Determined to combat New Zealand's lofty housing prices, the country's lawmakers have trained their aim at a distant target: the buyers beyond their borders. By a close vote Wednesday, the Parliament passed a law banning most nonresident foreigners from purchasing existing homes or residential land.
The goal is simple, according to the bill's backers: to correct a domestic housing market that has seen prices skyrocket and homeownership plunge in the past decade. By thinning the pool of potential buyers, lawmakers hope to ease the property shortage that has been blamed for the country's bind.
"If you've got the right to live in New Zealand permanently, you've got the right to buy here. But otherwise it's not a right, it's a privilege," David Parker, New Zealand's minister for economic development and trade, said in a speech from the Parliament floor Wednesday. "We believe it's the birthright of New Zealanders to buy homes in New Zealand in a market that is shaped by New Zealand buyers, not by international price pressures."