Steve Koerber's Old Blog

Remuera's house sold name since 1998 – 021864166

Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Since 1996 I’ve been gathering experiences that form these opinions about real estate in general

The cutting edge of real estate in NZ

Posted by Steve Koerber on September 2, 2010

Today I attended the inaugural Future of Real Estate Conference in Auckland hosted by Alistair Helm of www.realestate.co.nz

The whole experience was fantastic and the quality of information shared by speakers and participants was truly outstanding.  I came away thinking that I was lucky to be a part of something that I know will grow much bigger in years to come.  I hope to be an integral participant in future conferences.

I thought about writing a big blog post here to cover evertyhing I learnt but one thing I learnt is that posts should be kept short if possible.  So here are some insights and sites recommended and discussed by the various speakers as follows:

Joel Burslem – Joel flew in from the USA.  He is a blogger, respected expert in the real estate field and an integral member of the 1000 Watt Consulting.  The following is a just a small sample of the sites (most are only available in USA for now) he suggested could help if you want to turbo charge your online presence:

www.siri.com,  www.peep.ly, www.rapportive.com, www.sortfolio.com, www.flavors.me, www.cloudcma.com, www.pandora.com, www.1000wattconsulting.com.

I discovered that Nicholas O’Flaherty and myself live in the same neighbourhood.  Nicholas consults to www.realestate.co.nz and runs the team at www.bulletpr.co.nz and also shared his involvement with the Auckland social media club that meets the first Tuesday of every month.  I was salivating at Nicholas’ menu of online journalist contacts and I’m going to investigate the PR side of promoting Remuera and my knowledge of the area and happenings.  One of Nicholas’ takeaways for me was that I should put more focus on becoming the ‘go to’ person for anything ‘Remuera’.  Nicholas introduced the audience to social network icons Ben Gracewood, Luke Appleby, Radio Wammo and local wine shop owner Jayson Bryant.  Other suggestions were www.klout.com and www.socialmention.com plus sage advice to use Google Analytics to enhance your website’s performance and effectiveness.

Charles Coxhead is one of NZ’s foremost experts on SEO (search engine optimisation) and SEM (search engine management).  Together with Nigel Varcoe he runs www.clikki.co.nz and is very knowledgable in all things Google.  He talked about the importance of links and google juice.  I now know that (unlike most platforms) Twitter stops Google juice with a condom to prevent mass spamming – sounds messy doesn’t it!  Check Google Places, Google Base, Google Social Search, Googleme, and so much more!

To be continued…….

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Posted in Opinion, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Chaos at the school gate

Posted by Steve Koerber on May 25, 2010

Did you know that school-related travel accounts for nearly half of all morning peak travel?

With this many vehicles dropping off or picking up students it can be a recipe for chaos at the school gates, with parents dropping off their children while double-parked, parking on broken yellow lines, blocking driveways and slowing traffic flow.

To sort out this growing problem, in early 2003 Auckland City Council started to enforce a zero tolerance policy towards those ignoring the traffic rules – the ‘Chaos at the School Gate’ programme. The programme has been very successful and is helping to reduce the danger to children as well as improve traffic flow around schools at this busy time of the day.

The programme includes placing parking officers on patrol outside schools to observe non-compliant behaviours and issue tickets to those illegally parked.

Auckland City Council runs the programme at 15 schools each term. Other schools can go on a waiting list for the next term . Schools that have experienced difficulties with illegal parking have first priority to join the scheme.

Schools on either programme are required to inform parents that the school is part of the Chaos at the School Gate scheme. Schools must put the information in their newsletter and a send a copy of this to the council.

If you would like to be part of the programme please contact http://www.aucklandcity.govt.nz.

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Telecom versus Vodafone

Posted by Steve Koerber on April 14, 2010

I stumbled upon a news article today stating that Telecom’s forecast earnings have been significantly reduced.  No doubt this will shake investor confidence and make many question the future value of the company.  The share price will suffer accordingly.  Telecom is also in the process of cutting staff to reduce costs and improve efficiency.

I’ve been privy to a noticeable dominance of Vodafone in the mobile market.  I run lots of open homes and ask every visitor for their phone number.  Fully 90% of people who visit my open homes have vodafone (021) numbers.  It’s quite incredible when I look over my hundreds of lists.  It’s not unusual to have 20 visitors in a row with 021 numbers.  While I realise that these days you can use the 021 prefix with Telecom, I am sure that Vodafone still holds a significant market leadership position in the mobile market.

Which brings me to question the future of Telecom and its business as a whole.  More and more people (especially generations X and Y) will never own a fixed phone line/number.  The way of the future is mobile numbers/devices.  Granted Telecom has huge investments and interests in areas other than mobile, but in the minds of consumers mobile leads the way and is key in customer satisfaction and branding.  With such a strong position in the youthful mobile market already, surely Vodafone will be the dominant telco in NZ for a long time. 

While I’m obviously not giving investment advice, based on my rather crude and simple observations, I’m simply expressing an opinion as to where my money would be if I was investing in telcos long term.

Anyone care to argue the point?

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Would raising the minimum wage in NZ cause businesses to fold?

Posted by Steve Koerber on January 19, 2010

The issue of raising NZ’s minimum wage from $12.50 to $15 has been in the news this month.

Whilst I can understand most wage earners desire to be paid more, most wage earners don’t need to worry about the minimum wage. Only 100,000 workers receive it.

Are you being paid $12.50 an hour? Do you know anyone who is? If so, is that person’s contribution to their employer worth $12.50 an hour or more?

If you were starting a business and needed to employ five people to sit and watch a computer screen, would you be comfortable paying them $12.50 to do so? You may want to pay them less, but you’re not allowed to. How would you feel if you were just starting to turn a profit after going deeply into debt to start your business, then the Government told you you had to pay your screen watchers $15 an hour?

American Samoa’s economy is in tatters because the USA recently forced its tuna industry to pay workers a higher minimum wage. The tuna industry there used to provide the USA with 80% of its canned tuna.  The industry employed one third of the working population. Now one of two companies has shut down, automated much of the canning process and moved to the USA. The poorest of the USA’s territories just got a whole lot poorer because of minimum wage fixing above rates that the market could tolerate.

In NZ how many small and medium manufacturing businesses, already struggling, will fold if told they have to pay their workers more. How will this effect the nation’s export earnings? Think of the extra dole payments needed to pay people out of work.

John key should ignore calls to raise the minimum wage because raising it will damage the economy and increase dependence on social welfare.

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Tiger Woods & The Speed of Trust

Posted by Steve Koerber on December 12, 2009

Words of wisdom for Tiger Woods with thanks to Stephen R. Covey and his excellent book ‘The Speed of Trust’.

Behavior #1: Talk Straight

– Be honest. Tell the truth. Let people know where you stand. Use simple language. Call things what they are. Demonstrate integrity. Don’t manipulate people or distort facts. Don’t spin the truth. Don’t leave false impressions.

Behavior #2: Demonstrate Respect

– Treat everyone with respect. Show kindness in the little things. Behave in ways that demonstrate caring and concern

– A good leader takes nothing for granted and recognizes the contributions made by everyone on the team

– Think about specific things you can do to show others you care about them. Call people. Write thank you notes. Give acknowledgement. Send e-mails of concern. Try to do something each day to put a smile on someone’s face

– Never take existing relationships for granted-particularly relationships with loved ones, family, and friends

Behavior #3: Create Transparency

– Transparency is about being open, real, and genuine and telling the truth in a way that people can verify

– Disclose relationships, interests, and conflicts ahead of time so that everything is always out in the open

Behavior #4: Right Wrongs

– Make things right when you’re wrong. Apologize quickly. Make restitution where possible. Practice service recoveries. Demonstrate personal humility. Don’t cover things up.

Behavior #5: Show Loyalty

– Give credit to others and speak about people as though they were present

– Go out of your way to give credit freely

– Make it a rule to never talk about family members in negative ways

Behavior #6: Deliver Results

– Clarify “results” up front. Make sure you thoroughly understand the expectation

– Before you make a commitment, make sure it’s realistic. To overpromise and underdeliver will make a withdrawal every time

– Try to anticipate needs in advance and deliver before the requests even come

– Establish a track record of results. Get the right things done. Make things happen. Don’t overpromise and underdeliver. Don’t make excuses for not delivering

Behavior #7: Get Better

– In seeking to get better, there are two strategies that are particularly helpful in maximizing your effort: seek feedback, and learn from mistakes (really all experiences)

– Continuously improve. Increase your capabilities. Be a constant learner. Develop feedback systems-both formal and informal. Act on the feedback you receive.

Behavior #8: Confront Reality

– Confronting reality is about taking the tough issues head on. It’s about sharing the bad news as well as the good, naming the “elephant in the room,” addressing the “sacred cows,” and discussing the “undiscussables.”

– Address the tough stuff directly. Acknowledge the unsaid. Lead out courageously in conversation.

Behavior #9: Clarify Expectations

– Create shared vision and agreement about what is to be done up front

– In every interaction-explicitly or implicitly-there are expectations

– Disclose and reveal expectations. Discuss them. Renegotiate them if needed and possible. Don’t assume expectations are clear or shared

– Clarify expectations both at work and at home

– Check for clarity by asking a few simple questions:

  • What have you understood from this conversation?
  • As a result of our interaction, what do you see as your next steps? What do you see as mine?
  • Do you feel that others are clear regarding expectations?
  • What can we do to make things more clear?

Behavior #10: Practice Accountability

– There are two key dimensions to practicing accountability:

  1. Hold yourself accountable
  • When people hold themselves accountable, it encourages others to do the same
  1. Hold others accountable
  • People respond to accountability-particularly the performers. They want to be held accountable

– Hold yourself accountable. Hold others accountable. Take responsibility for results. Be clear on how you’ll communicate how you’re doing-and how others are doing

Behavior #11: Listen First

– Listen before you speak. Understand. Diagnose. Listen with your ears-and your eyes and heart. Don’t assume you know what matters most to others. Don’t presume you have all the answers-or all the questions

Behavior #12: Keep Commitments

– Keeping commitments is the quickest way to build trust in any relationship

– Make commitments carefully and then keep them

– Don’t break confidences

Behavior #13: Extend Trust

– Demonstrate a propensity to trust. Extend trust abundantly to those who have earned your trust. Extend conditionally to those who are earning your trust.

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Remuera must be New Zealand’s favourite suburb

Posted by Steve Koerber on July 24, 2009

According to Alistair Helm. CEO of New Zealand’s most popular real estate web portal www.realestate.co.nz , Remuera is the second most popular suburb searched for on his website.

View of Remuera from Newmarket

Because it ranks second to “Auckland City”, I reckon that’s a technical glitch.  People probably search Auckland City from overseas (and home) because they don’t instinctively know which suburb to go to.  So, in my mind, Remuera is definitely numero uno! (See below for a link to the top 20 suburbs searched)

On another note, I would like to congratulate Alistair Helm.  He has impressed me as a creative visionary constantly with his eye on trends that are important to the real estate industry.  Especially technological trends.  It seems that every time he attends the amazing Inman Connect  conference in the USA, he comes back with lots of great ideas to radically transform and challenge our industry.

Real estate agents and salespeople are in a service industry where change and progress is inevitable (and needed).  It is people like Alistair, who embrace and encourage change, whom we so desperately need to gently nudge and encourage us to take small steps forward, headlong into the 21st century.

See if your suburb features in the top 20 here

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Immigration is changing the face of New Zealand and Remuera

Posted by Steve Koerber on June 28, 2009

After a slightly slower 2008 my sales volumes are back up to 2007 levels.  Over the last 3 months I’ve sold twelve homes at the rate of four per month. 

The other day I was studying those sales and noticed something very interesting.  culturesImmigration trends suggest we will see a net gain to NZ’s population of about 20,000 people this year.  It looks to me like plenty of new arrivals are buying homes at the moment, especially in Remuera.  I’m going to share a telling statistic with you that you won’t see highlighted elsewhere.  Of my last 12 sales, 10 were to families born outside New Zealand.  Not all have just arrived, but the majority have.  Most were from China. 

We are so lucky to live in such a safe, clean, culturally diverse environment.  Many people from all over the world can only dream about living in New Zealand and Remuera.

Posted in Opinion | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Borrowing – what would Tony do?

Posted by Steve Koerber on June 17, 2009

071119_tonyalexanderThanks again to Tony Alexander (currently suffering from pneumonia, get well soon Tony) from the BNZ for his insightful commentary:

 

We have learnt nothing over the past week to alter our view on where interest rates are likely to go and what we think the best thing to do at the moment is for the average borrower. So if you read last week’s WO then you’ll gain nothing new this week. For those who did not read last week the guts of it is that if you are sitting floating waiting for the optimal time to fix – you missed it by three months!

But seriously, it is quite unlikely that fixed rates will decline from current levels so there is little point in hanging off if fixing is your goal. But there is not anywhere near the same need to act quickly as there was in March and over April because the strong NZ dollar is going to limit the extent to which wholesale interest rates rise in the near future. Personally I would fix three years though for many people floating is optimal because it is the only way to get an affordable debt servicing cash flow at the moment. If you are in that position – then frankly you may be taking on more debt than you can really afford.

 

 

Interest rates are below average at the moment and if you are floating you should be budgeting for 2% – 3% rate rises a couple of years from now. Run your numbers on that basis and see if you can truly afford the debt you are planning to take on.

As we noted last week, for business borrowers the dynamics are a bit different because there is a larger gap between low floating and highish fixed rates than for home owners. This different yield curve situation mainly reflects the fact that we NZ banks have traditionally competed for mortgage business using fixed rates.

Across the ditch the dynamics are different with competition mainly using floating rates. Don’t know why.

For business and farming borrowers there are strong cash flow advantages from floating. But be sure to budget for 2% – 3% rate rises two or so years from now. If you work out your debt servicing costs based on current low floating rates then you are setting yourself up for a major problem 2-3 years from now.

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How to use Twitter for Real Estate

Posted by Steve Koerber on May 20, 2009

Cruise ship

Random thoughts:  If you’re like me, totally random thoughts pop into your head every day.  For example, the other day I thought that taking my family on a cruise would be a cool thing to do.  I Googled “cruises leaving NZ Dec 2009”.  After five minutes I made a mental note of dates and prices (inside cabin price was $1257) then got distracted and closed the website.  Life is busy.  I probably won’t re-visit that website.  My bright idea might fade away and we’ll just go to the beach again this Christmas.  Let me explain why I’m talking about this…

Social Networks:  Recently I’ve been experimenting with various Social Networks.  Platforms you may have heard of like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.  In an apparent vote of support my big boss Peter Thompson (Barfoot & Thompson Director) recently joined Twitter.  I was one of the first people he decided to “follow” or “keep tabs on”.  At first, seeing him follow me was a bit of a shock.  I felt a like Big Brother was watching me.  But Peter’s ‘follow’ got me thinking.  I worked out that the key to (or secret behind) social networking is that it fosters total honesty and transparency.  That’s got to be a good thing.

Twitter:  If you know how to log onto the internet I reckon you should join Twitter.  You might not understand why initially (most people don’t), but if you’re planning on staying in real estate for the next ten years it will help grow your business.  Trust me on this!

Listings:  These days at listing presentations I explain to potential vendors how I’m harnessing the power of technology and social networks to enhance my service.  It still astounds me that when I arrange to show one of my listings to a potential buyer, people previously unknown to me are increasingly just “arriving”.  Many of these mystery buyers trust me (I hope) because they’ve investigated me online, plus they know lots about the listing because they’ve already downloaded documents I provide to help them make a buying decision.  The bottom line is this:  it’s easier to sell to someone who trusts you and appreciates your level of service – especially before they even meet you!

Like magic:  This “qualified buyers appearing like magic” scenario may sound far-fetched, but it’s actually happening and it’s incredibly exciting. The great news is I’ve developed a system that’s reasonably easy to set up and I’m happy to share it with you.  No strings attached.

Back to the Future:  Back to the cruise scenario I mentioned.  Think about this.  If the cruise website I found had a Twitter ‘follow’ button that promised to alert me every time the price changed, you can bet I would have ‘followed’.  That would be a big win-win for the cruise website and me.  Every time the price changes the website would “Tweet” it and get my attention. Who knows, if the deal on offer was sufficiently appealing, I might buy from them (not from a competitor).  Sites like Twitter are giving consumers the power to filter and receive exactly what they want.

The mind boggles when I think about the untapped possibilities of sites like Twitter for the real estate industry.  Imagine how much value you could add to the services you already provide.

PS – (If you are in an industry like travel, retail, services etc and people who visit your site are price sensitive, you could bring customers back to your site by promising future ‘deals’.  If you promise to move the price or spice up the deal make sure you add to your website a Twitter follow capacity relating to the aspect that is likely to appeal to customers.  Isn’t that what business is all about, repeat and return custmers?)

PPS – Follow me on Twitter here

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1929 Stock Market Crash Chart

Posted by Steve Koerber on May 4, 2009

1929crashpe9I posted this chart early May 2009 at a time when many commentators were saying the recession was ending and recovery had started.  As at May 2009, are we at the top of the first bounce  (similar to circa Apr 1930)?  This chart might help to keep things in perspective.  Maybe not.  It will be interesting to look back at this post in 6 months and a year from now.  How many bear rallies will there have been?  Where is the bottom? (Click on the chart to see a larger version).

Here is an Oct 2009 CNN video talking about the stock market crash and how it related to the Great Depression.

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