The family and I were lucky enough to head to Japan for the July school holidays, and if you haven’t already been I would place it high on the list of countries you simply must visit. It is the perfect mix of wonderful people, fantastic sightseeing, sophisticated culture, indescribable food and attractions your children (or inner child) will love you for – Disneyland, anyone?! So, what does my holiday have to do with real estate? Not a lot really, although here are a few interesting observations from my travels.
Less is more
I am not a fan of the tiny home movement but have huge appreciation for well-considered and beautifully designed homes which focus on utility, not size. Space is at a premium in Japan, so designers are forced to be creative. That is why the country has more architects per head of population than any other country.
Here in New Zealand, buyers can become fixated on size, with many choosing to rule out properties based on their square meterage. The problem of judging a home on its dimensions is, that despite the floor size, a poorly designed home will always be that. Stairs, hallways and entrance ways, oversized laundries and bathrooms can all contribute to floor plans which on the surface may meet buyer criteria, but lack efficient flow and utility, and are far smaller than they sound. We have sold three bedrooms with floor plans less than 90 m² that feel spacious. And we have sold three-bedroom homes that feel tight at a size of 120 m². So, what’s the lesson in this? Look at units of accommodation not size.
The benefit of a well-designed home with a small footprint is they are less expensive to maintain, something that we aren’t so good at in the land of the long, wet, windy and sunny cloud. For anyone taking on maintenance work recently, you will have noticed the cost has risen significantly. The maths is simple, the less meters there are to paint, the less coloursteel there is to replace and the less time you will need scaffolding in place. As maintenance is not capital improvement, reducing maintenance costs is money to spend on more exciting things.
Clean and Tidy
Amanda’s Dad joined the Japanese tour for a few days and noted that the cars, even models predating the turn of the century, were beautifully maintained and looked like they just rolled off the production line.
The apartment model is a good comparable for this. Maintenance is an investment into the ongoing quality of a block and is planned out and scheduled across an extended timeframe. A sinking fund, or Body Corporate fee, for maintenance is also paid at regular intervals to ensure all anticipated maintenance can be funded.
Although it is not a ‘sexy’ spend, adopting a similar approach to the maintenance of your own home will ensure the longevity of your asset and ensure you are well placed to maximise the market value when you do decide to sell.
The benefit of a populous city is that it allows for better public transport, something that the Japanese do very well. Even outside the bigger cities, they still provide great connections across the country. The difference between using public transport in Japan compared to Wellington is the wait time. In Japan we could plot a course and move through the different modes with ease. The longest wait we had while travelling the length of the country was ten minutes.
The global push towards reduced emissions and the rise of alternative transport methods/ public transport has seen Wellington move in the same direction but not without reluctance. The benefits of being close to main routes allows for greater use of the services. If we can manage to get it right, creating reliable networks across our city, perhaps it could achieve its intended outcome. Although if the trains for the World Cup are anything to go by, we have a while to go. If you do make it to Japan, make sure you ride the bullet train, it’s a great experience.
The Wellington Market
The winter market continues to tick over with buyers picking over the record low stock on the market. All signs point to a spring surge in listings which will be welcomed by those in the market.
It appears interest rates are stable for now with the Reserve Bank holding off future rises as we watch inflation slowly start to fall. The drop at the start of the month continues a positive trend down although we are still having a much higher rate of inflation than many other developed nations.
Wellington Market Quick Stats
What’s on this August in Wellington?
The Barbie Collector – Wellington Museum, August – September 2023
Wellington Museum becomes a Barbie Dreamhouse with temporary exhibition The Barbie Collector featuring close to 500 Barbies and Kens owned by one of New Zealand’s biggest Barbie collectors, Patsy Carlyle.
The Barbie Collector shines a short – but bright! – spotlight on the social history of Barbie, noting how this iconic doll has changed across time.
Whānau Mārama: NZ International Film Festival, Various Venues, 27th July – 13th August 2023
Cinephiles and casual film-goers will be entertained by a line-up of excellent features and documentary films from across Aotearoa and beyond.
The festival programme features top picks from film festivals across the globe, including the last two Cannes Palme d’Or winners. NZIFF’s programming team attends film festivals worldwide, ensuring the best of global cinema is brought to Aotearoa’s premiere film festival.
Beervana, Sky Stadium, 18th – 19th August 2023
Beervana is brewing up another huge event for 18 to 19 August. The concourse in Wellington’s Sky Stadium will be home to around 50 local and international breweries slinging 360 different beers, ciders, and cocktails.
Expect outrageous brewery displays, the best local culinary offerings, and plenty of live music and street performers to get you hopping.