I’m no saint or angel, and I am miles from perfect, but look away now if a bit of socialist sentiment turns your stomach.
Or if you are my husband, who jointly owns my Auckland home with me.
The truth is that I would be more than happy if the value of my central Auckland house dropped substantially, if that meant that a much wider range of people were able to own a home in this city, and particularly if it meant that fewer children had to spend their nights in cars and garages – although I understand enacting the first may not necessarily fix the latter.
According to UMR Research, parsed wisely by Bernard Hickey here, results from a survey of a thousand New Zealanders out this week found most people felt like me: 60 per cent of Aucklanders (55 per cent of home owners) would prefer a drop in house prices over the year - albeit only 15 per cent of home owners would like them to drop ‘dramatically’.
We can quibble about what a ‘dramatic’ drop actually is, of course. But one thing we can agree on is there’s most definitely a housing crisis - 85 per cent of people concur with that.
And it’s bolstered by research out today on the Spinoff showing a third of Aucklanders had considered moving away from the city in the past two years – one of the main factors driving housing unaffordability in other parts of New Zealand as well.
The promise of thousands of new homes built rapidly is a mirage, and the levers that could help alleviate this crisis on the demand side – a capital gains tax, for example – do not appear any closer.
The Government continues to insist everything’s mostly cool, and it will be able to get away with this fiction until the children of Auckland home owners are also forced to move out of town to find an affordable lifestyle.
Which is course what is happening, and why public sentiment is hardening. But the answers are not that easy.
A sudden huge drop in prices would punish the people least able to afford it. Some believe that a drop in home prices will mean people spend less and a recession could be triggered.
But how many people, other than those looking to cash-up, are spending more on the off chance they’ll make millions upon a sale?
For most people, myself included, wages have stagnated to such an extent that we’re like rats on a treadmill, fighting to keep up with the monthly bills no matter our income.
The promise of a future payload isn’t really a factor in our spending habits, and that is demonstrated by our consumption statistics, which aren’t at all tracking along with the housing ‘boom’ so many of us are experiencing.
The bottom line is that like many others, I didn’t ‘earn’ the difference between what my house is actually worth and the ridiculous price it would now sell for, and feel it is wrong for a few to benefit so greatly from the lost opportunity of the many.
It’s a simple sentiment, but absolutely true, to say the quality of life of all of us is diminished if our cities become too segregated between the haves and have nots.
There is no question that even to achieve controlled deflation of the property market would still involve government and Reserve Bank planning and work to avoid a disastrous slump, but it is my belief that it could be done, with the right tools and a willingness to use them.
But is there a willingness to ensure all New Zealanders have access to decent, affordable housing?
For most New Zealanders, it seems there is. Now if we would only convince those in power.