The country down under requires foreign buyers to pass a good-character test, which Matt Lauer did earlier this year when purchasing his 16,000-acre ranch, but now the decision is being reviewed due to allegations of sexual harrassment that landed the former ‘Today’ show host unemployed this week.
Foreign buyers and the good-character test is overseen by New Zealand’s Overseas Investment Office; the agency is currently in talks with Lauer’s representative over the property, according to the New York Times.
The test is meant to ensure the country that its overseas real estate investors are worthy to be “granted the privilege of owning or controlling sensitive New Zealand assets.”
The agency takes into account any previous run-ins with the law — whether or not a conviction was made — including incidences where the potential buyers was a stakeholder in the offending corporate entity, though a minimum 25 percent ownership was required. The agency also states explicitly it reserves the right to consider any factor it deems relevant, such as, evidently, sexual harassment.
Lauer’s ranch, bought in February with his wife amid local controversy for cutting off public access to waterfront, is called Hunter Valley Station and has an estimated market value of $9.2 million.
High home prices in the market have created political hostility to foreign investment, with a new requirement for foreign owners of farmland to show “tangible benefit” coming into effect this month, and all-out ban of purchases by non-residents expected next year.
[NYT] — E.K. Hudson