- New Zealand has banned foreigners from buying property, a response to skyrocketing house prices across the nation.
- The housing crisis has been pinned in part on wealthy overseas investors looking for a place to escape a doomsday scenario.
- US celebrities, including former TV host Matt Lauer and Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel have already snapped up luxury homes.
New Zealand has banned foreigners for buying property there in response to skyrocketing house prices across the nation.
Parliament passed the law (the text of which is here) on Wednesday, barring most overseas visitors from purchasing homes or land.
"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," New Zealand's minister for economic development and trade David Parker said in a speech on 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."
People from Australia and Singapore will be exempt from the ban, as will foreigners with New Zealand residency.
The move aims to ease housing prices that have seen a sharp rise in recent years.
According to a 2017 report by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand, property prices in Auckland had risen by $230,000 in just five years time.
And home ownership has decreased significantly among the population. Data from from the Statistics New Zealand Dwelling and Household Estimates showed that only 63.2 percent of people nationwide owned their own home in 2017 — the lowest proportion for decades.
Wealthy investors looking for an escape have been blamed for the crisis
Getty Images/Olivia Salazar
The housing crisis has largely been pinned on wealthy overseas investors, mainly from China and Australia, swooping in on properties that would serve as hideaways far away from conflict sweeping over the rest of the world.
"It’s in the back of everybody’s mind at the moment. If there are, shall we say, changes, where can we go?," Michael Nock, a Hong Kong-based hedge-fund manager who owns a multimillion-dollar property in Queenstown, told the Guardian last year.
"I researched this problem dispassionately and settled on New Zealand … it is a small community that has the ability to be self-reliant, with a rule of law based on the English system. And it is stunningly beautiful – it ticked all the boxes."
Nock is not alone in his concerns. A recent New Yorker report suggested that hundreds, if not thousands, of super-wealthy silicon valley executives are secretly preparing for the apocalypse, and many think of New Zealand as the perfect location to ride out a doomsday scenario.
"Saying you’re ‘buying a house in New Zealand’ is kind of a wink, wink, say no more," Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn told the New Yorker. Hoffman estimated that at least fifty percent of Silicon Valley billionaires have acquired some type of "apocalypse insurance" in the form of a hideout in the US or abroad.
New Zealand's immigration websites saw a huge uptick in traffic following the 2016 US election, with an increase of 2,500% in traffic just 48 hours after Trump has won the presidency, the Guardian reported last year.
Several ultra-wealthy US celebrities, including former TV host Matt Lauer and billionaire venture capitalist and co-founder of Paypal Peter Thiel have already snapped up multi-million dollar homes in New Zealand's swanky Wanaka area.
Thiel also owns another $3.1 million property in Queenstown, and has repurposed one of the home's walk-in closet into a panic room.
"New Zealand is already utopia," Thiel told Business Insider in 2011.
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