About 3 percent of home transfers go to overseas people – 27 July 2018
In the June 2018 quarter, 2.8 percent of home transfers were to people who didn’t hold New Zealand citizenship or resident visas, Stats NZ said today.
“The share of home transfers to overseas people fell from 3.3 percent last quarter to 2.8 percent this quarter,” property statistics manager Melissa McKenzie said.
“However, the number of home transfers to overseas people rose from 1,083 in the March 2018 quarter to 1,116 in the June quarter.”
The total number of home transfers in New Zealand increased to 39,627 in the June 2018 quarter.
In addition to the 2.8 percent of home transfers to ‘overseas people’, a further 8.0 percent of home transfers were to people who held a resident visa, meaning they were not New Zealand citizens but could live in New Zealand permanently.
“These could be people who have lived in New Zealand for many decades and chosen not to get citizenship, or they could be people who have only held a resident visa for a very short time,” Ms McKenzie said.
Eleven percent of transfers were to companies and other corporate entities. Information on the ownership of these corporates (by New Zealanders or overseas people) is not currently available.
“Over three-quarters (78 percent) of home transfers were to New Zealand citizens in the June quarter,” Ms McKenzie said.
“We can say confidently that 2.8 percent of home transfers were to overseas people in the June quarter. However, it is less clear how many corporate buyers might have had overseas owners.”
See table 1 of Property transfer statistics: June 2018 quarter (Excel) for numbers and percentages of home transfers by affiliation.
Over 1 in 5 inner city Auckland home transfers to overseas people in June quarter
In central Auckland (Waitemata), home transfers to people who didn’t hold NZ citizenship or a resident visa reached 22 percent (321 transfers) in the June 2018 quarter. This compares with 19 percent (225 transfers) in the March 2018 quarter.
“In the Auckland inner city, over 1 in 5 home transfers were to overseas people in the latest quarter, and only 45 percent were to New Zealand citizens,” Ms McKenzie said.
The share of home transfers to people without NZ citizenship or resident visas fell for Auckland as a whole – to 6.5 percent (741 transfers) in the June 2018 quarter. This compares with 7.3 percent (678 transfers) in the March 2018 quarter.
Frequently asked questions
How many ‘foreigners’ are buying New Zealand homes?
It depends how you define ‘foreigner’. In the June 2018 quarter, of all home transfers:
- 78 percent were to at least one New Zealand citizen.
- A further 8.0 percent were to at least one NZ-resident-visa holder (someone who can live and work in New Zealand for as long as they like).
- A further 2.8 percent were to people who held a student or work visa (1.0 percent), or were none of the above (1.8 percent).
- The remaining 11 percent were to corporate entities only (which could have New Zealand or overseas owners).
When we talk about transfers to ‘overseas people’, we mean the 2.8 percent of transfers where none of the buyers were NZ citizens or resident-visa holders (excluding transfers where all the buyers were corporate entities). We focus on this measure because it aligns most closely with the definition of ‘overseas person’ in the Overseas Investment Act 2005.
Why do you talk about ‘transfers’ not ‘sales’?
A transfer is not the same as a sale. Transfers often involve a sale, but there are many other possible reasons for a transfer (such as marriage settlements, the death of a family member, boundary changes, and trustee changes).
Every sale is a transfer, but not every transfer is a sale. We refer to the parties involved as buyers and sellers for simplicity.
We know the number of transfers to overseas people because this information is collected on land transfer tax statements, which cover all types of transfer and not just sales.
How many of the corporate entities have ‘foreign’ owners?
Information on the ownership of corporate entities (by New Zealanders or overseas people) is not currently available, as it is not collected on land transfer tax statements.
How are trusts captured in these statistics?
We count a trust based on the visa or citizenship status of its trustees. If at least one trustee holds NZ citizenship, then the transfer is counted as a transfer to a NZ citizen.
Aren’t there lots of people missing from these numbers?
We have information about the visa status or citizenship of virtually all people who transfer property in New Zealand. The only uncertainty is around the ownership of corporate entities that transfer property.
In addition to statistics about the visa status or citizenship of people who transfer property, we also publish statistics about their tax residency. The tax residency statistics include a large category for parties that are exempt from stating their tax residency on a land transfer tax statement (eg because the transfer involves their main home). The visa and citizenship statistics are not affected by this exemption, because these people are still required to state their visa or citizenship status.
Tax residency is not the same as nationality. We advise focusing on the statistics about visa or citizenship status (also known as affiliation).
How much New Zealand property is owned by ‘foreigners’?
We do not currently have a register of property owned by overseas people. These property transfer statistics measure overseas involvement in property transfers in any given quarter, but not the total amount of property owned by overseas people.
What is the net change in ‘foreign’ ownership of New Zealand property?
We don’t produce a measure of the net change in property owned by overseas people.
If you subtract seller statistics from buyer statistics to calculate a net change in home ownership, it is important to note that:
- between the time of buying and selling a home, owners can move between affiliations (eg a work-visa holder could become a resident-visa holder or NZ citizen)
- some types of affiliations may sell many newly built homes (eg corporate entities).
Therefore, net changes for a given affiliation could be understated or overstated.
For media enquiries contact: Melissa McKenzie, Christchurch, 03 964 8439, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Government Statistician authorises all statistics and data we publish.
For more information about these statistics: