Auctions popular in brisk market

By Anne Gibson NZ Herald

Nearly 40 per cent of properties sold in Auckland last month went by auction, Real Estate Institute figures show.

Of all dwellings sold in Auckland in May, 38.1 per cent went under the hammer – an increase of 10.5 per cent from the same month last year.

Nationally, 1567 dwellings sold by auction last month, representing 20.3 per cent of all sales and becoming the second-highest number of auction sales ever in a month.

Harcourts northern regional manager Josephine Kinsella said sellers were wising up on the benefits of auctions – higher prices with less fuss.

Continue reading at NZ Herald

Progress or Stagnation? Choose one. (Column)

Olly Newland’s column June 2013

The news item that appears below (Land bought in 1995 for $890,000 – owner will sell for $112m — NZ Herald) encapsulates the sort of narrow-minded thinking that afflicts many people. It’s a mixture of greed, fear, and NIMBY (Not in my back yard).

The strong suggestion of the article is that ‘land banking’ is A Very Bad Thing and this particular example is one of the worst.

But this is nonsense, of course.

If land banking was so bad than every farm, large section, public park, nature reserve and even National Park could be seen as land banking. Somebody has to own the land …wherever it is. Also, the supposed ‘massive asking price’ for this piece of land is a smoke-and-mirrors exercise.

Land bought in 1995 for $890,000 – owner will sell for $112m
By Anne Gibson NZ Herald Jun 1, 2013

The 29ha of vacant land at 39 Flat Bush School Rd is close to Barry Curtis Park.
A land banking business with a big piece of residentially zoned real estate on Auckland’s outskirts has made more than $6 million a year for almost two decades – doing nothing.

QV records shows Yi Huang Trading Company owns 39 Flat Bush School Rd, which it bought in 1995 for $890,000.

Now, this 29ha block is listed on the market for $112.6 million, promoted as “the land of opportunity, vacant but close to Barry Curtis Park”. Continue reading

Latest government housing moves – no immediate effect

Olly appeared in a 3News report on the government’s just-announced moves to free up land for development by overriding council delays. The move is aimed at increasing the number of properties available in Auckland.

Read: Banks given credit downgrade warning

In the video (here) Olly predicted no major impact immediately but says “it will put a bomb under the seats of bureaucrats holding up the process and eventually it will produce more houses.”

Olly on the Auckland Unitary Plan

Olly Newland returned by invitation to’s offices for an interview about his views of the controversial Auckland Unitary Plan — and advice to investors on how to respond.

A lot of the (negative) public reaction to the plan has focused on its vision of higher density housing and high rise apartments within parts of the existing city, rather than adding to unrestrained urban sprawl.

Watch the interview above and, if you’re interested (pardon the pun) has a written summary of some of Olly’s main points here: Olly Newland on the Auckland Unitary Plan; ‘Buy up land that will have the densest zoning’

Capital Gains Tax — not the magic bullet some people hope for (Column)

Olly Newland’s column March 2013

No matter how often the argument against a Capital Gains Tax is put forward, the subject is still popular among those who, it seems, fail to realise that implementing such a tax will solve nothing. The suggestion comes up again and again, and it has almost become an article of faith for ‘the left’ some of whom seem to imbue a Capital Gains Tax (CGT) with mythic powers to right all social wrongs.

When the Labour Government of the 1970s brought in a version of the tax to curb rampant property speculation, the result was a further rapid rapid rise  in property prices — on top of the 50% rise up until then! Sellers rather withdrew their properties from the market than pay the tax. It follows that Less stock = Higher prices. (This ain’t rocket science.)

The ’Property Speculation Tax’, as it was then called, was abolished a few years later by the Muldoon government, and I am proud to say that I was partly instrumental for that. It was in those days that I first organised public meetings, wrote newspaper articles, gave interviews on TV and radio to quietly and logically explain that that sort of tax would not work. (Well, OK, I argued and lobbied hard against the tax.)

A master stroke in the PR war was a stunt where I ‘sold’ a property to a near destitute Pacific Island family on $10 down and the balance interest free — with a condition of sale that no Property Speculation Tax was payable due to the transaction. If the tax was levied the needy family would be evicted immediately. (Yes, I said it was a stunt.)

This was all over the news, breathlessly, and culminated in a call to Wellington to meet a red-faced and embarrassed Minister of Finance, Bill Rowling. From that chilly meeting flowed changes over the next few months which saw some of the draconian aspects the tax modified. (I’ve written more about this episode in chapter 3 of Climbing the Property Ladder.)

Perception versus reality

There is no doubt that the idea of a Capital Gains Tax becomes at times popular, as the article below ‘Frustrated home buyers want investors to be discouraged’ and myriad others suggest. This is understandable.

Ordinary folk who find themselves locked out of the market by rising prices feel angry. They have a right to be angry. But if they believe the propaganda that a CGT will solve the problem, they’re wrong. It won’t.
It would make it worse. Here’s why:

Continue reading

Can house prices be controlled? (Column)

Olly Newland’s column July 2012

It’s clear that house prices and rents are rising. The news media run stories of astounding prices being achieved for what are sometimes old houses in less than mediocre condition.

TV ONE ran a news story on 14 July on how house prices are ‘locking out’ first home buyers. The suggestion is that the government should intervene to help those who cannot get into the market. TV3News ran some property expert by the name of Newland (ahem) describing the property boom on the horizon.

Various talking heads were asked ‘what should be done?’ but had no real solution other than more land should be made available. I’m sorry to tell you this, but they are all dreaming.

Let me tell you that more land may be the long term solution but it will take many years for ANY benefits to be felt. What’s needed are more dramatic moves that will get results without distorting the market.

For starters, a suggested capital gains tax as some are clamouring for, will have the totally wrong effect. It would drive prices up even further. If such a tax were to be introduced it would result in a mass withdrawal of property off the market.

Think about it: If you have a property that you are considering selling, would you rush it onto the market if you were going to be slugged with tax? Of course not. After all, if you don’t sell you don’t pay tax. It’s a no brainer.

Worse still, those pushing a capital gain tax want to exempt private homes. Well, that’s even sillier, because private home sales make up the vast majority of the market. Under that system we will end up with mums and dads flogging off their houses for tax-free gain … leaving house prices to continue to rise.

Look overseas if you want proof positive. Some of the countries that already have a capital gains taxes have suffered the worst property crashes. Such a tax does nothing to stop price rises.

Twelve months ago I predicted the coming current rise in property prices and told everyone the reasons why. That some sort of ‘mini bubble’ was forming has become obvious, as can be seen in this interview I gave to last December.

I also outlined the reasons why price rises were inevitable when I spoke to various property investment groups in Tauranga, New Plymouth, and Rotorua in the past months. Regular followers of my commentaries will recognize some of the points I have made earlier. They bear repeating.

The reasons for the current situation are:

  1. The extortionate costs of council charges when building or subdividing.
  2. Escalating costs of raw materials.
  3. The loss of tens of thousands of houses because of the leaky homes scandal.
  4. The loss of thousands of houses from the Christchurch earthquake disaster.
  5. Slow but steady immigration and increase in population. New Zealand’s population is growing by a small percent annually — 1% or so. By itself, that means an extra 40,000 people who will need at least 10,000 houses before actually getting ahead of the current problem.
  6. The removal of tax breaks (small as they were) in the 2011 budget was a colossal blunder and I said so at the time. It wasn’t so much the money it was the message. The authorities openly stated that they wanted to discourage investment in property. Well, they succeeded didn’t they? It discouraged many buyers  from going into the market to provide rental accommodation. (Not to mention the huge fright  everyone got from the Global Financial Crisis.)
  7. We have GST on every new house or renovation. Think about it: A newly built $500,000 house (the Auckland average) carries a GST content of $75,000!  So why build ? Next door could be a second hand house for sale, GST-free and often loaded with extras.
  8. The ongoing effect of historically low interest rates cannot be overstated. So long as these low rates exist they have the effect of providing a hefty wage rise to the mortgage home owners as well as allowing borrowers to borrow even more. These low rates are likely to fall even further which will add more fuel to the fire. The worry that interest rates will rise sharply has so far proven to be an empty threat. Many people are no longer believe this rhetoric.
    My prediction that house prices could double again over the next 10 years looks more and more likely as every day passes. Low interest rates are the driving force behind the current the rise in prices, make no mistake. It would take a huge and sustained bout of hyper-inflation in wages and prices to reverse the current low interest rate regime, and that possibility seems as unlikely at present. Indeed, deflation is a greater risk than inflation and the risk of deflation and its consequence is a nightmare that should not be contemplated. The thought must also haunt the Reserve Bank as well as the politicians. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if these officials are quietly stoking the fires of a property boom in an effort to AVOID deflation. Like most of us, they probably regard some inflation (especially in house prices) as a positive thing, whatever the downsteam effects are. The risk is worth it.
  9. Low interest rates have another side effect: Depositors now earn almost nothing from their savings. I see this time and again from my advisory clients, where depositors sick of earning peanuts in the bank and are now pouring money direct into property or syndicates with the hope of better security, the hope of capital growth and some (very) minor tax breaks. Of course, what they withdraw from the bank often ends up in someone else’s bank account … and thus the giddy round starts all over again. Commercial property too is showing the effects of low interest rates. Yields are now regularly falling below 6% for average stock. This would have been unheard of few years ago. What is happening is that  commercial buyers are paying ever more for the same cash returns, the consequence of which results in rising prices and falling yields.

Well, some might say it’s easy to criticise, but what can be done?

Here are a few ideas:

  1. First home buyers should be given a GST rebate on new built houses of up to (say) $500,000. First time buyers only and not repeatable. That would be a good start for those who are trying to get on the property ladder. Australia has something similar and stamp duty is rebated for first home buyers. It’s the same general idea and it works.
  2. Reinstate the building depreciation deduction allowances — thereby send out the message that being a property owner is no longer a sin.
  3. Shake up the costs involved through council and water charges. They are scandalously too expensive and make up a disproportionate part of building costs. (See my article: Who’s to blame for the rising price of property?)
  4. Give first home buyers a grant towards any low cost home. This would only apply to newly built homes and that, along  with the GST rebate would give a big boost to builders to provide low cost homes. There’s the nub of the problem: Builders cannot make a profit on cheap houses. Radical thinking is required to solve that conundrum.
  5. Give encouragement to investors to provide more affordable rental accommodation. For those who provide long term accommodation, remove some of the more onerous restrictions of the Residential Tenancy Act. The emphasis is on long term. If tenants could rent for years, free from the threat of eviction, able to call their house or flat a “home”, a lot of pressure would come off the rental market. In other countries you can lease a home for years if not decades. Think about it:  If you could rent back your own home  (the one you live in) for, say, 30 years and use the money for business or similar would that not be attractive? Such a move would take a lot of pressure of people who currently think they need to buy or face eviction at relatively short notice.

Change of Direction for the Rental market

Crockers Auckland rentals (click to enlarge)


Most observers agree the rental market remained relatively flat during the housing boom — much to the delight of the supporters of renting versus buying. There is no doubt that during that period renting became increasingly cheaper than buying.

The disconnect between the two types of accommodation in terms of costs became so wide that a correction was inevitable.

And so it came to be.

As properties became dearer, and tax breaks disappeared, the COST of providing rental accommodation dissuaded new investors from entering the market … hence creating a shortage of rentals.

This trend was greatly exacerbated by the Christchurch earthquake tragedy which in one fell swoop removed thousands of rentals from that area and has resulted in massive rent increases through that unhappy city with the spill over moving to other centres, Auckland in particular.

See property managers Crockers Auckland rental price table for June (right)


Rental property shortage near breaking point (NBR)

BUSINESSDESK: Rents in Christchurch skyrocketed 26% in the past year, while nationally rents are up just 4%, according to Trade Me Property’s analysis for the three months ended June compared with the same quarter last year.

At the same time, listings of houses for rent in Christchurch are down 34%, even as demand, measured by the number of inquiries, has jumped 47%. Nationally, listings are up 4% and demand is steady.

“The news for prospective Christchurch tenants is still grim,” Trade Me Property head Brendon Skipper says.

The particular “pressure cooker” suburbs of Christchurch are the central city, Linwood and St Albans.

“We’ve seen the number of properties available for rent in these three suburbs plummet more than 40% on a year ago and, on the flipside, the properties that do get listed are attracting huge volumes of inquiry,” Mr Skipper said.

While shortages of houses to rent in the Auckland rental market have hit the headlines in the past, Trade Me found listings are up 20% and demand is down 18%. In Manukau, listings are up 21% while demand is down 4%.

North Shore listings are up 7% and demand down 2% but the Waitakere market is much tighter with listings down 10% and inquiries up 7%.

“Autumn has wound down and the winter hibernation period sees tenants hunker down so we often see listing numbers swell and demand taper off,” Mr Skipper said.

Still, one surprise is the increase in listings and reduced demand in central Auckland hasn’t led to lower asking rents, he said. Average rents in the city are flat while in Manukau and Waitakere they are up 4% and North Shore’s by 5%.

One reason demand has softened in Auckland is that tenants are looking to become home owners, he said.

“Over the quarter, we’ve seen a 16% increase in inquiries from potential buyers compared to this time in 2011 but they’ll be finding the market challenging, too.

“Listings are flat and there’s plenty of healthy competition in Auckland, in particular.”

Elsewhere in the country, listings in Palmerston North are up 30%, rents are up 3% but demand is down 14%. In Dunedin, listings are up 17%, rents are up 3% and demand is up 4%, and in Hamilton, listings are down 2%, rents are up 1% and demand is up 1%.

In Wellington, listings are up 1%, rents are down 2% – the only major centre to show a decline – and demand is down 4%. In Lower Hutt, where rents are unchanged, listings are up 15% but demand is down 4%.

Mr Skipper said landlords in areas in which listings have shot up “shouldn’t panic” because more than half of all rental listings stay on Trade Me for 20 days or less.

Even with the jump in rental prices in Christchurch, it’d be a pretty brave investor who’d buy or build rental property there while the ground is still shaking. The much-talked about re-build of Christchurch is only just starting and the are still years of shortages to contend with.

Expensive rents may be on the way out

Here’s a strange phenomenon I have noticed. While rents for average homes are increasing rapidly, rents for expensive properties seem to be falling. Some of my clients complain that top-end apartments and homes which may have been easily let from $1000 per week and upwards are showing weakness.

My own research seems to support the notion that people paying high rents now find that OWNING is competitive to paying high rents. Hence high priced rentals are tending to remain empty longer, while the pressure on the housing market increases even more as renters move to ownership. This was proved to me when advising a client about renting out their luxury city apartment . For years it appeared there was no problem to obtain $1200 per week in rent, and the owner was regularly rushed of her feet whenever it became available.
Recently when it became available again, heavy advertising produced total silence. It wasn’t until the rent was advertised at a $850 a week did the phone again start ringing. Quite a discount.


The property market is in a state of flux with rents rising rapidly at the cheaper end and pushing people into buying as rents become too expensive.
The pressure on the existing housing stock is at bursting point in the main centres and we could be facing another bubble — which would be a very unhealthy state of affairs given the weakness of the economy both locally and internationally.

In my view the whole property market is approaching some sort of crisis and I am picking a large upward burst of prices and rents in the next year or two until a new equilibrium is reached. That will hopefully be a situation where, the mix of low interest rates, shortages of housing stock and rent levels reach some sort of balance once again.

Can this be done or will there be collateral damage on the way?

Olly Newland
July 2012
© 2012 Olly Newland. All rights reserved.

Grab the opportunity! Kick-Start Property Coaching with Olly Newland

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  3. A comprehensive manual containing sample contracts, leases, conditions, clauses, checklists, as well as additional informative documents, relevant books and audio CDs for you to keep forever as part of your personal ‘investment library’.
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“This may be your only chance to take advantage of the improving property market. Don’t hesitate. Change your life forever and enjoy independence, a passive income, and security for you and your family.
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Confusion in the Ranks – Mortgage wars and the Budget

Olly Newland’s client newsletter May 2012

To fix or float? has become one of the most pressing decisions anyone with a mortgage has to face especially now.

Lenders are slashing rates left right and centre. But how much further?
From all sides a thousand voices argue one way or the other.

Had anyone listened to the advice given out by some of “experts” and bankers to fix then — for 6 months, 12 months or longer — it would have cost them a bundle.

We now have the lowest interest rates in 50 years, not only in New Zealand but in most other countries in the world.

In the USA Home mortgage rates are at a record low — frequently under 4% for up to 30 years fixed.
See: Rates keep dropping

Likewise the UK mortgage rates are at a record low between 4.5% and 5.5%: Compare Rates

And in Germany rates hover around 3.5% to 4%

Now we have the same phenomenon in New Zealand with banks vying with each other in cutting rates.

Why is this?
What’s going on?
The answer may be simpler than many think.

With the demise of finance companies, and recent performance of the ‘risky’ share market (in some people’s view, run by rogues with inside knowledge) the only ‘safe’ place to put spare cash is in the bank.
Hence the banks are awash with cash and need to get it out working.

Banks survive on the small margin between what they pay for deposits and what they receive by way interest from borrowers.

As usual, there are fish hooks

Here’s the kicker: The real reason banks are cutting interest rates is to obtain the “add-ons” that come with granting a mortgage.

With the mortgage they hope to get more rewarding and lucrative interest rates by lending to you other products that is well above the measly home mortgage rates e.g., credit cards [9 to 19%], car loans [8 to 14%], overdrafts [9 to 17%,] fees up to 20%, not to mention life insurance, home and contents insurance, and mortgage insurance as well.

There is another strange oddity where we have floating rates often more expensive than fixed rates – but as usual there’s a catch.

The catch here is that with a fixed rate you are trapped with that particular bank.

At present the beauty of floating rates is the ability to go from bank to bank to compete for your custom.

Recently I assisted a client who was offered a mortgage at 5.5% floating. With my advice he approached another bank and was quickly offered the same deal at 5.25% .

He then went back to the first bank which matched that rate and knocked further 0.2% off that!

He then returned the second ask and got an even better deal! He ended up going with the original bank at 4.99% … which just shows you that competition is alive and well.

Moral of the story – banks hate competition. They want to lock you in so make them pay for the privilege if you can.

See below for 20 Questions you should ask your lender BEFORE you sign or renew your mortgage.

Where to Now?

It is my view that interest rates have further to fall yet … perhaps by as much as 1%. Now that might not sound much but to the maths

A $400,000 mortgage at 5.5% = $22,000 p.a interest
The same mortgage at 4.5% = $18,500 p.a. interest
A saving of $3500 per year or $67 per week. Probably enough to keep the family car in petrol or pay the bus fares 52 weeks in the year.
Not bad money if you can get it.

So in my opinion this is NOT the time to fix, but to stand back a little longer and keep your mortgage floating — bearing in mind that you are free to swap banks any time you want.

And here’s another thing: The quoted rates at any one time are not necessarily what you have to pay.
Banks frequently cut special deals below the quoted rates.
So give it a go. If you don’t ask you don’t get.

Whose advice should you get?

The last person you should ask is your bank manager. (C’mon use your common sense!)
Would your bank manger give you unbiased advice like, ‘Try another bank’? (Do turkeys vote for Xmas?) Hardly likely.

Not to pick on them, but only a short while ago the ANZ was suggesting fixing your rate. Now they are slashing them again: ANZ National cuts rates
So much for THAT advice!

How about your lawyer or accountants?
They would be better but, with all due respect, many lawyers and accountants have no idea either.

Some people think that just because someone is a lawyer or accountant it makes them experts in property as well. This is not the case at all. I have seen to many situations where these respected professionals make colossal boo-boos in the subject.
They may be brilliant divorce lawyers or business advisors but on interest rates they have no more clue than the man in the street.

Independent mortgage brokers (and I emphasize “independent”) are much better but the best in my (biased, naturally) view are independent property consultants such myself as we have no allegiance to any bank – only to the client.

See below for 20 Questions you should ask your lender BEFORE you sign or renew your mortgage.

The Downside

The people who are missing out are the term deposit investors who are obliged to take lower and lower rates on their savings. This is the other side of the coin and it would seem to me that depositors should be compensated by at least by having their loans either indexed to inflation, modest as it is, or the tax on their returns adjusted for the same reason.

The one disquieting side effect of low interest rates for depositors is the inflation effect. We may be setting ourselves up for massive inflation some time in the near future as low interest rates encourage people with any sort of money to look for alternative investments.

The art market is one of these outlets.
Consider this sale of ‘The Scream‘. This sort of money for some pastel and canvas resembling the demented daubings of a monkey, is not rational and surely a portend of things to come.

The Budget

Another downside may be further moves by the Government in the budget to fill loopholes in taxes as they affect property investment.

It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the Government re introduced Stamp Duty on property sales, or disallowed some more tax ‘losses’ in an effort to rake in more tax.

Any such moves would increase rents, since all costs to landlords are eventually passed on, so it’s not all bad.

In an effort to get people to invest in “productive  investment”, expect further disincentives – none of which will work but will, as usual will end up with even higher prices than  ever.

I have seen many times before. The more you restrict the market the higher prices become.
If you want to contain prices you make property more available, not less. Ask any economist if this is not  fact.

Any serious interference with the property market could lead to a ‘collapse’ as waves of selling sweep across the country with results we are all aware of when we look overseas. So let us hope our masters are aware of this fact and keep a very light hand on the tiller.

Olly Newland
May 2012
© 2012 Olly Newland. All rights reserved.

FREE Report

I have prepared a list of 20 Questions you should ask your lender BEFORE you sign or renew your mortgage.
It would be my pleasure to send it to you with my compliments. Email me at or use the contact form to request a copy.

The Return Of The Investor

Let’s hope that the return of investors may  alleviate the rental shortage so we do not have to read about over crowding, slum conditions, and homelessness.

The only danger I see in this mood upswing is a rush by  newbie investors into slum landlordship buying small boxes in poor areas and exacerbating the situation.

Go for a drive around the depressed areas where the cheapest houses are and see for yourself.

Any self-respecting investor should keep well away putting money into these areas as it will inevitably leads to losses, and sleepless nights.

In the past few years the a large number of  ex property “gurus” have gone broke with one common theme connecting them all.

They all invested in slums. Don’t make the same mistake,

Investors return to property

With low mortgage rates and rising rental returns, New Zealanders have returned to property as their favoured investment.
For the first time since the beginning of 2010, rental property came out top in ASB’s latest quarterly investor confidence survey of investments that people felt would give them the best return.

ASB wealth advisory head Jonathan Beale said 19 per cent of investors surveyed believed rental property offered the best returns, up from 14 per cent in the last quarter. Kiwis’ enduring love affair with rental property had rekindled, after 24 months in the cold.

“The low-interest-rate environment seems to be influencing investor perceptions markedly. Investors appear to be moving away from the traditionally lower-risk investment options, and searching for those with the potential for higher returns.”