Key's $20m mansion sale great timing for him, not so much for English

KeallHauled

Chris Keall

Sir John Key and Max Key in one of the many Max Key mansion-selfies posted to his Instagram account

The Key family mansion, featured in so many bling-bling Instagram posts by Max Key, has reportedly been sold for $20 million.

It went to a buyer from China.

The Parnell home (763 sq m house,1650 sq m land) had a 2014 CV of $13 million.

Since that date, Parnell valuations have risen 34.1%, the NZ Herald. That would give the house a more current valuation of around $17.5 million, not including improvements.

Since tracking of foreign buyers was introduced, it's been revealed that they are not making a material impact on the Auckland housing market (or, at least, that they are adept at workarounds). And the Keys have previously said they would downsize as empty nesters.

Still, the timing of this sale, the huge gain and the nature of the buyer all amount to another headache for Bill English at a time he least needs one. In the jargon of Campaign 2017, the optics are terrible.

Conversely, the optics are great for Labour, which has been hinting at a land tax or CGT (although ironically, the Key mansion family home would not have attracted any tax under an Ardern regime, given one of the few solid promises the new Labour leader has made is that her tax working group will not touch gains on a family home, or the land it sits on. Still, details, details).

The date of the sale is not clear

To be charitable to Sir John, it was almost certainly initiated back when Labour was paddling around 23% in the polls. But even at that stage, National faced the near-certainty of post-election negotiations with the xenophobic NZ First, and would want to go into them from as commanding a position of strength as possible. Should Winston Peters, who has been largely AWOL this week, make a sudden reappearance today, he will no doubt make hay. So will Labour's housing spokesman, Phil "Chinese-sounding names" Twyford.

And while Mr English might have much preferred Mr Key close his mansion sale until after September 23, the former PM might have had one eye on a Labour government's potential impact on Auckland house pricing — and then decided to get a wriggle on.

Related video: Simon Dallow's indepth interview with Bill English (Sept 8)


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93 Comments & Questions

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If anything is going to lose the election for National it is where our current house prices have gone in terms of price increases during National's reign. National did nothing about it. They look totally heartless. For the record I typically vote National and will probably do so again although you never know. Luckily I am a very comfortable and lucky retired boomer whose children are on the property ladder. Many New Zealanders are not so fortunate and that is what might just put National in opposition. And they deserve to be there.

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"I'm alright Jack"

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Yes I am alright. Virtually free university education, could buy my family home at 3 times education and when I had some spare income there were cheap equities to buy. Move on 30 years and houses are ten times income, you need loans to get a degree and any investment whether it be an equity or an investment property is going to cost you some solid coin to buy. Hardly an even playing field. National are paying for taking their eye off the ball. All someone has to do is say I will make it all better for you and they are suddenly in power.

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I agree.

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What makes you think the Labs will do any better? Talks cheap prior to an election.

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What have Labour got to lose, it can't get any worse than what it is now, no I have never voted Labour, but I have a gut feeling it will be a landslide.

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All those who are currently missing out have nothing to lose. They know they will continue to lose out if National get back in. If it was not for the RB and LTI's prices might still be rising. Just have a look at the National MP's assets listed in their interests register. Why would they do anything to slow down the rise in house prices in New Zealand. Greed is part of human nature and it takes a very principled person to put other people's interests before their own.

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Thank goodness there are sane souls like yourself Gordon!

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Don't understand why you would vote for a party you don't believe in just because you always have
Wouldn't you be making your point by either not voting or voting for a party more aligned to doing what's best for NZ Inc

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I have voted Labour and then National for the last three terms. I do not know where I will go this time as National have really annoyed over putting their head in the sand over housing. Us boomers have had it a lot easier than generation Y for example.

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Fair enough - understand

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I too was once a national voter, in fact way back I was a candidate for Taupo. I feel they have lost their balance and are selling NZ by stealth, I was disillusioned by their sanctioning of the foreign takeover of our largest meat company, especially when we presented an NZ ownership alternative , similarly the sale of landcorp farm, Jericho Station to foreign interests when once again there was a viable NZ option. Their management of the PGP schemes looks smacks of favouritism and has yet to trickledown to the grassroots and taxpayers who funded it. I no longer trust their integrity

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because Labour are a poorer alternative

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That's a superficial perspective. Most of the factors affecting house prices are not within the Government's control. Look at house prices in other similar countries particularly geographically smallish open economies - think Singapore, HK, the UK. Council's have a significant role to play, National has not had carte blanche to fix RMA issues as it relies on coalition partners who have not been willing to cooperate. A lot of the issues with supply have predated the current government. So yes for shallow thinkers it is all the governments fault but the reality is something different.

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National will not accept we have a housing price crisis even when Auckland is 10 times income. How high does it have to go when it is a crisis?

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Sorry Tim, but I have to disagree.

Vancover's real estate prices were driven up by the chinese some 15 to 20 years ago. Anyone with half a brain could have seen this same thing happen to Auckland. National could have implemented into law that no homing could be purchased by non residents to avoid this escalation, but they didnt because it suited them and the vested interests they represent.

One only has to look at the main benefactors to understand what this was about. Extra lending (investment) for overseas banks; facilitated by one of their own.

The other main benefactors have been the high income earners, who have enjoyed unsustainable tax cuts for 9 years, which have been funding through increase government borrowings to the tune of $3 to $4 billion per year.

There should be a retrospective tax on capital and income which has left these shores between times.

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CGT has not slowed the market gains in Sydney or Vancouver. Cheap money and liberalised cash flows have inflated equities across the globe just look st share markets. The Govt could not have done much to stop it or even slow it down.
Perhaps there only crime is not looking like they were doing something even when they knew they couldn't make an impact. Don't worry though Labour have that little trick down pat.

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Paralysis isn't governing. National had 9 years and nothing. Oh but we did get dirty water, housing crisis, no wage increases do to floods of unskilled labour and starved healthcare , police and infrastructure. Makes Cullen/Clark seem visionary. Time for a change and Labour is the better option.

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You don't mind, then, that National has sold out the country to Communist Chinese. i.e. as much of it as it has been able to get away with, to date- but plans to keep down this path?

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Key once again demonstrates why he earnt his millions and is known as a great trader - bought low in 2008 elections and sold high by resigning last year, now selling his home for vast gains as the Auckland RE market bubble starts to run downhill.

Pays to watch the smart money!

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Yes if I had a number of investment properties in Auckland I would certainly be taking some off the table, especially those in not so crash hot locations or those that regularly turnover tenants. Labour are looking odds on to be the next government and she has continually said she will make it possible for people of her generation to buy their first home.

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Yes, but like me you have been around for a while now, and will know from past experience that Labour are very good at promising the world. But once in power are also very good at not doing it. Something many people of the younger generation have yet to experience from them. The old saying, don't believe everything your told, comes to mind here.

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Why would you vote for a party that has failed you. They will vote for JA as she sounds like she cares. Nothing to lose as National does not care.

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I don't know about you, but I aren't to keen to pay more tax. Something we will all be doing if Labour get in, despite them saying it's only going to be people over 150k that will get hit. It won't be, because there's not enough of them. That figure will be lowered, you can bet on it.

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Ivan National are offering people about $20 per week in tax reductions. Labour say they will help people into their first homes. It does not matter whether they do it or not. There are so many people in NZ who at the moment feel that they or their children or grandchildren are not going to get on the property ladder easily. $1000 a year or so does not cut the mustard. The bigger picture for them is getting on the ladder. For that they will give Labour a go and forsake the tax reductions. What have they got to lose. Have an extra $1000 in the pocket every year and the same old government that does not give a stuff about those who are struggling to get their first home.

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John Key must be running out of things to sell to China.

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It probably took no more than a casual finger dance over his digital rolodex of "high net worths" from his many VIP China visits to consummate the sale of his mansion.

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You gotta love these multi million $ tax free capital gains. Auckland housing crisis. What a beauty!

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Look, at the end of the day it is what it is and I'm pretty comfortable with it. I just made $4-5 million and don't have to pay tax on it, LOL.

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And Labour support that 100%.

No CGT on the family owned/occupied property regardless of what tax avoiding capital structure you may have it in.

Nutters wanting to be incharge of the assylum.

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Better a policy that targets property speculators keeping Kiwis out of their own homes while not unduly burdening the famous average "mum and pop" than National's new one that will only drive prices up further for everyone.

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Because that will do sweet F'all (and actually make the issue worse). National's policies are woeful. Bill and Nick Smiith need to go! Retake the national party with young, empathetic policians before we are lost to labour forever.

Fantastic job national, john, key, bill English, and nick smith, for committing economic home ownership treason against your own people.

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That press release regarding the sale of John keys house to the Chinese is great ammunition for the Labour party,it just shows you how faithful national have been towards their own people (not) disgusting, was a national voter for 45 years not now,not after selling out to the Chinese.

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wealth transfers are a product of spending exceeding income. If we as a nation choose to do that then it must be funded by debt or asset sales. That is a consequence of collective behaviours not what the government does or does not do. So perhaps you should blame the real culprits - your fellow citizens rather than the government.

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If governments applied the rules right at the start,this would never have happened, you can't buy in China, so why not here,simple really.

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Why? He's actually doing what Aucklanders should be doing and downsizing large sections. He's kept some land on the property to no doubt build another home on for himself.

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1. How was National to control house price increases? 2. How is Jacinda going to make housing affordable?

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The Chinese should never have been allowed to buy existing houses,they should have only been allowed to buy a section, and then build their own home, like normal kiwis, who go through a lot of heart ache when building, they should have done the same.

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NZ's problem is suitably zoned residential land. Imagine the howls if foreign buyers were snapping it up because it became their only option. Let Kiwis build and overseas buyers pick up the second hand market. We are not short of building materials - we are short of building sites.

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Just don't give overseas buyers an option, if their is not enough sections, kiwis should ALWAYS have come first,not off shore money laundering people.

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It's all too late now though isn't it. They've all been let in, and are now living here.

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Good questions. I still laugh when I think of Bill Rowling introducing the spec tax in the 70s, whereby up to 90% of profit went to the government on selling an investment property in the first 10 years of ownership. It dried up the market and bought about a massive lift in house prices. Very enjoyable, it was.

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Answers to 1:

- Capital Gains Tax
- Extending the "Bright Line Test" out a few more years
- Only allowing foreign buyers to purchase new houses and not current stock (has helped in Australia)
- Harsh penalties for any illegally obtained foreign money dumped into real estate to "wash it"
- Capping immigration and tighening entry criteria
- Other measures to persuade Kiwi's that a house should be a basic human need and not a form of speculative asset
- Incentivising the movement of capital into productive assets and companies
- LVRs and Debt to Income ratios (DTIs) - oh wait, the RBNZ has already done that (the ONLY one out of this long, long list!)
- Rental WoFs & penalites/blacklists for landlords which let substandard housing
- Etc etc etc etc...

2. I don't who care does all of the above, could be the Kooky Klown Party for all I know, as long as it gets done to stop the current marginalisation of a greater degree of Kiwi's from society.

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This. Why every single person I know that has historically voted National, myself included, is now voting left. Enough is enough. CGT is only really an issue for people with money and something to lose , which is basically no one under 50 in NZ any more. This is why #changeiscoming

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Put me on that list as well (I'm not party voting Labour though. Ya'll can keep guessing who I am going to vote for :P )

Billy boy did a KFC Zinger today and doubled down on the housing "Challenge" by doubling the Home Start Grant caps to existing housing from $10K to $20K (for a couple). New builds (for a couple) have also increased, from $20K to $30K.

English then had the absolute gall to state the package will "certainly help" police officers, nurses and teachers for whom buying a house in Auckland is out of reach.

Last I checked, chucking more aviation fuel on a raging fire, with the "help" only amounting to a 1% of an average house in Auckland, just shows how completely and farsically out of touch these people are with what is going on with our largest city.

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I don't think the average home buyer in Nz was ever in line to afford this house. The top end of the market really isn't a concern.

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Key knows National are history and is selling up. A lot of people did well from the tricks Key learnt from Merrill Lynch. Key will think it's clever politics and plays into his farming and wealthy constituents but it's at the expense of the ever increasing young and they seem to see through National's propaganda, thank god.

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1. Restricting foreign buyers
2. Restricting foreign buyer

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Moose your long list of regs would need more immigration to fill all the roles. Just picking on one - CGT - nearly all of the most expensive housing cities in the world - including Sydney and Melbourne - have CGT and a host of your other remedies and apart from an initial knee jerk on introduction they make diddly squat difference. The one item most ignore is the Resource Management Act which Labour won't support relaxing and which throttles production and supply.

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Nothing in isolation works by itself. This is a big problem that has many moving parts, the majority of which are dysfunctional right now. Picking on a single one is irrelevant and a strawman at worst - look at the entire picture and how all these regulations would stack up towards fixing the problem (note: I didn't say the unutterable "C" word).

And yes, the RMA is also a good point to throw in there. Auckland City limits are another good one, but I left that out since it didn't pertain to the central government criteria (although you could also "incentivise" ACC to come to the party in more ways than one...).

There is no one single solution, nor any blameless party here - we all need to recognise there is a problem, come up with a multitude of solutions to tackle it from all corners and implement a long-term strategy which benefits all of us.

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Here's another theory: I ran past JKs house this arvo. Then it dawned upon me: he's not selling up because of the election, he's selling up because his two kids have left home and he no longer needs a sprawling mansion and only needs something smaller for him and his wife (and the kids when they stay over). Same as thousands of other Boomer will do this year in NZ.
Great price though.

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He still made lets call if a lazy $10m tax free at the same time as I watched a 16 year old street kid have a seizure and pass out on Queen Street yesterday in the middle of the day. Shame on this and shame on all you people for ignoring this very inconvenient truth. This is why a reckoning is coming ....

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Very good point Mr F. Makes you wonder how a growing wave of large houses on the market will affect prices as millenials grow up and look to purchase houses, but not at utterly insane, nosebleed prices that will have them indebted for life, and sometimes beyond!

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Yep but multiple regs like the RMA, constantly changing and more onerous Building Regs, OSH etc etc put layer upon layer of more and more costs and delays which together make our new housing - both land and buildings - about the most expensive in the world so if you have to pay $700k plus in the distant suburbs fora new build of course you are going to pay $1m plus handy to the CBD. The constrained supply of land (RMA) has a lot to do with it but the effects of bureaucracy in the make up of both land and building costs is increasingly a factor too.

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Land banksters have been a big part of Auckland's problems. They are capitalised enough to hold out for top dollar, at the expense of the masses.

Time to tax the hell out of this lot, if they want to hold growing cities to ransom.

Central government needs to regulate this into law, because local politicians will be too timid to raise rates themselves.

Then tax these vertical supply chains, to bring down the cost of building who have been screwing the masses. Then use the tax to bring in more competition.

We might then see some realistic house prices.

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I don't know......why there aren't stories like this about the other multi-millionaire ex-PM: yes that's right, Helen Clark, who is sticking her nose in and pulling Jacinda's strings.

Transparent eh?! The media are very quiet on her sudden reappearance and influence. Why?

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Everything he did was for himself - his sicophantic Brown nosing of the Royals - the ensuing Knighthood - receiving the Australian medal yet the eroding rights of Kiwis in Australia - the free university education he received yet current graduates are indebted to their eyeballs- the huge capital gain on his house while many are slaves to Australian owned banks - resigning as PM and leaving his colleagues to lose the next election - we've all been conned.

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the cost of education is the price you pay for higher participation levels.

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It does seem to look that way doesn't it. At the beginning he made a lot of people think he was all about making the country a better place to live for everyone. But as the years went on it just started to look like he was all about himself. He sort of confirmed it by just up and quitting out of the blue the way he did. My estimation of the man went down after that.

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In the USA, Sir John would receive accolades for cashing up his house. No doubt the money will be used in some form of positive investment activity. Good luck to him.
In NZ, the old green eyed monster is flushed out of his lair. For someone to make cream on his investment is sinful. Tha fact that a Chinese buyer is taking the risk eludes many.

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Have you not been following international politics the last few years? People are sick and tired of the swamp using their power and influence to enact policies that help themselves and the elite. National are extraodarnarily guilty of venal sins and have done absolutely nothing to stop the Ponzi scheme that is NZ property. Americans are so frustrated by their elite politicians taking the piss and elected that fool trump. I hope ardern isn't a fool. But shes not national and we need a change. bring on the change.

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In the US he would have paid CGT!

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And eventually, Estate Tax

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Why mock Phil Twyford. He was right as anybody with any connection to the Auckland property market will tell you buying pressure has eased significantly since the Chinese withdrew in the 3rd quarter last year.
What I don't get is the uniform prohibition in the media to allow reality to be called as it was when overseas people were ramping up our house prices. That is Orwellian.
National will pay the price for its laissez faire approach.

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Sums the last nine years, he would sell anything to anybody. No wonder National only very reluctantly and very late took on board public opinion about property prices, John Key had no intention of doing anything

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Many people on this commentary act like NZ is in a bad way. Compared to other nations NZ's "problems" are small fry and in most respects it is in fact envied. You don't know what you have until its gone. Fact of the matter is the NZers simply don't like having the same politicians in power for extended periods as if any change is better than the status quo. That of course is complete nonsense. When I hear people cite a single reason for not voting for a party it makes me question how much rationality they are applying. A vote for Labour seems to be nothing more than a protest vote rather than a vote based on any policy substance on their part. NZ is destined to bumble along in mediocrity so it seems, relying only upon the natural advantages we have been blessed as our point of difference.

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Simplistic argument - doesn't mean we can't try and fix those problems. Thank goodness for democracy and the fact that we can change our course to better affect our future, eh TIm? And look up "Cyclical Theory" while you're at it. This is nothing new or specific to NZ (much like the housing bubble, funnily enough!)

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None of this will matter.
Who ever gets in will have a poison chalace.
The world economic' scene will overtake all of us quicker than you think.
I would rather have English there than an untested Adhern.
watch this space

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Foreign capital caused the rapid increases in house prices. No average New Zealander can afford existing prices. Cut out negative gearing and ban non residents from buying our houses. That will help affordability as will the banks when they start calling in loans when interest rates rise. There must be a lot og homeowners swearing on mortgage servicing

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for sure! this is the ONLY topic that matters to me as a voter. Its insane I have to spend every penny I will ever earn on a house - I can't build a new business, I cant invest in other asset classes. National have no soul. Labour are a bit lopey but I hope a NZ First / Labour coalition can bring down house prices.

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Her announcement today to ban foreign buyers from buying our existing homes should get her over the line. Nearly everyone you talk to is pissed off with house prices and I do not live in Auckland so I can only imagine how some feel about house prices up there. It might not work but it is all about perception. She is seen to be trying to fix the problem while National are seen as doing very little if nothing about it. I don't think we appreciate just how many people are out there who feel they and their children have been screwed over and no one other than the RB wants to help them.

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I suspect that far more folk will be pissed off when their properties drop in value. And then their kids will be pissed off when those "in your head" calculations of their likely inheritance turn to mud, and the crew with their hands out will be pissed off when the CGT doesnt generate enough $$ to buy them the promised land. And the working rich and the working aspirational will be pissed off when their taxes increase to fund the Labour governments promises to their voters.

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Not so much. Whatever they lose in inheritance will be more than made up for (for most) by how much more their salaries will enable them to own their own home.

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All of these comments are an attack on property rights, including mine, John Key's and everybody else's. Nobody has the right to tell me who I can, or cannot, sell my house to. That is communism, and that is where we are heading in NZ, once again, sadly. The RMA is communism in practice and when all the young starry eyed greenies wake up - too late - they will be sorry to find Comrade Adearn regulating all aspects of their lives the way she thinks they should be lived. Just as Comrade Clark did (any one remember shower head restrictions?).

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Your property prices are a bubble and the fact they are so high is the single biggest social and economic issue in this country. There is no bonafide reason they should be this high other than arbitrary rules and regulations put in place by national to enrich property investors. They do deserve to come down and they will. You do not just get to steal from other generations. Auckland house prices have risen more than any other OECD city. Sorry, your rights do no outweigh that of the majority. Prepare to have your prices come down. Sell up.

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Yep an attack on property rights alright - and now Comrade Adern won't let you sell your house to a foreigner. In reply to Michael your statically wrong assumption that foreign capital caused the current housing bubble is typical of those of little real world experience. And even more certainly there was virtually no input of foreign capital into NZ when Auckland house prices increased by an average of in excess of 50% in less than 12 months in 1973 so where is the correlation?

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In the early years incomes were relative to house prices but this is not the case now. How does an average person service a loan when prices are 10 times income? I have real world experience as I was in the mortgage lending business some years ago. The fundimentals do not change

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The problem is there's no quid pro quo right now - NZ is out of balance. The likes of yourselves still expect young Kiwis to pay their wages over to you in the form of the Pension - regardless of your need - while expecting them to forgo many of the benefits you received from society - free or affordable education, affordable housing fostered by the policies of many NZ governments through the 20th century etc. If it wasn't for these policies you would not have your own home in the first place, so it's no use begrudging young people looking to the same sorts of policies if you're expecting them to pay their money over to you in your old age.

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If you'd been a first home buyer on the open home circuit and in the auction house over the past 18 months, you'd be singing an entirely different tune.

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Meh your property rights.

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1) lower immigration to sustainable levels (15k pa) 2) implement a CGT and remove other loopholes that promote speculation in residential property 3) loosen the RMA to build up and in new areas without the excess cost 4) encourage the implementation of DTI's 5) crack down on overseas buyers through local trusts and buyers 6) probably get rid of national or build a new leadership team within it

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There are enough houses and jobs for New Zealanders (those born in NZ, not pernmanent residents or recent arrivals), but not for NZers and the 1 million new immigrants and investors who have come in the past decade to "enrich" the culture with diversity and fill the fabled "skills shortages". New Zealanders are eating their future prosperity by selling their country's assets and their sovereignty in exchange for the phantom wealth effect of a monstrous property bubble.

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In 2014. Under National's watch.

Nick Smith and Key stated rising property prices make for good politics.

National has lost any moral authority to govern. They need to be removed, and they need to rebuild, to ever gain my vote again. I'll hold my nose and vote for labour this year, for the first time ever, but unless National changes it will be for the forseeable future. GET A CLUE NATIONAL.

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Max may have to flip into a public pool now that dad has sold out to the Chinese.
EWW common people!

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In reply to Keynes one of the most "bona fide"reasons house prices are so high is the wretched RMA which Labour will not support drastically reviewing to get rid of all the bureaucratic red tape and processes which make all development so much more expensive than it needs to be. I cannot for the life of me understand why National is not highlighting this fact which makes the Labour criticisms of house prices so incredibly hipocritical.

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During the last three terms National has taken an assortment of councils and melded them into one super city. At the same time, they've overridden many a local government power when required to foster supply in Christchurch.

You cannot really sit back and point at Auckland Council and claim National had their hands tied and had no power to influence anything in Auckland. They're NZ's central government, for Cluthlu's sake!

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All of the above comments have convinced this old white stale pale male to vote for regime and generational change.

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This article and all the associated comments show the NBR at its informed and intelligent finest.

On this occasion, credit should go to Gordon McIntosh for effectively jumping straight into the ring with a provacative opening statement and then having to use his "Keyboard Akido" skills to fend off multiple attacks.

That just couldn't happen anymore with the likes of the Herald, Stuff and the others, partly because of their "Go to Facebook, go directly to Facebook, don't go for it right here; just get lost in the maze of trivia" policy.

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Anyone seen Jonkey lately?

Unless you are in the board room of Air New Zealand, its unlikely you'll ever see him again. The exception might be a TV appearance to stroke his ego and those that interview him.

Facilitating unsustainable debt was the name of his game. One can only wish what goes round comes round.

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Yeah I've seen him driving his brand new $400k Bentley GT in Matakana.

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What he did to get in power was for his own gain, go and have a read in 2008 about what his government was going to do for house buyers, after nine years he has achieved zero, all for me me me,and his Chinese mates.

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Agree, as someone who voted for him twice, I find him to be a tremendous disappointment.

He accumulated all that political capital, and spent none of it. I feel he had great ambition...to be Prime Minister. And that was what he was good at: becoming and remaining Prime Minister. But he didn't do much else.

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The immigrant blaming has started. Recession must just be around the corner.

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NZ Market Snapshot

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