Photos: Animal Real Estate Photobombers


An important part of real estate photography is the ability to showcase a property in it’s setting and portray the lifestyle it affords to a potential buyer. Often while our photographers are busy at work capturing this, they get some curious bystanders coming in for a closer look! Here are some of our favourite animal photobombers we’ve captured while out on the job….

On the hunt for a new home? View more property photos on our website (even ones without photobombing animals!):

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Smart Homes: Love them or loathe them?

“Did you know there’s an app for that now?”

Smart home

Switching on a lightbulb, boiling the kettle, locking the front door… don’t strain yourself, there’s now some new, fandangled device that will do that for you.

But do we really need them?

A smart home seems like a whole lot of hassle to me. Is it really that hard to flick a switch to turn on a light or walk back from the car to check you’ve locked the front door?

Now even our old mate Siri, Apple’s digital assistant, is creeping into our homes – well actually it’s some far distant cousin of her’s, Alexa, created my shopping giant Amazon.

Like an extremely obliging flatmate, Alexa will move into your home and help you with anything from adding something to your shopping list or ordering you a pizza. Just say “Alexa” and ask away – she’s always listening – that’s not even a little bit creepy…



The Amazon Echo is a hands-free speaker you control with your voice – digital assistant Alexa can provide you with news, play music and help you with your shopping list.

But unlike a flatmate, Alexa takes up just a little bench space and won’t steal your food – well not yet anyway, who knows what she’ll get up to when you’re not looking.

Is anyone really that time-poor that they can’t write down on a notepad, or the notes app on their phone, that they’ve run out of milk?

It just seems like these inventions are solving problems we don’t really have.

And before anyone jumps to any conclusions, no this blogger is not over-70 bemoaning those “bloody kids and their gadgets” (despite her use of the word “fandangled” earlier.)

In fact, I’m actually a millennial. I love my iPhone – it makes so many aspects of my life much easier, but I’m quite capable of turning on a light when I walk into a room and I don’t think my life is poorer for it.

Granted, some of the smart home technology is pretty, well, smart – so maybe one day I’ll come around…

Take a look at some of the technology that could turn your humble abode into a smart home:

Smart Lock

Lock and unlock your door, create virtual keys for guests, and keep track of who comes and goes, all from your smartphone with the August Smart Lock.

Smart Kettle


Haven’t got a few minutes to wait for the kettle to boil? Then the internet-connected iKettle could have water boiled ready for your tea when you arrive in the kitchen. Just get on the app and schedule it for when you wake up.

Smart Plug

WeMo Switch + Motion

Plug anything into the Belkin WeMo Switch + Motion device and you’ll be able to turn it on and off from your phone and schedule it to come on automatically.

Smart Security Lighting

BeON bulb.jpg

These BeOn’s smart bulbs will keep shining when the power goes out, turn on automatically when they hear your doorbell or alarm, and even replay your typical lighting patterns when you’re not home.

Robot Vacuum Cleaner


These little guys will drive around your home, hoovering up everything in their path and then head on back to their charging stations before starting all over again.

Now, this seems like a great timesaver but our robot vacuum is just sitting in the corner gathering dust as it was just too noisy and kept getting stuck around the house. But who knows, maybe this model is better? 

Smartphone Interactive Home Camera

Logitech Circle.jpg

Watch over your home via your smartphone with this portable sphere. Just place it in the room you want to capture and login live via the app so you can see, save and share what’s happening at home. You can even talk through it – so if your dog has started chewing the furniture again, maybe a bit of a talking to over the app will confuse him enough to stop.

What do you think of smart home technology? Is there some technology you now couldn’t live without in your home?

Let us know in the comments below or on our NZ and AU Facebook pages.

Photos: 20 Of Our Favourite Views

Whether it’s captivating cityscapes or breathtaking vistas, Open2view’s photographers get to work among the best views in New Zealand and Australia.

A great view can really make a property. It’s little wonder the owners of a Wellington apartment, whose sweeping harbour views were blocked by a four-metre-high wooden fence, took the matter to court. They won the battle and were awarded $72,500 this week.

With that in mind, we asked our talented team of photographers to show us some of the best views they’ve spotted from the decks, windows, gardens and skies of the properties they photograph.

Take a look at the stunning results in the gallery below.

Imagine having those views from your “office”? Well you could! Find out more about our franchise opportunities across New Zealand and Australia.

Where do you think the best views can be found in New Zealand and Australia? Let us know in the comments below or on our NZ and AU Facebook pages.


Is Your Home An Accident Waiting To Happen?


Carpets, power-cords and sprinklers may not be as harmless as they look.

They are among the household objects responsible for the most garden and home-related Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) claims – along with the more obvious items, such as ladders, chainsaws and hammers.

Now, I don’t know about you, but when I think of dangerous objects, a sprinkler and a bit of carpet aren’t the first things that spring to mind.

But they are responsible for many trips and slips – nearly half of all home injuries are caused by falls and it’s not just those in their early and twilight years that make up those numbers.

People aged between 25 and 64 make up a large percentage of all falls in the home.

Figures released this week by the ACC show gardening was behind 56,282 claims submitted last year – worth a massive $49 million and up from 54,516 the previous year.

A sprinkler was the cause of 52 claims. One unlucky sprinkler user “tripped over the hose, missed step onto path and jarred [their] knee and hip” after just switching on a sprinkler.

Looks like the sprinkler and hose aren’t such an innocent pair after all.

We all know the old adage that more people are injured at home than anywhere else so here’s some advice* from ACC about how to reduce the risks.

*Most of the advice is just a lot of common sense, so we’ve compiled a list of a few things that could strike a cord (not literally, obviously).

How to reduce the risks…


About 40 per cent of homes have dangerously hot water, meaning there are more than 560,000 hot water burns waiting to happen…

The ideal temperature for water is 55°C when it comes out of the tap, and 60°C in your cylinder.


It needs to be at least 60°C in the cylinder to keep bacteria from growing, which could make you sick.

Get your hot water checked by a registered plumber to ensure it’s at the right temperature.

Electrical cords

Never leave a cord hanging over the edge of a kitchen bench or table where a child could pull the appliance down on themselves.


Put dirty laundry in a hamper so it’s not on the floor creating a tripping hazard.

Try not to install cupboards at head-height above the washing machine – hitting your head every time you do a load of washing can’t be good for the old noggin.


Take your time – so often we’re rushing around cooking meals and that’s when injuries happen. Slow down and be safe.

Keep pets and small children away from the kitchen – as much for your own sake as theirs. Pets and kids milling about on the floor are responsible for many a trip in the kitchen (in our house anyway…).

When building or redesigning a kitchen, don’t make the kitchen a travel route to other parts of the house, or the only route to the backyard – you don’t want it to be a ‘high traffic’ area.


Firmly anchor rugs so they don’t slide or bunch up and cause you to fall.


Keep clutter and cords out of your way.

Go to the ACC website for more tips on home safety. 

Do you have any helpful tips for avoiding injuries in the home? Or something you wish you had or hadn’t done before you had an injury at home?

Let us know in the comments below or on our NZ and AU Facebook pages.

Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Your Chimney…


When was the last time you had a professional look at your chimney or fireplace?

Blocked chimneys can cause chimney fires or carbon monoxide to build up in your home – so it’s not one of those maintenance tasks that you should put to the bottom of the to-do list and subsequently forget about.

The experts say that chimneys should be cleaned at least once a year but I’m willing to bet that for a lot of us it’s been a while since ours had a check-up – if ever, for others.

In our Autumn Home Maintenance Checklist we mentioned the importance of having a professional chimneysweep maintain your chimney and fireplace. Now that winter has reared it’s ugly head and our fireplaces are getting a good workout, let’s take a closer look at what needs to be done.

Chimney experts Complete Chimney Care answer our burning questions (sorry)…

Why do I need my chimney cleaned?

The chimney flue is essentially a household exhaust pipe – funneling away soot, hot ashes, smoke and gases from your home. An annual inspection and clean should be done at least once a year to check for cracks, holes or faults and to remove soot, creosote, birds nests and other blockages.

Will my house insurance cover chimney fires?

Most insurance companies won’t pay out on claims caused by chimney fires unless the chimney has been swept by a professional chimneysweep and been inspected on an annual basis.

My fire is not drawing properly…

This is usually the result of a cold or obstructed flue or insufficient height relative to the ridge of the roof or an adjacent building. Large unnecessary voids at the base of your chimney may also stop the fire drawing properly. Or if you have double glazing or very efficient draught excluders around doors, it may prevent an adequate flow of air for the fire to work correctly.

My fire creates excessive soot…

This can be the result of a lazy and inefficient flue. Your flue may not be the right diameter for the fire or stove, or it may not be properly insulated, meaning fumes do not rise fast enough and soot deposits are created. Excessive soot and tar can be a real fire hazard, particularly if the chimney structure has deteriorated.

I’ve got mortar falling into my fireplace…

Bits of brick or mortar falling down the flue indicate a serious deterioration in the chimney structure. This deterioration normally occurs from the inside of the flue but it might also indicate weakness on the outside of the chimney.

My chimney breast feels hot…

This means that the chimney has deteriorated and may be dangerous. If stains also appear on the chimney breast this is a sign that tar or acids have condensed and are eating into the chimney mortar and brickwork.

I want my chimney removed. Should I do it myself?

Removing chimneys is dangerous work, so the simple answer is no.  A small chimney can weigh around half a tonne, whilst bigger ones can weigh up to eight tonnes. Chimneys built before 1900 are made with lime mortar much of which has now degraded to dust.  Weight is the only thing holding them together. Brick structures are expected to last for 50 years so any buildings older than the 1960’s should be inspected by a professional to make sure they’re safe.

Have you had any problems with your chimney? Did you know the importance of annual checkups or the dangers of a blocked chimney?
Let us know in the comments below or on our NZ and AU Facebook pages.

What Kids Want From A New Home

Parents might be after double garages and large living areas*, but plenty of hiding places and treehouses are at the top of children’s priorities for a new home.

*Or just a home under $1 million, am I right Aucklanders and Sydneysiders?

A new survey of under-10s has revealed youngsters’ priorities when it comes to property and, not all that surprisingly, a home’s proximity to good schools doesn’t feature on their wish lists.

Estate agent Chestertons surveyed 3,000 parents with children aged between 5 to 10 years who were looking for a new home.

Both parents and children were asked to list their top five must-haves for their new abode.


Kids house survey table

Personally, I’m leaning more towards the kids’ wish list. And unless there is one almighty property crash soon, it looks like a tree house might be all I can afford anyway.

The pint-sized property moguls were a little off the mark about the out-of-control housing market, with the average child thinking they could score a home for about $6,000. Bless.

Most of the children also hoped to own a home by the time they were 19. If only…

When quizzed on property-related terms, the youngsters had their own ideas about what it meant to climb the property ladder.

The majority of them believed the property ladder was a “ladder kept at home so people can reach high places”.

And 70 per cent of them thought house deeds meant “chores that needed doing around the house”.

Oh, to be young again. Good luck with your search kids!

Closing time for open-plan living?


Is anyone else over open-plan living?

I, for one, have found myself craving walls and doors for the last year or so. Honestly, where did all the walls go?!

The whole open-plan movement seemed like a great idea at the time. It was hailed as the answer to the modern lifestyle, where the kitchen is often the hub of the home.

But it definitely has it drawbacks and they’re starting to become more and more apparent in our household.

“Isn’t this great guys, we can chat while I’m cooking dinner.”

“What did you say? I can’t hear you over the rangehood, TV and little Robbie’s iPad.”

The competing sounds, the unwelcome smells – I’m pretty sure no one really took this into account when we all decided to get out our sledgehammers and let loose on the kitchen wall.

More architects and homeowners are now moving away from open-plan towards split-level or “broken-plan” living with areas that are linked yet separate.

If you’re thinking of the sunken lounges and split-level arrangements of the 70s you’re not far off – but picture that with less orange and garish prints.

Broken-plan living allows for living spaces to be visually linked but have separate, distinct areas that can give families more room for privacy.

Steps, different ceiling heights and contrasting textures are what sets broken-plan apart from open-plan.

Here are some great examples:

                                                                                                                          Novak + Middleton Architects




                                                                                                                                                 Patrick Reynolds

I don’t think this layout hugely helps with the noise-pollution issue but don’t worry researchers are working on combatting this problem.

Quiet kitchens without noisy kettles or deafening range hoods are on their way.

An instant hot water tap could have you kicking that kettle to the kerb and a rangehood with a motor outside the home will mute that annoying humming sound.

Researchers have even come up with a sink with deadening pads to prevent the metallic sound when water hits the bottom.

I’m still not sure that’s enough to bring me back around to open-plan living – but broken-plan sounds like a great compromise.


What do you think about open-plan vs broken-plan living? How do open-plan or traditional living areas work for you? Let us know in the comments below or on our NZ and AU Facebook pages.