New Zealand’s government is looking to allow foreigners to invest in build-to-rent homes in a bid to stimulate housing supply, according to finance minister Nicola Willis.

Work is now underway on a series of amendments to New Zealand’s overseas investment criteria, with it “absolutely” a priority to happen in 2024, the minister said during an interview with Bloomberg News on Friday.

“We want a lot more housing built. What we are looking at is an exemption in our overseas investment regime so that investors who are investing in built-to-rent housing can do so as long as they meet security concerns,” Willis stated.

In 2018, the Labour Party under Jacinda Ardern established a ban on foreigners purchasing existing homes, stating that overseas speculators had fuelled house prices. Under the regulations, foreigners who are non-residents are permitted to invest in new construction but are required to sell once the homes have been completed.

Furthermore, the National Party had promised to remove the ban in part by allowing foreigners to purchase properties worth over NZ$2 million ($1.2 million). However, the plans came undone by the nationalist New Zealand First Party in discussions to set up the coalition government. 

In addition, the ACT Party is also in the coalition and is in favour of permitting foreigners to construct homes for rent, Bloomberg reports.

“Our overseas investment regime has been quite restrictive and I think that there are options for improving that. We’re still working through the detail of how that proposal will work, but we would expect to make an announcement soon,” the finance minister added.

Citizens from Australia and Singapore are exempt from the ban to comply with trade agreements.

In December, Australia reduced foreign investment application fees for build-to-rent homes in an effort to bolster housing supply and affordability.

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