Real Estate

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Pickering Trail Google MapsThe Ghosts of Pickering Trail

When Frank Milliken died in his home, his wife Janet and their two children couldn’t bear to live among reminders of him. They left their home in California and moved to Pennsylvania to start over in new surroundings. The house they bought, an airy colonial on a quiet street, seemed idyllic. But once they moved in, things started to go wrong. Odd sounds, strange sensations, whispers from the neighbours; the Millikens began to suspect that their ghosts had followed them across the country. When they discovered that their house had a dark history, they went to court to battle the sellers, and found themselves entangled in a drawn-out legal battle. At its core lay an issue more suited to priests than to lawyers: how to define our relationship to the dead. “The Ghosts of Pickering Trail” is an intimate chronicle of the Millikens’ harrowing attempt to escape the memories of a home, and how we put a price on death and loss.

In the spring of 2006, following a long illness, Frank Milliken died in his home. His family—his wife, Janet, and their two children, Ryan and Kendra—took the death hard. For three years, they’d watched Frank slowly waste away from pulmonary fibrosis, an incurable disease that causes the lungs to thicken and scar, blocking the flow of oxygen to the blood. In the last months of his life, the illness had confined him to his bedroom. After his death, the character of the Milliken house seemed to change. Physically, it was the same: a big, comfortable rambler in Concord, California, with a red-tile roof and a copse of fruit trees in the backyard. But the house felt different. After Frank passed away, the memory of his death lingered. Janet took the kids to a hotel for a few days, but when they returned it was no better.

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Debt to income idea is dumb

I like it when I’m right. I feel a tingly sensation that causes a smug smile.

A few days back I said the debt to income idea was dumb. Because it is.

And I said that its bad for property projects. Turns out others all think the same.

Reserve Bank debt-to-income caps would be disastrous for house buyers and the residential and building sector, says a real estate chief.

Connal Townsend, Property Council chief executive, said any new restrictions would worsen housing affordability and his organisation was “terribly concerned” about it.

Last week, the Reserve Bank raised the possibility of introducing debt-to-income ratios after it warned the Government that resurgent house prices were a risk to the economy.

Governor Graeme Wheeler said the average house price in Auckland was nine times larger than the average income, making it one of the least affordable metropolitan markets in the developed world.    Read more »

ACT slips the knife into National’s back over potential new land tax

The contrast of dogmatic policy versus pragmatic politics couldn’t be more obvious.

ACT says imposing a land tax on foreign buyers would break a National election promise, but John Key believes the Government’s respond to changing circumstances.

The Prime Minister has said it may be considered if there’s evidence foreign speculators are having an impact on Auckland’s overheated market.

If the tax is imposed, it could also apply to New Zealanders living abroad after an exemption period.

ACT leader David Seymour, who has a support agreement with the Government, says National promised during the 2014 election campaign there would be no new taxes.

“The introduction of a land tax would be a broken promise,” he says.

“Property rights are meant to be protected by centre-right governments, but it looks like National is too busy trying to put Labour out of a job.”

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Stephen Berry gets it on rates

After yesterday’s Media party hatchet job I was looking to see how long it was before other candidates reacted to John Palino’s promise to reduce rates.

It was no surprise to see the sensible Stephen Berry endorse the position, but with some additional things to consider around rates.

It’s worth considering whether or not these two should consolidate their position and policies.

Following John Palino’s official announcement that he intends to run again for the Auckland mayoralty, Mayoral candidate Stephen Berry has called Palino’s pledge to cut rates by 10% over three years “refreshing.” Berry adds, “The three media favourites have tried to get by on policy-free platitudes about waste cutting and fat trimming. Now a proper contest of ideas can begin.”

Stephen Berry has a two-pronged approach to controlling rates and says that Palino’s plan will only be successful if he looks beyond the percentage charged on a property’s value. “In January, Affordable Auckland announced its policy to freeze rates at their current level for three years.. Costing approximately $35 million a year in lost revenue, this is a credible step towards arresting rates growth; however it is not the only step that need be taken.”

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As predicted, buyers are back in the market

I’m already on track with my predictions on Auckland housing this year.

Last month I reasoned that the markets would continue going up and predicted that the Chinese would be back in record numbers after Chinese New Year.

Already statistics show increased immigration, and now sales are on the increase again.

Auckland residential property sales volumes jumped to an eight-year high for the month of January, according to the city’s largest realtor.

The number of sales rose 4 percent to 893 in January from the same month last year, marking the highest level for a January month in eight years, Barfoot & Thompson said in a statement. The 919 new listings in the month is 23 percent lower than January last year, and the realtor said it had just 2,574 properties on its books at the end of the month, a 20-year low.   Read more »

Labour will be pleased, actual Chinese, ones with real Chinky-sounding names, aren’t so keen on NZ for investing any more…for now

Phil Twyford will be pleased. So will Andrew Little and the rest of the Labour caucus…it seems Chinese aren’t that fussed on New Zealand any more for investment.

But it appears it is a short-term blip.

The head of a company that helps Chinese buy properties overseas says New Zealand’s popularity ranking has slipped a notch since the Government and Reserve Bank introduced new buyer restrictions last October.

Juwai co-founder Simon Henry said New Zealand shifted to fifth from fourth most popular country in the world with potential property buyers in China between the third and fourth quarters of 2015.

But Henry, whose Chinese language website has 2.6 million unique users monthly, predicts Chinese buyers’ interest in New Zealand will return in force by mid-year once they’ve fully digested the new requirements.     Read more »

Scout is dead in the water, and guess what they’re doing now?


Mediaworks gossip “news” site Scout had a rough start.  Eleven staff members to begin with, and they clocked about 1000 visitors a day after a few weeks.  Sometimes less.  If you look at our numbers, where our worst day of Christmas day clocked us 13,500 or so, you get the scale of the problem over at Scout.

And now, according to public reports, it’s just one person running the site.

So how do they pay the bills?   Sell advertising so that 1000 people can see it?

Nope, they had to get a little more inventive:   Read more »

Auckland housing market finally weakens. Owners of large mortgages are puckering up for the crash

Anecdotally agents are reporting a downturn in the market with auction clearance rates as slow as 25%.

But now there is some hard data on the Auckland housing market.

The Auckland housing market’s downturn is more severe than anticipated, an economist says.

Writing in Westpac’s latest ‘Home Truths’ report, chief economist Dominick Stephens said the latest round of housing data had been revealing.

“There can now be no doubting that the erstwhile star market has suffered a fall from grace.”

According to the bank’s figures, which it seasonally adjusted from Real Estate Institute data, house sales fell 13 per cent in Auckland in November, following a 17 per cent drop in October.   Read more »


Second bid to remove embattled ‘judge’ Paul Barber as chair of READT

A SECOND bid has been lodged to remove embattled retired district court judge Paul Barber as chairman of the organisation seen as the last line of defence against rogue real estate agents.

For the past four years Barber has been in charge of the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal, the independent body responsible for determining disciplinary charges against real estate agents.

Public dissatisfaction with agents was one of the driving forces behind major industry reforms introduced in 2008, which made it mandatory for agents to legally comply with prescribed rules relating to their conduct and the way they care for clients.

The conduct and client-care rules are backed by a multi-level complaints system administered by the tribunal – with Barber, who claims to be 78-years-old, at the helm.

But there are now serious questions over Barber’s conduct – and whether he has any legal standing as chairman.

This week a second application was filed with the tribunal challenging Barber’s right to remain as head of the tribunal.

The application filed by Dermot Nottingham, his brother Phillip and colleague Earle McKinney claims Barber committed a ’fraudulent’ act by referring to himself as a judge when he was not one.   Read more »

Complainant in bid to remove ‘Judge’ Paul Barber from Chair of READT

A FORMAL bid has been lodged challenging the legal standing of the chairman of the Crown agency established six years ago to raise public confidence in the real estate industry.

The move is the latest in an unfolding constitutional crisis threatening the credibility of the organisation seen as the last line of defence against rogue real estate agents.

Whaleoil can confirm an appellant, Dunedin man Russell McDougall, who has filed an appeal to the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal under section 111 of the Real Estate Agents Act 2008 has filed an application for recusal challenging the legal status of 78-year-old Paul Barber as head of the READT.

McDougall also confirmed a letter would be sent this week to Associate Justice Minister Simon Bridges demanding Barber’s immediate removal from the post.

The recusal application is in response to claims Barber’s appointment in 2011 was ‘unlawful’ and in breach of legislation heralding a new environment of accountability for the industry.

Under the Real Estate Agents Act 2008, the person appointed to chair the Tribunal, must be a barrister or solicitor with at least seven years’ legal experience’.    Read more »