Steve Koerber's Old Blog

Remuera's house sold name since 1998 – 021864166

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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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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Should I view a new listing via the listing agent?

Posted by Steve Koerber on February 24, 2010

Should I view a new listing via the listing agent?  Ponder this…

1.  The listing agent is likely to know more about the property and can explain all the features, benefits and pitfalls (if there are any). 

2.  The listing agent is more likely to have all the information about the property on hand.  You don’t have to wait for information to be passed through several hands before it comes to you.

2.  The listing agent knows the owners.  Selling agents don’t know the owners nor their preferences and motivations.  If you want to know when the roof was replaced, if the house is insulated, would the owners really entertain a pre-auction offer? etc, you are probably better to deal with the listing agent from the start.  It’s likely to be so much easier.  Why complicate things?

3.  The listing agent is the only person who can give you a realistic idea about how popular (or not) the property is.  Their feedback will be real, not guessed.

4.  There are usually 3 parties involved in a home purchase – seller, agent, buyer.  Buying a home is difficult enough without introducing a 4th party (selling agent) who often knows less about the property and the transaction.

5.  If you have been looking at houses with an agent you have established trust with, you should probably stick with them.  If however, you’ve spotted a nice new listing on the internet and you’d like to inspect it, you should consider the above points before you pick up the phone and call to arrange a viewing.  Contact the listing agent and take the stress out of searching for property.

Posted in Buying a home | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Is it a Dutch auction or a multiple offer?

Posted by Steve Koerber on February 23, 2010

Customers faced with a competing offer often say “I’m not getting into a Dutch auction”.  But what is a Dutch auction?

A Dutch auction is an auction in which the price of the product being offered is reduced until a buyer is found.  In NZ real estate Dutch auctions are very very rare.  So when you’re making an offer on a property, you’re unlikley to ever get caught up in a Dutch auction.

You may however become invloved in a multiple offer.  Agents and agencies have varying methods of dealing with multiple offers on one property.   

In a nutshell this is how I deal with multiple offers:  Immediately a second written offer is signed all negotiations must cease.  No further contact is made between buyers and seller.  Managers of competing Barfoot & Thompson branches are informed.  Both buyers are given an opportunity to amend their original offer and either withdraw or re-submit their offer for consideration by the seller.  Buyers are required to sign a “multiple offer form” stating that they aware that they are in competition and that the offer they are submitting is their best offer based on the fact that they may not receive another opportunity to improve their offer.  Both (or all) offers are presented to the seller by a Barfoot & Thompson manager at the same time.  The seller decides to accept, reject or counter-sign.  Only one offer can be counter-signed.  Any other offers are simply rejected.  All care is taken to ensure that offers remain confidential.  Buyers can feel confident that their offer is only disclosed to the selling agent, the manager handling the multi-offer presentation and the seller.  Details (price, conditions, etc) about competing offers are never disclosed to other buyers.

If you are in a multi offer situation and I am involved, I guarantee you will be treated with fairness and respect.  To avoid disappointment I strongly advise you to make your very best offer as soon as you are in a multi-offer situation.  Make your offer price an odd number (eg: $1,251, 897) to avoid offering the exact same figure as competitors.  Please raise any concerns you may have immediately.

Posted in Buying a home | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

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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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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It’s a wonderful life – Merry Christmas

Posted by Steve Koerber on December 14, 2009

The angel saves George Bayley

As we reflect on the passing of yet another busy year, take a moment to imagine how this world would be if you weren’t in it.  You might be surprised how much influence you have on the world around you.

The classic 1946 Christmas movie starring James Stewart “It’s a wonderful life” tells the story of a family man George Bailey who allows the pressures of every day life to get on top of him.  On a cold Christmas Eve he decides to end his life by jumping off a bridge.  An angel pleads with him to reconsider and shows him what his friends, family and hometown would be like if he hadn’t been born.

The angel guides George through shocking scenes of a town in rack and ruin.  Instead of being a model community, it’s a slum.  George’s brother Harry was dead because he (aged 12) wasn’t around to save his life.  All the men that Harry went on to save in the war were also dead and their families and communities similarly affected by multiple losses.  The local pharmacist was in jail for mistakenly prescribing a poisonous drug to a child, whereas George (as a teenage errand boy) would have prevented that mistake and permanently changed the direction of two lives.

Next time you flash an innocent smile to someone sitting beside you in the traffic, who knows what changes you’ll make in the world?  The recipient of your smile might think “this world’s not such a bad place after-all”.  You could be brightening someone’s day or even saving a life or two.

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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.

Posted in Opinion, Recommended Reading, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment » – Men’s Football World Ranking

Posted by Steve Koerber on December 4, 2009

The FIFA World Cup kicks off in South Africa in June 2010.  Click on a team below to visit the FIFA website & learn more about rankings and read news about the World Cup:

[clearspring_widget title=” – Men’s Football World Ranking” wid=”48d22ab7420a1923″ pid=”4b1a2534a0634fda” width=”300″ height=”400″ domain=””]

Posted in Inspiration | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

In real estate, everybody loves a bargain

Posted by Steve Koerber on October 22, 2009

Ever wondered why some people seem to have a real knack for picking up real estate bargains and finding unique opportunities before the masses?

During my real estate career I’ve learnt quite a lot about how clever property speculators become wealthy.  Have I followed their lead and jumped into opportunities myself?  Mostly not, but occassionally I’ve done ok, nothing spectacular.  For obvious reasons, laws make it quite difficult for real estate salespeople to make quick profits from property speculation.

The major lesson I’ve learnt is that successful property speculators and investors work just as hard as successful people in other walks of life.  They study, read, learn, research, etc.  Often, after many failures, small wins eventually turn into bigger wins and the rest is history. 

bushfiresA friend told me a few years ago about their friend who had flown to Canberra days after many homes in its outer suburbs had been burnt down by bushfires.  An extreme event like that caused a short-lived but extreme imbalance in property prices in the affected areas.  This person bought at extreme discounts and made extreme profits within 6 to 12 months when emotions returned to normal.

I’ve written this post because I have a hunch about an opportunity I’ve seen.  Of course I can’t guarantee any results and I will also disclose that I have a vested interest in the area affected – Remuera near the motorway between Market Rd and Greenlane roundabout.  I list and sell more homes in this area than any other real estate salesperson.

newmarketviaductgreenlaneTransit New Zealand is in the process of building a concrete noise barrier behind the houses that border the motorway along Lillington Rd.  When the noise barrier is completed it is likely to reduce noise in the area between Lillington Rd/Clonbern Rd and Remuera Rd.

If the noise reduction is significant, there could be a positive affect on the relative value of many of the homes within this area. 

How good is this opportunity?  Time will tell.  One thing’s for sure though, at the time of writing this blog post, a decrease in motorway noise has not been factored into the purchase price of any of the homes in this area.  Until now, I haven’t spoken to any potential purchasers who’ve mentioned the noise barrier.

The barrier is currently being constructed.  Here is a link to the only information I have.  I have requested more information and will add it here as it comes to hand.

Here is some info about the motorway widening to 4 lanes.

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