Blame Peter Thiel and Matt Lauer for Strict New Zealand Housing Law

Thiel became a citizen after spending less than two weeks in New Zealand.

Peter Thiel won't be able to own homes in New Zealand anymore.
Peter Thiel won’t be able to own homes in New Zealand anymore. Jim Watson/AFP?Getty Images

Peter Thiel didn’t stop with shutting down Gawker. Now he’s screwing up entire countries.

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This week New Zealand banned foreigners from buying homes in the country as a way to tackle soaring real estate prices and rising homelessness. The Overseas Investment Amendment is meant to ensure that first-time buyers can get affordable housing.

Officials hope the bill will deter rich foreigners from snatching up properties in the country. Foreign nationals have purchased three percent of the country’s homes this year alone.

Meanwhile, only 25 percent of New Zealanders own homes and one percent of the country’s residents are homeless. Housing prices in some cities have risen 75 percent to over $1 million in the last four years.

The government wants to reverse this by building 100,000 affordable new homes over the next decade.

Critics say the rule against foreign buyers is “xenophobic” because only Australian and Singapore are exempt. They also think it could have a chilling effect on business. Lawmakers disagree, however.

“We should not be tenants in our own land,” New Zealand’s associate finance minister David Parker said in a statement. “This government believes that New Zealanders should not be outbid by wealthier foreign buyers.”

One of those foreign buyers was Thiel. He invested $7 million in the country’s startups and donated $1 million to earthquake relief efforts.

Thiel also bought multiple properties in New Zealand despite telling the government he had no intention of living there. He claimed he would be an “ambassador” for the country abroad.

The PayPal CEO even became a citizen after spending less than two weeks in New Zealand. Lawmakers said his entrepreneurial skills and philanthropy would benefit the island nation.

Ironically, Thiel didn’t have to leave America to claim his new citizenship—he attended a ceremony at the New Zealand consulate in California.

Parker said the new law was a direct result of Thiel skirting immigration procedures.

“We can’t undo what has already been done,” he said. “But that won’t happen in the future.”

Thiel isn’t the only bigwig attempting to cash in on Australia’s neighbor, however.

Matt Lauer owns a farm adjacent to a natural park in New Zealand. He’s often fought with walkers, hunters and fishermen who want greater access to his property.

Overseas investment officials threatened to seize Lauer’s farm after the sexual misconduct allegations against him became public, because all property owners are supposed to be “of good character.” Lauer was allowed to keep the property in the end.

New Zealand has also become a haven for tech CEOs who fear the world’s end. LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman bought a home in the country as “apocalypse insurance,” because he believes there will be a backlash against Silicon Valley when artificial intelligence takes over the world.

Over 13,000 Americans who feared for the future also registered with New Zealand’s immigration authorities in the week after President Donald Trump was elected.

Not everyone in the country wears a tinfoil hat, however: moving to New Zealand makes good business sense. The World Bank named it the best country in the world to do business in 2016.

But now it looks like most business on the island will be conducted by permanent residents. The best Thiel can hope for is to inject some of their blood.

Blame Peter Thiel and Matt Lauer for Strict New Zealand Housing Law