9 May 2019
The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) approved 103 applications by overseas people entitled to buy homes to live in during the first six months of new rules.
Since 22 October 2018, most overseas people have not been entitled to buy a home to live in. This includes people with temporary visas, such as student, work and tourist visas.
However, overseas people with New Zealand residency can apply for consent to buy a home.
Last week Stats NZ released data showing that home transfers to people who do not hold New Zealand citizenship or a resident visa fell more than 80 percent in the March 2019 quarter compared with the same quarter in 2018.
A third of applications to the OIO for consent to buy homes were from people from the United Kingdom. The country with the second-highest number of applications was China (20 percent of applications), followed by the United States (8 percent).
Auckland was the top region for consents.
Land Information New Zealand Group Manager, Overseas Investment Office, Vanessa Horne said she expects to see a continuing trend of declining numbers of overseas people buying homes – shown in the Stats NZ data – in the coming months.
“There has been a time lag with settlements of agreements entered into before the new rules came into effect but it’s clear that far fewer overseas people are buying homes, unless they have the residency visas that allow them to,” she said.
The OIO is processing home to live in applications in two days on average. “We know that selling a home is a high-pressure time. We have sometimes processed applications on the same day to make sure that no house sales have been held up.”
Almost half (48 percent) of approved applications have been for people who got OIO pre-approval to purchase. “This shows that many people are checking first if they’re able to buy a house before they actually buy,” said Vanessa Horne.
The OIO is working with other agencies to share information so it can better monitor house purchases and be sure people are following the law.
Since the new overseas investment rules came into effect on 22 October, OIO staff have answered more than 600 queries from conveyancers, real estate agents and the general public about the new home to live in pathway.
Vanessa Horne said people now have a better understanding of the rules. “Early on, some people applied to us who didn’t need to and some people applied who did not qualify to apply.”
Only people who have New Zealand residency status can buy a home to live in. Australian and Singaporean citizens are allowed to buy homes to live in because of free trade agreements with their countries.