Local Body Elections: Tauranga candidates on housing

Tauranga_And_Some_Harbour_Facilites

It’s that time of the electoral cycle where you get a big fat envelope in the mail, with short blurbs about hundreds of people trying to win your vote for everything from the Mayoral office to the local licensing trust.

Who on earth should you vote for? We decided to help you make an informed decision – at least, in an area we are quite passionate about.

We asked Tauranga’s mayoral candidates for their views on the pressing housing issues in their city, ranging from home affordability to whether Auckland’s influence has been positive for the region. We thank them very much for their replies, and should the others get in touch we’ll update this post accordingly.

To ensure accuracy we’ve presented all answers in unabridged form. Enjoy, and hopefully this will help you in your difficult decision-making. Make sure you vote!

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Local Body Elections: Hamilton mayoral candidates on housing

Hamilton city

It’s that time of the electoral cycle where you get a big fat envelope in the mail, with short blurbs about hundreds of people trying to win your vote for everything from the Mayoral office to the local licensing trust.

Who on earth should you vote for? We decided to help you make an informed decision – at least, in an area we are quite passionate about.

We asked Hamilton’s mayoral candidates for their views on the pressing housing issues in their city, ranging from Auckland’s influence to controversial house and garage regulations. Three responded. We thank them very much for their replies, and should the others get in touch we’ll update this post accordingly.

To ensure accuracy we’ve presented all answers in unabridged form. Enjoy, and hopefully this will help you in your difficult decision-making. Make sure you vote!

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Local Body Elections: Christchurch mayoral candidates on housing

Dalziel, Maxwell, LonsdaleIt’s that time of the electoral cycle where you get a big fat envelope in the mail, with short blurbs about hundreds of people trying to win your vote for everything from the Mayoral office to the local licensing trust.

Who on earth should you vote for? We decided to help you make an informed decision – at least, in an area we are quite passionate about.

Christchurch’s housing issues are, for obvious reasons, unique. We emailed some mayoral candidates to find their views on how the rebuild is progressing, the issues around building consents, and much more. Three candidates replied, including the two front runners, and we thank them all for their responses.

To ensure accuracy we’ve presented all answers in unabridged form. Click the links just below or read from start to finish; we’re all about choice here.

Enjoy, and hopefully this will help you in your difficult decision-making. Most of all, make sure you vote!

Are you happy with the administration and progress of the rebuilding effort so far? What would you change about it if elected?

Are you concerned about how the Reserve Bank’s new loan to value ratio restrictions might affect first home buyers in Christchurch?

Do you think the building consent process is going fast enough, and if not how would you address this?

Auckland and Christchurch property prices seem to be growing far quicker than anywhere else. Do you see this as a problem? What would you think should be done to address accelerating house prices?

What would you do, if elected, to help ensure there are enough affordable houses being built?

Does the Council have a role to play in providing housing for those who can’t afford to buy?

Finally, is there any other reason why Cantabrians should vote for you as Mayor?

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Local Body Elections: Wellington mayoral candidates on housing

Wellington candidates who responded

It’s that time of the electoral cycle where you get a big fat envelope in the mail, with short blurbs about hundreds of people trying to win your vote for everything from the Mayoral office to the local licensing trust.

Who on earth should you vote for? We decided to help you make an informed decision – at least, in an area we are quite passionate about.

We asked Wellington’s mayoral candidates for their thoughts on a wide variety of local housing issues; our sincere thanks to those who replied. Should the others get in touch we’ll update this post accordingly.

It makes for a rather long blog, but in the interests of accuracy we’ve presented all answers in unabridged form. Enjoy, and hopefully this will help you in your decision-making. Make sure you vote!

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Local Body Elections: Auckland mayoral candidates on housing

Brown, Minto, Palino

It’s that time of the electoral cycle where you get a big fat envelope in the mail, with short blurbs about hundreds of people trying to win your vote for everything from the Mayoral office to the local licensing trust.

Who on earth should you vote for? We decided to help you make an informed decision – at least, in an area we are quite passionate about.

With that in mind, we emailed as many Auckland mayoral candidates as we could find contact details for, and asked them for their views on the most pressing housing issues facing Auckland.

We were grateful to receive replies from the leading candidates as well as some of the lesser-known office seekers, whose views in a democracy are still worth considering.

It makes for a very long blog, so to go to whatever questions interest you the most just click on the questions below. In the interests of accuracy we’ve presented all answers in unabridged form. Enjoy, and hopefully this will help you in your decision-making. Make sure you vote!

What do you think is causing Auckland property prices to increase?
Are you concerned about how the Reserve Bank’s new loan to value ratio restrictions might affect first home buyers in Auckland?
What is your view on the Auckland Unitary Plan?
Do you think Auckland should build outwards, or upwards?
Do you think the Council has over-regulated the building of new houses?
Do you believe foreign buyers are affecting the property market?
Does the Council have a role to play in providing housing for those who can’t afford to buy?
Finally, is there any other reason why Aucklanders should vote for you as Mayor?

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New Google Maps: where the world is an open book

Is there anywhere Google hasn’t mapped?

They’ve certainly covered a lot of ground since bursting onto the scene in 2005. Thanks to Google Maps you can see North Korea by mouse rather than motorcycle. Religion is no longer a barrier to visiting Mecca or the Wailing Wall.

Google’s backpacks go where their cars fear to tread. Without leaving your chair, you can dive into the Grand Canyon, surf the Amazon River and swim the Great Barrier Reef thanks to this gentle Internet giant.

If you’re concerned, after reading this, that Google has taken all the mystery and anonymity out of seeing the world, then the new(ish) Google Maps is not for you.

Launched a couple of months back – I’ve been waiting for a quiet week to post this – it has integrated a whole lot of experiences so you almost never have to leave Maps again.

So, how does it help your real estate search experience?

Let’s say you spot a house on Open2view in St Heliers. Thanks to Open2view you’re well acquainted with the house itself; now you wish to find out some more about the neighbourhood.

At this state you’ve usually got two options. Our ‘Points of Interest’ feature allows you to check out what’s in each listing’s vicinity – including schools, shopping, walks, beaches and more.

NGM St Heliers small points of interest Open2view

NGM St Heliers recreation points of interest Open2view
For everywhere else, there’s new Google Maps.

NGM St Heliers Satellite Open2view

From here you can do all sorts of things:

The Info Card in the top left corner lets you search for directions. They now provide cycle-friendly routes, and real-time traffic data, so you can avoid any jams. You can now also save your search, switch to Street View in one click, and check out the local restaurants/cafes/bars. (Click the below image if you want to actually read the restaurant names.)

NGM St Heliers restaurants Open2view

The latter option is pretty handy if you’re hungry. You can click on each place and see what others think of it before you go. They’ve integrated their social media channels into Maps too; if you have friends on Google+ (add us!), or Yelp, their recommendations and reviews will show up first.

As you can tell, I vastly prefer the more detailed Google Earth view to the map view. By clicking on the photos at the bottom you can see photos uploaded to Google by members of the public. They’re not always useful but they can be super interesting, as proven by this photo of a 1974 Auckland rainbow.

NGM Auckland rainbow Open2view Google

Auckland rainbow Google Maps

The more you use the new Google Maps, the more tailored the search results become. If you display a penchant for Italian food, for example, Google will tailor its restaurant recommendations accordingly. Matthew Stibbe described this on Forbes.com as “very cool”. Those who value convenience over privacy will agree. Civil liberty types? Maybe not so much.

There’s another argument worth considering. One commenter underneath that Forbes article posed this question: “If it only ever shows me places that I already know and like or my friends already know and like then how will my friends and I ever find new places to get to know and like?”

A fair point. Google Maps can squeeze some of the spontaneity out of life; it’s very tempting to go nowhere new without first checking what others did there, and what they thought of it. It’s increasingly harder to take the road less traveled when Google’s gone and mapped eight million kilometres of them.

That’s the world we live in now. We at Open2view are just as responsible as anyone: thanks to our website, photography, videos, floorplans, walkthroughs, and everything else we provide, there’s very little mystery and guesswork left when searching for real estate. And a good thing, too.

For those who share our outlook, the new Google Maps is brilliant.

Have you tried the new Google Maps out yet? What do you think of it? Share your thoughts below or make your way over to our Facebook page.

Auckland Home Show: big, busy and well worth your time

Auckland Home Show logo 2013

A piece of advice: if you can get to the Auckland Home Show during the week, do so. It’s far quieter, you have more room to move and best of all you can have conversations with the stallholders.  Considering the timing of this article, tuck this piece of wisdom away for next year.

But don’t let the crowds stop you from going. Whether you’re looking for inspiration, or you’re serious about doing some home work, there’s plenty at the Home Show that’ll get your creative juices flowing.

Considering solar power? Sprucing up the garden? Need a new appliance? Want a massage? Looking at buying a pool? A pool table? After something you’ve never heard of but absolutely must have the moment you set eyes on it? Yeah, the Home Show’s got you sorted. With over 500 exhibitors, I feel ok about wheeling out the old “something for everyone” cliché. Heck, one of the insurance companies even has a clown for the kids.

Home Show 2013 Smeg

The Smeg exhibit is always a highlight of the show, and this year is no exception. Photo from the Home Show Facebook page.

Some of our real estate friends are there too. I enjoyed chatting to the teams from Eves, Richardsons and Barfoot & Thompson. All reported a busy show so far (just wait till Saturday) and plenty of interest from prospective sellers and buyers.

My highlights? As an easily amused chap I loved Deebot’s robotic vacuum cleaner. Turn it on in the morning and it’ll clean your house while you’re at work. It’ll even empty itself with dignity. I suspect it’s one upgrade away from changing the locks and reading your diary.

If the gadgets cause overstimulation, take some time out in the Walk of Gardens. The Resort to Zen stand, in particular, was as inspiring as it was soothing. It’s in the same hall as the hammocks and fireplaces – a godsend after the miserable rain.

The outdoor exhibits are worth checking out whatever the weather. I darted like a Beverley Hills ninja from garden shed to car cover to mini home, and in between watched an artist create a gorgeous flower painting in the Brustics hut.

I was there more out of curiosity than anything else and after three hours I still had a whole lot of ground left to cover. It’s lucky the show runs for five days and until 9 at night (6pm on Sunday).

You can plan ahead by going to the Home Show website, combing through their directory and planning where you want to go. Chances are, however, you’ll walk through the door and get sidetracked. Head in early and make a day of it.