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What’s been happening in my world

Passion, goals, immigrants, investors, results & family

Posted by Steve Koerber on April 15, 2010

 Dear everyone, this is my April 2010 newsletter sent to all my valued clients. 

Although I’ve been helping people to buy and sell since 1996, as each year passes I find myself becoming even more passionate about real estate as a career.  Whether prices are going up, down or sideways, I love helping people from all walks of life move from one phase of their lives to the next.  Every day this is a truly fascinating industry to be involved with.

This time every year I sit on Piha beach to set my goals for the coming financial year.  Part of this process involves analysing my listings and sales to see where they’ve come from.  It’s probably no surprise that most of my listings were kindly referred to me by people just like you.  What will surprise you is that 70% of my 2009 sales went to people who were born overseas (mostly Chinese immigrants).  What an amazing statistic!    

It’s anyone’s guess what changes the government will soon announce about the treatment of property as an investment.  What I can tell you is that a higher than usual percentage of investors have been selling excess rental properties.  In fact 57% (or 8 of my 14 sales since January) were tenanted properties.  Incredibly, all but one went to owner-occupiers.  Are we staring down the barrel of a rental shortage and rent increases?  I think that is a highly likely scenario.

On a personal note I finished the year ranked in the elite Barfoot & Thompson Top 25.  I actually had my most successful year ever and plan to do even better this coming year.  Home life has been mildly hectic and our kids are now 15 (Katie), 6 (Charlotte) and 4&11/12ths (Joshua).  Joshua finally starts school next week.

As a family we’re very settled in our home and it seems we won’t be moving for a while.  If however you’re thinking about making a change, needless to say, I’d love to help you with your next move.  And if you have a rental property you’d like to cash-up, the chances are high that I can find a wannabe owner-occupier to take it off your hands.

Yours sincerely,

Steve Koerber

Barfoot & Thompson – Remuera


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2009 the year in review

Posted by Steve Koerber on December 30, 2009

My January 2009 holiday reading included a brilliant book titled “The Four Hour Work Week”.  With the lure of eternal holidays I couldn’t wait to implement some of its efficiency strategies.  As a result I am now one of a handful of agents who provide instant information to people who enquire about my listings.  I do this by funnelling customers from property websites to my blog site where they find statistics, titles, Lim reports, appraisals, rates, maps, zoning, links, etc.  Clients have commented that my system is cutting edge in terms of real estate customer service.

February 2009 saw the world financial crisis in full swing with global bank failures, mortgagee sales, emergency meetings, job losses and stimulus packages.  Interest rates plummeted in an attempt to stabilise economies and keep people spending.  The local real estate market was limping along in an uncertain frame of mind.  In hindsight, the first half of 2009 was an excellent time to buy property. 

March 2009 was slower than any March I had seen in recent times.  Many of my sales saw clients accepting small losses.  Thankfully most had some immunity, especially those buying and selling on the same market.  The end of the financial year again saw me recognised in the elite top 2% of Barfoot & Thompson salespeople.  This year I finished with my highest ever ranking:  14th out of 1000+ salespeople.

I remember April 2009 as the start of a prolonged period of very thin Property Press magazines.  The catch-cry of most agents was that they couldn’t get enough listings to sell.  Sellers were fearful that if they sold they wouldn’t achieve a reasonable price.  In turn this meant that anyone who had sold was unable to buy due to dwindling stock levels.  This whole supply and demand imbalance eventually led to a significant revival in median prices throughout NZ towards the end of the year.  April also produced Susan Boyle’s rendition of “I dreamed a dream” and the rest, as they say, is history.

May 2009 marked the 13th anniversary of the commencement of my real estate career.  Way back in 1996 I made what seemed a huge decision to leave the Navy and join Vision Realty in Milford.  Vision was a unique group that didn’t believe in auctions or open homes.  Thankfully I was one of a chosen few who received a salary during my first year.  Without that fortuitous easing into a commission only sales role I’d probably be onto my third or fourth career by now.  In May I returned to Sydney for my yearly dose of inspiration and learning at the Australasian Real Estate Conference (AREC09).

June 2009 saw the untimely death of one of the world’s most influential entertainers, Michael Jackson.  It also marked a turning point that saw a distinct shift from buyer’s market to seller’s market.  All of a sudden properties were receiving multiple offers and the Barfoot & Thompson auction rooms were full again.  Barfoot & Thompson’s Auckland market share held well above 30%, and in Remuera we achieved a creditable 50% share of the market for much of the year.  I took most of June off and spent time with my family.

In July 2009 I published my thoughts on how to solve New Zealand’s leaky home crisis.  My main concern was that naïve buyers and immigrants were at great risk of being stitched into homes that were clearly worth less that they had paid.  The new Real Estate Agents Act has made it harder for this to happen, but there are still significant risks for people who buy privately.  The entire leaky home saga in NZ is a bigger can of worms than most people realise.  I believe we need a Royal Commission to sort the mess out.  If Government keeps side stepping the blame and stalling a decent compensation plan, by 2014 no-one will be able to make a claim to help with the cost of repairs to a leaky home.  I meet people every week who own at-risk homes.  Some are aware that their asset is at risk of losing value but the travesty is that most are completely unaware of the stigma that surrounds at-risk homes built (broadly) between 1991 – 2003.  If you have one of these homes, whether you’re selling or not, please feel free to have a chat with me about it.  If you do nothing else, I urge you to get a professional building inspection report ASAP.  This could prove to be the best advice you’ve received so far in 2010!

August 2009 saw the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, lower his world record time for the 100 metre sprint to an astonishing 9.58 seconds.  Having been a keen runner as a youngster I was in total awe of his achievement.  The number of monthly sales recorded by Barfoot & Thompson was an incredible 65% higher than in August 2008.  This remarkable result provided a great check on how bad things really got in 2008.  I trust we won’t see slumps like that again!  I made my 35th sale in Armadale Rd Remuera.  It sold about $100,000 above an ousted competitor’s estimated appraisal.  I always enjoy results like that.

I spent September 2009 listing quite a few homes.  Spring is always a busy time for me.  The world lost Patrick Swayze, the Commonwealth expelled Fiji and Samoans started driving on the left hand side of the road.  The All Blacks lost the final Tri-nations game to the Springboks 29-32.

October 2009 felt just like October 2006.  The market was booming and my phone and email inboxes were overflowing with enquiries.  During the month I received an unprecedented 200 email enquiries at a rate of over six per day.  On one Thursday I received an incredible 26 enquiries in addition to numerous phone calls and physical inspections.  Not surprisingly a beautiful home in Omahu Rd Remuera attracted eight bidders and fetched a top price for the thrilled owners.  It was the year’s most exciting auction and the talk of the town for weeks afterwards.

November 2009 was one of my busiest on record.  I had so many open homes that my weekend working hours eclipsed my week day hours.  One particular week I was marketing four similar grammar zone villas within close proximity of each other.  Having that much control over the local market put me in contact with a huge number of customers focused on buying in Remuera.  During January most of these people will receive calls & emails telling them about my new listings as they hit the market.  November also saw the introduction of the Real Estate Agents Act 2008 administered by the new Real Estate Agent’s Authority (REAA).  It was a much needed and positive change designed to better protect consumers and improve the real estate industry’s public image.

In December 2009 most economists decided the GFC was probably over and positive GDP growth was in sight.  Simultaneously the US government raised their official debt ceiling to US$12.394 trillion. Personally I can’t get my head around how that debt could ever be paid off, especially when you consider that 12.394 trillion seconds equals 396,608 years – gulp!  On the home front Auckland median prices had risen an astonishing 14% over the past 12 months.  My crystal ball tells me that prices will rise in 2010 but probably not as much as they did in 2009.  Christmas with Gillian, Katie (15), Charlotte (6) and Joshua (4) was spent with Grandma in Thames before we embarked on our most ambitious family holiday yet – the details of which will be revealed in my 2010 yearly review. 

I really enjoy helping people to buy and sell properties.  If you need my advice or services in 2010 I’d love to hear from you.  Remember I can also help your friends and family outside my area by putting them in touch with a proven professional from within my established personal network.

Here are some thoughts for a successful 2010:  

“Success is reached by being active, awake, ahead of the crowd, by aiming high, pushing ahead, honestly, diligently, patiently: by climbing, digging, saving; by forgetting the past, using the present, trusting in the future; by having a purpose, fainting not, determining to win, and striving to the end”

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2008 The Year in Review

Posted by Steve Koerber on January 1, 2009

2008 The Year in Review  2009-300x20111

January started with a rush. Buyers were plentiful for realistically priced properties.  My first sale of the year resulted from a phenomenon that often occurs around the festive season – “a change of family circumstances”. My Australia-bound family of five decided Auckland was a better option.  Instead of moving over the ditch, they paid $1.25million and moved around the corner to a similar but bigger version of the home I had recently sold for them at auction for $1.3million.  Ironically, bucking recently reported migration trends, the family who bought their home had just returned from an unsuccessful attempt to enjoy life in Brisbane.  On a more poignant note, New Zealand lost the legendary Sir Edmund Hillary.  His state funeral was held in Parnell on January 22nd.

February is usually one of the busiest months for home sales and 2008 didn’t disappoint.  With the kids back at school and business as usual, I managed to list and sell six properties during what seemed to be a very warm spell.  Things were also hotting up for Remuera residents Bob Bangerter and Mark Bryers as the Commerce Commission and the SFO both announced investigations into their failed Blue Chip group.  Several finance companies had already fallen by February and many more followed as investors understandably fled the sector.

Being the last month of the financial year, March is always a hectic time of year for me.  My family know that I’ll often be home late and that my weekends are focussed on open homes, listing and selling.  Having said that, Easter was earlier this year and we did fit in a nice break at Ruakaka Beach (30 minutes South of Whangarei).

April saw the biggest monthly drop in the number of Auckland homes sold for many years.  Compared with April 2007, Barfoot & Thompson’s sales for the month were down 50%.  For the rest of 2008 sales volumes lagged well behind 2007’s numbers.  These results confirmed that October 2007 was the peak of the latest real estate cycle.  The sale of 44A Armadale Rd marked my 40th sale in that street.  It was a major milestone and an achievement that I am very proud of.

May is traditionally my month of learning & professional development.  This year I was thrilled to be ranked 16th of 1000+ salespeople within Barfoot & Thompson.  I was officially recognised by the company at our annual conference.  I was also given the opportunity to share some of my success principles on stage in front of 1500 people as part of a Q&A panel.  A week later I attended an invigorating three day real estate conference in Sydney hosted by one of the industry’s greats, John McGrath.  While there I caught the ferry to Double Bay and picked the brains of Bill Malouf, Australia’s number one real estate salesperson.  His average sale price is about $4.5million more than mine.  I learnt a lot that day!

June was the month in which the Mars Phoenix Lander found ice on Mars.  Despite some jitters in the local real estate market I continued to sell most of my listings and was enjoying my best year ever.  Barfoot & Thompson’s Auckland market share remained as strong as ever, hitting 37%.  images1

July marked the fifth anniversary of the last time the Reserve Bank of NZ actually reduced the official cash rate.  In July 2003 rates were cut to 5.00%.  In July 2008 they were cut to 8%.  With unprecedented speed, rates were cut again in September, October and December and sat at 5% by year’s end.  Money very quickly became a lot cheaper, but much harder to borrow.  In July Crude Oil hit an all time peak of almost US$150 per barrel.  By year’s end it also was down to about US$40 per barrel.  I started a coaching and mentoring group with the aim of enhancing the careers of selected colleagues within the New Zealand real estate industry.

August was a huge month for me and at one point I had five full page advertisements running in the Central Property Press.  You might think, so what?  The reason I mention this is to illustrate the power of marketing.  These impressive bigger advertisements attracted so much attention that all of the featured properties sold.  In a tighter market environment, I was successfully attracting multiple bidders to all of my auctions and selling them.  It was at this time that I realised that as many “auctions” fail as “for sales” fail.  If people try to tell you that auctions don’t work, it really is a fallacy.  The fear factor makes auctions an easy target for naysayers.  So please, before you judge auction as a method of sale, make sure you talk to someone like me who knows them inside-out.      

September saw the return from Beijing of our successful Olympians.  The team finished 26th on the medal tally and brought home 3 gold, 1 silver and 5 bronze medals. 

In early October I took the family to our favourite holiday destination, Cairns.  We spent two very relaxing weeks celebrating what was my best year in real estate.  After so many working weekends I really enjoyed the opportunity to spend more time with Katie 14, Charlotte 5 and Joshua 3.  Upon our return, the global financial crisis was in full swing and home buyers were all of a sudden a lot more cautious.  The exuberance and confidence of the past five years was gone in a heartbeat.  I dusted off the ‘tough market’ strategies gleaned from my experience of the 1998 – 2000 market and got stuck in.   

Politically speaking November was a fascinating month.  The election of Barack Obama was an historic event comparable to the election of Nelson Mandela as South Africa’s President in 1994.  In NZ we said goodbye after nine years to Helen Clark and welcomed John Key as Prime Minister.  By year’s end he appeared to be doing a pretty good job.  Most buyers I spoke to during this period were convinced 2009 was going to be a better time to buy.  Consequently it was my least successful month of the year.

December the 3rd I auctioned a cute two bedroom cottage at 15 Ventnor Rd Remuera.  Spirited bidding from 7 bidders resulted in a good sale at a figure higher than the owner’s bottom line.  An American buyer who had been in constant email contact with me said I should contact him after the auction.  I wrote back saying that the auction was likely to sell under the hammer and that he should bid.  He didn’t believe that an auction could sell in what he defined as a buyer’s market.  The result proves that the market is always buoyant at the right price.  I finished the year in new territory, recognised as Barfoot’s number one salesperson in Remuera. 

Thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout 2008.  My hope for you is that 2009 will be a year of abundance and opportunity.  Some people will struggle financially this year.  For those who do, I believe it is prudent to belt-tighten and learn from past mistakes.  Concentrate on saving and investing, rather than consuming.  And when the tough times seem like a distant memory, as they will, avoid the consumption mentality of the past 15 years, keep saving and investing!  

If you or anyone you know needs real estate help and advice this year I’d be thrilled to hear from you.

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July 2008 Newsletter

Posted by Steve Koerber on July 24, 2008

I’ve experienced so much success in 2008 that I feel a bit uneasy when people ask me “so how’s business?  Despite a constant stream of negative financial news, I sincerely hope you’re managing to avoid the turbulence.  I’m not at all qualified to offer advice in this arena, but I sense that “debt reduction/avoidance” could be more important today than at any other time in recent history.  I suspect that only time will tell.

I’m telling you the following story to demonstrate why and how people sell in the current market.  Many people think now would be a bad time to sell, but is that really the case?   Clients of mine in Koraha Street were keen for a “tree-change” after I sold their home by auction last month.  The day after their auction (with two bidders) they reluctantly dropped and sold $60,000 (or 7.5%) below their expectations.  Realistically, they sold about 13% below what they might have achieved 12 months earlier.

Armed with a lighter bank balance than anticipated, they were understandably nervous about their ability to find and fund a more expensive home.  Before long they found a dream opportunity in semi-rural Riverhead.  They negotiated well and secured a very special property about 15% below vendor’s expectations.  Realistically, they bought about 20% below a figure the market would have supported 12 months earlier.

If the market was rising I could understand people’s hesitancy to sell at a price they weren’t happy with.  In a flat or falling market, if you’re buying again, it’s a great time to sell.  Until next time, thank you for your ongoing support.  If I can help you or anyone you know, please let me know. 

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2007 – The Real Estate Year in Review

Posted by Steve Koerber on December 18, 2007

 January 2007 saw a relatively slow start for Central Auckland real estate and prices looked as though they might take a breather from the rapid rises we had seen during the fourth quarter of 2006.  My first sale of the year was a brought forward auction of an as-new townhouse at 12A Fancourt St, Meadowbank.  A pre-auction offer of $945,000 was unbeaten and the owners were happily on their way to a new life in Christchurch.  I also completed extensive renovations on my family home.

February 2007 saw the largest ocean liner in the world, the Queen Mary 2, visit Auckland on her inaugural world voyage.  She cost $1.1b to build, weighs more than 151,000 tonnes and measures longer than the main span of the Auckland Harbour Bridge.  Not to be outdone, I set a price record in Lingarth St, selling 65 Lingarth St for $2,125,000 at auction.

March 2007 was the best month of the year for me (it usually is).  For the fifth consecutive time since 2002 I finished the financial year ranked in the top 3% of all Barfoot’s salespeople and claimed the position of No.2 ranked salesperson in the Remuera branch.  Proudly, that’s a position I’ve managed to maintain since then.

April 2007 was the month my fabulous assistant Anne Sullivan started to work for me.  She has gone from strength to strength and everyone comments that she is an absolute delight to talk to and work with.  It was another good month for sales with the most notable being a record price achieved in Rotomahana Tce for a half site bungalow.

May 2007 brought with it my son Joshua’s second birthday.  It was two years since I delivered him (unplanned of course) in the bath at home.  Later in the month I visited Sydney to attend probably the world’s best conference for real estate practitioners.  I met a Melbourne agent, James Tostevin, who sells three times more than I do.  I decided I’d like to follow in his footsteps.  May also saw my highest sale for the year, in Victoria Avenue, for $2,270,000.

June 2007 saw cracks start to appear in the US sub-prime mortgage market.  Flow-on effects saw investors start to pull out of NZ finance companies and to date 13 have failed.  I sold 39 Armadale Rd for the third time in 9 years and it marked my 38th sale in that street.  A past client listed their home with a rival company and sold it to a buyer that was well known to me and whom I had arranged to show the property to.  Them’s the breaks! 

In July 2007 my wife and eldest daughter celebrated their birthdays on the same day.  I sent invitations to selected Barfoot & Thompson agents to join a new mastermind group of top agents.  Since then I’ve convened monthly breakfast meetings with a group of six of the best.  We share great ideas that will improve our businesses and help us serve customers better.

In August 2007 I was very busy with listings and completed 21 open homes.  I achieved a special result in selling an awesome home in Lillington Rd.  It was probably my most exciting sale of the year.  A hard fought auction with 11 bidders achieved another record price.   The lucky new owner had had her heart set on owning it from day one.  At the end of the month I noticed that open home numbers were reducing and buyers were taking longer to make decisions.  I also calculated that during 2007 only 25% of my total sales occurred as a direct result of open homes.

In September 2007 I listed most homes jointly with colleagues in preparation for a long planned family holiday in Cairns.  We also sold our family home and moved to a new (do-up) one in Mt Eden.  The beauty of an established real estate career is that my business keeps running while I’m away.  I came back totally relaxed and jumped straight back into one of the busiest times of the year.

October 2007 started to see a bit of pressure applied to sellers to reduce their price expectations.  Statistics released in December revealed that this was the month that price growth rates began to slow.  Compared to a year earlier however the average Auckland house was still approximately 10% more expensive.  I re-joined the world’s largest business referral network – Business Network International (BNI).

In November 2007 I finally got the technical side of my business right.  I love the new server based system that links my Blackberry phone with my two computers.  Everything I enter into my tasks, calendar, email and contacts automatically updates each device.  I also started a weblog that is now full of my idle rants about real estate matters in general.  I’d be thrilled if you had a look at

In December 2007 my youngest daughter turned 4 and to celebrate we had Old MacDonald’s Farm come to her party.  Their website says:  “We bring our sheep, pigs, goats, rabbits, guinea pigs, chooks, ducks, the rat family, baby lamb, piglet and calf for bottle-feeding when in season, farm dog, and small pony for pony rides – all set in a mini-barn scene”.  I finished the year with a warm and fuzzy sale of a $1.3mil Remuera family home.  The owners with three teenagers are off to live in Sydney and the buyers with three younger boys have just returned from a year in Brisbane.

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