New Zealand Law Society - Just over 3% of home transfers in March quarter to overseas buyers

Just over 3% of home transfers in March quarter to overseas buyers

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In the March 2018 quarter, 3.3% of homes transferred were to people who didn't hold New Zealand citizenship or resident visas, Statistics NZ says.

This was up from 2.9% in the December 2017 quarter.

Property Statistics Manager Melissa McKenzie says the increase was driven by a fall in the total number of transfers, and a small rise in the number of transfers to overseas people.

“The proportion of overseas sellers also increased in the March quarter, to reach 1.5%, after staying steady at 1.3% for a year,” she says.

Statistics NZ has taken over the analysis and publication of property transfer statistics from Land Information New Zealand (LINZ).

It says nearly 33,000 homes were transferred in the March 2018 quarter. Almost 4 in 5 of these were transferred to at least one New Zealand citizen. The other 1 in 5 were transferred to corporate entities, resident-visa holders, and overseas people.

“Home transfers aren’t just the sale and purchase of houses, although for simplicity we refer to the people involved in transfers as buyers and sellers. They also include the transfer of a deceased family member’s home, a marriage settlement, and administrative changes,” Ms McKenzie says.

Including homes, land, and commercial property, 4.3% of all property transfers involved at least one buyer with overseas tax residency in the March 2018 quarter (compared with 3.0% in the March 2017 quarter).

The tax residency status for a further 41% of transfers was unknown.

“Many buyers and sellers are exempt from providing tax details if they’re transferring their main home,” Ms McKenzie says.

“However, citizenship and visa information is required for nearly all transfers, excluding a small number of transfers such as Māori land transfers and Treaty of Waitangi settlements.”

Tax residency is not the same as nationality. An overseas tax resident may be a New Zealand citizen living overseas. Alternatively, a New Zealand tax resident could be an overseas citizen who lives in New Zealand, or a company with overseas owners.

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