WELLINGTON, NZL – Your Ed. was surprised to see prominent stories on many online news feeds this morning under the above headline and similar. According to Radio New Zealand:
Foreign speculators will be banned from buying houses in New Zealand from early next year, the [new] Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.
In her first post-cabinet press conference, Ms Ardern said the government would make changes to the Overseas Investment Act to classify residential housing as "sensitive".
That would mean non-residents or non-citizens would not be able to purchase existing residential dwellings, although Australians would be exempt.
But the changes would not stop non-residents or non-citizens from buying residential land to build a house on.
As always, the devil is in the details, in this case the actual wording of the forth-coming legislation. Perhaps there will be some sort of exemption written in for individuals who can show a direct connection with an America's Cup team. In past Cups, and not just in New Zealand, countless team members have bought homes in the host country as a short- or even long-term investment. Jimmy Spithill's Bermuda home, now back on the market, is just one example. Russell Coutts, last I knew, still owns a home on the Coronado, CA (San Diego) golf course - to name just two of many of which your Ed. is aware.
On the other hand, the new leftist government may not want anything to do with such an exemption for those rich AC-types; indeed, is this a sign of rough times ahead for governmental help hosting the Cup in general?
According to the Prime Minister the legislation will be forward-looking not retrospective. Apparently current foreign owners will not be affected.
With the legislation not coming into effect until early next year, will there now be a mini-rush of AC-related folks buying homes in the Auckland area?
Remember, too, that in the long history of the Cup, only once has the Defender lost the Cup on their first go around – Royal Perth Yacht Club in 1987. Since New York Yacht Club lost the Cup in 1983 after 132 years and 24 successful defenses, every other Defender has successfully defended at least once – RNZYS in 2000 before losing in 2003, SNG in 2007 before losing in 2010 and GGYC in 2013 before losing in 2017. Only San Diego Yacht Club defended twice – 1988 and 1992 –when Malin Burnham and your Ed. were leading the SD America's Cup Organizing Committee.
We shall look forward to what our Kiwi friends have to say on all this.
Read the full Radio NZ story by Sarah Robson here, and those of you particularly interested will want to check out the video interview on Checkpoint with John Campbell interviewing the new Labour/Trade/Growth Minister. The Minister said:
"Just about everyone who buys who's a foreign person buying into New Zealand - they're a very very wealthy '1 percenter'. And I think that's one of the excesses of global capital, when you allow those sorts of interests to influence your housing market."
The conservative National Party, now out of power, criticized the plan.
Jimmy Spithill's 9,900 square-foot home in Bermuda can be yours for $8.5 million. Photo courtesy of BDA's Royal Gazette. As an Aussie, apparently he will not be affected by the new Kiwi ban.