Ready, set, GROW!

Spring gardening tips and what to plant this season

Now a few weeks into spring, it’s time to get your garden looking as good as your neighbours! You might be wondering why your garden is looking dull, even in SPRING?! It could be what you’ve planted. Here’s a list of what to plant and what not to plant in spring:

 Plants that flourish in spring:

·      Fruit trees

·      Blueberries & strawberries- Planting as soon as you can will help the root system get established so the plants can survive throughout summer, so no excuses! Another tip if you’re planting berries this spring is pick off the berries as this will take less energy away from the roots that need to get established.

·      Rosemary, Oregano, Thyme, Chives. There is more moisture in the soil in spring- so get planting herbs!

·      Cabbage and lettuce- these do better in cooler soil so plant them before it starts to heat up for summer.

·      Sunflowers

·      Snapdragons

·      Geraniums

·      Zucchini

·      Passionfruit

What not to plant in spring:

·      Tomatoes

·      Peppers

·      Squash

·      Eggplants

These plants need a warm climate, and can be killed by frost (this spring has been very cold so far) It is better to wait till summer.

 

Spring gardening tasks:

  • Turn your compost- and check to see if any is ready to use.

  • If you don’t have a compost, how about getting some manure to dress your garden beds.

  • Eradicate pesky early spring weeds before they get too established. Do weeds keep sprouting back after you’ve taken them out? After you remove them, temporarily put down a layer of landscape fabric before adding mulch this will discourage weed growth!

  • Repair bowed sides of garden beds- soggy winter soil might have rotted a few boards

  • Lay mulch over bare parts of your garden where you plan to plant, this will minimize the emergence of weeds sprouting before you get around to planting.

  • Early spring brings a lot of slugs- use non-toxic slug control or pick them off young seedlings as you go.

  • Prune existing fruit trees before buds begin to bloom.

Taking the time to complete a few easy spring garden tasks will bring you benefits for the rest of the season. We hope this helps you get control of your garden before the warmer summer months!

 

August Update

Just like that, we are 19 weeks away from Christmas!  So much to do, so little time. Usually at this time of year the longer days mean I am out running, biking and enjoying the crisp air in the lead up to the Auckland half marathon but not that it matters at the moment, my sporting days are on hold, having confirmed that I have torn my MCL and ruptured the ACL, surgery is on the cards in December.  No rest for me, I wasn’t even sidelined a day as many have seen me battle on with crutches at open homes (great talking point)!
We did manage to squeeze a few days away in Surfer Paradise last month 25 Degrees in winter…  why do I live in Auckland again?  While we were away Harcourts Northern region awards were on, and we collected a few awards....   

4th Place in Northern Region

Top 20 for Jan – March 2018 (13th Place) 

Top 20 April – June 2018 (15th place)

We are so thankful to all of our clients for working with us!  We have now sold in 28 suburbs in Auckland.  The buyers have come back over the last month, and it has been tracking this way due to the lack of listings down 33%, and we are seeing good open home numbers, good auction activity and a positive vibe from the market. If you had been thinking about waiting for spring, simply don’t.  If you need help fast-tracking your plans, talk to us, we have a contact for everything.  Its the final weekend on the market for a renovated bungalow in Mt Albert and a retro classic unit in Sandringham.

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Kitchen Renovation Guide

Our Top Tips For Kitchen Renovations 

A kitchen is not only one of the hearts of the home, it's a huge make or break point for future buyers!

When it comes to renovating your kitchen, you know that there’s a lot of work that’s about to be put in and a lot of money that’s about to be spent. There’s so much planning that needs to be done before you even start to renovate, so make sure you’re well prepared and know exactly what you’re doing. Here are a few tips for you to think about before you start on your future kitchen.

Firstly:

How do you want your kitchen to look? The most important step in kitchen renovating is to make sure you know what you want before you commit. Talk to a few professionals and see what they recommend then decide on which design company you want to go with. Have a shop around and get a few ideas on what materials and options are on the market and how much they cost then set yourself a budget, but be prepared to go over with all the extra temptations.

Painting

If you’re looking at painting the walls in your new kitchen, then this needs to be done before the floors are laid. Choose a colour scheme that will blend in well with your chosen cabinets and bench tops. Also think about your appliances, will these be colored or simple? Choose these appliances before you plan your cabinetry. The key is to make sure everything is going to tie in well. 
 


Layout & Design:

Ask yourself this, “Why are you renovating your kitchen in the first place?” lay out on a plan what you really need.

  • What are the pain points of your current Kitchen?
  • What do you need more of?
  • What do you need less of?

Use your space well! It’s crucial that your layout is practical and suitable not only for you, but for future buyers. Don’t rush into anything. Figure out what is going where and place everything on your design knowing that it's exactly where it needs to be. Are you using a double or single fridge? How big is your cooktop and oven going to be? Will you be using electricity or gas? These are all the things that need to be thought of when it comes to layout and design.

Electricity & Plumbing

Are you using existing sockets and plumbing for your sinks and appliances? If this is not the case you need to make sure that all of this is organised before the flooring is laid. For you plugs - make sure you know the placement of your appliances first so you know exactly where your sockets need to go. Wherever you decide to put your sink, make sure your dishwasher is nearby, it’s an obvious fact, but you never know what can travel from the mind in the stressful times of kitchen renovating.

Storage 

Storage is everything! To really know that you have enough, think of every utensil out there and make sure there is a place for it. If you have the budget, we recommend investing in soft close drawers. These are a huge hit point, as it saves the sound of slamming drawers.

Islands or Breakfast Bars

Even though you might only be a family of two, make sure your breakfast bar can fit at least three chairs. Make sure there is a power point nearby for those important phone and laptop chargers.

Finishing Touches to Make Your Mark

Is your home filled with character or is it modern? One of the big things when it comes to renovating is to make sure your new kitchen is going to flow with the rest of your home. Put in some quirky but modern lights above the breakfast bar and an eye-catching splash back behind your cooktop that will really bring your kitchen to life. Think about the colour of your taps to the handles on your drawers and cabinets. Also take a look into current ‘Kitchen Design Trends’ and see if there’s anything that could really bring your kitchen to life.

Bring those bills down!

Is your monthly electricity bill looking a little steep lately? Then do we have the tips for you! 
Although it can be hard with the children taking 20-minute showers and leaving the lights on in rooms around the house that aren’t being used... here are out top tips on bringing those bills down.

Use the Barbecue

Why not use the Barbecue every so often to cook your family meals? This can take significant amount off that monthly electricity bill. I know what you’re thinking… we’re still using gas. However, research shows that using the gas barbecue still works out to be cheaper than using ranges and ovens, so why not give it a go!

Keep the Lid on the Pots

This is such an easy trick to saving electricity! When cooking on the stove top keep the lid on to keep the heat In. This means your pot will heat up faster which saves you time and money... what more could you want.

Washing Machine

There are so many ways you can reduce your power and water bill through the way you do your washing. First things first, make sure you are doing a full load of washing! This saves you using your washing machine more than you need to. A cold wash also saves a significant amount of dollars so make sure this is set. Only have a few items of lightweight clothing that need washing? Hand wash! The list goes on.

Clothes Dryer

If you’re trying to reduce your power bill we recommend you don’t use the dryer at all and hand dry as much as possible! However, on the rare occasion, if this needs to be used we have the ways to save. Firstly, make sure your dryer is not overloaded. Research shows, placing a dry towel in the dryer along with your washing helps your clothes dry quicker, so try this out.

Lighting

It’s an obvious, but important tip. Nothing wastes electricity as much as those ceiling lights that are left on all day and forgotten about, so make sure these are off during the day. For night time, if you want to save that little bit extra on lighting, why not switch to more table and floor lamps, or go the extra mile and use candles!

Activities to keep your kids happy these school holidays

There’s nothing like keeping the kids occupied these school holidays to avoid the phrase “I’m Bored”. Why not be the cool parents and line up a few great activities for you and your family this winter break? Here are our top 5!

Homemade Pizza & Movie Night 
The way to a Kids heart is through their stomach. You don’t have to break the bank to keep the kids occupied these holidays. It can be as easy as this, take a trip down to the supermarket, grab a few pizza bases and toppings, head home and let them design their own signature pizza! Once ready, put on a family movie and enjoy the relaxation.

Ice Skating 
Let the little ones have fun while you sit on the side line and enjoy a nice hot beverage. Find your nearest ice rink and watch the kids burn some energy on the ice.

Day Trip! 
Is there somewhere within driving distance you’ve always wanted to visit but never got around to? Why not make a day of it! Prepare some food in a chilly bag the night before in case family members get peckish on the way there, park up somewhere nice and make some new family memories. 

Zap to the Zoo
A lot of kids have great interest in animals, so why not take them along to the nearest zoo and let them admire the great species of our world. Grab your camera and take a few snaps to get them really involved, they’ll love it.

Why not take a little Break? 
Everyone needs a little time to themselves every so often? This is the best activity for you these holidays! Why not book your kids in with the grandparents or sitter for a day and really have some time to yourself, sit down, relax, have a wine, do nothing. Remember, it’s doesn’t have to be all about the kids, make sure you enjoy yourself just as much this break!

What a start to 2018! Mid way point review!

The midway point of the year is finally here!  We have been working hard getting homes sold! Even with Richard having an MCL Sprain that he suffered at basketball last week! We have a new team member, Frances Hacking who has taken over our marketing assistant role giving fresh takes on our approach to marketing and selling a property, and I think you will find her influence throughout our marketing. We are loving having Frances on board.  

The highlight of the year so far was speaking at our Harcourts National Conference which was in Auckland last month.  Abbey and I both shared the stage in front of 1000 of our colleagues, daunting yes, but what a rush!  
Our auctioneer Aaron Davis (no relation of Abbey) took out the Harcourts National Auctioneer of the year as well as taking out the Australian Apollo Auctioneer championship. It’s fair to say we set aside some time to celebrate his win and our #62 for the whole country! 

Our speaking engagements were still not over, last week we were once again on a panel for Team Harcourts sharing our marketing ideas.  Abbey and I love sharing our knowledge because it makes us look for ways to continually improve what we do.  

Our take on the market is that things have been a wee bit congested over the last couple of months but properties are starting to move along and the volume of listings, we keep an eye on has dropped about 20% as we head into winter. Definitely worth a conversation if you have been considering selling.  Beat the Spring rush and get on the market in Winter, sell in isolation instead of competition!  Not as crazy as it sounds.  We are getting fantastic numbers through our open homes & online web hits.
We have fantastic listings on at the moment, something for everyone.  From a home and income in Titirangi to an architecturally designed home in Sandringham. New to the market this week is a fresh & funky pad in Mt Albert and a unit in Hillsborough that is ready for a makeover.  Check out our listings below.  

Richard & Abbey

How to maximise small spaces!

Its a problem encountered by all part time interior designers; Making things look good! Its harder then it looks.  And thats why is a specialised industry for getting your home looking perfect no matter what the space is!  Here we have a few tips.  

·      Flooring: multiple flooring types define the border of spaces. One type of flooring  through multiple rooms creates a flow making it feel like the rooms are all one big space rather than separate little areas.

·      Walls: Pale shades make a room seem bigger and brighter and maximise the natural light. à painting skirtings and door trims slightly lighter makes the surfaces recede. Keep the same wall colour to give the feel of flow throughout the house, it also gives the effect of a big space rather than lots of confined areas.

·      Windows: try to keep the window sills the same colour as the wall for a more seamless look. Hanging curtains higher than the window gives the illusion of height.

·      Doors: Internal doors that swing can waste space and close off areas, so take it out or replace it with a sliding door. Curtains can even be a great way to keep areas separated instead of a door or wall but then give the option of opening it up as well.

·      Shelving: Floor to ceiling storage gives a sense of space as it draws the eyes up. Having closed shelving makes it less cluttered. Underneath stairs can be a great storage space too.

·      Furniture: Using bigger but fewer furnishing pieces not only declutter but give the illusion of a bigger area.

Avoid seats with legs that splay out, and consider the height of sofas, or the back of chairs, so they don’t block the view which would split the room into smaller sections. Round tables take up less space and as there are no corners they don’t interrupt the flow of traffic. Try hanging things on your wall rather than leaving them free standing on the ground, TV’s and shelves can be mounted to the wall to maximise floor area. It may seem obvious but finding furniture with multiple functions is key- tables can be used as a desk, a fold out sofa can double as a guest bed. Mirrors can make your space seem larger and lighter. There are so many creative ways to maximise space, one that we thought was cool was using the space under a bunk bed as storage or to sit/ have a desk, instead of having another bed.

You’ll be amazed at how little things like wall colour can make your house seem a lot bigger than it is. Be creative, there are so many new ways to make spaces double their purpose. We have a board on pinterest on maximising space so feel free to have a look for inspiration.

 Photo credit - www.trustedclothes.com

Photo credit - www.trustedclothes.com

First impressions count

You don’t get a second chance at a first impression, and we agree that first impressions count, and have picked up some great ways to make potential buyers love your house at first sight! It’s important to get other opinions on your house that are constructive and aren’t biased, as it’s easy to overlook the little things that can make a big difference. That’s why when we view properties we like to give a list of some easy fix things that can add that extra value. Little things such as peeling paint, weeds around the front door, dead plants or even dirty windows can all have an impact on the impression people have when seeing your house for the first time.

Clutter not only distracts people from looking at the actual property but can also make a house seem smaller and makes it harder for people to imagine it being theirs with their own personal touch on it. It can subconsciously make people feel stressed or uncomfortable. The main goal is for potential buyers to envision themselves in your home, so finding a balance between depersonalising the house but keeping it homely and not completely empty is key.

Here’s a checklist of things that can be noticeable to others for the first time but not to you:

·      Driveway/ path- have you got overgrown weeds or a slippery mossy path?

·      Front door- does it open smoothly, paint peeling off, and if you have a doorbell does it work?

·      When you walk in the front door does your house smell fresh? People obviously have different opinions on what smells nice, but try to make your house smell nice for a wide range          of people- not everyone likes coffee. Fresh is best.

·      Is your house well lit? All light bulbs working?

·      Is it noisy? You could think about masking the noise with a water feature, or put some music on in the background quietly.

·      Is it a comfortable temperature inside?

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How to Choose a Great Neighbourhood

Moving to a new town or city can be overwhelming, particularly if you're trying to choose a neighbourhood to buy a home in. While it’s true that what a great neighbourhood looks like can differ person to person, all great neighbourhoods do share some common factors that are universally appealing. Here we explore 10 signs the neighbourhood you live in (or would like to live in) is a good one.

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Great schools

Even if you don’t have children now, buying a property within an area renowned for great schools has a very positive affect on property prices. In most places, you generally need to live within a public school’s catchment area in order to send your child to that particular school, and some parents are willing to pay top dollar to ensure they live in the catchment area of a great public school.

Low crime rates

This is a pretty universal sign of a good neighbourhood. We all want to live in an area where we feel safe and secure and savvy property buyers will do their research and look at crime rates when it comes to moving to a new area, with this information readily available online.

Lifestyle options

A well-rounded neighbourhood is one that offers different things to different people. This could mean they’re plenty of nearby cafes and bars for foodies, walking and hiking trails for active locals, or even local clubs and leagues for engaged community members.

Outdoor activities

Living in an area where residents don’t have to travel too far to get out and about and enjoy the great outdoors makes an area more appealing. Think of parks, playgrounds, golf courses, tennis courts, public pools and even nearby lakes and rivers.

Well-presented homes

Not only does a neighbourhood look amazing when each house is well presented, but it also shows that your neighbours take a lot of pride in their home, a good sign for any prospective property buyer or seller. This doesn’t have to mean you live in a street of luxury properties either, great presentation starts with a mowed lawn, neat and tidy yard, freshly painted façade and clean, well-maintained footpaths.

Leafy and well established

Even in inner-city areas, a leafy main road, with well-established older buildings and homes can look really inviting. It shows the area has a bit of heritage given the age of the trees that line most streets and the age of the buildings which have been maintained over time.

Family friendly

Aside from great schools lots of factors play a part in making an area appeal to families. Funnily enough, most are listed above. In addition to these an area which has larger homes on potentially larger blocks is probably going to appeal more to families than say the heart of the city, where units run significantly smaller, with little to no outdoor spaces available.

Public transport and walkability

In larger areas being close to public transport is a must with a huge number of commuters relying on buses, rail and ferries to get them to work every day. Walkability is also a big factor though, being able to leave the car at home to get to nearby attractions like markets, shops and cafes makes an area really desirable.

Entertainment

Not everyone loves the idea of travelling into an inner city to have dinner, see a movie or catch-up for drinks, so residential areas that also boast great local cafes, bars or theatres are always popular. As are those with great family entertainment options such as playgrounds, sports grounds, libraries and cinemas.

Shopping

Being close to the shops is not just convenient it can be a drawcard that gets people to visit a neighbourhood. Weekend markets are popular neighbourhood attractions, as are large-scale shopping centres, supermarkets, and unique local boutiques.

This weekend, why not look around your local neighbourhood and see what makes your area special. It’s great to be aware of the major selling points in your location, and if you’re interested in buying in a particular area, why not see how it stacks up in the desirability stakes?

If you're looking to buy in an area completely new to you we have a good knowledge of the local area and will be able to answer questions about a neighbourhood.

To downsize or not to downsize?

The Pros and Cons

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Whether you are retiring, looking to free up some capital, or simply wanting to de-clutter, downsizing can offer some real advantages – but it also comes with some downsides. We weigh up the pros and cons of making this lifestyle change.

PRO: A smaller home means smaller bills

If you are looking to save on daily living costs, downsizing into an apartment or smaller home usually means you will save on basics such as heating costs, electricity, and house insurance.

CON: A downsized home may mean downsized furniture

Moving into a smaller space could cost you some extra money if your furnishings are too big for your new home, and you have to spend on new items such as lounge suites, dining tables and bedroom furniture.

PRO: De-cluttering is the only option

If you (or others in your household) struggle to get rid of clutter, downsizing provides the perfect reason to get tough and minimise. Especially if you are moving into an apartment or unit, storage space will be at a premium, so only the most important possessions should go with you.

CON: Outdoor space and hobbies may be affected

For those who love gardening or lounging around the backyard during the summer months, downsizing can be challenging. However, many people cultivate impressive gardens on apartment balconies, and if this is something that is important to you, look for a home that fits the bill in terms of sunlight and space.

PRO: Less household maintenance

Alternatively, if you can’t wait to retire the lawnmower and hedge clippers, downsizing is a great option. Indoor chores such as vacuuming, dusting and cleaning will also be quicker and easier in a smaller home, freeing up your time for other activities.

CON: Lifestyle changes may be hard to adjust to

Moving from a self-contained family home to a unit or apartment, or even just a smaller home in a different neighbourhood, can present some major changes. You may not be able to have family or friends to stay over, hosting large events may be difficult, and new neighbours in closer proximity could prove challenging.

PRO: Release your capital

Many of us have the majority of our savings tied up in our primary property. Downsizing can offer the opportunity to free up money that can then be used to diversify investments, take a dream holiday, or simply provide more cash flow for daily living.

Auction Equals Choice and Control

Here's what our CEO, Chris Kennedy has to say about Auctions. 

When you are selling a property, there are many things to consider including the method you use.  Harcourts CEO Chris Kennedy says he advocates auction as the best option for vendors, as it gives more choice and control.  Auctions start with an intensive three to four-week marketing campaign, designed to discover as many potential buyers as possible, Kennedy says.

“It’s short and high impact, meaning your new-to-the-market property is viewed by as many people as possible over a limited period. Busy open homes start building the competitive way potential buyers view your property.”

And during the campaign, no price is mentioned, which means buyers naturally start to consider the maximum amount they would be prepared to pay.

“After observing buyer behaviour for over 25 years in the real estate industry, I can tell you with certainty that 100% of buyers will attend an auction with their maximum price firmly in mind,” Kennedy says.

By contrast, set a price on your property and you have set a limit. Buyers enter negotiations with the goal of buying the property for as far below that price as possible.

“It’s a no-brainer to create a situation in which your potential buyers are focused on their maximum price, not achieving the lowest price possible.”

Also remember, during the auction campaign, you, as the vendor, are in complete control.  You set the reserve. If the bidding comes in below that reserve, you decide what to do next. There is no obligation to sell or negotiate.  Equally, you set the terms of sale and an auction sale is always unconditional. If your property doesn’t sell on the day and you enter negotiations, you are in a very strong position. There is no pressure to make a hurried decision and no fixed price to come down from.

“Auctions are designed to maximise competition and if the property sells, it sells at the price the market has determined. Without limitations.

“The method of sale is always solely the choice of the vendor. However, I believe it is in the very best interests of our clients that we offer the opportunity to benefit from an auction campaign,” Kennedy says.

Why you should still choose auction in a cooling market

Everyday we hear people saying that they don't want to auction their home in this market.. we wholeheartedly disagree (property dependant of course!). We are huge advocates for the auction process and we see time and time again the fantastic results that auction can provide.

Our CEO, Chris Kennedy agrees. Here's what he has to say on the topic....

The fast and energetic property market of a year ago has passed. Sales are down and prices are easing around the country.  We are often told that auction is the best method of sale in a hot market when there is good competition. The logic being that auctions encourage potential buyers to go to their maximum price in a competitive bidding environment.

But what about in a cooling market when competition is less intense?  Harcourts CEO Chris Kennedy says auction is always the best way to reach the highest possible price – no matter what stage the property market cycle is at.

“When you market your property with a price, you immediately set a limit on what you can achieve. No one will pay more than the price you have set.

“Auction, by comparison, invites potential buyers to consider what is the maximum amount they are prepared to pay for a property. They will come to the auction having secured bank loan approval to a certain level and will already have in mind their maximum figure.”

Kennedy says auctions are highly charged environments and if there are just two groups keen on a property you have the formula to achieve top dollar. However, even if there is just one interested party at the auction, the vendor is in a good position to negotiate with a highly motivated buyer, who has secured finance and has their top price in mind.

“A skilled auctioneer will be experienced and adept at negotiations when there is just one interested party and a vendor involved. And for this reason, many properties that are passed in, will sell later on the same day of the auction.”

Kennedy says it should also be noted there are also upsides for buyers in the auction process.

“Auctions are completely transparent. All the action happens in public and the buyer can go away knowing they have paid the price the market has determined for a property.”

Want to get rewarded for referring us?!

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We know we’ve been slightly absent on our blog as of late... but it’s never too late to get back into it, is it?!

We’ve recently decided that it’s time we give back to YOU. You are what keep us going, and everything we do is for you.  Having recently been awarded the Platinum Achievers award for the last quarter of 2016 we have new goals in our sights to sell even more properties this year.

This is where you come in. If you refer someone to us who ends up listing and selling their home through our team, then you will receive a $500.00 voucher of your choice. This could be for Farros, New World, Bunnings, Westfield – you name it, you’ll get it.

We look forward to hearing from you and your friends and family very soon!

Here’s to a wonderful 2017.

#abbeyandrichard

October update

It's been too long we know; but our monthly newsletter is kicking back into gear and we wanted it to have a point of difference. Since our last edition, the married couple of real estate has been kicking along with a number of good listings (you can check our year to date here).  You can also take a look at what has sold in your area by heading to sales stats.  As we move into spring we have a few listings coming on including a development in Sandringham. (current listings and things on the cards here


- Whats going on?

The market has been buoyant all year (news to no one) but the market has changed over the last six weeks.   The LVR's (Loan to Value Ratio) have affected open home numbers.  Things noticeably changed and we have seen an increase in properties being priced.  The LVR's have had the desired effect.  First home purchasers also felt the effects, as the 10% first home loans seemed very hard to come by.  This was supposed to help the first home buyers?  From what we have seen it actually has become harder for this segment to purchase.   Last week Bill English came back from Washington and announced that interest rates would head back up. (good news for depositors, but bad news if you have a mortgage, hmmm is there such a thing as depositors anymore?  Bonus Bonds anyone? )  
Tony Alexander indicated that a further cut to the Official Cash Rate is likely, the LVR's may get tougher next year (click here for his take)..  
Our takeout is that you shouldn't be sitting on your hands because the underlying supply and demand issue remains.  With the news of large developments struggling with building costs and funding the supply side is shrinking further.  Its a great time to purchase!  

Why you should consider selling your home in winter...​

Most home owners, especially those contemplating selling, take more than a passing interest in property sales, especially auction results. If asked, most property owners would say that winter is not a good time to sell because it is cold, wet and the garden does not look at its best.

Strangely, this opinion is not shared with prospective purchasers. At Harcourts we monitor all incoming phone calls from whatever source and year after year we have proved that contrary to popular opinion, the winter months are an excellent time for selling.

Most purchasers, during the colder months of the year, are very committed and anxious to obtain a property that suits their needs.

Auction results at this time of year highlight the lack of supply, which causes clearance rates to improve even beyond the current high levels enjoyed in the first few months of 2015. Some of the best sale prices are regularly achieved during the months of June, July and August.

Buyers have less to choose from because a lot of home owners hold off selling until spring. Consequently, the length of time any property is on the market is often less than later in the year because of the relatively small number of properties available for sale.

Also, availability of finance is better than it has been for years. Interest rates remain at a very reasonable level and the quality of buyer enquiry is still excellent. Simply put, all these factors mean there is an abundance of well qualified buyers ready to act.

The herald homes app

The Herald Homes app is a fantastic addition to bringing newspapers into the modern area.  Combing technology with the enjoyment of having something tangible that you can share, be careless with, use to start fires.   The newspaper has been something that we all though would go the way of the dinosaurs but it has managed to hang around at homes and cafe's despite the emergence of tablets and phones.  Well the herald has made it even more enjoyable to flick through there weekend publication.  See a property in the street you always wanted to live in?  Just pull your phone out down the load the app and all you need to do is photograph roughly the advert of interest and up will pop the floor plan, additional photos, location (you already know this because you always wanted to live in that street).   You can even contact the agent!   Its really easy to do (if you know your app store password) there is no login or registration required to use it, just download, point, shoot and presto all the information is right in your hands without having to trawl through Realestate and Trademe.  This is one app you should definitely give some time to.  Having you weekend coffee while you read the Herald Homes just became a whole lot more interactive.  

Our favorite automated home technology

Automated homes are the way of the future.  Well for some they are.  Especially for us.  We love all of the cool gadgets that you can get to make your home become a "if that then this" home.  Here are a few of our favourite ideas that you can do to your home to instantly make it more modern!  

IFTTT.  Ok so this isn't a gadget.  But I refer to it in my blog so I thought I would quickly touch on what it is.  Basically its takes criteria set by the user i.e. Turn the lights on at sunset (once the sun goes down your lights turn on) simple.  Some of the technology below can be connected.  And you don't need to have technology to play with IFTTT so log on and give it a try.  Want to be get a notification at 7am to take your umbrella?  this could be for you.  

Ring.  The doorbell that lets you seem like your always home.  This came out last year and was high on my list as we become more and more aware of security.  Ring works by connecting your smart phone to your door bell.  it has a motion sensor that alerts you to movement (i.e a burglar coming to your front door to see if any one is home.  You can deter them by speaking in realtime through the two way communication function.  It runs on batteries alone or can be hard wired.  They have just released a new hard wire only update with 1080p resolution.  

Kevo.  The evolution of your house key.  I have tried this product and its about as good as your bluetooth on the phone you have.  Its also (last I checked an apple only system).  Kevo allows you to use your smartphone as a key, but it also allows you to send out keys to your visiting friends, the cleaners (a set time or day) that way you can delete the key should you change cleaners or tradesmen..   Its runs on batteries (re-chargeable's work well)  And it can be connected to your wifi home system with an additional piece of hardware.   So handy as you always have your phone close buy.  (you can also download the app on another phone, log in and get in) in the event your battery goes flat.  

Flipflac.  This is a Kickstarter project that caught our eye the other day.  So often these things can be a little clunky or end up no being supported or a bigger company does it cheaper.  However at this stage they seem cheaper.  Flipflac winds up your blinds based on the temperature, time of day or schedule (great for security when coupled with some automated lights)  Its still in the backer faze but I think has a lot of potential once paired with IFTTT.  

Intesishome Wifi transmitter for your heat pump.  A favorite of ours.  You can now retrofit most heat pumps with this device.  Take you simple old heat pump and set scheduled activations times (getting home at 6pm?  use this to make the house warm for when you get home).  Cold snap in the middle of the night?  set a minimum temperature threshold with IFTTT.  

Chromecast audio.  Before Chromecast took over this part of the market a little unit called Beep existed.  Beep was one that caught my eye as it made my old amp sync with my Spotify music account.  I could play music over the wifi connection and if my phone rang the music didn't stop!    However they went out of business late last year and have been replaced by Chromecast audio.  Which we have yet to explore however its much cheaper than Beep.  And google has made it so its probably pretty good.   

So when you move into your new home.  Get ready for the influx of cool technology to consider.  

Which way is north?

Every weekend at open inspections there are a couple of questions that we get asked.

  • Which way is north?
  • where does the sun go?
  • Why do you agents have open homes at the same time?
  • How do i get to... next open home?

I normally point out which way is north and where the sun supposedly tracks however there are a couple of useful apps that I stumbled on during last weekends opens.  

Your Iphones built in Compass:  I think we all forget about the compass and possibly we think it's only for when you're out hunting but there is a modern application for this device.  Finding North (and I wont go into where true north is) but it's a good app to use.   

Kiwibank Home Hunter:  This weekend a young couple pointed out a Kiwibank App called Home hunter.   Now the idea behind it is to help people find homes, you can search for homes and get a conditional mortgage approval.   But the best part of this app is the sun locator.  it tracks with your camera where the sun would be in relation to where you are standing, a brilliant piece of technology.  you can even change the time of year to see where the sun is in winter... In Auckland not much!

Waze, Yip the new way to get around open homes.  Waze calculates a short, traffic free route (well it tries to) so that when you running between open homes that are in the same half hour slot... maybe waze can get you there!  You also can warn other users about speed cameras.  Waze also rewards you for your input.  

Realestate App, It's always good to review open homes, but how do you remember?  Checklist within the app lets you take photos, and make notes about the properties you have visited.  I hear more and more people talking about these features at open homes.

Trademe property app, This stuff is specific to iphone.  Obviously you can save to watchlist, toggle to map view, however a wee while ago they added SOLD.  which shows you the last time the property sold and what it was sold for.