Chaos at the school gate

Chaos at school gateDid you know that school-related travel accounts for nearly half of all morning peak travel?

With this many vehicles dropping off or picking up students it can be a recipe for chaos at the school gates, with parents dropping off their children while double-parked, parking on broken yellow lines, blocking driveways and slowing traffic flow.

To sort out this growing problem, in early 2003 Auckland City Council started to enforce a zero tolerance policy towards those ignoring the traffic rules – the ‘Chaos at the School Gate’ programme. The programme has been very successful and is helping to reduce the danger to children as well as improve traffic flow around schools at this busy time of the day.

The programme includes placing parking officers on patrol outside schools to observe non-compliant behaviours and issue tickets to those illegally parked.

Auckland City Council runs the programme at 15 schools each term. Other schools can go on a waiting list for the next term . Schools that have experienced difficulties with illegal parking have first priority to join the scheme.

Schools on either programme are required to inform parents that the school is part of the Chaos at the School Gate scheme. Schools must put the information in their newsletter and a send a copy of this to the council.

If you would like to be part of the programme please contact

How accurate is your Capital Valuation (CV)?

Auckland City Council is required by law to revalue all properties every three years.  If you would like to check the Capital Value (CV) of any property in Auckland here is the link to the Auckland City Council webpage.

What does your Capital Value mean?

It is an assessment of the probable price that would have been paid, including land and buildings, for the property if it had been sold on 1 July 2008, updated to reflect changes in properties up to 30 June 2008.

It is not the market value for a property.

The capital value does not include chattels which will need to be added on when estimating an appropriate sale price.

How close to my CV will my house sell for?

You should use your CV as a very “very” rough guide.  Your CV could potentially be 30% or more out, either above or below your real market value.  I have sold many homes for figures that vary from one extreme to the other when compared with their CV.

As an example, a property I sold after a competitive auction in September 2008 had a 2005 CV of $1,130,000 at the time of the sale.  The new 2008 CV is $1,370,000.  It was in a street in which many homes had sold in the $1,000,000 to $3,000,000 range in the three years since 2005, hence the apparent increase in value.  The sale price however was only $1,060,000.  The council got this one very wrong.

There are many other examples of homes that have recently sold in excess of the new 2008 CVs. 

How values are assessed

The process of revaluation reflects the changing nature of Auckland city, it’s development as New Zealand’s largest centre of commercial activity, and it’s growing population. Properties are valued on a site by site basis and in context with other properties in the area and other suburbs.

The valuation process consists of the following main stages:

  • Property inspections

Before each three yearly revaluation council inspects approximately half of all residential properties from the roadside to check that their records are up to date.

Checking half the properties means that every property will receive an inspection each six years. In addition, council inspects between 5,000 and 6,000 properties annually as a result of building consent revaluations.

For each inspected property, council checks the property classification (ie house, town house, apartment, factory or shop) to see that it is correct. They review improvements made to the property, including garages and pools, to see whether any have been made or removed since the previous valuation. They also review the quality and condition rating of improvements. Land attributes, such as view and contour, are checked for accuracy and consistency with surrounding properties.

Sales and rental analysis

Valuers review what properties are selling and renting for in your area.

Council obtains information about residential and commercial rental levels from various sources (tenancy services, market surveys, real estate agents, property management companies).

Valuer General’s audit

The Rating Valuations Act 1998 requires the Valuer General to audit revaluations before giving approval for the values to be published.

A rigorous audit process is carried out over a period of three weeks. This audit

  • checks the processes used to prepare the revaluation
  • carries out statistical analysis of sales to determine the accuracy of the assessed values
  • may require random checks of properties.

Publishing of proposed values

Once the Valuer General approves the process and the values, council publishes a public notice and sends out a valuation notice for each separate rating unit to the owner of the property and the ratepayer, if different. The notice advises the new values and the closing date for objections.

An objection period

The Rating Valuations Regulations 1998 prescribes that objections must be lodged before the expiry of the date specified in the public notice. The objection period is 30 working days calculated from the date of the public notice for general revaluation and 20 working days for other valuations.

Property rates setting

Council uses finalised values for setting rates from 1 July of the year following their publication unless they have been amended as a result of an objection review or there has been a change to the property. They continue to use the published values for setting rates until the objection is finalised.

They use the annual value rating system, which means property values will be based on either:

  • the amount a property might earn in one year if rented (the estimated gross less 20 per cent, or 10 per cent if there are no buildings on the land) or
  • 5 per cent of the property’s capital value

It is a requirement of the Rating Valuations Act 1998 that they use the highest figure of these two options to determine the rateable value of the property. This means that a sample of residential and commercial property owners will receive an enquiry requesting rental information.

Winston Churchill wit

I just love this famous exhange between two clever historical figures:

George Bernard Shaw telegrammed Winston Churchill just prior to the opening of Major Barbara: “Have reserved two tickets for first night. Come and bring a friend if you have one.”

Churchill wired back, “Impossible to come to first night. Will come to second night, if you have one.”

Steve Koerber’s Top 5 Selling Tips

In order of importance:

1.  Select the right agent.  Any agent can list your home, but few can sell it with a minimum of fuss and a level of expertise that matches the fee they charge.  Trust, negotiation skills, ability to listen and local knowledge are more important than most vendors realise.

2.  Get the price right from day one.  Match your circumstances and your home to the correct method of sale and you’ll win every time.  If your car is worth $20,000, would you advertise it at $35,000?

3.  Get the presentation right.  First impressions can make or break a sale.  Homes with major negatives will sell if a buyer feels good once they’ve been inside.

4.  Get the marketing right.  You can’t sell a secret.  Great photography, a guided video tour, upgraded internet listings, large print ads, an eye-catching sign, a great heading, tempting copy…or a buyer your agent met yesterday at another listing?  Appropriate marketing doesn’t cost, it pays!

5.  Tap into a large pool of buyers.  If marketing doesn’t find your buyer, a large network of agents and buyers probably will.  Boutique agencies rely heavily on marketing.  A large real estate company will always recommend marketing – then add value with a large buyer/agent network.

Sir Edmund Hillary’s Home SOLD

One of New Zealand’s greatest heroes and the first man to conquer Mt Everest, Sir Edmund Hillary, passed away in January 2008.edmund-hillary_1_fullsize

The home he built with his own hands and the place he called home since the 1960s, was auctioned on site on Wednesday 18th March 2009.  

Spirited bidding from a large crowd saw the home sell for $1,900,000.

For a little bit more money and few doors down, closer to the Remuera Village, I managed the sale of a magnificent 3 bedroom apartment at 2/296 Remuera Rd.  It shares similar “widescreen” unobstructed views of the Waitemata Harbour and beyond.  

The Go-Giver Book Review

The Go Giver – Bob Burg & John David Mann the-go-giver

This book was given to me by my good friend Anne-Marie Koszegi.  I can’t praise this little book highly enough.  I think it should be compulsory reading for real estate agents…and for everyone on the planet for that matter.  It’s a quirky parable about business success and how to achieve it.  Five Laws of Stratospheric Success are described in this amazing book:

1.  The Law Of Value – Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.  Exceed people’s expectations. You give, give, give.  It’s not a strategy, it’s a way of life.

2.  The Law of Compensation – Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.  You determine your level of compensation.  If you want more success, find a way to serve more people.  There are no limitations on what you can earn, because you can always find more people to serve.

The Go-Giver explains the three universal reasons for working.  SURVIVE – to meet your basic needs.  SAVE – to go beyond your basic needs and expand your life.  SERVE – to make a contribution to the world around you.  Most people spend their lives focusing on the first.  However, genuinely successful people in ALL aspects of their lives keep their focus on the third.

3.  The Law Of Influence – Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first.  If you place other people’s interests first, your interests will always be taken care of.  Watch out for what other people need, with the faith that when you do, you will get what you need.  Giver’s attract.

4.  The Law of Authenticity – The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself.  This law is an easy one: BE REAL. Dynamic people talk with and to you, not AT you.  It says in the book that if you want people skills, then BE a person.

5.  The Law of Receptivity – The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving.  Receiving is the natural result of giving.  Every giving can only happen because it is also receiving.  The Go-Giver says that all the giving in the world won’t bring you success, won’t create the results you want, unless you make yourself willing and able to receive in like measure.

Life tough? Try it with no limbs!

Words aren’t enough to describe how motivating this message is.  It says – Get on with your life, live it, do good things!  Also see

Living with Psoriatic Arthritis

Click here to view a NZ Herald article about my experience with the arthritis drug Humira.

As a postscript to the above story, Humira started to lose its effectiveness in early 2008.  Inflammation was slowly returning to my body.  Luckily I switched to an Auckland District Health Board (ADHB) funded similar TNF-Inhibitor called Infliximab (sometimes known as Remicade).

I am essentially pain free.  Blood tests show that I have no inflammation.  Life is great!  I am an active, hard-working, successful real estate salesperson and a proud father of three young children.

I feel that I have chosen a good path managing  arthritis and I am in a very good space both physically and mentally.  I welcome questions from anyone with arthritis (especially psoriatic arthritis – closely related to rheumatoid arthritis).  I may be able to help you if you are trying to navigate a path out of pain.  With respect, I don’t welcome questions from people offering magnetic mattresses and herbal pills!

Getting on and off various arthritis drugs can be a minefield.  I was on methotrexate for about 5 years and it didn’t agree with me at all.  I interviewed virtually all Auckland Rheumatologists until I found one I could relate to and who I felt was best equipped to help me navigate the minefield (Fiona McQueen).  Being persistent, not taking “no” for an answer, searching for solutions, I arrived in a good place.  Other rheumatologists I interviewed were too quick to prescribe, too slow to listen!

(PS  – after writing the second last para above I deleted the word “my” from in front of “arthritis”.  Part of my disease management process is to “not” take ownership of the disease.  A simple shift in thinking.  Works for me!)

When things seem worst you must not quit

Having a tough time?  Don’t quit!  This will cheer you up!

The Four Hour Work Week in real estate

My holiday reading this year was so inspiring I just have to share it with you.  I highly recommend you buy a copy of The Four Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris.  


Step 1 – Process of Elimination


Pareto Principle

§  Quantify 20% of the activities that produce 80% of your desired outcomes

§  Determine the 20% of activities & people that are consuming 80% of your time

§  Apply 80/20 rule to customers, work tasks, personal chores, friends etc

§  The goal is to:

1.       Find your inefficiencies in order to eliminate them, and

2.       Find your strengths; those critical few tasks in order to multiply them


Working every minute of every hour between 9 to 5pm isn’t the goal.  That’s simply a structure that has become a habit for most In the knowledge economy.  It’s important to shift from presence to performance, cut out static (all the things that consume time and income without return on investment).  You’ll find that very few things matter.


Step 2 – Cultivating Selective Ignorance


·         Shift to a low information diet.  As an example I cleaned out my internet “favourites” that were increasingly eating my time.

·         Avoid “all input” and “no output”.

·         A more effective approach is to catch up with “news & data” when required, instead of constantly keeping up.

·         Let things wait – especially email!  Nothing is really that urgent.

·         Be more efficient using an email auto-response system.  Send an email to to see mine.

·         Give yourself room to single task and focus on the mission-critical tasks (or as we know it, Dollar Productive Activity) without interruptions.


Step 3 – Outsourcing your life


·         Avoid doing $20 per hour tasks if you’re worth $120 or more per hour.  Get a PA or VA.

·         If you earn $100,000p.a in real estate and on average work 3 “effective dollar productive” hours per working day, assuming 1 day off per week and 5 weeks holiday, you would “work” a total of 831 hours per year.  This equates to $120 per hour.

·         Most honest hard-working salespeople create a false reality and believe they “work” 8 or 10 hour days.  It’s bollocks!

·         If you think you “work” an 8 hour day and you’re actually above average and do 3 hours dollar-productive activity per day, then you’re desecrating 5 hours per day of your life.  How would your family or spouse feel about you “going to work” if they knew the truth?

·         Assuming you earn $100,000 per year, and today, between 1pm and 2pm you wrote an ad, stuffed some envelopes, read some emails, and talked to your manager – those activities earned you $0.  The 3 “dollar productive” hours you hopefully achieved are the ones that gave you your $360 today.

·         Resolve not to work for no reward.  At the very least, resolve to spend your unproductive hours with friends/family or relaxing on the beach – not in the office pretending to work.


In Summary


It’s smart to focus on getting things done, but it’s only possible when you set your “not to-do list”.  Remove the constant distractions and static and focus on the critical few dollar productive activities (DPA) – there really aren’t that many! 


Real Estate DPA is simple.  Ask yourself how many of the following activities are you scheduling and performing.  More importantly, ask yourself how many $20 per hour activities fill your days – outside the following key activities in order of priority:


·         Prospecting

·         Listing

·         Negotiating

·         Selling and keeping deals together


Remember, all of the rules we follow (outside of the rules of science) are rules we set ourselves.  So set yourself up to win and choose your own rules.

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