News and Publications

Property News: 13 August 2018

Housing crisis hits elderly

Older people are sleeping in their vehicles as the housing crisis bites those in their retirement years.

The Salvation Army is among groups that expect to see more elderly people living in their vehicles or on the street as the population ages and those without their own homes struggle to pay rents.

Salvation Army Social Housing national director Greg Foster said it recently housed an older man in Auckland who had been living in his truck for two years.

Barry Mills, chairman of supported living facility Abbeyfield Nelson, said it had to turn away two men who looked to be in their 60s in the past year. They were single men from out of town, living out of their cars with no place to call home.

Habitat for Humanity is building three one-bedroom units for older people at an affordable rent close to Nelson Hospital. General manager Glenn Brewerton said it usually built homes for families with children, but recognised that affordable housing for older people was an issue.

(The Nelson Mail, Friday 10 August 2018)

Nelson retailers called upon to help fix CBD

Nelson retailers were called upon at a meeting on Monday evening to present ideas and solutions on how to fix our broken CBD.

The city centre retailer’s forum was a joint initiative from Uniquely Nelson, NRDA (Nelson Regional Development Agency) and the Nelson City Council to ask for input from city retailers on what the future of the CBD looks like.

Around 60 business owners from the CBD gathered at the Suter Art Gallery to present ideas and priorities to council on how to fix the city centre.

Council group manager environmental management Clare Barton stressed she was looking for solutions to the problems that were being presented, not just issues.

The group heard how spending on accommodation and clothing in the region has dropped between two and 4.7 per cent over the last year but that we are spending more than $37 million at bars and restaurants in a time when visitor numbers have never been so strong.

The forum followed a similar meeting with CBD landowners and Clare Barton says there were some key messages that came through from there as well.

“Some of the things that they put forward was around car-parking – there was a proposal for a car parking building, access and egress around and into the city, inner city living and green space which go hand-in-hand. They also wanted us to keep our ‘heritage and boutique feel’ and that was critical.”

(The Nelson Weekly, Thursday 9 August 2018)

Policy move to hit homes

A whole bunch of houses have begun to lose value, and their owners don't yet know it.

Here in New Zealand we've been so blinded by the promise of capital gains, nobody seems to care what it costs to maintain homes, keep them insured, and pay the rates on them.

But the time for such a devil-may-care attitude is drawing to a close, at least for some homes.

We all got a shock when the price of house insurance more than doubled after the Christchurch earthquake. It suddenly cost a lot more to own a house, though with interest rates low, most people soldiered on, and counted their rising capital gains instead.

But a second wave of insurance premium rises is taking place that’s lifting annual insurance premiums by $1000 for some, and for a really unlucky few, by far more.

This is the now unstoppable shift begun by Tower, and continued by IAG (State and AMI), to individual risk pricing on homes for natural hazards like earthquake, landslip and flood. Suncorp (AA Insurance and Vero) will follow soon.

Essentially, when it came to these risks, every home in New Zealand used to be priced as if it posed the same claims risk for an insurer.

Now homes more likely to slip into gullies, topple into the sea, or succumb to floods will cost more to insure for their natural hazard cover, and homes in most of the growing Auckland market will cost less to insure.

All other things being equal, the more costly a house is to insure, maintain and pay council taxes on, the less people can pay for it.

The likely mechanism for these three factors to begin to feed through into prices is through banks.

They have to work out what they can lend safely to people buying homes.

A year from now, perhaps less, they will be taking notice of how much it will cost to insure the homes people want to borrow money off them to buy.

Afterall, it is a requirement of their mortgage contracts that borrowers must keep their homes fully insured.

(The Nelson Leader, Thursday 9 August 2018)

TDC asking for $18m dam plug

Tasman District Council has applied to the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund to plug an $18 million hole in funding for the proposed Waimea dam, undaunted by an apparent exclusion for water and irrigation projects.

A guide to the fund called Powering Up Aotearoa-New Zealand’s Regions is available on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website. It says: The following are not eligible for PGF [the Provincial Growth Fund] as they are funded by other means: Housing (unless it is a core part of a broader project and would not otherwise be required); Water and large-scale irrigation; Social infrastructure (such as hospitals and schools).

The exclusion for water and large-scale irrigation projects seems like it might preclude the Waimea dam project, which has received funding commitments from Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd (CCIL).

CIIL, which acts on behalf of the Government as a bridging investor for regional water infrastructure development, is due to provide the council with a $10m interest-free loan for the dam project. It is also set to provide just over $22m as a loan to Waimea Irrigators Ltd, a partner with the council in the project.

TDC community relations manager Chris Choat said the council accepted that the fund did not provide for ‘‘high-value’’ irrigation-only schemes, but the Waimea dam was more than an irrigation project.

(The Nelson Mail, Wednesday 8 August 2018)

Reservoir proposal 'ludicrous'

Claims about a storage pond proposal being a viable alternative to the Waimea dam are ludicrous, says Waimea Irrigators Ltd chairman Murray King.

"There are many reasons storage ponds won't solve the region's water problem including insufficient capacity, ponds not addressing the minimum flow requirements on the Waimea River and the lack of funding available for them," King said. "The idea is utterly ludicrous."

Waimea Irrigators Ltd (WIL) is a partner in the dam project with Tasman District Council.

King's comments were in response to another irrigator group, Waimea Irrigators and Waters Users Society, last week reviving a proposal it first raised in 2016 for riverside reservoirs as an alternative water augmentation scheme to the Waimea dam project.

Estimated to cost about $40 million, the society's suggestion was for the construction of three lined storage ponds alongside the Wairoa and Waimea rivers capable of holding up to 6 million cubic metres of water.

However, King said he did not believe 6 million cubic metres of water would meet the minimum flow requirements set out in the Tasman Resource Management Plan and provide adequate supplies for water users in dry periods.

King challenged the society's suggestion that three ponds could be constructed for $40m and said no-one was "stepping up to fund them like they are the Waimea Community Dam".

(The Nelson Mail, Monday 6 August 2018)

Thought for the Week

Thought for the week 180813