Homeownership rates in NZ fell to the lowest level in nearly seven decades


  • The number of Kiwis who own their own homes has fallen to lowest levels since 1951, with 64.5% of households owning their own homes as per 2018 consensus compared to the peak of 73.8% in the 1990s.
  • Homeownership rates declined particularly for people in their 20s and 30s with only about 44% of people in the age of 25-29 owning their own home in 2018 compared to 61% in 1991.
  • The proportion of renting households spending a third of their income on housing costs rose swiftly to more than 40% in 2019, up from 20% in 1988.

Homeownership in NZ has fallen to lowest levels since 1951 with homeownership rates striking the younger people.

As per a report Housing in Aotearoa: 2020 by Stas NZ that gives a glimpse of the housing sector in NZ, about 64.5% of households were the owners of their own homes at the time of 2018 consensus.

Homeownership had reached its peak in 1991 at 73.8% of households but have been declining since 1991 with the largest falls in NZ.

Source: Housing in Aotearoa 2020, Stats NZ

The number of people who owned their own homes had dropped to 64.5% of households by 2018 for all ages, but the number has been much lower for people in their 20s, 30s or for ethnic minorities.

About 44% of people amid the age of 25-29 owned their own home in 2018 compared to 61% in 1991. The rate fell from 79% in 1991 to 59% in 2018 for those in the late 30s.

Homeownership rates were more stable than in previous years between 2013 and 2018. As per many researchers, first home buyers took advantage of KiwiSaver and low-interest mortgage rates, which were the reasons behind their stability.

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Homeownership rates had dropped in about every region since 1991, but the largest fall was in Auckland where the rate dropped from 72.7% in 1991 to 59.4% in 2018.

Homeownership continued to be higher outside the main centres as 8 out of 10 households in Waimakariri, and Selwyn districts lived in an owner-occupied dwelling.


Higher proportion of households are renting

Rent, rates, mortgage payments and insurance are a major part of spending outlay for many households. About 32% of households were living in rented homes at the time of 2018 census.

Source: Shutterstock

Dr Rosemary Goodyear, the lead author of a report, stated that price indices reveal that rents have increased nationwide in line with rents but have outpaced revenue growth in centres such as Wellington and Auckland, where prices are highly competitive.

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Renting households spent a higher proportion of their income on housing costs than owner-occupiers in 2018. The proportion of renting households that spent more than 30% of income on housing costs rose rapidly from less than 20% of renters in 1988 to over 40% in 2019.

Further, dampness and mould were common in NZ homes that were not owner-occupiers, did not have enough money to fulfil everyday needs and had 4 or more household members. About 1 in 5 homes were damp sometimes, and 1 in 6 had mould larger than A4 size.