Billionaires upset over New Zealand’s ban on them buying homes

The country's proposed laws would deprive the ultra-wealthy of their remote and increasingly popular choice getaway

(Credit: Pixabay, Pexels)
(Credit: Pixabay, Pexels)

“We just want to help you by spending money!” That’s, in essence, what billionaires like California’s Ric Kayne are telling New Zealand’s government as they argue for an easement of the country’s proposed laws on foreign property ownership.

“The vision we have for what we would like to contribute to New Zealand is now being threatened,” Kayne wrote to a parliamentary committee, according to Bloomberg. “Having discovered this country, [we] want to devote considerable resources to preserving, protecting and enhancing it.”

The proposed law bans non-residents from buying any residential property and, while Bloomberg says data doesn’t show the ban will have any impact on the problems facing New Zealand’s housing market, it’s making voters happy to see a cause-and-consequence style approach implemented.

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Problems include home prices increasing more than 60 percent since 2017, record numbers of immigrants landing in the country and lagging home construction. In Auckland, average house prices have doubled to $730,000.

“It’s really important for us that we sort our housing market out, that we give New Zealanders a fair go at buying their first home,” said Finance Minister Grant Robertson in a TV appearance last week. His comments underscored that any foreign investment should be directed at the local economy instead of buying homes — where they can retreat from the world, as the rich have been wont to do of late.

Kayne, who built an exclusive luxury golf course in the country, countered that if his developments were to contribute to the local economy they need “to be sold to an international purchaser pool.”

“I would hope that amendments are able to be made which provide some discretion and flexibility for persons like me,” Kayne’s statement to lawmakers continued. Cue applause from the wealthy. [Bloomberg]Erin Hudson