Auckland gets the Monopoly treatment

Mr Monopoly Queen St

Aucklanders, rejoice – today, you have been immortalised.

At an event held in that most iconic of Auckland’s landmarks, the Sky Tower, Winning Moves officially launched the Auckland edition of the world’s most famous board game, Monopoly.

This morning assorted members of the media got a sneak preview of this brand new, localised version.

The event started with Mr Monopoly himself, flanked by Auckland rugby players Joe Edwards and Patrick Tuipulotu, doing the Sky Walk. With plenty of waves for the cameras, and flexing of muscles, Mr Monopoly proved himself the most daredevil rich man since Richard Branson.

Mr Monopoly Skywalk

Then it was back on solid ground for the launch itself. Each property card was unveiled with a flurry by games master Andrew Thompson, before the symbolic ‘rolling of the giant dice’ by the rugby players. It must be noted, however, the dice looked almost normal size in their large hands.

Giant dice roll best

The game itself? It keeps the look of classic Monopoly, but it unmistakably feels like Auckland.

In choosing the squares Winning Moves have opted mostly for landmarks, rather than the street-laden boards of yesteryear. In the place of Old Kent Road we have the Auckland Domain. Instead of Pall Mall and Whitehall, we have Ellerslie Racecourse and Eden Park. Whether it’s trains, buses or ferries, Auckland’s various modes of public transport all get a look in. And if you want to build a hotel on Auckland University – go right ahead.

The ‘Chance’ and ‘Community Chest’ cards have also been Aucklandised. Getting your friends lost in the Waitakeres will cost you $M50 per mate. Try to “beat the traffic home on Muriwai Road” and you can expect a $M15 speeding fine. If you’re lucky, though, you can pay that out of your $M25 prizemoney for winning that surf competition at Piha.

The big question on everyone’s minds was what would take the place of Mayfair. Securing this most prime piece of real estate, perhaps unsurprisingly in hindsight, was the Sky Tower.

If you’re not from Auckland, and you’re feeling a little left out, do not despair: Andrew Thompson and Mr Monopoly will be traveling the country in 2014 to see where will be next to get the Monopoly treatment. If you feel your area deserves to be immortalised, send your suggestions to info@winningmoves.com.au.

Auckland Monopoly will be available from 1 November at a RRP of $59.99. With Karangahape Road misspelled, it’s sure to be a collector’s edition.

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What’s on the board?

In order, starting from cheapest:

Auckland Domain
Waitakere Ranges
Akoranga Busway Station
Devonport
Wynyard Quarter
Voyager Maritime Museum

Ellerslie Racecourse
Auckland Electricity
Eden Park
Mt Smart Stadium
Newmarket Railway Station
Stardome
Auckland Museum
MOTAT

Dominion Road
Karangahape Road
Queen Street
Britomart Transport Centre
Piha
Waiheke Island
Auckland Water
Mission Bay

Auckland Zoo
University of Auckland
Hilton Auckland
Birkenhead Ferry Wharf
Harbour Bridge
Sky Tower

Terrible real estate photos – and how to avoid them

If you are a fan of real estate photography and haven’t seen this site, then you’re seriously missing out.

sideways Georgia

‘Terrible Real Estate Agent Photographs’ is exactly that: a gallery consisting of horrifyingly awful photos taken by real estate agents.

That last detail is important, because it is the end point of a long deliberate process these hapless agents undertook. Let’s take a look, shall we:

  • First, they grabbed their ‘point and shoot’ camera.
  • Next, they consciously took these hideous photos.
  • Then, they uploaded these photos to their computer and selected the photos they wished to use. More likely, they just clicked the ‘select all’ button.
  • Finally, they uploaded these abominations to the online listing, made the property visible to the public, then sat back and waited for the offers to roll in.
  • And bonus unexpected last step – someone finds the photos and submits them to the TREP site so we can all laugh/scratch our heads.

How anybody thought house buyers would see a photo of a filthy toilet and say “OMG sign me up” is beyond us. It’s round about lunchtime that I’m writing this, so out of the goodness of my heart I won’t post that particular photo here.

We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t find these hilarious. They also serve as a compelling cautionary tale for agents: if you’re serious about professional marketing and selling houses, then get in touch with Open2view.

Below are some of our favourites; share yours in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

 

The story, and sale, of Wallaceville Church

Open2view 298904 church Upper Hutt

We shoot a heap of houses at Open2view. But a church? Well, that’s somewhat less common.

Wallaceville Church was built in 1893 by the Presbyterian Assembly, and now it could be yours. You’ll have to be quick though, if the experience of current owners, Alan and Heidi McGhie, is anything to go by.

“We purchased the church in November, 2002,” Heidi told us by email. ‘We drove past it one summer when we were dating, and it looked so lovely we stopped, waded through the long grass and peered through the windows. I even commented to my now husband, Alan, “Wouldn’t it be neat to own one day?”

“And what do you know, not long after that, it was mentioned in our local paper that they had three offers on it already and it was going to be decided the next evening who they would sell to. Within 24 hours we had an offer faxed through and we won the tender. Just like that.”

Open2view 298904 upper hutt Wallaceville Church

‘One Hundred Years of Worship,’ compiled by Len Gorrie and Phyllis Macnab, contains plenty of the church’s history up to 1993.

The history of the church is essentially the story of Wallaceville. It was intended that the building be the hub of the village, and for a while it appeared it would be.

The 108-seat church was built by a Mr Whitcher of Petone at a cost of 97 pounds. At the opening ceremony/picnic social in November 1893, the Petone Chronicle reported excitement unseen in the valley since Pakeha first settlement.

Sunday services were heavily attended in the church’s early days. In 1905 it hosted its first wedding. Records also show suggestions that the building host socials “in the week previous to the full moon.” Perhaps, surmised Gorrie, “the moon played a part in the success of the social.” Alternatively, perhaps full moons gave rise to behaviour unsuitable in a place of worship.

With some churches in the area struggling to balance the books, the Co-operating Parish (a union of the local Methodist and Presbyterian congregations, later renamed the Upper Hutt Uniting Parish) was formed in 1976.

By 1983, however, Phyllis Macnab reported an average of just eight people coming to services. Many families had, she wrote, “moved away, or married into a different denomination or prefer to attend worship at Upper Hutt… [the building] is no longer the centre of the district.”

Open2view 298904 Upper Hutt church

Fast-forward to 2002. New owners Alan and Heidi bought the building from the Parish and hosted many weddings in the 11 years since. It has also found use as a film set, the host of a poetry evening, county school fairs and was “part of many garden tours raising money for the Life Flight Trust.” Annual Christmas services, run by the Parish, are also “a big hit.”

Little about the building has changed; the powder room is a relatively new feature, but much is as it was when built. The wrought iron gates are the originals. The pedal organ is “nearly as old as the church” and still forms the soundtrack for many a wedding. The christening font remains there, along with, says Heidi, a “record of christenings which… dates back to the very early 1900s.”

Open2view 298904 church organ

Open2view’s local, Liz Evans, jumped at the chance to photograph the property.

“The church would be up there in uniqueness,” she said. “I haven’t photographed a church before!”

Photographing a church brought its share of unique challenges. “It was dark inside and full of wood,” explains Liz, “which absorbs the flash produced from the camera’s external flash instead of bouncing the light off walls. So I exposed for the windows and had a slow shutter speed.” Ultimately, as with any challenge, the secret to successful photos is to take a whole lot of them.

So what now for the McGhies? Heidi and Alan plan to carry on with their other business, Almack Electrical, and do some more crayfishing.

“We love adventures and life is short,” says Heidi, “so, for us, it is time to move on. We’ll certainly miss the place!”

Check out the photos of this amazing property and it’s easy to see why. There’s an on site auction on 19 October; check out the photos on our site, then head along for your chance to own this wonderful slice of Upper Hutt history.

Open2view 298904 Wallaceville Church front

Guest post: A Scottish Baronial castle in VIC

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The following is a guest post from Dave Temple of Open2view Mornington Peninsula. Thanks, Dave!

The setup

“I’ve got a video for you,” said Annette – our fantastic photographer who works the Dromana area on the beautiful Mornington Peninsula. “Roger (the agent) says it’s a good one.”

Being the cynical type, I’ll admit I didn’t know whether ‘a good one’ was going to be a palace, or a renovator’s dream that would require some hard graft and creativity to display in a positive light. Nevertheless, I called Roger – from Roger McMillan Real Estate in Dromana – and asked for the property’s address and details.

“Its 200 and something Gwenmarlin Road,” said Roger. “I can’t remember the exact number, but you won’t be able to miss it.  It’s a castle.  Like a proper Scottish Baronial Castle.”

I’m always a little nervous when someone says that I couldn’t possibly miss something, but as I arrived in Gwenmarlin Road, put the car in 4 wheel drive to negotiate the dusty, winding track and kept my eyes peeled for a thing I was going to try not to miss, I had one of those great moments as a real estate photographer.

Every job that is booked, you will inevitably arrive in a road and see “that house,” the one that makes you go “oh, I hope it’s that one I’m shooting”. As 217 Gwenmarlin Road appeared in front of me – bluestone turret and all – I realised that I was in fact going to be shooting video in the best house in the road.

The shoot

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Annette arrived shortly after and we settled down to our routine.

With a property on 50 acres, we decided to get the house photographed and videoed first before moving on to the expansive grounds.

For those with a technical interest, Annette uses a full frame DSLR Canon 5Dmkiii and 17-40mm lens with portable studio flash for her photography, while I was using a crop sensor Canon 7D with an 18-135mm lens for the video.

I’ve done a good few videos now, and I find that although the variation in the lens comes at the slight cost of quality (only visible if you’re a camera nerd), the payoff comes with the variety of shots you can get from a single lens. With an interior, exterior, view shots, close ups and kangaroos to capture this seemed like a good choice.

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Ah yes, the kangaroos! I think inside every real estate photographer is a National Geographic photographer waiting to emerge. While Annette and I were taken around the extensive grounds by the owner, we soon got stuck into the essential task of taking as much imagery of the local wildlife as possible. So much so in my case (to my embarrassment), that I actually ran out of battery halfway around the estate!

I do now know however, that if I was in fact a wildlife photographer, I would definitely be killed almost immediately by something with big teeth, since I was so entranced by the actual animals that I found myself not taking much notice of the fact that a group of them had us surrounded. Luckily for us, a handy jog back to the 4×4 got us out of trouble.

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Since this was a twilight shoot, my work with the video was completed early and I could therefore have left Annette to complete the job alone. However, while we do a lot of real estate work on the Mornington Peninsula, there aren’t too many castles around, so I decided to stay the course and join the fun.

You can see from the photos that Mother Nature treated us to a decent sunset that night and the exterior lighting in the castle gave us some great images. With twilight photography its 20% technique and 80% timing.

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The extras

As part of the video, I captured some of the local sights of Flinders on a particularly pretty (but windy) spring morning. The owners at the Flinders Golf Course allowed me access to capture video on their course, and I took so much video of the jetty and boat harbour that I decided to make a special companion video of the area – just for fun and in case National Geographic ever do call.

With Annette providing the quality images as part of our 24hour turnaround, and the video completed, Roger McMillan and his vendors now have a great marketing package to advertise this unique property all over Australia and the world.

So if you are in the market for a Scottish Baronial Castle, complete with a mob of kangaroos, a dam and views of the surrounding countryside, national park and coastline, check our website for the full lowdown.

Dave Temple is the Open2view Area Franchisee of the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria.  He has been twice awarded ‘Most Valuable Franchisee’ (NSW & VIC).

Annette Jolley is the Open2view Photography for the Central Mornington Peninsula in Victoria. Annette was recently awarded ‘Most Improved Photographer’ in Victoria.

Further work from the Peninsula team can be viewed on their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/o2vmp.

September Property Report: banks vs first home buyers, Reserve Bank vs Parliament, and supply vs demand

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One of our favourite houses from the past month, this quirky 311m2 Christchurch property is up for auction in a couple weeks. Check it out here.

 

The US Government may have shut down, but at Open2view we’re working hard through the always busy spring. With the warmer weather always comes an increase in houses to photograph, video, the works.

The big real estate news this month though has been the new lending restrictions for those with less than 20% saved. Has this put a dampener on the property market? Let’s find out.

 

The stats

According to realestate.co.nz’s NZ Property Report, the nationwide mean asking price is up 0.7% to a record $466,526. While Auckland prices dropped 0.8% the other regions picked up the slack, with Canterbury prices up by 3.2%, Waikato 3.9%, and Marlborough jumping a massive 18.6%.

It may be that buyers were getting in early to avoid the lending restrictions. If so, October’s figures could be much different.

Meanwhile, 11,000 new listings last month represents 2.7% more than August, a 1.4% drop on last September, and a 12-month total just 0.2% above the previous 12-month period. Still, then, a seller’s market.

 

Speaking of housing supply

Another problem with loan to value ratio restrictions:

The Master Builders Association Chief Executive, Warwick Quinn, told Bernard Hickey that builders are seeing big drop offs in new home orders in light of the new lending rules.

The MBA estimates about 15% of new homes are built for first home owners; the Reserve Bank reckons the figure is closer to 10%. Either way, if this drop off continues, that’s a lot of new homes that won’t be built.

Exemptions are often awful things to have in public policy; it’s amazing how many people can crawl through even the smallest of loopholes. But, should the Reserve Bank ever look to tweak things, they could do worse than exempting buyers who are adding to the supply of houses.

 

Speaking of the LVR changes

How are you all coping with the changes so far? Have you been affected, be it by this or ASB’s cancelling of low equity preapprovals?

Borrowers have every right to be mad at ASB’s announcement. Their lending has been very heavily to the under 20% bracket, so they were always going to be affected most by the new lending restrictions. Still,

It’s.

Not.

Like.

They.

Weren’t.

Warned.

Still, not all is lost for first home buyers. If lending restrictions keep interest rates and prices down for longer, that’s good news for buyers of all kinds.

 

Speaking of first home buyers

And it seems the Government has something up its sleeve: a plan to sell around 400 former state houses to lower-income earners in the provinces. And buyers will be subsidised up to $20,000 for the privilege.

Says the Minister:

“FirstHome will help modest income earners in provincial New Zealand buy their first home by gifting them a 10 per cent deposit and giving them priority to purchase surplus vacant state houses no longer needed by Housing New Zealand,” Dr Smith says.

“They’ll face strict conditions, including earning no more than the average income and have to own and live in the house for at least three years.

If you earn under $53,000 (or $80,600 for two or more people), this could be the deal for you. You’ll also be eligible for other assistance through KiwiSaver and the Welcome Home Loan.

The timing of the announcement is not coincidental. The Government has been public about their desire to have first home buyers excluded from the LVR changes but didn’t get their way; this policy will soften the blow for some.

 

Think you can tell the Reserve Bank what to do?

Some politicians have been promising to boss the Reserve Bank around on housing should they get into power.

Of course, it isn’t that simple. The Reserve Bank Act 1989 gave the Bank one goal – price stability. Governments and Governors can set targets, such as a range of acceptable inflation, but other than that how these targets are achieved is entirely up to the Reserve Bank.

There is one clause that could perhaps be used to override this by future governments. If we may sound academic for a moment… Graham and Smith (2012) pointed out that section 12 enables the government to substitute one policy objective (i.e. price stability) for another for up to 12 months. This is, they explain, “designed to allow the temporary imposition of a new objective, but to otherwise keep the same relationship between the Governor and the Minister with respect to the implementation of policy as in more normal times.”

David Cunliffe made a possible allusion to this – the “oi, look at this” clause as he described it – on Firstline this morning. So can it be used to exempt first home buyers from lending restrictions? Possibly. Will it? We may find out sometime.

 

Your thoughts

Is FirstHome the ideal way around lending restrictions? Does the Reserve Bank have too much power for your liking? What will become of house prices in the next year or two? Have your say below or on our Facebook page.