You’re not just buying a house, you’re buying a lifestyle! That means when you’re writing out your list of must have home features and deal breakers, you need to think beyond the “house data” and figure out which features to focus on that will give you the lifestyle you want to live!
As a buyer, you might say you’re looking for a 3 bedroom home with an internal access double garage on at least an acre, and with an updated kitchen. An example of what you really might be looking for is a place to raise your growing family, a kitchen that overlooks the private backyard where you can watch your kids play while you make dinner, and extra space in the garage for storage of some toys (for both young and old!) and a beer fridge! That’s just an example but I think you get the idea. So the lifestyle you are going to have in your new home is something you want to consider when determining which home features are best for your needs.
Number one - LOCATION MATTERS FOR YOUR LIFESTYLE!
You hear it all the time in the real estate world – it’s all about the location, location, location, location… and it really is true! Because while you can change paint colors, bench tops and put on that massive deck you’ve always dreamed of, you can’t move your house to a new spot in Whangarei (not without a lot of extra money anyway).
Think of things like what your work commute will be like, how far of a drive you’re willing to have each day, the features you want in your community, and the school district you want to be in if that is important to you. Do you want to be in walking distance to the Town Basin? Do you want to be set further back from the road for privacy? The location of your home will be something that isn’t going to change so figure out what is essential to you when it comes to the location of your home and the lifestyle it will create!
Now let’s talk about the home features that fit your lifestyle. When you think of home features it’s easy to automatically jump to your running list of criteria such as the size of the garage, how many bedrooms you want, that must have updated kitchen and all of the “house data” like I mentioned. However, you are ultimately buying a lifestyle, not just a house. So I have some things for you to consider when it comes to the type of lifestyle you are ultimately looking for when you make a move! Write down these questions and really think about what your answers are:
These questions will help you determine which features could be the most important to focus on when the time comes to look for a new home. Maybe features like hardwood floors aren’t as necessary as having a layout that is perfect for entertaining and hosting dinner parties. You can always swap out flooring later but the layout will be a little harder to change!
Think about how much time you want to put into your house. Do home flipping shows on HGTV resemble your homeownership goals? Many buyers are intent on finding a house they can renovate exactly they way they want which is awesome! However, they often don’t realize how much work, time and money it can take. HGTV can make renovating and flipping houses look a lot easier than it is in reality. Consider how much time you have to spend on home projects before getting yourself into something that is over your head and potentially over your budget which leads us to…
Your lifestyle budget. Lastly, make sure to budget for your lifestyle, not just your house. It’s important to consider how much you can afford comfortably, not just what you can afford on paper. Many buyers are pre-approved for a significantly higher amount than what they are actually comfortable paying back on a monthly basis. Think about other expenses you have when it comes to your lifestyle – what else is important to you? Do you love to travel or go out to nice dinners on a regular basis? Do you love attending as many games of the Northland Taniwha’s as possible? What hobbies do you have that cost money every month? Make sure the amount you spend on your house doesn’t eat up all of your extra funds so you’re glued to the house and can’t have any fun doing the things you love!
So there you have it, the top lifestyle considerations for buying a home! Location, home features that fit your lifestyle, how much work you’re willing to do, and remember to budget for your lifestyle! If you’re considering buying a new home in the near future and you want to chat more about the type of lifestyle you’re looking for, then just comment below or send us a message so we can set up a time to grab a coffee!
Paul, Shontelle, Susie. x
You've spent a bit of time on TradeMe and Realestate.co.nz getting your personal list of favourite houses ready to go. Now is the time to cut that list down and go and see some Whangarei properties!
Open homes give you a great first impression of a property and you’ll know almost immediately if it’s one you want to pursue further. But that first visit can be much more than a “once over lightly” impression. How do you make sure you’re getting as much information from it as possible?
Use the time at the property to perform a thorough first inspection. Later on if you're serious about it, you’ll want to engage professionals to inspect the building’s structure and health, but it’s a good idea to use your initial tour of the home to see some things for yourself.
When inspecting a property, chances are the current owners are going to present the interior of the property in the best possible light. They will have cleaned and tidied, perhaps added a new coat of paint, or even had the home styled with beautiful furniture. Whilst these things will help you to appreciate what the home could look like for you, at this stage, it’s more important to focus on the dwelling’s structure.
If you see anything through this process make a note of it, and make sure to mention it when you have a professional building inspector go through the property.
Location means more than the general neighbourhood. You may be attracted to the area, but take a look at the property’s exact location for things that may bother you over the long-term, hurt re-sale value, or cause lifestyle issues.
Things to consider are:
It’s important to remember that none of these things always have to be immediate deal breakers on a property you’re interested in. It’s about arming yourself with as much information as possible so you can make an informed decision and end up with a property you are happy with, for an amount you feel is fair and reasonable.
Once you have made your first visit and if you decide you wish to proceed in making an offer, seek good legal, building and financial advice from the experts.
Get in touch with us, we'd love to help you get into your next home. Or, see you at our next open home!
Paul, Shontelle, Susie x
Whether you are retiring, looking to free up some capital, or simply wanting to de-clutter, downsizing in Whangarei 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.
Get in touch with us to talk it all over, we’d love to help you think about downsizing in Whangarei, or not...
Paul, Shontelle, Susie. x
Many of us have an idea for a potential add-on or major renovation for our home, but we don’t always get around to doing it. So, when it comes time to sell, is it worth getting the plans and/or consent ready to show potential buyers?
Prepping the plans
If you never got around to adding that extra bedroom, en-suite, double garage or sleep-out, and now it’s time to sell, there could still be benefits to doing some paperwork to help make your property more attractive to buyers.
However, before you do anything, it’s important to think carefully about what these might add to your listing and whether it’s worth the effort. If the project needs building or resource consent, then it will take time and money (time frames and costs vary between councils), and the same goes for any architect plans you might get drawn up.
When weighing up the options, it is essential to consider whether the renovation will appeal to a likely buyer. If it’s an extra bedroom or bathroom, and your home will be popular with young families, the answer might be a resounding yes, and the paperwork already being done could be a real bonus for buyers. However, if the plans are for your dream triple garage that will take up most of the section, then it may not appeal to those same buyers looking for outdoor space.
Plans and consent could equally add value if they address a negative feature of the house – for example, the lack of an outdoor deck – by showing buyers that the addition can be done and allowing them to cross that particular ‘black mark’ off their list.
Having these things in place will only appeal to some buyers though, and the time, cost and energy of securing consents and plans may not add anything for the majority of people who don’t wish to do the work, want to come up with their own ideas, or are happy with the property as is.
Doing the work
If the renovation or add-on is really going to add value by making the property more attractive, remedying a very negative feature, or adding a potential income stream, then it could be a better idea to simply forge ahead with the work before you put the house on the market, and potentially reap the rewards in your sale price.
However, it’s important to discuss such plans beforehand with a reputable real estate agent who can advise on whether it will pay off in the long run, and crucial that you keep the build costs within set limits to ensure you make the best possible profit out of any extra work that you take on before deciding to sell.
Get in touch with us, we've all lived through a reno (or two!) and can share the ins and outs with you.
Paul, Shontelle, Susie x
Buying, selling, moving and renovating are all major life events, and it’s important you are covered by insurance every step of the way. Here’s how you can best manage insurance requirements so you aren’t caught short.
When purchasing a house
It’s best to contact insurance companies to arrange house insurance ahead of time as they may need extra information such as building reports, and if it’s an older home, details of re-piling, re-wiring and new plumbing.
If you can’t secure insurance before putting in an offer, then consider inserting a ‘subject to insurance’ clause into the sale and purchase agreement so you have time to confirm before it goes unconditional.
Take the time to understand the different types of insurance available to you – in New Zealand you can get total replacement, sum specified, and present day value policies. See the Insurance Council of New Zealand website for more information – www.icnz.org.nz.
When selling a house
If you are after a quick settlement, provide as much accurate information about your home’s build and history to your real estate agent as possible to allow purchasers to organise insurance ahead of signing on the dotted line.
You will need to advise your insurance company of the sale, and provide details to them of the settlement date. You’ll also need to continue covering the property with your insurance until settlement, even if you have vacated the house – if something were to happen on the day before the keys are handed over, the costs would fall to you.
When moving house
Many contents insurance policies do not cover your household items when they are in transit, so check with your insurance company if your policy does and, if not, whether they can offer extra insurance for the move.
If you are using a professional moving company, most offer an insurance from the time they pack up your contents to delivery at your new home – something well worth considering in case of the unexpected happening en-route.
If you are considering any major structural changes to your house, then taking out contract works insurance is recommended to cover any potential damage caused during the renovation. Renovations such as replacing the roof, re-piling or redoing the kitchen can all be covered by such a policy.
However, be aware there are some exclusions within the policy, including faulty workmanship, so you need to ensure you have reputable professionals carrying out any work it covers.
Get in touch with us to talk it all over, we’ve got a list of professionals to get you sorted, and we're here to help you every step of the way.
Paul, Shontelle, Susie. x
The decision to sell is made, but how do you ensure potential buyers know your house could be their dream home? Here are five top marketing tools to help you get the best possible result for your sale.
More than 80 per cent of Kiwis look online first to find properties for sale, so it’s essential your property has a presence online. Working with us, you’ll get featured on NZ’s most visited Real Estate site, Harcourts, plus of course a listing on TradeMe and all the other popular real estate portals. But, it doesn’t stop there! We also have our own website where we can highlight your home with its own feature page. Then there is the Social Media side of things to consider. Any agent that is not able to talk you through a comprehensive online plan that covers all aspects of promoting your home, is maybe not going to do the best job for you. In 2019, it is all about maximising your properties exposure online, and we are experts at that.
Great images and video
Make sure your home looks pretty as a picture to attract the maximum number of buyers to come and view it in person. The first encounter many will have with your property is by viewing your property video and photographs online, in real estate magazines or agency windows, or in the property section of the local paper, so it is crucial they make a good first impression. It is worth paying for a professional photographer who can ensure images are taken from the right angle, get the lighting right and show your home at its very best, as those pictures and video, if may just prompt a future buyer to fall in love. With over 5 Billion (yep!) videos watched on YouTube every single day, a property video is fast becoming a necessary part of a property marketing campaign.
A ‘For Sale’ sign outside your home may feel a little old-fashioned in our evolving digital world, but it’s important to catch the attention of those Whanagrei locals who may not actively be looking for a new property, or those who always have an eye on your street or neighbourhood for their dream home. People hunting for property use up to four extra resources on top of online research, including sale signage, magazines and brochures, and agency window displays, so the more places you shout ‘For Sale’, the better.
The actual look and feel of a property is something that can’t be construed through photos alone, so holding open homes and private viewings is a key strategy in the marketing of your property. Giving prospective buyers the chance to walk through your home, imagine themselves in it, and get a feel for the surrounding neighbourhood will ensure you have some serious buyers in the mix when it comes time to sell.
A great agent
Word of mouth and personal recommendations count for a lot when it comes to making a major purchase such as a new home. A committed and enthusiastic real estate agent will be able to tell people about your property, put the word out to other agents who might have interested buyers, and follow up with potential buyers about their intentions. An approach like this will make sure you have reached as many people as possible, and make you feel secure that, in turn, you get the best price possible.
Get in touch with us to talk it all over, we’d love to help you get the best result with the sale of your house.
Paul, Shontelle, Susie. x
Whether you love the thrill of an auction or your knees tremble at the thought, auctions have become the preferred method of selling property in most of the major centres across the country.
For those who are new to the process, buying or selling at auction can appear daunting. Don’t be put off! There are many advantages, and a few tips and tricks that you should know about before entering the auction room. Read on!
The advantages of auctions for the seller
As a seller, an auction offers you the opportunity to achieve the best price in the marketplace in the shortest possible time. Here are some of the many reasons why selling at auction has become so popular:
What to expect when you sell at auction
Your sales consultant will guide you through the pre-auction and auction process which should include:
Remember, you’re in control as the seller. You set the reserve. If bidding does not meet the reserve, you can decide if you want to enter negotiations or not.
Getting prepared to buy at auction
A common perception is that auctions are good for sellers, not buyers, but this is not the case. As a buyer, you know exactly who your competition is and the negotiations are out in the open for everyone to see. If your bid is successful, the contract is signed then and there, and property is yours with no further negotiations.
To make the auction process work for you, it’s important to arrive with your homework done. Here are some suggestions on how to prepare to buy at auction:
A buyer can submit a pre-auction offer to the property owner for their consideration. If they are willing to accept the offer, the auction date may be brought forward.
It’s important to let the sales consultant know you are interested in the property so if another purchaser submits a pre-auction offer and the auction is moved forward, you’ll be contacted. The reserve is set at the offer figure and the auction starts with that as the opening bid.
If no higher bids are received, the property is sold at the offered price, but if other buyers bid, the property will be sold to the highest bidder.
Regardless of whether you’re a buyer or seller, the more research and preparation you do prior to auction, the more likely you are to put your best foot forward on auction day.
Get in touch with us to talk it all over, we’d love to help you decide if an auction campaign is right for you.
Paul, Shontelle, Susie. x
When you’re looking for a new home, one of the first things you need to consider is the order of events – do you sell your existing property before you buy, or after?
Here are some factors to consider before taking the plunge.
Buyer’s market or seller’s market?
When buyers are plentiful, but properties aren’t, homes generally sell quickly. In a seller's market, there is less risk associated with buying first and then selling your existing home. However, sellers in this kind of market may be less likely to accept an offer that is conditional upon you selling your home, so you could end up owning two properties for a period of time.
The average time it takes to sell a property varies from region to region and from month to month, so it’s important to talk to your sales consultant to get advice about current market conditions, recent comparable sales in your area and the possible demand for your property before making a decision to buy first.
Keep in mind also that in a seller’s market there will be more competition, so you can expect to pay top dollar your new home.
The good news is that you’ll have the peace of mind that comes from finding the right house to buy before selling yours.
Do you know how much you can spend on your next property?
Until you sell your property, you may not know exactly how much you’ll have to spend on your next one. In a buoyant market, you could easily have unrealistic expectations when it comes to the value of your own property. Your sales consultant can help you get a realistic picture of your property value by preparing a comparative market analysis of what similar properties have sold for in your area in recent times.
Are you a cash buyer?
If you choose to sell first, you will instantly become a cash buyer and be in a much stronger position to buy as soon as you find what you want. Do your homework on the market and area that you are looking to buy in so you’re ready to buy when the right property comes up.
Have you found your dream home?
Buying a new home is an emotional decision. If you want to follow your heart and buy that dream home before selling your current home, make sure you’re well informed. A good sales consultant will provide quality advice for your unique situation. If you are looking for a very specific type of property and it becomes available, it could be a good move to snap it up even if you haven’t sold your home, but there’s
no downside in getting expert advice before you do.
Are property prices are going up?
If you’re in a rising market, it could make sense to buy your new home first and negotiate a longer settlement. Your current property could potentially rise in value during the settlement period, allowing you to earn more when you sell it.
Are property prices falling?
Falling property prices can work in your favour as well if you can attract an interested buyer before prices drop further, leaving you free to purchase your new property at the lower end of the market cycle. However, falling property prices are also an indication of a slower market so it could take you longer to sell your existing property.
At the end of the day, your best course of action is to work with a real estate professional who can provide you with the local knowledge and insights you need to make an informed decision for your specific circumstances.
Get in touch with us to talk it all over, we’d love to help you out.
Paul, Shontelle, Susie. x
Here are some tips for trimming the cost of your mortgage. As a property owner, paying off your mortgage before you retire is important. Once you hit retirement age, the last thing you want is to still be saddled with debt. Here are some ways to help reduce your total mortgage and essentially help you pay less for your property.
Shorten your term
Reducing your mortgage term to 25, 20 or even 15 years shaves thousands of dollars in interest off the total. Even reducing it by one year can save you money.
For example, if you borrow $500,000 at 4.00% interest over 30 years, your interest on a principal and interest loan amounts to $359,348*. Shorten your mortgage term to 25 years and you reduce your total interest to $291,755*. Of course, this means your regular repayments will increase, so make sure your budget can accommodate this or you’ll need to alter your spending habits.
Make additional payments
If you can’t afford to shorten your mortgage term, keeping a portion of your mortgage on a variable rate or having a revolving credit mortgage, which works much like an overdraft, may be the answer.
Look out for refinancing deals
Look for refinancing offers with more flexibility or a better interest rate. Be sure to factor in any costs for refinancing when considering this option.
It’s worthwhile reviewing your mortgage on an annual basis to ensure you’re getting the best deal. Your mortgage specialist can do a financial health check and help you find savings.
If interest rates drop, keep repayments at your current level, rather than be tempted to spend the savings. By doing this, you’ll shave off a substantial portion of your loan principal.
Each product provider has different policies and costs around paying extra amounts off your loan, so get in touch with your local mortgage adviser to find out more.
You’ll find additional tips and tools at mortgage-express.co.nz/mortgages - call them on 0800 226 226, or feel free to get in touch with us to talk it all over, we’d love to help you.
Paul, Shontelle, Susie. x
This article originally appeared on the ‘House of Inspiration’ Harcourts NZ blog page.
*This is an indicative amount only based on the loan amount and interest rate selected. The calculations assume a constant interest rate for the life of the loan, however rates will change over this time and as such the calculations are a guide only.
You’re getting ready to start the home buying process, browsing through all the real estate websites to see what’s out there and you’ve started your new home wish list.
You’ve probably been getting some advice from friends and family members about how to get a good deal and things you should do to avoid overpaying, because when it comes to real estate in NZ, everyone's an expert!
Now you’re wondering how much do you actually offer on a house? Is there some kind of magic formula to follow or do you just throw out a number that you’re comfortable with? Here are a few things to consider before determining how much to offer on a house:
Know the Market: Before even considering how much to offer on a home, it’s important that you’re familiar with the Whangarei or other market you’re going to be looking in.
The market can vary between cities and price ranges so you’ll want to meet with your Real Estate Agent before jumping into the actual search process so you can learn about the current market of the places you’ll be looking in.
The ability for you to submit an offer below the listing price will entirely depend on whether you’re in a buyer’s market or a seller’s market. Typically if you’re in a buyer’s market you’ll have more flexibility on price because the number of homes available is high and they tend to sit on the market for longer. The opposite is true if you’re in a seller’s market where inventory is low. This can lead to multiple buyers being interested in the same property, which would mean you wouldn’t want to lowball at all but instead offer at, or more likely even above the list price. Again, it depends on the property.
Check the Number of Days on the Market: The second factor you’ll want to consider is how long the home has been active on the market to get an idea of the demand for the property. For example, if you want to write an offer on a house that has only been on the market for 2 days you probably won’t want to offer the seller way below the asking price if you hope for them to at least counter your offer. On the other hand, if the house has been sitting for sale for over a year, you'll probably have some more flexibility to go in with an offer lower than the asking price.
Remember that even if a house has been sitting for an extended period of time, you’ll want to use market stats to back up your offer. This is something your Real Estate Agent can help you with. If you really want the offer to be taken seriously, you’ll want to avoid completely offending the sellers so make sure you’re not just blindly throwing numbers around.
Check the Comps: You also don’t want to overpay for the home so it’s important to look at comparable houses in the neighborhood for sale, and also see what other homes in the area have been selling for. Then compare the difference in features, square footage, updates, and any other major factors. The comps are what you can use to justify your offer price when you first submit an offer. This will back up why you’re offering the amount you’re offering instead of just appearing like you’re trying to get a deal.
Ask Yourself – On a Scale from 1-10, How Badly Do I Want This Home? The last thing you should determine is how badly do you want the house. Ask yourself – if your offer were to be rejected, will you regret not coming up in price or can you easily move on to the next house.
Try thinking about the home on a scale of 1-10. If you’ve finally found everything you’re looking for, would it be worth losing it for only ‘X’ amount? Decide what X is. If you lose it for more than what you’d regret losing, then it’s probably for the best!
There isn’t one answer on what you should offer on a home and there also isn’t a magic formula. You should work with a Real Estate Agent who you trust to guide you in the right direction and make the best decision for you.
Get in touch with us to talk it all over, we’d love to help you get into your next house.
Paul, Shontelle, Susie. x