New Zealand's home ownership rate plunges to lowest level in 70 years

Home ownership has fallen to its lowest rate in almost 70 years, dropping significantly for younger New Zealanders.  

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The Housing in Aotearoa report by Stats NZ and Building Research Association of NZ, based on 2018 Census data, showed homeownership fell to 65 per cent, the lowest rate since 1951. Homeownership in the 1990s rose to 74 per cent.

Lead author Rosemary Goodyear said homeownership rates were relatively stable between 2013 and 2018 – a possible reflection on low interest rates and first home buyers using KiwiSaver deposits.

However, home ownership took a hit at every age group, especially for people aged in their 20s and 30s, something Goodyear described as a "significant fall".

For people aged 60 and over, rates only fell slightly.

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“This may be because the baby boomer generation was more likely to get a foot on the property ladder earlier than young people today.”

For 25 to 29-year-olds, home ownership in 2018 fell to 44 per cent. It sat at 61 per cent in 1991.

For people aged 35-29, it fell from 20 per cent between 1991 and 2018, down to 59 per cent.

The home ownership decline meant more people were renting – 32 per cent living in rentals.

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On average, those who rented spent a higher amount of their income on housing costs than those who owned their home.

“Price indexes show that rents have risen in line with incomes nationally but have outstripped income growth in centres like Wellington and Auckland where markets are particularly competitive,” she said.

A pilot survey in the report also found rentals, in comparison to owned homes, were more likely to need major repair, more likely to be smaller, and older and less likely to have double glazing. More rentals were also found to have issues of damp and mould.

Insulation levels were generally the same.