House price rises

PHOTO: House price rises are a major issue for New Zealand

Even in a spiralling housing crisis, record property price rises keep getting covered like they’re good news. Can the media break its habit of speaking from the perspective of existing homeowners?

A recent Newshub story on house prices more than doubling in the Bay of Plenty started out with a call for celebration.

“If you’re a homeowner in the Bay of Plenty, get out the champagne,” reporter Madison Reidy said.

“Asking prices in Kawerau have surged 132 percent in the past decade.”

The story went on to list other places including Central Hawke’s Bay and Hamilton where house prices have gone up more than 100 percent over the last 10 years.

Those numbers will definitely prompt homeowners, and particularly property investors, to break out the bubbly.

But Newshub at 6 could equally have urged aspiring first home buyers, who have watched prices rise faster than they can save, to break out an Elliott Smith soundtrack and strong liquor.

Renters could have been advised to crack open an on-discount Ranfurly Draft to console themselves over the fact they’ll soon be paying even more of their paychecks to their landlords, as home ownership stretches further out of reach.

Median house prices changes year-on-year December 2020.

Photo: REINZ

Newshub was not alone in centering its story’s intro on the concerns of existing homeowners.

Last year TVNZ1 News was dour over the news that rents were going down in the South Island during a surprise Covid-induced housing supply boom.

“The cost of renting has dropped in much of the South Island in the wake of Covid-19. It’s been felt most noticeably in Queenstown, where an oversupply of houses has seen landlords slash prices, and as Jared McCulloch explains, the situation could get worse,” presenter Melissa Stokes said.

If reductions to our stratospheric rent prices is an example of a situation “getting worse”, then the one in three New Zealanders living in rental accommodation will be praying for more bad news. 1News was obviously speaking from the perspective of their landlords.

Other stories seem to assume their audience is about to buy up a property portfolio.

Stuff began an article on Gisborne’s house prices going up 31 percent in one year with some words of advice.

“If you want big capital gains, Gisborne is the place to be right now,” it read.



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