I disagree rather. Firstly, when you buy a house on a mortgage, you don't really own it. Perhaps 90% belongs to a bank, and you're renting that bit. You own 10% (so kitchen ownership is a more apt term than home ownership). Of course, a bank is a friendlier landlord - they can't throw you out if you keep paying, and they won't complain if you paint the living room magenta.
The argument made by the NZI is that people who rent their house don't participate in property inflation (sorry, appreciation) and don't benefit from asset price bubbles (I mean value growth). To me this is an argument for a capital gains tax - why should I be taxed at 39% on money I work for and 0% on windfall earnings from owning a house?
The plan to subsidise housebuying seems to be going in the opposite direction - since the subsidies will have to be paid for, people will be taxed even more for working and at a negative rate for sitting in a house. They money won't even go to the poor deserving first time buyers - more money becoming available for houses will almost certainly just drive prices up and make existing property owners richer.
There are other arguments against forcing up the rate of home ownership:
- Interest rates are higher than they need be in order to dampen house price inflation, reducing the competitive advantage of the productive sector.
- People are less mobile, and consequently more likely to have problems finding jobs.
One argument Mr Skillens brought to bear was that home ownership made people more "involved" in society, and I think this is the crux. Modern centre-left parties (like Labour) wish to conscript people into the urban middle class (unlike the Nats, who want to boost the rural middle-class) and home ownership is their big "lever" in achieving this.
[ This reminds me of a spoof election slogan from the 80's - "Safeguard your hovel and pittance - don't vote Labour and lose them! ]
Have a good long weekend!