Home affordability was a hot topic leading up to this year's general election, as it has been for some time.

With housing values now 16 per cent above the previous market peak in 2007 it's easy to see why home buyers might feel discouraged, and many are looking to the government to come up with a solution. Industry experts have said that our house prices are 71 percent overvalued, but that there is no quick fix. So what's it like in other countries? Are we alone in our housing affordability woes?

As in NZ, housing prices vary between the main cities and rural areas, but a selection of housing and property price related news from around the world paints a picture:


Australia has similar affordability issues that we do, feeling the effect of a lack of supply in their soaring prices. Asian investors “should not be blamed for soaring house prices” according to the ANZ. According to The Sydney Morning Herald. it is property investors who are driving market activity in Australia, with lending to investors making up nearly half of new loans in July.

United Kingdom

UK prices are rising at the slowest pace in a year with London house prices leading the slowdown. This has been attributed to tougher mortgage rules, and speculation about a hike in interest rates . But house prices are still (on average) ten times higher than earnings. A low interest environment is encouraging first home buyers, but the average size of a first time buyer loan has increased to an all-time high.  The Government's Help to Buy scheme injected more into the low-deposit bracket of the mortgage market since spring 2013, with improving economic conditions helping more people to enter the property market.

Ireland is seeing an 'uncomfortable boom' in house prices in Dublin which is being affected by a shortage of supply, but this is seen as a (for now) isolated case.


Growth in home prices in the US is also slowing, with average home prices at pre-2005 levels. In the past year, prices increased 10.9 percent, but continue to be affordable with fewer foreclosures and owners with negative equity. Conditions vary across different states, with lower prices in areas with low demand or few supply constraints.  It is expected that prices will continue to rise in 2014 but at a slower more steady pace than they have historically.


The Canadian housing market is 20 per cent over valued reports The Vancouver Sun, with a market susceptible to shocks, the Federal Government has intervened to slow the market by shortening amortization lengths (the length of the loan) and tightening eligibility rules. Canada is described as 'moderately unaffordable' – but apparently is not quite as bad as NZ. Offshore buyers from Asia are also being blamed for driving Vancouver home prices to record highs.

The rest of the world

Even Dubai has had to introduce measures to dampen property speculation and as a result it looks like price growth is easing.

Singapore has also seen the Government intervening in recent years to cool the property market, but prices remain 'elevated' after rising 30 percent over the last 5 years.

Overall, house prices are 'going through the roof' according to The Economist, although there are weak spots in Europe.  Northern European countries are faring better.

Comparatively, houses’ are overvalued in 9 of the countries the Economist compared. Yes, New Zealand is one of the worst but we are certainly not alone.