Why “scalping” of concert tickets is a good thing

There has been a lot of hoo-har lately about “ticket scalping”. ie the selling of football or music concert tickets for more, often much more, than their originally issued price.

Currently in New Zealand ticket scalping is permitted for “almost all” activities. There have been a handful of exclusions specifically set out in law, but apart from that, scalping, ie the on-selling of concert tickets is legal.

(Apparently in Australia, there are far more exclusions where it is NOT permitted).

Of course there will be many cases, especially when the tickets for many music concerts are sold months, sometimes almost a year, in advance, that a change of circumstances will mean that someone cannot ultimately attend. Perhaps they suffered an injury or illness, or moved address to the far end of NZ.

Concerns have been raised in two main areas. Firstly how primary sellers like Ticketmaster sold completely out of tickets, tens of thousands, within just a few minutes of sales opening online. And then how so many of those originally sold tickets ended up on Ticketmaster’s own re-selling website just MINUTES later, for greatly inflated prices.

However more consternation has been caused by Kiwis using a Swiss based re-selling site, “Viagogo” to buy tickets. Viagogo pays for internet advertising in such a way that it appears at or near the top of web search pages, often above even the original ticket seller’s own webpage.

Now just to be clear, Viagogo is NOT a scam. It is a genuine site, a web platform that allows people with “excess tickets” to place tickets for sale and it acts as intermediary, taking a commission. They also guarantee that tickets bought through the site are valid and will be honoured. Many folks have had trouble getting that guarantee itself honoured though, as telephone support is difficult to access in NZ with automated assistance options only in French, Italian and Swiss-German.

There’s also the distress factor caused when people turn up in say Auckland for a concert, having paid for airfares and hotel accomodation as they’ve come from elsewhere in NZ to attend a music concert, only to be turned away at the venue’s turnstyle gate, as the tickets they have are not valid.

Some people have suggested that NZ should go the way of Australia and some other countries and ban ALL ticket re-sales through secondary or third party platforms

However here are my thoughts. Now I enjoy listening to music at times, although I am not as into music as some folks are. (I’ve only ever been to one actual real concert, in the 1980’s when friends shouted me a ticket to see John Denver with multiple support acts opening for him including from memory Little River Band ). I’ll happily live the rest of my life without ever going to another real music concert again. Yeah it’d be nice to go out to another concert, but living without attending music concerts or football grand finals matches would not cause me any real distress, loss or hardship in my life.

However If I had to live without adequate housing, that would be a severe problem.

And yet our current housing systems, specifically buying, amount to basically a “scalpers market”. Also we hear stories about how in Auckland and Wellington, even renters face almost a “scalping” type situation as they effectively ‘bid’ to try to secure a place at home viewings.

The provision of housing, especially in our main cities is artificially restricted (mostly by specific  government policies at a national and local council level). Many people buy houses they do not intend to live in, just so they can sell them on at higher prices a few weeks,  or months later, walking away with a substantial profit (often tax-free).

One recent newspaper article concerned a woman known as “Pippa the Flipper” (Pip Hally).

Just to be clear… Lady, you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

She refers to being “chuffed” at having sold on a house to a new purchaser having inflated the price by over $100,000 in just a few weeks or months, from what price she originally bought it for.

(And to be fair, at least in her case, she says she adds insulation and has 50-year-old wiring and plumbing renewed), whereas many other house “flippers” do little more than splash a bit of paint around and run the whipper-snipper ’round the garden, before bunging a few zeroes on the price and re-selling the house (as they walk away, laughing all the way to the bank).

In another example, from Auckland, a cash-strapped historic bowling club sold off some of their land. Only later did they realise that a same-day on-selling, netted a related party $525,000 cash in their back pocket ! (Money the bowling club could have well used themselves).

UPDATED 16 April 2018 On the consumer reports series FAIR GO on TVNZ-1, the Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi was quoted as saying that the government was “committed to stopping the secondary market in ticket scalping” and further that “I think that you shouldn’t have to pay too much for a (concert) ticket”.

It seems to me wrong that some governments have banned, or are thinking of banning, the on-selling of music concert and football game tickets, and yet they openly allow, facilitate and encourage folks to re-sell houses and land, often at huge profits. People can live without the luxury entertainment of concert tickets but cannot live without essentials like housing.

Just to be clear, the title for this item is a cross between tongue-in-cheek and a windup. I actually “don’t” support selling tickets for more than their original issue price. Perhaps if houses and land were required to be sold for the same, or  less than, their original issue price, that would help fix our currently very broken, “housing market”. Certainly folks that buy a brand new car expect to lose 30% of the value as they drive it off the dealer’s lot, and then continue to lose 10% of value each year after that, no matter how well maintained the car is.  That’s the price of having the newest car in the street with the glossiest paint. Shouldn’t about the same formula apply to old houses ?

Note the recently instituted “2 year bright line test” is a bit of a joke as you only have to claim something is your “family home” anyway, for it then to become automatically exempt !

Here follows links to the original stories about Viagogo concert ticket re-selling and House and land flipping for a profit.







Caravan becomes full time living option for more people nowadays

A video show-and-tell and interview with Corwin Mandel popped up on Youtube a day ago. Worth watching in itself, also of interest are the, over 200 comments it garnered in little over the first 24 hours. The following text is taken from my response to one of those comments.

Aaron H above has made some good points. About 60% of people have security of housing tenure, through our current system of mortgages and freehold ownership.

But alas that leaves 40% of us as land-beggars aka peasants aka tenants, and although self-built “tiny houses” could indeed be part of the solution to high housing costs in New Zealand and elsewhere there are still problems like finding the land for your tiny house or caravan etc, (cheapest land in the Christchurch or commutable Canterbury province area will cost you $150,000 minimum, and banks won’t lend on bare land or insurance write-off houses if you intend to live there) (unless of course you’re independently wealthy anyway. Yes I’ve been to the banks and had this conversation before).

Another complication can be if a local authority or council demands $20,000 for “consents” or “building permits” etc. Some charities do great work, as best they can with the resources available. Like “Habitat for Humanity” (God Bless them) but like other similar groups, their assistance is aimed almost solely at “families” (ie people with children) so single people go to the bottom of the list, yet again. Our “housing market” is seriously broken.

In the last 35 years the minimum wage has gone up about 4-fold but Christchurch/Canterbury’s cheapest house prices have gone up about 25-fold. To put housing affordability back even close to where it was, we’d need at least the cheaper houses, to fall in price by over 80% (or the minimum wage to go up  nearly 6-fold ! ).

Our entire system of house and land ownership, and financing needs to change. Systems which artificially ration land availability and zonings, planning permissions and building permits, simply in order to drive up the prices need to change. In Auckland NZ, the situation is so bad, that often old houses are fully refurbished, just prior to demolition (because the seller wants the highest price, but the buyer only wants the land, for their new expensive house build).

We need to have entirely new systems which prevent property price speculators making  huge profits (often tax-free), we need a system where people (even those on the lowest wages) can affordably get the security of tenure that currently only comes by “owning” a place.

I’ve already suggested a new term be coined “Community Crofting” which could be that new system, a kind of lifetime lease, but with the security of tenure of freehold, without the ability to make a private profit. (Perhaps say, When someone leaves the community, or dies, their “croft” (land or house-on-land) simply goes back to the Community Crofting Association and is made available by ballot or some selection criteria to the next person on the list).

Here is a link to the item on Youtube

Brexit, Britain votes to extract itself from the EU

I write this from the point of view of a New Zealander, who has some English relatives and friends. I’ve never been anywhere further North than Australia, but hope to visit the British Isles and mainland Eurpoe, sometime. It is about 24 hours since the news broke that the “Brexit” vote has been counted and the result is “Leave” the European Union.

First let me say of the current British PM (David Cameron), I think the guy’s an idiot, and I’ll tell you why.

In England, previously, the very recent past, just a few months ago, there was a competition to name a new Royal maritime research vessel. The competition was in the form of a public poll (something similar although less formal than the recent “Brexit” voting poll). I’m unsure of the exact system, but it probably came down to a few college friends having fun on social media, Facebook, Twitter etc But somewhere someone said “hey let’s see if we can get the stupidest name we can think of, to win the poll !” You guessed it. Turns out that “Boaty McBoatface” won. This has left the maritime research authority in an unenviable situation that it is, almost if not actually and completely, legally required, to name Britain’s new flagship of maritime research, “Boaty McBoatface”.

So with this knowledge clear in the front of his mind, having only just recently occurred, why oh why oh why would David Cameron (or to use his apparent title The Honorouable David Cameron Dik HeD, why would he even have instituted a poll if he wasn’t absolutely sure to win it ?

Stuff I’ve previously read said the poll was to quieten some rumbling voices of dissent from within his own political party. Hmm, well how’s that workin’ out for ya Davey boy ?

It seems the REMAIN (in Europe) vote won out conclusively in London, Oxford and Scotland. But pretty much everywhere else in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, voted “LEAVE, Let’s bloody go mate, on yer bike as fast as !”.

I have heard it said that one major contributing reason towards many people voting for “LEAVE” was because of difficulties the UK is currently facing regarding a shortage of housing and especially a shortage of affordable housing. Especially when people see immigrants coming into an area, the immigration is then, rightly or wrongly, blamed for those housing problems.

(Here is a short quote that I have cribbed off someone’s Facebook). “… I voted out. Why? Simply because politicians had tried to force a remain vote by imposing an intolerable dilemma on the British people. In, and keep the decline we have forced on you, or leave, and we will ensure even more pain and hardship. Think about it. That was really the message of the remain camp. Worse still, the message was originating from persons who live in penthouse accommodation and shop at Harrods. …” (Quote ends).

Certainly in both Australia and New Zealand, this is an issue at the moment. Both countries have high (relative to our population) immigration. However the vast majority of immigrants settle in the one area (each) that is already full to bursting point, and with people sleeping in cars and tents on open land because there’s simply not enough houses.

Yes that’s right, about 60% of immigrants to Australia, never go any further than the greater Sydney area, and in NZ, it’s the Auckland area.

Obviously immigrants like to settle in the major metropolitan areas because they are the most “cosmopolitan” places. Because of previous migration, that’s where the most “ethnic” food stores will be. The Lebanese and Chinese food shops, the Indian take=away and the Asian grocery store. And hey it’s understandable that if a Vietnamese person needed to visit a doctor or dentist, they’d be more comfortable going to a Vietnamese speaking one.

You’ve got to ask, why the idiots in the Australian and New Zealand governments, instead of actively bringing in all of the fully supported migrants to areas which are already over-populated, don’t they pick some of the half-empty country towns dotted around the land ?

It’s true that support services for new migrants, like social support services and some English classes for new arrivals etc are already located in Sydney and Auckland, but those sorts of things could be opened up elsewhere with very little effort.

From a zero start, a critical mass of new immigrants would very quickly be built up, so very soon they could have access to ethnic based shopping options and healthcare providers in their own languages.

One wonders if the same is needed in Britain ? Do new migrants need to be more equally shared around the place ? And for that matter are there issues regarding housing supply and affordability that need to be addressed ?

Governments cannot be blamed for the weather (well not directly) but they are responsible for things like immigration. New entrants can be granted visas which require them to live somewhere for a particular period of time (say 10 years) by then they will (hopefully) have become settled in their new community, and hopefully they won’t want to all rush to London/Sydney/Auckland the very day their 10 year visa condition expires.

To all those wallies in government, I say to them “hey budds, why are you so single-minded about doing nothing about housing affordability and supply and just leaving it all up to the “free market” (which clearly isn’t working) ?”

We have many many restrictions of the otherwise “free market” in many areas. Whether talking about UK, Australia or New Zealand, the government specifically DOES NOT ALLOW the “FREE MARKET” to apply with respect to things like the supply of COCAINE, or MACHINE GUNS, or PLUTONIUM dust.

Now maybe you should argue we should just leave all those things up to the FREE MARKET as well, and not be bothered about what terrible downstream social consequences might well arise (with all the cocaine, machine guns, and radioactive dust floating around the city streets).

Or maybe it’s time for the governments, at least in those countries that are having major problems in their biggest cities, to find some fixes.

I personally believe that taking the PROFIT-EERS out of the equation will help considerable.

Just to take a simple example, water (definitely essential to life). In places like Australia and NZ we have a two-tier system. We have “for profit” water as sold in plastic bottles and carry-containers at supermarkets and we have “not-for-profit” water as made available through our city council, or local water authority.

The difference in price is somewhere in the region of a thousand to one, or 1000:1. Often even more. Indeed in many areas, the bottled water actually wouldn’t be allowed to be piped to the city’s inhabitants as it is HIGHER in contaminants.

To take an example I know from Christchurch city in NZ. The cheapest house and land package in the cheapest suburb would be about NZ $ 250,000 in Aranui, for an old 3 bedroom house on land (and possibly no lockup garage).

(In NZ, the minimum wage of $15.25 per hour is $31,720 annual gross. So using the traditionally accepted bank formula of house price being 4 times annual gross, that would make an affordable house total price of $126,880. Therefore housing, (at the bottom range of the market) is a multiple of almost 8-times income. ie Christchurch’s cheapest houses are costing about double what they should in relation to wages. Minimum wage isn’t going up by anything anytime soon, and never goes up by much anyway, so somehow we need house prices to fall to half what they currently are.)

I am *NOT* suggesting that similar houses (to what’s currently available in ‘Aranui’) could be made on a “not for profit” basis of one one-thousandth of the current NZ $ 250,000 price, ie, DON’T expect to buy a house and land package for just NZ $250 !

But it makes me wonder, if we took the profiteers out of the equation, how much would a house and land sell for ?

(In 1974, NZ took the profiteers out of the motor vehicle personal injury compensation system. Annual car registration in NZ is now NZ $ 130 annually. Australia has a similar-to-the-USA profit based system and car registrations (including MVIT “green slip”) are somewhere around Aust $800 a year. ) So taking the profiteers out of the equation, might well reduce house prices to a quarter or a fifth of their current level.

How much would people happily pay for a house to have security of tenure over their home, if they knew that when they sold it again, whether in 3 months or 65 years, it would have to be on-sold for the same price they brought it for ? ie, no personal profit would be made.

Currently in Auckland NZ we have the stupid situation that houses get fully refurbished, at a cost of many tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, just prior to demolition (as the house buyers just wanted the land onto which to build a new house).

Not counting the cost to the planet in the huge waste of resources (the labour resource of a fully refurbished house is entirely wasted during its demolition, and only a limited amount of the materials used are salvaged and re-used).

In Auckland and Christchurch, and possibly London too, can we please get the PROFITEERS and “investors” OUT of the housing “market” Let’s leave the housing “market” for people that want a house just to live in, for them and their families.

Far too many people are currently paying 70% or more, of their nett income in “rent” whether it’s to a private landlord or  in mortgage repayments on huge loans to buy even basic housing. That gives them very little else to spend on food, electricity and home heating, car costs and public bus/train transport or education classes and courses etc.

Imagine how much better life on Earth would be for all of us, if rent or mortgage repayments only typically amounted to say 10% of your weekly income.

Think how much good could be done as people donated just a small portion of all their “spare” money to various charities (whether it’s guide dogs for the blind or conservation groups trying to re-plant native trees or whatever). What about saving something extra towards a rainy day, or ones’ retirement ? If it was just 10% of weekly earnings needed to  cover rent or mortgage payments, folks on even modest wages could afford to “gamble” something on the share market. The extra finance available for new start-ups would push investments in new technologies. Many would fail, but some would succeed.

When I first heard about the “BREXIT” vote coming up, I was initially a supporter of LEAVE. I looked forward to Britain re-establishing closer links with former colonies like Australia and New Zealand.

NZ exports used to go 70% to the UK and 3 % to Asia, but since the early 1970’s that ratio has switched. Asia’s population has exploded and the people there want feeding, plus some manufactured goods we sell into those markets and many people from Asian countries come to NZ for holidays.

However I have come to the opinion that the right move was for Britain to stay within the European Union.

It seems though, that with the outcome of the BREXIT vote, an orderly withdrawal will commence.

The process is expected to take 2 or more years and the exact details simply aren’t known.

Some options are a sort of “Norway” situation which would place Britain outside the EU and unable to vote on EU policies, but still bound to adhere to many of them. Whatever the details eventually become, there will be many politicians and senior civil servants laughing it up big-time at the taxpayers’ expense, as they attend an even greater number of talk-fests over the next few years…

“Boaty McBoatface” it makes you think, don’t hold a poll unless you’re sure you’ll be happy with the outcome.

I fear that 48% of Britons are going to bed unhappy tonight and that a great many more (98% ?) will be unhappy when the repercussions of leaving the European Union, come back to bite them in the arxe.

I’m left wondering if “immigration” has taken the blame for the UK government’s failure to provide, allow and facilitate, healthy, safe, comfortable and affordable housing for people. All in the name of “free market” economic theory.

Community Crofting, a new form of lease with security of tenure, opportunity lost

It is my understanding, that in USA, a perfectly livable house on several acres (which I might call a “hobby farm, or a livestyle block, but which some people may call a homestead etc “room for a pony” as Hyacinth Bucket would say on the tv show comedy) I understand that within a short drive to a USA large town or reasonable city would cost about $50,000. In NZ you’d be looking at about $1 million.

Probably even more than that in Aussie and UK. Of course if people live in the USA they risk being shot dead by poolice, no questions asked, if found committing offences like “being black in a public place”. If you’re just being disresepctful to a poolice officer, you may get to survive being tasered multiple times and pepper-sprayed from a giant flyspray size can (none of those little wee lipstick sized pepper-sprays for US “law enforcement”.

It sickens me to my stomach that the NZ govt bulldozed 12,000 houses (in Chch’s ‘red zone”) just as fast as it could get the bulldozers around there, instead of saving say 4,000 of the completely un-damaged, and least damaged houses, and making them available at a ‘peppercorn rent’ for cheap housing under a special  new “community crofting” leasehold arrangement (that could have been devised). A new form of lifetime lease with security of tenure, but without the ability to make a profit from the house. These houses could have been released onto the market, some perhaps incorporating the surrounding empty sections where houses had been demolished, so as to give half-acre and acre lot sizes.

Currently in New Zealand, residential tenants can by evicted with  just 42 days notice. Especially during times of housing availability and affordability crisis, and with many thousands of people on government housing waiting lists, this does not give tenants long enough to secure alternative accommodation.

A golden opportunity was shit out the arxehole and flushed down the toilet, just to prop up and increase Christchurch’s house values. The flow-on effects from Christchurch having a large pool of affordable  rental housing and stable long term communities (that long term, security of tenure that “community crofting” leases  would give), would also have helped reign in Auckland’s rampaging house price inflation (and Christchurch’s not-quite-as-rampaging house price inflation).

Here’s yet another article on the housing un-affodability crisis in Auckland (and to a lesser extent, all of NZ) from the Auckland Herald Newspaper’s NZHerald website.