievable particularly for first home buyers. Some New Zealanders are looking now at the efficiency of their homes, accessibility to activities and the home functions rather than additional perks. The kiwi dream home appears to be a dream of the past.

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