The Unconditional Blog

The impartial voice of the industry


Archive for the ‘The lighter side’ Category


So how about a real estate walking tour?

Posted on: December 3rd, 2008 | Filed in International, The lighter side

It is a constant challenge for a real estate agent to find an engaging way to entice would-be buyers to check out the stock of available properties, there are always too many constraints on people’s time and the web does provide a great means of showcasing property.

So how about making open homes into an event. This real estate company in Charleston, South Carolina does that by grouping together a number of open homes in a neigbourhood and establishing a weekly walking tour for prospective buyers.

This idea would naturally suit today’s market – there are plenty of homes on the market (now topping 80,000 homes on this site from over 114,000 listings) – it is summer and people like to get out and about – it is innovative and might capture a bit of interest.

It might even be possible for agents to pool reources (there are less of them in the industry these days!) and agree to showcase each others properties in the tour. Add in a coffee stop and a bit of local knowledge and gossip and before long we might have an initiative worthy of the Peid Piper!


UK house guru offers advice in the midst of their housing crisis

Posted on: October 31st, 2008 | Filed in Buying / Selling a home, International, The lighter side

Kirstie Allsopp along with her colleague Phil Spencer have become household names in the UK as they have hosted the house hunting TV programme Location, Location, Location – not to be confused withe TVNZ programme of the same name.  The programme has been shown on both Sky and TVNZ and has captured a strong prime time position sharing with kiwis the property market back in the UK.

Some have said that the programme even contributed to the UK housing bubble highlighting as it did the appeal of property ownership and the potential gains to be made. Well now in the midst of the UK crisis the team are making a special edition to provide support and guidance for homeowners stuck in the midst of the crisis as well as people attempting to buy at this time.

Kirstie in an interview with the Sun newspaper offered some great quotes:

When asked if falling prices were the only problem?

The fact that people move house is a core part of our economy. While some people might benefit from falling house prices, nobody benefits from falling transactions.

Everyone from builders to bed-makers go out of business if people stop moving house.

When asked “Who’s to blame for the current problem?

Lots of people have asked me: “Do you think this is your fault?”

Well, yes – I have advocated home ownership, but I don’t feel guilty about that.

Blaming me for the credit crunch is like blaming Jamie Oliver for obesity. Yes, he has probably encouraged people to eat more but he has also encouraged them to shop and eat wisely.

Whilst there are those detractors of the simplistic manner in which the programme profiles the purchasing process there is no doubt that the broad appeal provides some useful tips and guidance to all who watch; and many would argue that it is a lot more real then many reality TV shows.

There is no doubt as you watch the show and read the commentary in the UK papers that clearly Brits are as besotted by property as we kiwis are – we are not alone!


Let’s knock $10 million off the price and see if that helps it sell!

Posted on: October 26th, 2008 | Filed in The lighter side

This has to be one of the biggest price reductions in the history of real estate – not in NZ though – this one is in a leafy suburb of north of Altanta, Georgia – Buckhead.

This residence built in 1926 and known as The Pink Palace has a colourful history and as reported by the Atlanta Journal Consitution (AJC) this property was bought as a wedding gift for the wife of its present owner who paid $3.6m in 2004 for the property.

I guess the interesting comment comes from the real estate agent – Rosina Seydel of Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s. When asked about the price reduction she said “Believe me, this was not my idea” Further she doesn’t see it as a fire sale. “This is not a discount,” she said. “It’s an opportunity. I really look at it like a blue chip stock, or like art.”

And if you were wondering of this price reduction was just a marketing ploy / publicity stunt – well when I searched for the house this morning (Sunday NZ time) it was still listed on the agents website at the original price of $20m, but when checking later in the day the price had been adjusted to the new price – a clear reduction of $10m

Well for $10 million it may be a wise investment or it may still represent a big ask in the midst of the current US property market.


Take a break from the turmoil of the financial markets

Posted on: September 20th, 2008 | Filed in The lighter side

The media are awash with the news that has shocked the world’s financial markets in the last 10 days. No one is prepared to call the status of this crisis and I have no intention of making any speculation – especially as some of the brightest economists in this country and overseas are taking a “one day at a time” attitude.

All media though are clear in tracing back the collapse to the US subprime debacle of a couple of years ago. The facts surrounding the structure of these financial packages created out of very high risk loans are at times confusing. I therefore thought some brevity and amusing distraction might be appropriate.

This video provides a very amusing comedy sketch from a classic British duo of John Fortune and John Bird. It was broadcast on The South Bank show last October and provides a very telling observation on the complexities of financial markets and the origins of the subprime crisis titled the “last laugh”.


According to the Dutch – The best thing about NZ is that our housing prices are low!!

Posted on: July 10th, 2008 | Filed in The lighter side

Now that is certainly the kind of headline to capture interest!

and the fact is, that is what has been reported on a very active Dutch blogsite. The website Greenstijl which (with the valuable assistance of Google’s translation service) describes itself as “scandalous revelations and journalism research interspersed with airy and pleasant topics disturbed nonsense” posted an article last Saturday titled Departure to New Zealand!

To provide those non-dutch speakers amongst the readers of this blog and again with the benefits of the service of Google translator – here is a translation of the article:

Geen sentence in Canada? New Zealand were looking for immigrants. Pastoral farmers, It’ers, hbo’ers, engineers, you name it. Anyone with a little training is welcome in that great country! People who want to work in tourism. People who build boats, conveyor belt can work, understand petrochemical industry, forestry, rightly want in the film and television industry (and which is best large), like in the financial sector or so … Even officials want to be. The list is endless. Like what you’ve seen? This is a good start. Check also the vacancies, and apply! New Zealand has one of the most beautiful and diverse landscapes in the world. Nowhere else can you find fjords, gletchers, mountains, grasslands, surf beaches, dive, hobbitstedes and everything nice and cool to the earth, and hip clubs in one place. You earn tons of money there. The best housing prices are low. Yes, absolutely, make Netherlands viable, what we are concerned rot you tomorrow. That we mean very nice.

The pictures are all from Flickr, so they are real.

With appropriate apologies for the roughness of computer translation, you get a view of how the dutch see NZ – makes for an appealing perspective!

This blog site is one of the most popular in Holland and attracts an audience which makes it the 36th top site in the country (according to Alexa) with a reach on a weekly basis around a third of that of Trade Me!

With this level of visitors (some of the posts regularly get 500 to 700 comments!) – it is not surprising that the referal link to this website in the original post certainly impacted our traffic over the weekend. Normally Holland represents around 0.25% of all our traffic – an average day being around 50 visitors searching our properties, but as can be seen from the graph below over the past 5 days Holland has shot up from #14 top country to #2 – with on Sunday alone 8,400 visitors!

The best bit of it was the fact that they did more than just hit the home page, they actually went looking to see if our prices really are low! – with 767 replies posted on the blog post – some may express agreement – that is for you to translate!


Unique properties

Posted on: June 27th, 2008 | Filed in The lighter side

It seems some people have taken literally the idea conveyed in the blog post of a week ago concerning featuring property on the home page of the website.

I was sent these suggestions of possible properties that might be worth featuring – you decide if they would be the kind of properties that you would want to buy?


The unthinkable – what if the internet went down?

Posted on: June 16th, 2008 | Filed in The lighter side

I am I must confess an unabashed zealot of the internet. It is and has become a ubiquitous and indispensable part of my life as it has for many people, if not the vast majority of people. This situation will only continue and grow in the years to come, especially as the next generation to assume the mantle of this industry, take over the responsibility for assisting in the transaction of real estate.

It is therefore sobering for one lighthearted moment to reflect upon this scary question of what happens …. if the internet suddenly and inexplicably “went down” – from the creators of South Park, I share with you this humorous video.

I have to thank Dave Platter over at Business2 for pointing this out in his post when the web goes down. Equally as posted by Glen Barnes, as a comparable view there is also the video from Onion News Network “Breaking News: All Online Data Lost After Internet Crash” – the comment about blogs is wonderful tongue in cheek!


Who’s to blame for the property market slow down? – part 2

Posted on: May 15th, 2008 | Filed in Media commmentary, The lighter side

This I promise is the last word (well for the time being on this subject) – but before we move onto other matters.

I was amused that rather in the same vein as the recent post on the synchronised collapse of property markets around the world, we also now have a synchronised “search for a scapegoat” for whom to blame for the property market collapse. This article was reported in the UK Sunday Times last weekend.

The article instead of laying blame at the feet of any one party (although it is titled “Estate Agents become scapegoats for the property market slowdown“) skilfully and with a large dose of “tongue-in-cheek” highlights that dependent upon your perspective (alluding I feel to a very English class level adjudication) you can blame:

  • What they see as the blog level – well it has to be anyone who has ever been associated in any way with a property show on television or, more bizarrely, those who have already paid off their mortgages!
  • What they see as the school gate level – this is where real estate agents get the venomous attack
  • Then at the level of dinner-party set – this is where the attack turns into what looks like envy where buy-to-let “private investor landlords” as we call them enter the firing line
  • Finally in the rarefied air of the corporate level – it is big business to blame as well as the professional services firms who support all this speculation

For me I rather like the answer provided by Andy Hamilton (one of our highly read and very well observed commentators on this blog) who so skilfully stated:

“Isn’t it odd how the press in such diverse nations as the US, Ireland, Spain, the UK and NZ all got together and decided to talk their respective markets down almost all at the SAME time; one wonders what their motives could have been? Oooooh I know the press wanted to piss off the industry that is collectively one of their biggest advertisers, surely that must be the reason”

Enough said.


When the sub-prime hits home – this is what it looks like!

Posted on: May 8th, 2008 | Filed in Buying / Selling a home, The lighter side

We have all become exposed to the expression “sub prime” in the last 9 months – it is likely to be inducted into the Oxford English Dictionary pretty soon as a new phrase, in fact it was voted word of the year for 2007 by the American Dialect Society.

However whilst we have all heard that this is driving an unprecedented level of foreclosures (mortgagee sales) in the US and devaluing property prices in parts of the country. All of this is generalistic until you see the reality of a single property – here is such a case study.

Google map of Corona CA

This 4 bedroom house is on a new development south east of Los Angeles nestled in the Corona valley.

Sanctury Drive house, Corona CAThe house was built in 2005 at the peak of the housing frenzy and sold new in May of 2006 for $1.4m, less than a year later in Feb 2007 it was flipped (by an astute person!) for $1.5m.

A year later the buyer or the bank (its is not clear whether at the time it was the subject of a foreclosure or the then owner) decided to bail – anyway it was sold in Feb 2008 for $1.1m – somebody taking a $400,000 hit!

That’s not the end of the story, because the current owner is looking down the barrel of a $430,000 loss as the property today is listed at $669,900!

I am grateful for the assistance of Zillow and their excellent forum for highlighting this listing as part of a very interesting post Who wants to play – “Guess the price of that house?” – well worth a read as there are more examples like this one!


The solution to selling your home – just add life insurance!

Posted on: April 18th, 2008 | Filed in Buying / Selling a home, The lighter side

Real estate has always been known for colourful and flamboyant eye-catching headlines designed to entice the prospective buyer to consider this house or that apartment. This puffery has over time incurred the wrath of consumer rights advocates and regulators.

It is therefore rather fitting that the imagination of one Wisconsin real estate agent in association with a canny vendor has come up with what could be the ultimate eye-catching marketing concept.

Buy my house and have the opportunity of getting your money back! – No; not some kind of bizarre money back guarantee scheme, but a legal and innovative gamble.

How to sell you home - just add life insuranceBob Fanning and his agent Wayne Peters are offering the prospective buyer of this 5,600 square-foot $489,900 house a free term life insurance policy to the value of $500,000 – the insured life is that of the vendor Mr Fanning. The wise buyer will be morbidly hoping that Mr Fanning dies within the 10 year term of the policy for the buyer to collect.

This morbid twist of marketing has the full consent of Mr Fanning’s wife and family as it is a separate life policy established purely as a marketing tactic.

For the record Mr Fanning is 69 years old, and in case you suspect that foul play may be looming to bring a swift end to Mr Fanning’s life, the attorneys have allowed for that eventuality nullifying the policy should Mr Fanning meet an untimely or suspicious end or for him to commit suicide.

As for the odds: Fanning said he has no health problems, though he joked that he’s “too short” for his weight. Both his parents died before age 79, as did a sister. He said he’d be willing to disclose medical records to a buyer.

I must thank Steve Koerber of Barfoot & Thompson for posting this news story on his blog. Thanks Steve for adding a touch of the lighter side to this week’s news!

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