Earthquake-strengthened Wellington apartments not gaining value – lobby group

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A Wellington apartment owners’ lobby group says owners are getting no boost in property values despite some spending hundreds of thousands on mandatory repairs.

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Inner City Wellington says the Building and Construction Minister Jenny Salesa has said that owners’ work on earthquake-prone dwellings would improve the value of the asset.

But group spokesperson Geraldine Murphy said the minister had produced no evidence to back this.

Murphy said a survey of about 100 quake-prone residential property owners showed their property values remained low. That is despite spending on average $300,000 while others spent many hundreds of thousands more.

“It is taking a toll on people. One owner said ‘I feel sick to my core’, and another said ‘it’s what you think about when you wake up, it is what you think about when you are going to bed … and if you wake up in a cold sweat that is what you are thinking about’.”

She said owners were struggling to sell properties because no one wanted to buy which forced down prices further.

Murphy wanted an independent review of the quake-prone building legislation governing apartment owners and a government compensation scheme.

The minister said she would consider doing a review to ensure legislation was fit-for-purpose and to ensure faith in the system.

Salesa said the government established the Earthquake Prone Building Loan Scheme to assist apartment building owners who were not able to obtain a traditional loan from a bank

“The … scheme aims to balance fairness to all taxpayers by minimising the unnecessary transfer of wealth to building and home owners.

“It is expected remediation work will increase the value of these buildings.”

She said independent advice to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) estimated that most units in Wellington could be seismically strengthened for less than $200,000.

This was based on building consent data provided by Wellington City Council for earthquake strengthening work that has been done in the city.

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