By popular request, here’s our recent Twitter thread in blog form. Not our usual style, but something that will remain topical as long as agencies and ministries leap to large-scale conclusions instead of starting at the beginning with quick, smart solutions…
Citizen: I need a 3-bedroom home, as we’re about to have a second child, and the current 2-room flat is too small. I know housing is expensive, but I can handle the deposit and mortgage for $1 million for a 3-bedroom home. Can you help?
Auckland Light Rail [or insert relevant agency here]: Absolutely. Our analysis shows you should have a 4-bedroom house. Eventually your children will grow up and have children of their own, and you’ll definitely need a four bedroom house then – maybe more, or you’ll be overcrowded! We can do this for $2 million.
Citizen: But er, I’ve got a housing problem now, and can’t afford $2 million. Shouldn’t I just get the most affordable house that works for me, right now?
ALR etc: Think of it as an investment in your future! No point wasting money on a 3-bedroom house now, when you might need 4 or even 5 bedrooms in the year 2050. Our modelling shows you could have as many as three children and nine grandchildren in your family by 2050!
Citizen: But in 2050 wouldn’t we just, like, have a second house, or two or three more houses, for the adult children? Wouldn’t they just buy a house when they need their own?
ALR etc: This is a once in a lifetime opportunity! You may never get this chance again, so you need to get the biggest house right now. Houses last for over a hundred years, this is a very long term investment. You need to get on board and support this or you might not get a house at all.
Citizen: But it’s twice as expensive?!
ALR etc: That doesn’t matter – we’ve convinced the bank manager to double your mortgage and give you a second mortgage to cover the extra deposit. All good!
Citizen: But won’t I have to pay double the payments each week for what is almost the same thing? That seems like an awful big cost for a fourth bedroom I don’t need right now?
Citizen: But wouldn’t it be better to just get the cheaper house and save the money, or take the extra loan and invest it in a business or shares or something else that’s productive?
ALR etc: I thought you said you wanted a house?
Citizen: Uh yeah, but, okay, so why don’t I get two of the million dollar houses then, that would be two houses with a total of six bedrooms. Isn’t that objectively better than one 4-bedroom house for the same total mortgage amount?
ALR etc: Our analysis shows you need at least a 4-bedroom house. But this is future-proofed: once you buy this $2m house, you could buy another $2m house in the north, and then a third one out west. See, here’s a picture of the three of them next to each other. Doesn’t that look great?
Citizen: Look, I think we’re getting ahead of ourselves. I just want to quickly get into a decent house that I can afford. Why would I want a $2m house with an extra bedroom, when a 3-bedroom house for $1m has all the space I need?
ALR etc: The data shows that 4-bedroom houses have more capacity and greater value for the occupants than 3-bedroom houses. We’ve had our international consultants confirm this. Plus, everyone we consulted with said they would prefer a 4-bedroom house over a 3-bedroom house.
ALR etc: But wait, there’s more! We also found that 4-bedroom houses were really popular with the community of houseless people we surveyed. Super-high approval ratings in fact! It’s really nice – see, here’s what we showed them: fancy renders of the garden you could plant out back, and a picture of a really nice car you could park in the driveway.
Citizen: Oh, so are the garden and car included in the price?
ALR etc: Well, no – but our analysis shows that people with expensive houses do have nice cars and gardens. Therefore, if you want a garden and a nice car, you should buy the $2m house.
Citizen: But if I wanted a nice garden and a fancy car, shouldn’t I just spend my money on those? I mean, wouldn’t it be easier to get a nice garden and car if I don’t spend twice as much buying the house in the first place?
ALR etc: Always with the questions! I thought you said you wanted a house? You should be grateful we’re offering you such a nice big house!
Citizen: So, um, if it’s all decided… when can we move in? Will the garden at least be ready for the kids to play in? Got any transitional housing for us in the meantime?
…running away noises…
You forgot about the part where the buyer later learns that to fund the extra cost of the house, the house will be managed by a "partnership" with an offshore housing operator and you don't really own it for another 40 years.
— Alex Jenner (@alexje002) January 31, 2022