Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The uncooling of the inner West

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  • Sam F, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    bucolic Mangere Bridge is set to be the next Ponsonby…According to those stats there is a downturn in population in that area, strange to say the least.

    In other words, it’s already happening…

    Transportblog did a post on this last month based on Aaron Schiff’s work and I commented there also. I would have been one of those kids growing up in the inner west when you came back from London, Russell (I’d have been in my second year of school). It was pretty neat for kids in primary school years – you could blast around the neighborhood on bikes pretty safely, Coyle Park and the beach were there for general purpose adventuring, and town was a quick bus ride away.

    Sometime around 1995-2000 just about everybody seemed to be adding an extra storey to their house (probably when the kids, like me, were reaching their teens) – now I suspect lots of those houses are a bit emptier, while the cars on the street are getting a hell of a lot flasher and the place (at least the north half) is generally developing that affluent sleepiness I associate with Devonport or Herne Bay. Being beachside it’s still lively with families and young people in the summer which simply serves to highlight how drowsy it’s become the rest of the time.

    At the moment I’m represented by one of the modest number of 20-34 blue dots in the Kingsland/Morningside area, but that’s an accident of having found a good flat with a currently reasonable rent (in fact, until recently it was ridiculously cheap notwithstanding that the flat is effectively unimproved since the 1970s). At some point in the next couple of years I’m pretty sure that will give way though, since the push on prices in the area is so great that at some stage the landlord will reach a tipping point and turf us out for a renovation and a more lucrative tenant to follow.

    We’re getting to the point now where owning a property makes some sense, as we need more room and I’m personally getting tired of not knowing what the hell our landlords are going to do, but where we’ll find something that works I don’t know. I had hopes that there might be some nice smaller unit development happening on the south fringe of Pt Chev by Great North Road, which would put us within cooee of my old neighborhood, but the watering down of the Unitary Plan doesn’t give me much hope. Maybe Glen Eden - the latter would be a homecoming of sorts (my dad's birthplace is there, although I read that that property with its glasshouse and gardens and trees is due to be built over with 30 units) and might not be too far from town for a cycle & train combo commute. Who knows what prices there will get to by the time we're ready to buy, though...

    To be honest, a long-term rental with more certainty would probably be almost as good as owning for us, but I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for the current powers that be to create the kind of environment where that can happen.

    Most of the time it seems easier just not to think about it all.

    Could be worse though – am writing from Beijing where affordable housing is literally a lottery. A colleague is waiting to see if she’ll have a chance to put in an expression of interest on a fairly central apartment (just an hour and a half by train from the office!) – however she is number 43,000 in a queue for 1500 properties and there are a lot of people who will have to pass up first…

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1609 posts Report Reply

  • Nick Russell, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Never mind Craig, there's always the Hutt Valley...

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 125 posts Report Reply

  • bob daktari, in reply to Amanda Wreckonwith,

    Culture is organic. It thrives on change not stagnation

    I certainly agree and culture is changing - there is no shortage of young things doing interesting things on very little and for those with plenty of disposable money the amount of culture on offer is staggering compared to not that long ago

    I just hope those managing to cling on to over priced rentals and small over priced apartments can and do make something sustainable out of the inner city culturally that isn't just catering to the monied classes

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 540 posts Report Reply

  • Jim Cathcart,

    Yes, and it's all too mainstream and conspiratorial to consider or try to understand why property prices are in the stratosphere. And the latest spurt in price growth post-GFC has pushed Auckland prices into the world's most unaffordable relative to incomes (yes I know that a single metric is incomplete).

    The problem is that everyone is focused on the now and the future economic impacts on ordinary people's lives is potentially catastrophic. However, the "I'm alright Jack" attitude is widespread, yet how this can be sustained on NZ incomes (national or private) is only discussed by a small minority.

    Since Nov 2006 • 228 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Sam F,

    To be honest, a long-term rental with more certainty would probably be almost as good as owning for us, but I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for the current powers that be to create the kind of environment where that can happen.

    This is the norm in Europe and it would have prevented the whole un-affordable house problem had some far sighted Govt. decided to build more state houses. Oh hang on, they did but then National gets in and decided it was compulsory to own your own home unless you were a Feral, in which case you should just curl up and die.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    This is the norm in Europe and it would have prevented the whole un-affordable house problem had some far sighted Govt. decided to build more state houses. Oh hang on, they did but then National gets in and decided it was compulsory to own your own home unless you were a Feral, in which case you should just curl up and die.

    And now the government has declared it has no interest in building, or even owning, more state houses.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Sam F,

    I had hopes that there might be some nice smaller unit development happening on the south fringe of Pt Chev by Great North Road, which would put us within cooee of my old neighborhood, but the watering down of the Unitary Plan doesn’t give me much hope.

    There's still a chance they'll get New Lynn right.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Russell Brown,

    And now the government has declared it has no interest in building, or even owning, more state houses.

    Exactly my point.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Glenn Pearce,

    You don't think the current residents of those suburbs you mention are simply the very same "cool" young adults who flatted there in the 80's and 90's and feel an affinity with the place, now raising their families there?

    My observation of the area (having lived there myself for nearly 20 years and with family ties to the area going back 4 generations) is that the area was "skipped" by the baby boomers almost entirely. They couldn't wait to get out of there and buy newly built show homes in the suburbs.

    This was evidenced by the drastically declining schools rolls during the time period you mention.

    I think a lot of the changes started occurring in the late 90's early '00's when the children of the baby boomers returned from their OE's to start families with their Sterling/US Dollars converted to NZ$ at very favourable rates at the time.

    Auckland • Since Feb 2007 • 504 posts Report Reply

  • Amanda Wreckonwith, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    decided to build more state houses.

    They don't even have to be state houses. We just have to make sure the restrictions placed on landlords, rental agreements and capital gains are conducive to a rental culture.

    The fear of a 'feral' future life is one of the drivers of the crazy price spiral.

    Since Sep 2012 • 171 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Russell Brown,

    And now the government has declared it has no interest in building, or even owning, more state houses.

    And given that WINZ assistance requires a fixed address, I fear that Richard John Tully won’t be an isolated, hopeless case.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5429 posts Report Reply

  • Jim Cathcart,

    This is the norm in Europe and it would have prevented the whole un-affordable house problem had some far sighted Govt. decided to build more state houses. Oh hang on, they did but then National gets in and decided it was compulsory to own your own home unless you were a Feral, in which case you should just curl up and die.

    Oh, so housing as a speculative asset didn't exist under a Labor government? Good grief. I mean this was the period when the Australian banking system was effectively bailed out by the U.S. Fed.

    http://barnabyisright.com/2011/12/24/westpac-nab-survive-on-us-fed-life-support/

    Since Nov 2006 • 228 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Amanda Wreckonwith,

    They don’t even have to be state houses. We just have to make sure the restrictions placed on landlords, rental agreements and capital gains are conducive to a rental culture.

    The Auckland rental market is actually pretty stable compared to the crazy market in ownership. I don't see how placing even fewer limits on capital gains is going to ease the housing bubble -- quite the reverse, in fact. And allowing rental agreements to be even looser in the landlord's favour is the opposite of the kind of long-term occupancy Sam was talking about.

    You keep going on about how change is good, out the one thing you don't seem to want to let change is the mode of housing, in line with demand.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • bob daktari, in reply to Russell Brown,

    The Auckland rental market is actually pretty stable compared to the crazy market in ownership.

    market might be stable - the lot of a renter most certainly isn't

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 540 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Amanda Wreckonwith,

    They don't even have to be state houses. We just have to make sure the restrictions placed on landlords, rental agreements and capital gains are conducive to a rental culture.

    I agree but the situation we have is that we are constantly told that home ownership is the Kiwi ideal and that people who live in state housing are somehow a failure. If the Govt. were to build and own a vast swath of property for everyday working people then the private sector would, instead of competing with the state sector, be able to concentrate on higher end rentals for those on higher incomes, thus, creating an environment where renting isn't seen as a failure to own.
    Generally though people who get in on the "property ladder" end up paying as much to the banks as they pay for their property through mortgages and at the end of the day, unless you drastically scale down your investment by either moving out of town or going back to rental, you are unlikely to see any return on that outlay
    ie. if you owned in Herne Bay for ten years you may have seen your house rocket in value but if you want to stay in Herne bay then the house you buy next will have an equally inflated price as the one you're selling, so no real profit at all.
    ETA In fact you would lose out on the interest paid to the bank and that is little different to paying a landlord, who ever it is.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Jim Cathcart,

    Oh, so housing as a speculative asset didn’t exist under a Labor government?

    And Labour doesn't believe home ownership was, is and ever shall be a social good? I'm sure the current candidates for the Labour leadership would be very surprised to hear that.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Jim Cathcart, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    If your politics prioritizes the social benefits of housing, you would take measures to prevent speculation. The whole issue was barely raised as public debt was constrained as household debt did the heavy lifting. What is socially progressive about that?

    Since Nov 2006 • 228 posts Report Reply

  • Dastardly Bounder, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    back blocks of Avondale

    I'd be surprised if you can find anything in Avondale - it's relatively central and has already shot the gate with prices. More like Ranui (Auckland's currently murder capital) if you're looking for a back blocks cheap area.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2012 • 61 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to bob daktari,

    market might be stable – the lot of a renter most certainly isn’t

    Yes, that was kinda my point. Everything Amanda W suggested would make long-term renting a less attractive alternative.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen R, in reply to Russell Brown,

    And now the government has declared it has no interest in building, or even owning, more state houses.

    The People's Republic of Christchurch is however looking at forming a council owned corporation and buying the State houses the gummint wants to sell, and then building more. The reason they need to form a corp to do it is that councils are apparently aren't eligible for housing subsidies, whereas "private" rental providers are, and the council is not able to afford the maintenance without it.

    I think Lianne said on the radio that they hope it would be self-sustaining once it's up and running.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Stephen R,

    The People’s Republic of Christchurch is however looking at forming a council owned corporation and buying the State houses the gummint wants to sell, and then building more.

    Interesting contrast with the Banks years in Auckland, where the council just started selling off its social housing stock to private owners and the Clark government had to step in and buy it up.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F, in reply to Russell Brown,

    There’s still a chance they’ll get New Lynn right.

    That'd be nice - I could live with a New Lynn commute to the city if it came to that.

    I should also mention in good conscience that I am probably fortunate in my chances of owning a property at some point, and am aware a lot of other people my age and younger will have it worse - not at the point of sending invites for a pity party just yet.

    We almost had long term occupancy by default - we moved into the current place in 2007 and have been on a simple ongoing tenancy since. At the time I'd expected we would have moved out long before the Rugby World Cup (we were only in the previous flat for a year). If I'd imagined we'd still be there seven years later I might have pushed at the outset for a longer term tenancy agreement in writing - the actual owner was a lovely person and might have agreed to it, but I suspect the professional managers who've since inserted themselves into the relationship probably won't be so amenable.

    At a few points I've considered making an offer to the owner on the property (or asking for right of first refusal if she sells), but we might have left that too late. In 2010 the unit below us sold for $150,000. In February the one next door to it sold for $350,000. We're talking about one bedroom units 48 square metres each, with a carport each and no garden. Completely hatstand.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1609 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F, in reply to Dastardly Bounder,

    More like Ranui (Auckland’s currently murder capital) if you’re looking for a back blocks cheap area.

    We almost offered to buy a property in Ranui from a family member moving out but didn't have the scratch together at the time. I still sometimes half wonder if it's really that bad out there.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1609 posts Report Reply

  • Dastardly Bounder, in reply to Sam F,

    I have a number of friends in Swanson - the next suburb north west of Ranui. They have easy access to rail, live close by large parks and rural blocks and can be at Bethells beach in 15 minutes. Pretty good option by Auckland standards.

    I often work in Ranui and it can be a bit rough. There have been some eyebrow raising incidents over the past year, a regular Police presence and some extreme deprivation. Ponsonby used to be the same 30 years ago though. Pick your street and it can seem like a nice leafy suburb, drive down another one and try to spot the burnt out meth labs.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2012 • 61 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Everything Amanda W suggested would make long-term renting a less attractive alternative.

    Not necessarily. It would be counter productive to regulate landlords out of existence but there should be a large and professional section of that market to make it unnecessary for the slumlord to exist. To have a reliable supply of rentable property we have to reduce the number of small landlords, people with one or two properties as rental/investment properties who tend to sell up and thus create unstable tenancies, and increase the "professional" large scale operations that are in it as a serious rental agency. This will happen naturally as property, in itself, loses its attractiveness as an investment and investors turn to better investments such as shares in productive businesses.

    ETA
    Oh and Russ
    Amanda Wreckonwith / A Man to Reckon With., not, I believe, someone called Amanda,.
    I think he's a Man... Duh!

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

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