Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Mike Hosking: Massive housing issues are still coming


This is how an economy grinds to a halt. Level four lockdown, of course, is a fairly good way. 

But I am referring to the housing market. There are no houses to buy, and stock is at hopelessly low levels. 

It's that way for several reasons: 

One, Immigration is closed so supply of money and demand has stopped. 

Two, people want to buy, but have a house they won't sell until the find what they want. Given there isn't what they want, they don't sell. 

Three, price. Some who want to buy can't afford what there is for sale because demand is higher than supply, hence the price goes up. 

Four, the Reserve Bank and Government has made it even harder for those people to enter the market because they’ve choked off the money. 

Five, part of the answer is supply, which is building. But the ships aren't running and the containers that are cost a bomb, so everything inside them goes up in price. 

Six, builders. Even if they do pay the higher prices, they can't get their hands on stuff they need.     

Seven, this week's problem. Builders can't give fixed price contracts because of the aforementioned supply and price issues. That leads to a tail off in demand given, who is building a house over a long period of time not knowing what the final bill will be? 

So, you end up with your supply side solution stalling, which then makes it a problem, not a solution. That's about where we are at, at the moment. 

Some of it's our fault, a lot of it isn't. Shipping and supplies are beyond us. Labour and immigration aren't. So, the combination of all of it is basically a cluster. It's an element, an important element of the economy that’s being choked. 

Consents to do all this are at record levels. But to turn consents into a house or a building you need wood, concrete, nails, men, and women. All are in short supply, or next to no supply at all. 

You can't make money not doing stuff. That is the problem for the economy. 

Lockdown has already cratered the economy, again. It'll bounce when we all get out and buy beer, trainers, and go to the movies. 

But the great Achilles heel of housing, the political flash point where so much angst has been displayed, is even less likely to be addressed than it ever has been. 

There is no tilt to the first home buyer, there is no drop in affordability, and when you can't even draw up a quote, that's a problem going nowhere fast.

Mike Hosking is a New Zealand television and radio broadcaster. He currently hosts The Mike Hosking Breakfast show on NewstalkZB on weekday mornings.

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