To downsize or not to downsize your property

Jul 16, 2018 8:00:00 AM Share this:

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.

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Topics: Property Tips, property focus, Newsletter

Getting the right property for you in 2018

Mar 26, 2018 8:00:00 AM Share this:
We’re now well into a new year, and with a new year comes a brand-new set of goals and priorities. If one of your top priorities this year is finding your brand-new home, here are some tips on where to start.

Time for a change?

A change in homes can also herald a change in lifestyle. Those looking at moving on from their quarter-acre paradise might suddenly discover the appeal of an inner-city apartment, while city dwellers might dream of a lifestyle block in the countryside or a villa in the suburbs. Whatever the change and new horizons you have in mind be prepared to make well-informed decisions as part of your move.
Tip: If you’re looking for a completely different lifestyle, make a list of must-haves, versus wants and be prepared to research your new location thoroughly. Chatting with your agent can help.

Thinking of investing?
If it’s the ‘development potential’ of a property which is your main reason for buying it, check to see what you can and can’t develop before the purchase. You may be limited on what and how high you can build, how much and what part of your section can be built on, and activities you plan to do there (such as operating a small home business for example).
Tip: Check with your city about development restrictions before making a purchase.

Urban development
Find out how your new neighborhood might change in the future. New buildings and businesses and even motorways may be part of the area’s plan. Don’t assume a quiet underdeveloped area will stay that way forever.
Tip: Ask a knowledgeable agent about possible changes to the local area. A well-informed agent should understand major developments in the works.

Don’t forget about the view
Check your new views won’t be built out, or even disappear behind recently planted trees.
Tip: Ask the city or local council how they will manage these plantings once they get high enough to block views and even sunlight.

Moving to a new environment can add an exciting new dimension and outlook to your life. But to make the most of your move, it is important to be well prepared for the changes in lifestyle. Your agent can advise you on the range of issues involved with such a change to ensure you make the most of your new property.
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Topics: Property Tips, buying property, Real Estate Agents, dream home

Enjoy the darker side of your rooms

Feb 26, 2018 8:00:00 AM Share this:

It's all too easy to associate dark colours with negative connotations and a general sense of doom, but don't be too hasty!

Shades like black, navy and deep grey are also reminiscient of night skies and crisp winter nights.

Bedrooms are an ideal space for dark walls. Most of the time spent in the bedroom is at night – making it the perfect place to go dark and dramatic. Dark greys and inky blues are especially popular at present.  Think colours like Resene Foundry, Resene Fuscous Grey and Resene Dark Side. To get a velvety rich effect, use Resene SpaceCote Flat instead of low sheen. It absorbs the light more, making the room look richer. 

Using darker shades brings texture and mood, especially to a featureless space. Dark walls with a different shade on the floor or trims, for example, will create lines of difference and interest in the room that wasn't there before. It can also help a cavernous room feel cosier.

Take a test
Before committing to an aesthetic overhaul, test the colours out on a large sheet of cardboard, leaving an unpainted border around the outside. You want to use a piece of card large enough to see how the colour will go with your existing furniture and home's design features.

Once you've compared shades, you'll be able to settle on the exact dark hue you're happy with. Remember, there are plenty of shades to play with - deep shades can have blue, green and brown tones, which can all affect how they look on your wall. Be sure to consider the placement of windows - the shade will look a lot different in a space that receives lots of sunlight, compared to one that doesn't.


Mix it up
Don't be afraid to mix things up between rooms - just be sure that whatever colour you pick within a single room is consistent. If you want to use a dark hue in a shared space, but you've got an expansive open-plan kitchen, dining and living area, pick a single dark shade for a feature wall and paint the remaining walls in a complementary neutral with cool or warm tones depending on whether your feature colour has cool or warm tones.

Create drama
Dark colours are excellent because you can create contrast. Why not make a splash with Resene Tuna? This measured grey looks striking when paired with crisp, white accents and a touch of bright colour - think bright yellow or red cushions or artwork.

Focus closely on key features, such as the ceiling and flooring. Cool grey pairs well with off-white, while a dark yet warm brown looks stunning with thick-pile cream carpet.

You can create a dramatic living space or bedroom by ensuring you offset dark shades with light touches. Follow this tip and you're on the road home!

bathroom,grey white,Resene Half Fuscous Grey+Double Black White,photo Bryce Carleton.jpg

Focus on features
Be sure to play up your home’s best design features. Window frames, crown moulding, built-in storage and archways are examples of features that can be played up with the right paint selection.

You can make these features stand out with dark paint - just ensure that the surrounding area embraces a light shade in order to achieve a wonderful contrast.

Zinzan Biscay living landsc.jpg

Remember the contrasts
Whether you go charcoal, dark green, or deep oxen red, having a contrast on the floors, trims and ceiling helps to delineate the area, preventing it from becoming claustrophobic – instead, it helps to enlarge the space visually. 

As a whole-room solution, team dark neutrals with cream or crisp white trims. This works especially well with older homes where the skirtings, architraves and cornices are likely to be more ornate and will be beautifully highlighted by the contrast with smoky dark walls.

Think beyond your walls, to floors, ceilings and furniture. These can easily be painted a dark colour too.  If you’re living in a villa with a high stud, a dark ceiling can help make the ceiling feel lower and the room feel cosier.

If you’re changing from a light colour scheme to a dark one, make sure you review your lighting at the same time.  You may find you need a little extra lighting or a stronger light bulb to balance the darker walls.

Biscay Hf Dusted Blue hallway.jpg


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Topics: Agent Life, Property Tips, DIY, Home Renovations, family home

Ideas on how to Make the Most of the Space Under the Stairs

Jan 22, 2018 8:00:00 AM Share this:

If you’re looking for extra wiggle room in your home, look under the stairs. Whether in the main part of the house or the basement, this area can have enough room for uses like a mudroom and coat storage, wine cellar or craft station. Here’s how Houzz designers are making the most of this often-wasted space.


Stairs 1: California Closets HQ, original photo on Houzz 

1. Makeshift mudroom. Many of us are not lucky enough to have a dedicated mudroom. But a combination of under-stair space and clever cabinetry can provide plenty of room for a family landing zone. This design incorporates drawers for shoes, gloves and mittens; hooks for coats and bags; and cubbies for sports equipment and hats.


Stairs 2: Shiflet Group Architects, original photo on Houzz

2. Wine cellar.  Several of the most popular wine storage spaces in 2016 were cleverly tucked underneath the stairs. In addition to maximizing the space, it also helps keep the wine out of direct sunlight on an upper floor.


Stairs 3: Porebski Architects, original photo on Houzz

3. Home bar.  For big entertainers, it’s nice to have a spot to pour your friends a drink as they enter the house. This one even has a sink. Another fun thing about this particular under-stair bar is that when the paneled door is closed, it’s concealed in a secret Prohibition-style way.


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Topics: Property Tips, DIY, Home Decor & Furnishing

The five essential marketing tools to sell your property

Jan 8, 2018 8:00:00 PM Share this:

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.

Online presence
More than 80 per cent of  Kiwis look online to find properties for sale[*], so it’s essential your property has a presence on the worldwide web. Consider how to get the most exposure, and include plenty of details so potential buyers can put serious thought in. Your real estate agent can run through the sites that will give the best bang for your buck and advise on how best to describe your property.

Great images
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 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 you want to go a step further) may just prompt a future buyer to fall in love.

Street signage
A ‘For Sale’ sign outside your home may feel a little old-fashioned in our virtual world, but it’s important to catch the attention of those who may not actively be looking for a new property, or those who always have an eye on your street or neighbourhood for the 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.

Open homes
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 key to marketing 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.

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Topics: Property Tips, House of Inspiration, Tips for Agents

Tips for renting out your home this festive season

Nov 23, 2017 6:20:56 PM Share this:

The festive season is fast approaching and economic activity and consumer spending typically spikes during this time. Many take leave during December, especially due to the relative warm holiday weather across the country.

Gray says renting out your property over this period to tourists can be a great source of secondary investment income, as well as a way to ensure your home does not stand empty while you're away.

Besides local travellers flocking to their favourite destinations, Richard Gray, Harcourts Africa Chief Executive Officer, says South Africa is a premier holiday spot for international holidaymakers too.

Due to the high demand, popular lodges, hotels, guesthouses, and so forth are usually fully booked months in advance.

“This is where renting out your property over this period to tourists can be a great source of secondary investment income, as well as a way to ensure your home does not stand empty while you're away,” says Gray.

If you're thinking of letting out your home during this season here are few things to consider:

Firstly, it is imperative you get in touch with a rental specialist agent in your area that understands the market well. Not only will this agent be able to provide you with an accurate valuation of potential rental income, but also be able to manage your tenant requirements. This process can often be a dissuading factor for home owners not wanting to deal with the hassle of vetting potential tenants, as well as getting all the legalities in order. A rental agent will have all the necessary experience and training to assist greatly when exploring this option.

Secondly, the sooner the better. People tend to make holiday arrangements long in advance, and it is always better to step into the market whilst your potential tenants are deciding on accommodation. You don't want to go through all the processes of letting out your home only to find it was too late and with your potential target market being dramatically reduced.

Lastly, letting strangers into your house remains a risk. Take all the necessary safety precautions to ensure your investment is protected. If you have a safe on the property, make sure accessibility is strictly reduced. Also, if you have any items of a high value, rather lock them away in the safe or acquire a safety box off site for the duration of the tenancy.

“There are a lot more aspects to consider, that is why step one is so important. Partner with professionals, and you'll be surprised at the return on investment potential,” says Gray.

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Topics: Renting, Property Tips, Harcourts South Africa, Festive Season Tips, Real Estate Agents, holiday rentals

Renovating Wisely

Oct 30, 2017 8:00:00 AM Share this:

When it comes to renovating, the result can significantly increase the value of your property if done well, but bear in mind renovations can also cost the most if not planned and completed carefully. 

Disruption Any renovation is a disruption, so before your bathroom and kitchen are ‘out of order’ have a Plan B for alternate locations to cook and shower.

Timing Whether getting in a professional builder to run the whole project or managing it yourself, be very clear on the timeline between facilities being out of order and back in working condition. That’s when Plan B comes into place.

Coordinate Kitchens and bathrooms are the rooms that require the most specialist expertise. Coordinating everyone to do their job at the right time in the right sequence is crucial to ensuring a half-finished room doesn’t languish for days, and even weeks. You will need plumbers, electricians, builders, cabinetmakers, painter, floor layers, to name a few. With many tradespeople so busy these days, if one is unable to complete their job as per the schedule, be ready to suddenly reschedule the others in the sequence.

Contingency Before your kitchen is out of order, ensure you will have a supply of water, with a microwave and kettle as your mainstays. Consider preparing and freezing a selection of meals in advance to simply defrost and microwave. Bathrooms are a little harder to cope with if they’re not working, so really think that through before pulling the place apart.

3 Money Savers

  1. There is a huge cost difference between flooring types. Make sure you understand not just the per metre cost, but installation costs which vary depending on type. The beauty of bathrooms is that you may even be able to find an off-cut at a huge price reduction. But be careful not to cut any corners as flooring takes a lot of wear and you want it to last, particularly in wet areas where children can create tidal waves at bath time.
  2. If you still like your kitchen layout, consider just replacing the bench top, modernising the taps and changing the cupboard/drawer handles when painting or refinishing your doors, drawers and fronts.
  3. While planning your bathroom and kitchen changes, think carefully about implications for plumbing. Using the same plumbing layout for taps and wastes can save a lot of money as your plumber will only be installing new fittings into existing pipes, rather than pulling up walls, floors, ceilings, pathways and lawns to lay completely new plumbing systems.


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Topics: Selling, Property Tips, Home Buyers, property focus, Renovations, Home Maintenance

Six tips to sell your home fast.

Feb 10, 2017 5:24:54 PM Share this:

You’re desperate to sell your house. In fact, you need to sell yesterday.

Whether it’s financial stress, or your new job is in another part of the country or overseas, the most welcome sight in the world right now would be the words “SOLD” emblazed in your front yard.

Hence, you are preparing for the real estate equivalent of speed dating.

Just as in speed dating, you know roughly what you want, you need to meet someone who likes what you have to offer, but the last thing you want is to give any hint of desperation.

You are not desperate, but keen.

Don’t panic. Whether speed dating or preparing to sell your house quickly, the key is to remain calm by clearly understanding which factors are in your control, and which are not.

The strength of the economy, employment and income growth in the area are out of your control. Obviously if the housing market is booming, and demand is outstripping supply, your house may sell on the same day it’s listed. But that’s out of your control.

Partitioning these uncontrollable factors in your mind, but being an active participant in the factors within your control, will increase your chance of selling quickly.

So, what are the factors in your control?

Price your property competitively from the start

Pricing your property correctly, right from the start, is without doubt your top priority.

Well-priced does not mean “cheap”, but a price that meets the market. Suitable pricing for selling a property quickly, is what wearing a pleasant smile is to a speed dating night – nothing gets started without one.

A new property listing will attract the most views in the first two-three weeks, and then interest levels plunge. So to sell quickly, you need to take full advantage of this window of opportunity with a price that will attract the most interest. This cannot be overstated. Smile at your market with an attractive price.

If after a few weeks your property isn’t attracting the type of enquiry needed to sell, talk to your Harcourts Sales Consultant about a price drop. Smile wider. The best option is to reduce your price significantly once, rather than incrementally several times, which can quickly build cynicism in the minds of potential buyers.

More information about pricing your property is available here.

Marketing strategically

There is no doubt that the systems, expertise and connections available to you through engaging a professional real estate agent will increase your chance of a quick sale.

Don’t forget your real estate agent not only has a vested interest in selling your property, but doing so quickly. They are on your side.

Talk to your agent about using all the marketing tools available to gain maximum exposure for your property, and make sure these tactics are connecting with the type of buyer more likely to buy.

Open houses are important, but be ready at all times for a showing and second inspections. Follow up your Sales Consultant continually for feedback from potential buyers.

To avoid losing time and effort on contracts that “fall over”, be prepared to discuss the pros and cons of your home openly with potential buyers.

Prepare your house for sale

There are bare minimums that need to be done to ensure a fast sale. At the very least, you’ll have a shower before speed dating. Read more here.

Staging and professional photography

OK … here comes another speed dating analogy. Who goes to speed dating nights in their gardening clothes? Presentation is king or queen. Dress your house in metaphoric fine jewellery, beautiful clothes and spray on Chanel No. 5.

Property staging or styling is the process of using a property stylist to “stage” your property with furniture when preparing for sale. Generally, items are hired for a term of approximately six weeks.

Staging is about building emotional bridges with potential buyers, and through the work of professionals, presenting your property in the best possible way.

By going the next step, and engaging a professional photographer to capture images of your house once it’s been styled, you can multiply the styling effect in the market place.

There’s an old saying about a picture painting and word numbers, and it applies here when great photos of your house are featured across multiple marketing channels. Dress for success! Read more here.

Method of sale

An auction is the go-to sale method for those with a tight time frame, as it gives the vendor a potential predetermined sale date. In a seller’s market, auctioning for a quick sale is a no-brainer.

In tougher markets, there is always a risk that the house will not sell, or you may not meet your reserve, but auctions still increase the visibility of a property in the market place over a short time frame. Talk to your Harcourts Sales Consultant about whether an auction is right for your property.

In searching for solutions for a quick sale, you may come across investment companies that offer to “sell” your house quickly, by buying your house themselves. Often, however, this will be well below the true market value, so beware.

Prepare for after the sale

Do you know anyone who has gone to a speed dating event with a marriage contract prepared, ready to go? Probably not.

It’s an audacious step to say the least, but if your objective is to sell your house quickly and move on, and you are committed to the sale, fast-tracking the conveyancing process makes good sense.

Conveyancing is the legal transfer of property from one person to another. So why not instruct a solicitor or conveyancing firm like Strand to start tackling the administration of the sale by drafting up a contract and applying for title deeds?

Preparing the paperwork that will be needed after the sale of your house beforehand is also a great way to get you in a positive frame of mind.

Like speed dating, selling your property quickly is daunting, and potentially an emotionally draining task. Take the time to plan and prepare with the help of a real estate professional, and understand the factors you can and cannot influence, and who knows – you may quickly find your perfect match in the market.

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Topics: Selling, Property Tips

How homeowners can help reduce fire dangers

Oct 27, 2015 5:37:18 PM Share this:

As SA continues to experience its worst drought in decades, runaway fires are taking an increasing toll on people, animals and properties around the country – and farmers and foresters are not the only ones who need to be better prepared, says Richard Gray, CEO of Harcourts Real Estate.

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Topics: Property Management, Property Tips, Maintenance