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Government launches new housing affordability tool

Houses around Lyttelton area in Christchurch

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The new Change in Housing Affordability Indicator shows trends in rent, deposit, and mortgage payments, compared to median incomes.
Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

Amid rising mortgage rates and recession concerns, the government has launched a new online tool to compare housing affordability.

But the Ministry for Housing and Urban Development (MHUD) said the site had been in the making for years.

The Change in Housing Affordability Indicator shows trends in rent, deposit, and mortgage payments, compared to median incomes.

MHUD’s manager of system intelligence, Alex Gunn, said with the site going live today, the data could be broken down to territorial authority.

He emphasised the tool did not show whether housing was affordable or not, in each district, region, or nationally.

It was instead intended to fill a gap using percentage changes that showed whether housing had become more or less affordable – or had plateaued – over time.

“This is not the only answer to affordability, it should be used in conjunction with other things,” he said.

“Affordability is really subjective measure. What’s affordable to one person is not affordable to someone else.”

Gunn said there had been a long development process behind the tool’s release and it was not a direct response to this week’s official cash rate hike.

“We wished we moved that quickly. It’s actually been in the kind of pipes for a while, obviously MHUD inherited the old Housing Affordability Measure, which was an experimental measure MBIE (the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment) had begun. And we reviewed that and decided that we didn’t think it was quite, sort of, fit for purpose.”

He said: “It’s been licensing issues of data that have actually held us up for a little while, since then.”

The dataset live today is up to June 2022 and will be continually updated by quarter.

Story Credit: rnz.co.nz

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