Home buyers need to focus less on short-term savings, and more on long-term savings that buying sustainable housing could bring, a leading economist says.
Shamubeel Eaqub, speaking on Wednesday at the 2018 Housing Summit, says home buyers aren’t thinking about energy-efficiency, and instead would prefer to “choose a bigger lounge” for their money.
People valued the amount they had today, rather than thinking about long-term savings, Eaqub says.
But over 30 years, someone could be NZ$3,000 to NZ$4,000 better off by buying a sustainable house, he says, from the savings in utilities such as power and water.
“We need to show people that this is a better outcome. It’s about changing people’s mindsets,” he says.
“Think about the lifetime costs, the lifetime benefits.”
Real Estate Institute of New Zealand chief executive Bindi Norwell says building better quality homes had “long-term benefits”.
Occupants would have less chance of suffering from damp-home related illnesses such as asthma and would save money on power and heating costs.
For homeowners, creating a sustainable, energy-efficient home would improve the “long-term condition and value of the house”.
“People are looking for this when they buy or rent property,” Norwell says.
Insulation, heating and ventilation made a healthy home, she explained.
Eaqub says there were many problems with the housing market that had been around for decades, so we had to be patient about finding solutions.
“Our building code is not fit for purpose. We aren’t building homes for the weather,” he says.
Kiwis used a lot of heating, but insulation was at a low level, he says.
When we built homes, we needed to remember that they’d be around for a long time. That’s why it was so important for them to be built to a high standard, he says.
Half of all homes built 100 years ago were still standing in 2017, he says.
The cost of building energy-efficient homes would reduce over time, as more people came on board.
Eaqub estimates we need to build 500,000 homes a year to combat the country’s housing shortage.
KiwiBuild, the government’s plan to build 100,000 affordable, quality homes over the next decade, was a huge opportunity, he says.
Every year, 20,000 homes were built by the private sector in New Zealand. KiwiBuild would add around 10,000 each year.
“We have never built to this scale before.”
First published 22 June, 2018
Story by Claire Connell
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