Call for New Zealand government to ban overseas ownership of property

The New Zealand Government should ban foreign property investors from buying, a political party is claiming.

The Green party is concerned that increasing numbers of overseas speculators are snapping up bargain properties at the expense of first time buyers who cannot get on the property ladder.

'We believe land should be owned by New Zealand citizens and residents only and our laws should be changed to say that. Why should we allow Singaporean, Australian or American speculators to buy investment properties in our country, shutting first-time home buyers from the market,' said party spokesman Russel Norman.

'The Government has a responsibility first and foremost to ensure New Zealand citizens and residents can afford to buy a stake in their own country,' he added.

His call comes as various reports indicate the number of foreign investors in the country is rising as the dollar drops, banks lower interest rates and the market reaches realistic prices. But those in the property industry welcome the interest from overseas. Most of the interested buyers are from Britain, Australia and the United States.

Auckland real estate agent Ross Brader said the properties he listed online started to attract record numbers of international browsers on August 10, when the Kiwi dollar dropped to its lowest level in 11 months.

Boutique agent Michael Boulgaris said prices for top-end property in New Zealand are now at realistic levels and this has sparked the surge in international interest. 'Because the American economy is so tough at the moment a lot of people, buyers and investors, are focusing on New Zealand,' he explained.

Over the past month he has seen an offer just short of $5 million from an expat, another interested buyer from Dubai offering $1m for a property he had not yet visited and another $2m offer from a Singapore buyer who had still to see the site.

Bayleys real estate held an immigration expo in Johannesburg, South Africa, last month and has since received more than 70 direct inquiries about buying residential and commercial properties in New Zealand.

Managing director Mike Bayley said there has also been a resurgence in commercial property inquiries out of Southeast Asia, particularly Singapore and Hong Kong.

'Reasons for this include the weakening New Zealand currency, the fact New Zealand is seen as a relatively safe haven among global economic and political uncertainty, our attractive legal and business environment, and an absence of capital gains tax and stamp duty,' he said.