Houses earn more than their owners in many parts of the country. By Janine Starks.


Do you earn more money than your house? Strange question isn't it.

Houses don't earn money, do they? They just sit there being a bit a useless, while we are at work.

The average Kiwi castle is worth $686,000, according to QV, and many put their owners to shame in the money department.

They've increased in value by $127 a day in the last four years. That's right, gains since 2015 tot up to $185,000 or $46,300 annually. By comparison, the living wage has increased at $2.70 a day.

Don't forget the cheeky four-sided box is entitled to lounge about earning tax-free gains. It takes human wages of $56,000 a year to match house price performance.

Astonishingly, most of us will find our home earns far more than the living wage. At $21.15 an hour, that's $44,000 a year or $37,000 after tax. Homes in Palmerston North earn the living wage, but two full-time staff at Bunnings still earn less than a single Wellington property.

Even in 2018, when prices eased, many regions of New Zealand out-performed the living wage measure.

Spare a thought for the poor souls who live in Queenstown. Their homes notch up $331 a day. Imagine checking the letterbox every night and finding the cash waiting for you. Cha-ching, even on weekends. The average house price is $1.2 million, up 68 per cent from $716,000 in 2015.

You'd need to earn a gross salary of $167,000 a year to compete with the glamorous stone and cedar walls.

Similarly impressive figures exist in Wellington West. That requires a salary of $106,000 a year to keep up with the $220 daily gain your weatherboards have produced since 2015.

Homes on the Kapiti Coast, Upper Hutt and Nelson all deliver gains of roughly $140 a day, or the equivalent of a $63,000 human salary.

Like most things in life, it's a bit of a postcode lottery. Those in Christchurch, Selwyn, Waimate and Ashburton will find no more than $20 a day under the doormat. Kaikoura at $52 a day is also well under the national average, but all of these regions have been in rebuild mode.

If you live in the Grey or Buller districts of the West Coast, run for the closest exit. Your houses are pick-pockets. While you sleep they extract $3 to $4 a day from your wallet.

Some of these daily returns are high simply because the average house price in the area is plump. For example the coastal area of Auckland's North Shore boasts an average price of $1.3m and a daily gain of $200, but prices have only risen 27 per cent over a four-year period.

Hardly impressive compared to the $95 a day in Kawerau where values have gone up 133 per cent since 2015. Or $86 a day in South Waikato, where house prices have doubled from $125,000 to $251,000.

While these numbers are apples-and-oranges and no more than interesting tittle tattle, they do make you think about our own worth, compared to an asset-class we depend on for daily living.

On the whole they're largely irrelevant to most people. You can't lift the letterbox lid and extract the daily cash. You don't arrive home and find the house has sprouted something useful like an extra bedroom and you still need to turn up to work in the morning to pay the rates and mortgage interest.

Elsewhere, it matters more. The owners of rentals, property portfolios, holiday homes and land-banks are chuckling from behind their freshly mowed tax-free berms, safe in the knowledge it's pretty easy to out-perform the living wage. The kiwi property party will ebb and flow, but the tax-free carrot provides an irresistible attraction over the long term.

Janine Starks is a financial commentator with expertise in banking, personal finance and funds management. Opinions in this column represent her personal views.  They are general in nature and are not a recommendation, opinion or guidance to any individuals in relation to acquiring or disposing of a financial product.  Readers should not rely on these opinions and should always seek specific independent financial advice appropriate to their own individual circumstances.