Why so many empty houses?

When ‘housing crisis’ is mentioned the first things that jump to mind are ever increasing Auckland house prices and the barriers for first timer buyers. But there is also the housing shortage faced by a number of centres in New Zealand. Auckland Council’s Housing Project Office estimated shortfall of 15,000 homes has now increased to peak at 25,000 homes by 2018.

It is therefore interesting to note that the 2013 census reveals that in the Auckland Region there are 33,360 (and 185,448 NZ-wide) unoccupied dwellings? The census figures are:

Dwellings in Auckland Region and New Zealand
2013 Census
Occupancy status Auckland Region New Zealand
Occupied
Private dwelling 472,044 1,561,956
Non-private dwelling 1,407 8,739
Total occupied dwellings 473,448 1,570,695
Unoccupied 33,360 185,448
Under construction 2,817 9,756
Total dwellings 509,625 1,765,896
Source: Statistics New Zealand

The answer may be found from the definition of ‘unoccupied’ which includes those which are ‘empty’ or ‘residents away’. Empty dwellings also include those dwellings that are unoccupied because they are being renovated or repaired. While Auckland has some 77% of all leaky properties, this still doesn’t account for the number of unoccupied dwellings. No doubt non-jaffas will say that Aucklanders have too many holiday homes, which are unoccupied. That maybe the case if the figures covered, say, holiday spots such as Coromandel seaside towns, but they do not.

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