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.




Landlords: Is It Time To Go Pet-Friendly?


A visually-impaired sheep is one of the latest casualties of the soaring housing market.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Poor old Coco the elderly arapawa ewe had to be surrendered to a sanctuary after her owners’ rental home was put on the market and they were unable to find another suitable for her.

Coco is just one of the sheep, goats, hens, ducks and dogs in the same predicament, with renters struggling to find homes for themselves and their pets.

With landlords selling up to take advantage of the hot market and only a small pool of landlords willing to take in pets, it’s little wonder it’s a growing problem for renters.

But research from Barfoot & Thompson has found that it can pay for landlords to go pet-friendly.


I’m not suggesting letting Coco the sheep crash at your inner-city pad. Obviously the council wouldn’t be too keen on that idea either.

But the data reveals landlords who make their rental properties pet-friendly are able to widen their pool of potential tenants, keep their properties rented for longer and even maximise their profits.

Typically, pet-friendly landlords are able to charge more on a weekly basis, due to high demand and competition, according to this research.

And tenants with pets have been found to stay on average a further 7 months than their non-pet counterparts.

But what about protecting your investment?

Here’s some advice for landlords looking to make their rental pet-friendly:

  • Add a pet clause to the Tenancy Agreement.
  • Think about the size of your property and what it can manage – does it have fencing? – is the outdoor area appropriate for larger pets?
  • Check references and ask for a pet resume – if a tenant has been allowed pets at a previous rental, your property manager will be able to ask their referee about how the tenancy went and flag any problems or allay any concerns.

Pet Resumes

Renters, a pet resume is a great way to emphasise that you are a responsible pet-owner.


                                                                                                                               Cathy Klein, PetResumes.Net.

For dogs, you can mention:

  • obedience training
  • the number of times your dog is walked a day
  • whether they go to “doggy daycare”
  • the dog’s temperament, size, age.

It’s a great way to let a prospective landlord put a face to your pet’s name.

Landlords and property managers – what do you think about pet-friendly rentals? Renters – have you had any trouble finding a rental that will accept your pets?

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

How To Keep Your Home Pest-Free

Pest home 1

Are pesky pests bugging you and your family? Then read on to help banish any creepy critters from your home!

Pest control agency Rentokil helps rid frustrated homeowners of everything from crawling insects and flying pests to rats and mice.

We had a chat with expert bug eradicator Jon Thompson (AKA Rentokil’s Head of Operations) about why bed bugs are invading more and more homes and why it’s ok to step on a cockroach – in fact, he outright encourages you to do so.

What advice can you give to help keep pests at bay?

  • Keep a clean, dry, well-ventilated house.
  • Be vigilant for early signs of pests.
  • Have well-sealed doors and windows.
  • Carefully cover grass clippings and compost.
  • Dispose of pet droppings regularly.
  • Get a reputable pest control company with qualified staff in should you need the extra help.

Describe the worst pest problem you’ve ever had to deal with…

A home in a rural town where I had to move my service vehicle from their driveway onto the street after I started to spray – the cockroaches were streaming out the door towards it!

Sadly, there were dozens of cockroaches in the bedding in the babies cot. It was a nice feeling to be able to remedy this situation.

rat kitchenRats and mice are winter’s biggest pest issue.

What’s the biggest problem during winter?

Rats and mice – they enter homes at the onset of cooler, wetter weather to seek shelter and warmth.

Insulated walls and ceiling voids provide ideal harbourage for them and it is extremely difficult to rodent proof a house – mice can enter a hole the size that a pencil can fit into!

Are there going to be any particularly bad pest problems for people this year?

Warmer summers always produce greater numbers of flies, fleas and ants – the past summer was no exception.

What are the hardest pests to get rid of?

1. Flies – because you basically can’t get rid of them! – they will always be with us!

2. Bed bugs – because of their ability to lay ‘dormant’ for longs periods of time and withstand harsh conditions.

fly kitchen
Flies are the toughest pests to banish.

Are there any pests that you’re seeing more and more of?

Bed bugs have proliferated over the past decade or so – this is generally attributed to increased tourism and budget travel. Bed bugs are great hitch-hikers and can survive up to a year without a blood meal.

What pests bother people the most?

Probably flies and mosquitoes. The best way to manage their annoyance is to physically exclude them – which is often hard to do.

Are there any misconceptions about pests that you’d like to clear up?

There is a common misconception that if you stand on a cockroach you can spread the problem – not so! – step away!!

Any pests driving you up the wall? Have you got some good solutions for keeping them at bay? Let us know in the comments below or on our NZ and AU Facebook page.

Chasing cheap rent: Pains, trains and automobiles

Sick of paying through the nose to rent a dank, cramped house in a prime location? How about bunking down for the night in a makeshift camper van or catching some Zs on a train?

Tried out house-sitting for size? Pondering property guardianship?

These are a few of the solutions some people have found to solve their housing woes and save some cash.

With Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland now among the top five least affordable housing markets in the world, it’s little wonder “Generation Rent” is having to be more creative with its choice of digs.

But are these alternatives really all they’re cracked up to be?

And hey, if all else fails, there’s always the less innovative option of moving back in with your folks or in-laws – like this blogger…

Creative housing options: The pros and cons

Carry on camper-vanning

A software engineer in San Francisco took the equivalent of three months’ rent and bought a 1969 VW camper van with “a hole in the floor and a family of spiders” to live in after seeing how crazily expensive it was to rent in the area. She blogs about her experience doing up the van and living in it.


  1. You can live as close as possible to your work/wherever you want to be.
  2. You can (probably should) change which view you wake up to on a regular basis.


  1. You have to find somewhere to store your valuables in case of a break-in.
  2. Get used to brushing your teeth on the side of the road.
  3. You’ll probably need to either have access to a shower at work or a gym/pool membership.
  4. Maintenance/renovations if your van needs work.


House-sitting is a great option for anyone looking to save on rent – whether you’re saving for a deposit on your first home or planning to travel. Renting and saving can be a tough old slog. House-sitting opportunities come up by word-of-mouth or through an agency and can last anywhere from a few weeks to a year. Bear in mind that house-sitting often includes pet-sitting too. A couple who have been house-sitting around the world for years share some of their tips here.


  1. Live rent free often without having to fork out for power, water and internet bills.
  2. Get the chance to live in some amazing properties you couldn’t afford to rent.
  3. Pet-sitting – great for animal-lovers who haven’t been able to own pets while renting.


  1. Potentially lots of moving about if they are short-term.
  2. Having to store or sell off most of your possessions and travel light.
  3. Added responsibility of taking care of pets and maintaining someone else’s house and garden.
  4. You can’t really head off on spontaneous trips away.

Your carriage awaits

This German student gave up her apartment to live on a train. Leonie Müller has a subscription which allows her to board every train in the country, where she washes her hair in the train bathroom travelling at speeds of up to 300 kmh. [Note: before you throw caution to the wind and make a run for the station – she does also crash at friends’ and family’s places.] You can read more on her bilingual blog.


  1. Apparently this arrangement has worked wonders for her long-distance relationship.
  2. The scenery? (… I’m struggling with pros on this one.)


  1. You have to carry your stuff with you wherever you go.
  2. Anyone who commutes daily knows how annoying fellow passengers can be. Imagine living with them.
  3. Washing your hair in a train bathroom.

Property guardianship

Property Guardian schemes have been a popular option for years for people looking for affordable accommodation in the UK and Europe . I haven’t heard so much of this in New Zealand and Australia though.
It’s a win-win for all involved. A person gets incredibly cheap rent to occupy some form of abandoned building – it could be a hospital, office block, theatre, swimming pool, mansion – you name it. This allows the building owner to avoid having to hire security or install CCTV to prevent damage or squatters.
property guardianship


  1. Ridiculously cheap rent.
  2. You can end up living in some really cool places.


  1. The arrangement is temporary and guardians can be turfed out with only a few weeks’ notice.
  2. Buildings are mostly unfurnished and not always exactly homely.
  3. The Shining anyone?

Are you a seasoned house-sitter? Or have you got your own tips to avoiding extortionate rents? What do you think of these alternative ways of living?

Share your thoughts in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.

Home Shows & Expos: Get the most out of your visit.

Auckland Home Show

Whether you’re renovating, ready to purchase a big ticket item or just looking for inspiration, home shows and expos are a fantastic place to get expert advice and great deals.

This week, thousands have flocked to the iconic Auckland Home Show. If you’re planning to catch the last couple of days this weekend, here are a few product highlights and some tips to help you get the most out of your visit.

Auckland home show 2

1. Do your research

Knowing who will be exhibiting before hand is very helpful, especially if you have something particular in mind you want to see.  An exhibitor directory and show specials are all listed on the Auckland Home Show website . Take a look before you go and make a list of what you want to see and the stand number so you don’t miss anything. With over 500 exhibitors showcasing the latest products and trends, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

home show 5

2. Parking & crowds

If you can’t find anyone to drop you off & pick you up, be prepared to wait in lines for parking. Don’t forget cash. You’ll need it for venue parking. There is a cash machine on site and most vendors have eftpos, but for small purchases and buying lunch, cash will save you time and hassle.

home show 3

3. Do a ‘warm up’ lap.

When you arrive, get your bearings by doing a walkthrough of the expo. Take note of the stands you want to revisit on the second time round. It’s also a good way to identify stands selling the same or similar products.

home show 6

4. Ask questions. Ask for demos.

That’s what they’re there for. If you find a product that you’re interested in, ask questions and get as much info as you can. Exhibitors are more than happy to give demos and many will have info or even samples to take away with you.


5. Be inspired. Get snap happy.

One of the highlights is the designer living pavilion and landscape areas where many of the stands are set up as rooms and living areas to help you visualise how things can be put together. Have your camera handy to take snaps of displays and products that spark your imagination and give you some inspiration.

The Auckland Home Show runs until this Sunday 13 September, so don’t miss out. Visit their website or facebook page to find out more

Time to say goodbye to Auckland?

Above: This 3 bedroom Mairangi Bay home is sitting just above the current average asking price of $820,016 in Auckland. View the listing here: http://o2v.co/1Zi8

Skyrocketing. Raging. Through the roof. Out of control. INSANE!

All of the above have been used to describe the current Auckland Housing market. It seemed astounding around this time last year talking about the average asking price for Auckland hitting a new all time high record of $732,240.

Now for the first time, that has risen above the $800k mark, with realestate.co.nz reporting that for June 2015 the average asking price of an Auckland home is $820,016. That’s a $164,003 deposit you’ll need, and thats enough to have First Home buyers in Auckland running for the Bombay hills, which buy all accounts seems to be the case, with claims that Aucklanders are making up about 30 percent of attendance at open homes in Hamilton.

The average asking price suddenly seems less surprising once you start seeing stories like this: A West Auckland property which sold for 2.2million, $900k over its CV.

West Auckland Property

Even being able to access KiwiSaver contributions and HomeStart grants do little when the cap for Auckland homebuyers is $550,000 and anyone who has looked at any properties and been to an auction lately can tell you that there are very limited options under that price.

So… why not just leave? With Aucklanders are flocking to buy property in Tauranga, Hamilton and the Western Bay of Plenty, let’s see what the average Auckland house price (or close) might get you in some of those other regions.

Bay of Plenty
A stylish 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom ex-showroom in Papamoa Beach.

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View the listing

A 5 bedroom 3 bathroom lifsetyle property on 2.86 Acres featuring an entertainer’s kitchen with butler’s pantry, formal dining area and two lounges with bush and waterfall views.

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View the listing

A 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom home with pool and spectacular views over Maungakaramea and beyond to The Whangarei Heads and Hen & Chicks sitting on 6.63ha with 250 Avocado trees.

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Take the 3D HomeView tour 

New Plymouth
Enquiries over $749,00 will get you this fabulous 4 year old, 4 bedroom farmlet on 2.22 Acres.

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View the listing

So what do you think? Comparable, or much better value? Where do you sit? Are you a disillusioned, Auckland First home buyer? Perhaps a retiree, ready to make the most of the high Auckland prices,cash up and move to the regions? Or are you just a non-Aucklander sick of hearing about Auckland House prices?

Share your thoughts in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.