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SteveandLisa Stone

Should we have a Property Inspection?

Q: Our agent has suggested that we get a building inspection before we list our home for sale. It seems like a waste of money to me – if a buyer wants one then can’t they just get it themselves? What’s your advice?

James L.

 

A: Personally, we think it is a sensible idea. It costs money but it could save you plenty, in fact it can be the difference between selling and not selling – especially at auction.

Why? We recommend that all buyers, whatever property they are looking at, get a building inspection before buying or bidding at auction. If we have a vendor’s inspection available for them to view then it can give them the confidence to do their own inspection – this is particularly important for monolithic- (plaster) clad properties. When an agent allows a potential buyer to view the vendor’s inspection report they must be very clear that the inspection was undertaken at the vendor’s cost and that the buyer should do their own due diligence, but it can certainly give the buyer the confidence to move forward in his or her decision making.

 

Getting your home inspected before you list it for sale can also help you avoid any unexpected surprises. Almost every home, even new builds, are likely to have issues raised in an inspection, so having one done before listing for sale gives you the opportunity to fix anything that may scare a potential buyer off. What most sellers don’t realize is the building inspection is the place where many sales fall apart. A pre-listing building inspection will allow you to get a clear picture about the state of your house – including any problems that may derail your sale. By getting most or all of the problems taken care of you increase the chances of having a smooth and pleasant transaction.

It pays to do this well before you go to market – there are few things as stressful as selling your home, and you certainly don’t want to add to the stress by having to do last minute ‘repairs’, so get an inspection well before you want to go to market and give yourself time to get your house ready for sale. Good luck.

Should I buy an Apartment off Plan?

Q: We are about to put our home of twenty years on the market and are considering buying an apartment in the city off the plans. The block we are looking at will be finished in another 18 months so then we can decide whether to move in for a while or rent it out. What are your thoughts in buying off the plans and what are the risks?

Julie & Bryan K.

A: Interestingly our partner company Loan Market has just published an article on this, so I have summarised this in my answer. Signing a contract for an apartment that is yet to be built can be a little daunting. After all, you’re handing over money for a property that hasn’t been built yet. Buying off the plan can be tricky but doing your homework can help prevent disappointment down the track. Here are some tips to help guide you through the process.

Firstly, researching the developer and their reputation is probably the most important step to determine whether to invest in a particular project. Reputation is everything, so research the work ethics and level of integrity of the property developing company. Definitely take a look around some of their previous projects and speak with owners (if you can) about how they feel about the company.

Next thing to research is the location. This is hugely important. If you are buying in the city then you will be fine for services such as transport and restaurants but just be sure to check that there are no new developments planned that might block your view or sun in the future.

The NZ Building Code should ensure that the building is properly built and weather-proof and that you will have all the required safety and security features (fire alarms, etc.) but be sure to check that sound-proofing, the standard of finish, measurements, car parking etc. are all consistent with what is in the contract.

During the course of building, the developer may still have the right to modify the building plans so it’s paramount to go over the contract with a fine tooth comb and ensure the contract mitigates the risks involved in purchasing off the plan.

As always, seek the opinion of your solicitor before committing to paper, and always talk to a mortgage advisor re your finance.

4 Questions You Must Ask at an Open Home

Q: We’ve been doing the rounds of open  homes recently. While some agents are really  helpful, many are not. What are the most  important questions we should ask when we  find a property we are interested in?

John & Becky L.

A: The open home is the best time to qualify  a property in or out of your search. Take the

opportunity to ask the agent questions face-to-  face rather than via email or phone. If it’s busy  then either come back another time or stick  around so you can speak directly to the agent  after the open.

Remember, the agent is not allowed to lie, but  many are pretty good at avoiding giving you a  direct answer! Here are four initial questions  (we’re assuming sales by auction here), to make  sure you are as informed as possible.

Why are the owners selling? It’s great to know  the seller’s motivation. If the owners have already  bought, or are moving into a retirement village for  example, then you know they are serious and the  property will very likely be sold.

How long has it been on the market? If a property has been on the market for a long period of time it is most likely due to an unrealistic price expectation,  so a good guide to owners price expectation. But don’t let that stop you making an offer!

What is the seller’s price expectation? You can certainly ask this but most agents will not give you a straight answer. We do our best to be honest and we often have the same list of sold properties that we have supplied to the seller at appraisal time, available at the open homes. No one knows what a property will sell for at auction, but the agent should be able to provide you with some realistic and relevant information.

Has there been much interest in the home? This gives you an idea of the level of competition you are likely to encounter on auction day. Don’t be pu off if the open home is really busy. A busy open home does not necessarily mean a busy auction,  so make sure you ask the agent how much interest there is, and base your decision on that.

We don’t have the space here to go into all the detail, but feel free to contact us at  steve.stone@raywhite.com with any questions.

What’s an Agency Agreement?

Last week we answered Diana’s question on why her home had not sold, and because we mentioned that it might be because she is using the wrong agent we thought we should tell you what is involved in a Sole Listing Agreement, and when and how you can cancel it. The real estate agent you choose to sell your house will ask you to sign an agency agreement.

This is a legally binding contract so make sure you read and understand it before signing. Your agent should also recommend that you take legal advice before signing.

Your agent must also give you a copy of the REAA  Agency Agreement Guide which explains your rights under the agreement.

If you use any of the major Auckland real estate brands you will most likely be signing an agreement that contains just the approved standard clauses – if your agent modifies the agreement in any way then definitely seek legal advice before signing.

Your agent must explain to you when the agency agreement will end.  Make sure you check the cancellation terms. These can vary from agency to agency.

A sole agency agreement gives one agent or agency the exclusive right to market and arrange the sale of your property. If you sign a sole agency agreement you should not sign another agency agreement with any

other agent until you have cancelled the first agreement.  If you do, you may have to pay all agents a commission,  regardless of which one arranged the sale.

If the sole agency agreement is for a residential property and for a term longer than 90 days, the client or the agent can cancel the agreement at any time after 90  days.

Make sure you check what happens when the sole agency agreement is cancelled. Some sole agency agreements become general agency agreements when cancelled – this means that you will also have to cancel the general agency agreement if you no longer want to work with the agency.

When a sole agency agreement is cancelled your agent must give you a list of people they have introduced.

If you sell to one of these people, the agent may be entitled to a commission.

If you change your mind after signing a sole agency agreement you can cancel it by 5.00pm on the first working day after you have been given a copy. This must be done in writing ie, letter, email or fax.

However, if an agent carries out any work before the agreement is cancelled and that work results in the sale of the property after the agreement is cancelled, the agency agreement will be legally binding and you will have to pay that agent commission.

Why isn’t my Home Selling?

Q: We put our home on the market 3 months ago (auction) and had no bids. Since then we have put a price on it, but we haven’t received even one written offer. Our agent is a lovely lady but we just don’t seem to be getting anywhere. Any suggestions? Diana C.

A: There is nothing as frustrating for a home seller as their home not selling, and I’m sure your agent feels the same way too!

There are a number of possible reasons, but the most obvious is the price. If you have been through an auction campaign and had feedback at say $1m and you are holding out for $1.2m then maybe that’s your problem, especially if the market is not on the rise. We are often confronted with a potential seller who has based their price on what the house owes them, or what a neighbour’s property sold for. The sale price is determined by the buyer, not the seller I’m afraid.

Another reason can be your choice of agent. There is no doubt that a good agent will get you a better price than an average agent, and in a tough market such as now, this is even truer. We have written before about choosing the right agent for you, and as we say, it’s even more important in the current market. Certainly, make sure they have a good rapport, but also check their listings to sales ratio: How many properties have they taken to market this year, and what percentage of them have sold? Over 80% or 90% is good.

There may be a whole raft of other reasons you are still on the market. People will tell you that presentation makes a big difference, and it does. But the price will always trump any other reason: If your home needs a $100,000 makeover then it will be reflected in the price. Drop the price by $100k and you will very likely sell. If you want to spend the $100k doing the makeover you may find it easier to sell, but not necessarily for an extra $100k!

We’re sorry you haven’t managed to find your buyer, but keep an open mind and think hard about what you are willing to accept in order to move on.

Next week we will talk about what your rights are in terms of a listing with a sole agency.

What is a Reverse Mortgage?

We read the following article online and thought it might be of interest to our readers. The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) are reviewing reverse mortgages:

 What is a Reverse Mortgage?

Essentially, it is a loan that allows you to borrow money against your home by using the equity built up in your home as the security. This type of loan can be taken as a lump sum, a regular income stream, a line of credit, or a combination of these.

With this type of loan, although there aren’t repayments while you live in your home, there is interest charged like any other loan. The interest will compound over time and be added onto your loan balance.

These types of mortgages are usually taken out by retirees to complement their lifestyles and provide an additional income stream during retirement years.

However, there are many long-term financial risks when taking out these loans.

As these loans are mainly taken out by retirees, the loan must be repaid in full (including interest and fees) when you move into aged care, move out, or pass away. Until this time, you are able to stay and live in your own home, all the while accumulating interest and reducing the value of your estate.

Risks

The current ASIC review of reverse mortgage lending in Australia found that borrowers typically do not recognise or understand the long-term risk of taking out this type of loan.

There are large risks when taking out a reverse mortgage, the main risk being severe financial distress later in life.

Some of the risks associated with these loans:

  • The payments may impact your pension eligibility.
  • The banks will offer higher interest rates and charge higher ongoing fees than the average home loan.
  • As you are aging in life, your debt will increase as interest rises on your loan.
  • Debts will increase quickly as the interest compounds over time.
  • The value of your home is not guaranteed to always rise, and if the value of your home falls, you may have less money than expected for future medical treatment or aged care.
  • Maybe high break costs involved.
  • In some circumstances, if you have someone living with you, not on the mortgage, such as children, family or friends, that person may not be able to stay if you move out, or pass away as the bank will need to recoup their loan.

We strongly advise that if you are considering taking out a reverse mortgage you seek independent financial and legal advice as well as speak to your family as there may be other ways to obtain funds in your retirement years.

How to make the most of a Property Manager

Q: We have recently purchased an investment property and have been strongly advised not to manage it ourselves but to use a property manager. How do we make sure we get the most from our property manager? Cheryl P.

A: We passed your question on to Delanie Horrobin, of Super City Rental Management, who responded:

Every landlord is different, with different needs, different investment motivations and different expectations of a property manager. Communication between all parties is key. For this reason we like

to discuss some of the following questions to help us customise our service to your requirements as a landlord:

  • What is most important to you in respect to how your property is managed?
  • How often would you like to hear from your property manager?
  • How would you prefer us to contact you? Phone, email, text?
  • Are there any chattels at the property we need to be aware of or that you are considering adding?
  • Do you have any concerns around the management of your property now or in the future?
  • Have you ever used the services of a property manager before, and if so what did they do well and what could they do better?
  • Are you interested in ongoing advice on how to grow your portfolio?
  • Do you prefer a low or high level of communication from us around minor issues or updates?
  • Do you understand the importance of ongoing property maintenance and how this can affect your investment return?
  • Do you have an investment goal or strategy?
  • Are you interested in ongoing advice on how to grow your investment portfolio?
  • Do you have a landlord insurance policy?

This helps ensure that expectations are set and continue to be met throughout the working relationship.

 

Choosing to have your property professionally managed is a big commitment. Whether it’s the family home or part of a million dollar investment portfolio, you

need to ensure that your asset is being maintained to the highest standard.

Here at SuperCity Rental Management, we understand that; so give us a call to hear more about what we have to offer.

Understanding Property Valuations

How much is this property worth? It’s a common (and smart) question to ask. Recently we’ve noticed a lot of confusion when it comes to property valuations. It’s understandable because there many different ways that people value property. Here are three of the more common ones:

Capital Value

Capital value (also known as Rateable or Council Value) is set by your local council and determines how much your annual rates charge is. Capital value isn’t property specific, it’s a general guide to your property’s worth based on other properties in the same area and the most recent sale prices for the property. This means it won’t include any

appliances, improvements and/or additions you’ve made since you purchased it.

A capital value is often used when buying and selling as an indicative price, although we discourage this – they are notoriously inaccurate and can be very misleading. Keep in mind too that they’re only updated every three years.

Registered Value

A registered property valuation is an assessment of a property’s market worth according to a registered valuer. It will be based upon a full inspection of your property as well as comparable sales in the area.

You’re most likely to need a valuation when you’ve had an offer accepted on a property, and you need finance (a mortgage). Most banks will require a property valuation done by a registered valuer as part of a finance application. A property valuation can also be done for other reasons including:

  • Calculating how much you should pay for

a property

  • To find out how much a property is worth

when selling

  • As part of a home loan refinancing application. Your bank requests a valuation to get an impartial and expert opinion on the market value of the property. The Valuers Act 1948 ensures that a valuation done

by a registered valuer is reliable so banks count on this. This is important to them when they consider the risk associated with lending you money.

Property Appraisal

An appraisal is carried out by a licensed real estate salesperson and, similarly to the registered valuation, is based on recent

comparable sales. What a real estate salesperson will also take into account is the current state of the market in your area, and how long properties are taking to sell. Remember that real estate salespeople can inflate your property’s value to flatter you, so bear this in mind when talking to them about selling.

 

Is Now a Good Time to Sell?

Q: Now that our children have all grown up and left home we want to downsize from our current property in Parnell to a smaller property. We are worried though that if we sell we won’t be able to find anything we like. What options do we have? Margaret B.

A: This is a very common question these days Margaret, especially with the shortage of houses on the market in Auckland right now.

Obviously, you have two choices: Sell first then buy, or buy first then sell. If you buy before you sell you won’t really know what your budget is (you can’t be sure how much your home will sell for) and you may very well need bridging finance to get you through the period between when you have to pay for your new home and when you settle on (and get paid for) your current home. (The length of settlement is the time between unconditional date, often the auction date, and the day the new owner pays and takes possession). You can minimise this by asking for a long settlement on your new home, and then be ready to go straight to auction on your current home as soon as you have an unconditional agreement on your new home. This may enable you to get sold and settled before you settle on the new home, but what if your purchaser wants a long settlement too? Either way you do run the risk of being forced to get bridging finance. In the very worst scenario, you may have trouble selling your home and end up owning TWO properties – not always ideal!

Alternatively, you can do what most people seem to be doing these days: Sell first and then buy. Of course, as you’ve said, the risk here is that you can’t find anything to buy once you’ve sold. However, what we have found is that people who have sold get very focussed very quickly on finding their new home, and they become a lot less fussy! And if it takes longer than you expect there is always the option of renting while you search.

 

Thinking of Downsizing?

Q: Now that our children have all grown up and left home we want to downsize from our current property in Parnell to a smaller property. We are worried though that if we sell we won’t be able to find anything we like. What options do we have? Margaret B.

A: This is a very common question these days Margaret, especially with the shortage of houses on the market in Auckland right now.

Obviously you have two choices: Sell first then buy, or buy first then sell. If you buy before you sell you won’t really know what your budget is (you can’t be sure how much your home will sell for) and you may very well need bridging finance to get you through the period between when you have to pay for your new home and when you settle on (and get paid for) your current home. (The length of settlement is the time between unconditional date, often the auction date, and the day the new owner pays and takes possession). You can minimise this by asking for a long settlement on your new home, and then be ready to go straight to auction on your current home as soon as you have an unconditional agreement on your new home. This may enable you to get sold and settled before you settle on the new home, but what if your purchaser wants a long settlement too? Either way you do run the risk of being forced to get bridging finance. In the very worst scenario you may have trouble selling your home and end up owning TWO properties – not always ideal!

Alternatively you can do what most people seem to be doing these days: Sell first and then buy. Of course as you’ve said, the risk here is that you can’t find anything to buy once you’ve sold. However, what we have found is that people who have sold get very focussed very quickly on finding their new home, and they become a lot less fussy! And if it takes longer than you expect there is always the option of renting while you search.

Don’t forget: We have a full catalogue of all our weekly questions and answers on our website www.thestones.co.nz – just click on Property-Tips.

How potential buyers best prepare for the day of an auction?

We have written about this before, but we are continually asked about how potential buyers best prepare for the day of an auction –an auction can be a stressful occasion!

It can move so quickly that you don’t fully register what is happening until afterwards. For potential buyers, this can mean getting swept up in the drama and bidding more than you can afford.

To stay grounded on the day, there are several things you should do ahead of time. The first is to speak with a mortgage adviser early in the process. They will be able to give you expert advice on what to expect, how to work out your budget and help arrange a pre-approval. Remember, you cannot bid at auction if you don’t have your finance arranged: It is cash, unconditional.

As a buyer, you’ll want to be calm and composed. Auctions can seem intimidating if you’re not used to them, so do your research and ask family and friends about their experiences bidding so you know what to expect. Attend auctions to get a handle on how they work. There are many articles online with tips from top auctioneers (like familiarising yourself with the auctioneer’s style) and the dispelling of strategies (such as holding back throughout the bidding). This knowledge can help you feel more assertive on the day.

Lastly and most crucially, make sure your budget is established (which your adviser can assist you with). Stay up to date with market rates to try to figure out how much the property could go for. Decide both on what you’d like to pay for it and how much you’d feel comfortable going up to if need be. Identify what your price limit will be.

It’s important that you put boundaries in place to make sure you don’t go over your limit. Even the most sensible person can get disorientated by an auction’s high stakes drama and sense of urgency, but once that adrenaline dissipates, you could be left feeling anxious about having committed more than you can afford. Having a buyer’s advocate or family or friends there with you can help you stay on track and avoid getting in over your head.

Whether you secure the home of your dreams at your first auction or become a regular fixture at a few auctions, being prepared will put you in a good position to make the most out of this fast-paced and exciting event!

Tips for a good Final Inspection

Some careful planning and a thorough inspection can make the difference between a smooth settlement and an expensive, frustrating or delayed one.

A final inspection is legally your opportunity to inspect the property prior to settlement to ensure it is in the same condition as the day you purchased it, but what does that really mean?

Basically, it means that you must be satisfied that the vendors are leaving the property vacant of their possessions and in as-inspected condition. You don’t want to move in and find a pile of old paint cans to get rid of or patch up the hole in the wall where they removed their TV bracket.

We recommend that your final inspection takes place three to five business days prior to settlement. If there are items of concern this time frame allows for everyone to sort it out without a mad rush at the end between the solicitors.

When you book this in with your real estate agent, remember to ask if the gas and electricity will still be connected in order for you to test the electrical appliances. Be prepared with the contract conditions so you know what chattels are included or excluded.

If you see obvious damage, take a photo of it and report it to the agent and your legal representative on the day. If the vendor says they are not going to fix/remove the item, then talk to your agent, and report it to your solicitor. It is unlikely that settlement will be held up for a few paint cans but sometimes vendors do need to be reminded of their legal obligations.

Some tips on what to look for in your final inspection:

  • Electrical appliances – are they all in working order? If not you can request the vendor fix it prior to settlement.
  • Keys. Are there window locks? Are there patio bolt keys? Gate keys? Shed keys?
  • Are garden sheds clear of any unwanted items, paint tins and old garden tools?
  • Is the underneath of the house clear of junk and debris?
  • Remotes – heating systems, garage doors; ensure they are left behind.
  • Are the correct number of rubbish bins on the property?
  • Hot water system – does hot water come out of the tap?
  • Are all the chattels still present?
  • Are any instruction manuals available for the appliances?

That’s a quick run down for you, but as always, if in doubt, ask your solicitor.

Body corporate warnings

Q: We read your last two articles about apartments with interest. We are about to buy an apartment to renovate and just wanted to get your opinion on body corporates and what we should be wary of. We have read some real horror stories! Angela M.

A: Firstly be sure to get all the information from the selling agent: A pre-contract disclosure, copies of recent body corporate meeting minutes, financial statements, budgets, body corporate rules and the long-term maintenance plan. Be sure to read everything! The rules especially will give you an idea of whether the apartment block will work for you. If in doubt about anything then ask the agent or your lawyer. This is a very important step because this will tell you whether the building is well managed and well maintained and whether you are likely to be happy there.

If you are buying an apartment in a very small block you may find that the body corporate is not being run legally. Beware! And speak to your lawyer.

Even in a well-run complex remember that the body corp will be run by owners in the block, and it is a democracy. Not everyone will agree on everything so be prepared for a possible occasional ’confrontation’!

One of the major areas of contention is often around on-going maintenance: Some owners will want the block and common areas kept at their best, while others may not want to spend the money. Reading the BC minutes should give you a good idea of how well the complex is run.

In terms of renovating – read the body corp rules. Most complexes will allow ‘redecorating’ but may require notice of anything more than that. Generally, if you want to make a change that requires building consent you will need to get the approval of the body corp committee before starting any work.

Our strongest advice is to get on the body corporate committee. This will at least give you some control over the destiny of what may be your largest asset.

Do you need a building inspection?

Q: Our agent has suggested that we get a building inspection before we list our home for sale. It seems like a waste of money to me – if a buyer wants one then can’t they just get it themselves? What’s your advice? James L.

Personally, we think it is a sensible idea. It costs money but it could save you plenty, in fact, it can be the difference between selling and not selling – especially at auction.

Why? We recommend that all buyers, whatever property they are looking at, get a building inspection before buying or bidding at auction. If we have a vendor’s inspection available for them to view then it can give them the confidence to do their own inspection – this is particularly important for monolithic- (plaster) clad properties. When an agent allows a potential buyer to view the vendor’s inspection report they must be very clear that the inspection was undertaken at the vendor’s cost and that the buyer should do their own due diligence, but it can certainly give the buyer the confidence to move forward in his or her decision making.

Getting your home inspected before you list it for sale can also help you avoid any unexpected surprises. Almost every home, even new builds, are likely to have issues raised in an inspection, so having one done before listing for sale gives you the opportunity to fix anything that may scare a potential buyer off. What most sellers don’t realize is the building inspection is the place where many sales fall apart. A pre-listing building inspection will allow you to get a clear picture about the state of your house – including any problems that may derail your sale. By getting most or all of the problems taken care of you increase the chances of having a smooth and pleasant transaction.

It pays to do this well before you go to market – there are few things as stressful as selling your home, and you certainly don’t want to add to the stress by having to do last minute ‘repairs’, so get an inspection well before you want to go to market and give yourself time to get your house ready for sale. Good luck!

Don’t forget: We have a full catalogue of all our weekly questions and answers on our website www.thestones.co.nz – click on Property-Tips

Top tips for buying an apartment as an investment

When choosing an apartment to rent out there are some specifics that can make a big difference to the desirability of your property. First is the number of bedrooms and floor size. Two bedroom apartments are most popular, and if you’re looking for a two bedroom unit, look at buying something above 80m2 and above 110m2 for a three bedroom. More bedrooms mean that as an investor you can charge more rent, and your tenants can split the rent further to reduce their costs.

The position of the unit in the building is the next thing to look at. If your unit is in a quiet suburb, your tenants or buyers will probably be young families or empty nesters. These tenants will be looking for an easily accessible but safe, smaller apartment block with a unit on the first two floors. Renting families are likely to want an apartment with its own garage or allocated parking spot. They may also pay more for a home with a good view of the city or harbour.

If you are looking to buy in an inner city apartment block, you will most probably be renting your unit to young professionals. In the upper-end markets these tenants will pay for good views, but in the general tenant market, any level of the building will work.

A unit which is newer or has been renovated to incorporate modern open plan living will also be more attractive to tenants. Look for an apartment which provides plenty of natural light and areas which can be used to entertain and relax.

Seasoned investors have told us that no matter who your market is, the ground floor of an apartment block is by far the best choice for an investor because you don’t eliminate any of your market. If you go above the ground floor you eliminate both the older generation who don’t want to go up the stairs and people with young kids.

Finally, as a landlord, you may be better off buying a newer apartment as there is generally less maintenance involved, and it may also be easier to rent out.

Are apartments a worthwhile investment?

Q: We are thinking of selling our home in St Heliers and buying a luxury apartment somewhere closer to the city, but will we get the same capital gain with an apartment? Bruce L.

A: Unfortunately no-one can accurately predict what will happen to house prices, or to apartment prices for that matter. There was a time when investing in apartments was considered to be a far inferior choice to buying a home or duplex. The value of real estate is in the land, the experts said, so you should put your investing dollars in houses where the land value appreciates for many years to come.

However, that rule doesn’t always apply – certainly not these days.

There are plenty of new up-market apartments being built around Auckland now, and not all of them are in the City centre. There are new developments springing up in the suburbs, from Meadowbank to Mission Bay and out to Orewa, and the majority are bigger, more luxurious and in better locations than previously.

What this means is that many apartments now offer good solid capital gains in line with houses, due to their position and location: It might be better to own a small slice of a highly valuable piece or land, rather than a large slice of a lower-value patch.

But as well as that, there are more single and two-person households today than there’s ever been, and most of these people don’t want to live in a five bedroom house out in the suburbs. They want to be close to the CBD, close to work and entertainment, so the apartment market is growing. Our lifestyle has become more cosmopolitan, with beaches, cafes, and restaurants creeping higher on the priority list.

So the answer is that we really can’t be sure, but that experience overseas tells us that this new style of apartment will hold its own in terms of capital gain with more traditional real estate.

Next week we will give you a few tips on what to look out for when buying an apartment, luxury or otherwise.

Ten More Top Moving Tips.

Here is the second instalment of our moving tips.

  1. Buy a roll of stretch wrap.
    It works like gladwrap but on a bigger scale. You can group items together, and it’ll protect your furniture from getting scuffed and scratched.
  2. Keep sandwich bags handy for holding any small parts of things you have to take apart, like curtain rods or mounted flat-screen TVs.
    Tape the sandwich bags to the back of the item they correspond to. You can also use this method with the cords for your electronics.
  3. Beer boxes are the best for books because they have handles on the sides.
    So be sure to hit up your local liquor store.
  4. Take a photo of how your electronics are connected so you can remember how and where all the wires go.
  5. Cut down on boxes by making all of your baskets, laundry bins, hampers, and suitcases work for you.
    Pack them with stuff. Use the wheeled suitcases for heavy things like books.
  6. The fastest way to pack a closet:
    Leave clothes on their hangers, simply grab a bunch, fold them once and drop them into a box. This makes for much faster unpacking.
  7. Change your address at least two weeks prior to moving.
    This might seem like a no-brainer for important things like utilities and cable but don’t sweat the small stuff. You’ve also got credit cards, your bank, magazine subscriptions, and your mail to worry about.
  8. If you own items that you want to get rid of but are too valuable to just give away, start selling on trademe at least 6 weeks before moving.
    It’s an easy way to make you feel like you aren’t procrastinating, and you might be able to make enough money back to pay for the entire move itself. It takes time for items to sell though so you’ll want to plan accordingly.
  9. Arrange for a charity organisation to come pick up the items you don’t want at least a week or two before moving.
    It’ll save you the trouble of having to take it there yourself.
  10. Remember to defrost your refrigerator at least a day before moving and wipe up any liquid.
    Otherwise you’re going to have stinky wet mess when you get to your new home.

What we haven’t mentioned is that there are several very helpful services that look after transferring internet, power, gas, Sky etc. from your current to your new home. Call us if you would like our recommendation.

 Good luck with your next move!

Top 10 House Moving Tips!

This week we thought we would share some really useful tips for when you are moving house. We know how stressful this can be so we put together the following list to make your life easier. (Special thanks to our friend Andrew Duncan for his input.)

  1. Pack an overnight bag containing all your essentials.
    You will be pretty worn out at the end of moving day so you’ll want easy access to your essentials, including a change of clothes if you’re going back to work the next day, as well as all your toiletries.
  2. Pack the items you will need FIRST in a clear plastic box.
    This includes things like a box cutter, eating utensils, select cookware, phone charger, toilet paper, tools, etc. The clear bin allows you to see inside; it also separates itself from all the cardboard boxes.
  3. Wrap your breakables (dishes, glasses, etc.) in clothing to save on bubble wrap.
    Two birds, one stone (no pun intended!): you’re packing your clothes and kitchenware at the same time!
  4. For extra padding, pack your glasses and stemware in clean(!) socks.
  5. In addition to labelling what’s in your boxes, add what room they’ll be going into.
    When you arrive at your new home, unpack BY ROOM. Unpacking will feel more manageable. Remember to label the SIDES of the boxes – you’ll be able to identify them even if they’re stacked.
  6. Use the colour-coding system.
    Pick a colour code for each room and label that room’s boxes accordingly. Label the door of each room with the corresponding sticker/tape so that movers know where to place the boxes.
  7. If you can, show up to your new home before the move and pre-clean the bathroom and kitchen.
    Put up a new shower curtain and stock some new bath towels and toilet paper, as well. You’ll want to take a long hot shower after a long day of moving.
  8. Cover the openings of your toiletries with gladwrap, then put the tops back on.
    Then put them in a zip-lock bag – this will keep your toiletries from breaking and leaking all over your stuff during the move.
  9. Pack plates vertically, like records. They’ll be less likely to break.
  10. Keep drawers intact by covering them with gladwrap.
    Dresser drawers are like their own moving boxes — this will keep you from having to unpack and re-fold their contents. It’ll also make moving the actual dresser much more manageable.

That’s it for this week – next week we will have another ten tips for you.

Why are Real estate fees so high?

Q: You probably won’t answer this. I think agent’s  fees are exorbitant how do you guys justify them? Nick H.

A: We love a challenge Nick and we absolutely understand how people feel when they see how much agents charge, especially when they think all we do is run a few open homes, set up an auction and pick up a big chunk of money.

This is far from the truth. Firstly, we (the agents) don’t  get the entire fee: The agency takes a big piece of it.  (The split between agency and agent varies and we’re  not at liberty to say how much that is.)

What many people forget is that agents only get paid once they have sold a property for a price that the seller is happy with – no sale, no pay. And a good agent will more than pay for themselves – as we described in a recent article, sales through agents in the USA get an average of 20% more than a private seller. (The average commission in the US is 6% by the way). That 20% will more than pay for the agent’s  commission.

Secondly, there is a lot of time and effort that goes into each successful sale, from the effort and expense of winning the listing (most sellers interview several agents, and only one gets the listing so there is the expense with no reward for the agents who miss

out). Self- promotion too is an expensive part of every  agent’s outgoings – if potential sellers haven’t heard of you how will you ever get invited to sell their home?

Once we list a property there is plenty of work to  be done. We have a 185-point checklist that we  follow for every property we sell, so there’s way too  much to cover here, but highlights include: writing  advertising copy, arranging photography, collecting  and reviewing all documentation (LIM, title, etc.)  implementing a social media campaign, arranging/  running open homes Saturdays, Sundays and  possibly Wednesdays, following up every single

inquiry from advertising and open homes, arranging  access for building inspectors , valuers, etc., staying  in contact with all buyers to ensure they come to the  auction, arranging the auction, plus much more. And

of course if it doesn’t sell at auction then continuing the sales process (open homes etc.) until it is sold.

As we mentioned above, we can go through this process and if the property doesn’t sell we don’t get paid, so it  is certainly in our best interest to get our seller a deal they are happy with and to help them move on.

4 Questions You Must Ask at an Open Home

Q: We’ve been doing the rounds of open  homes recently. While some agents are really  helpful, many are not. What are the most  important questions we should ask when we  find a property we are interested in?

John & Becky L.

A: The open home is the best time to qualify  a property in or out of your search. Take the

opportunity to ask the agent questions face-to-  face rather than via email or phone. If it’s busy  then either come back another time or stick  around so you can speak directly to the agent  after the open.

Remember, the agent is not allowed to lie, but  many are pretty good at avoiding giving you a  direct answer! Here are four initial questions  (we’re assuming sales by auction here), to make  sure you are as informed as possible.

Why are the owners selling? It’s great to know  the seller’s motivation. If the owners have already  bought, or are moving into a retirement village for  example, then you know they are serious and the  property will very likely be sold.

How long has it been on the market? If a property has been on the market for a long period of time it is most likely due to an unrealistic price expectation,  so a good guide to owners price expectation. But don’t let that stop you making an offer!

What is the seller’s price expectation? You can certainly ask this but most agents will not give you a straight answer. We do our best to be honest and we often have the same list of sold properties that we have supplied to the seller at appraisal time, available at the open homes. No one knows what a property will sell for at auction, but the agent should be able to provide you with some realistic and relevant information.

Has there been much interest in the home? This gives you an idea of the level of competition you are likely to encounter on auction day. Don’t be pu off if the open home is really busy. A busy open home does not necessarily mean a busy auction,  so make sure you ask the agent how much interest there is, and base your decision on that.

We don’t have the space here to go into all the detail, but feel free to contact us at  thestones@raywhite.com with any questions.