Top Background

Sign Of The Times

I put "No Junk Mail" signs on every property I own, strongly encourage owners to put them on every property I manage, and wish I could put signs on every property in their street and neighbourhoods. Why? It makes good financial sense for owners and occupants. If I remember high school economics, needs are food, shelter, water, clothing, and warmth. Wants are the bits that make us better than the Jones'. Of those needs and wants, you could spend as much as you like - you can burn Chippendale chairs using $100 notes to light them if you are particularly ignorant of worth, or particularly chilly.

However, filling basic needs should be easy enough for all people; that's what our welfare system is supposed to ensure. Need a home for your family, but not a struggle paying your bills? Then move to a cheaper area. Porirua still has cheap rents. They may be in 'state houses', but on a budget is it worth being snobby? It is my opinion that 'state houses' will become very trendy in the not-too-distant future (although I must declare a personal interest – my portfolio is biased in favour of ex-state houses). A Housing New Zealand Corporation tenant took delight in telling me I was asking "too much" for one of my places in Porirua across the street from him. He was paying only $40 pw. I wanted significantly more. I got my asking rent, and that guy has a bargain. Porirua City has everything a person could want, but has a reputation out of sync with reality. It is a gem in the Wellington Region. The signs say it all; 'Porirua, it's amazing'.

New Zealand is supposedly an egalitarian society. But we all play into a social class structure that dictates that it really is better to be living in one area, or street, or end of street, than some other. There are some magnificent properties in Wainuiomata, Waitangirua, or Taita, with fantastic features and are well located for schools, shops, sun, etc, but as they are not Whitby, Roseneath, or Seatoun, they do not compare value-wise. Why? "Oh, there are too many Maori/Pacific Islanders/immigrants/refugees living there". Get over it. Historically speaking, we are all migrants here. I have potential tenants, newly arrived to Wellington, ring asking if I have any properties available in widespread areas (e.g. "Waterloo, Cambourne, Karori"). Why those areas? Locals said 'oh you won't want to live there' when they inquired about others. I had well-meaning friends do the same when I first came to Wellington, which almost crippled me to meet the higher-than-I-really-could-afford rent. A friend of mine recently said "the great thing about being a landlord is that you meet people you otherwise wouldn't. It does one good to actually get to know some [people of other ethnic groups] rather than just believe what you hear in the media". Hear hear! (He lives in Ngaio, for the record).

Because I am frugal (OK, tight) when it comes to spending money, I currently live in one of those cheap areas – it fits my plan. People in my neighbourhood play 'spot the Pakeha'. I overheard one young man say to his friends as I washed my car "See, I told you there were white people living here!". He was apologetic when he realised I overheard him, but I laughed. I know we are in the minority – we play 'spot the Pakeha' too (and there are more of 'us' here every year). I know we are a blip on the census figures (and no, not for being Jedi). My neighbours? They are the best people I ever lived next to. We compare gardens, help each other build things, and get homemade pickle at Christmas. The woman (wearing her gang colours) across the road always smiles and waves a greeting. The kids play with my dog. It is a community, rather than people living too close together and trying to pretend the neighbours don't exist. I didn't know of these benefits before I moved here, but I highly recommend them.

Returning to my 'no junk-mail' sign campaign, one of the big differences between good suburbs and not-so-good suburbs seems to be the amount of rubbish blowing around. While a lot is food wrappers and bottles, there is advertising in the wind too. Empty houses seem to collect more and more junk-mail from the intellectual giants who deliver the stuff. All the better if older layers of this detritus falls out the back of the letterbox. What is the first thing a prospective tenant sees? The letterbox. What impression is the waterfall of advertising going to make? A prolific delivery team will make it look like there is something wrong with your house (or you the landlord) that no-one else has snapped it up already. The other result may be if it looks messy, you will be more likely to get takers who are comfortable with mess. Where do you think that will lead? I'm guessing more work for you to do at the end of the tenancy cleaning up the tenants broken down junk.

I live in a mostly commercial-free zone. I don't have a TV (gasp, horrors!), I listen to Radio New Zealand National, and I read a lot of books. I don't window shop, and I don't read magazines that are one advert after another, promising stuff to make one beautiful, desirable, and happy (if you feel ugly, unwanted, and sad, it worked. You are awesome – ditch the media and reinforce your self-esteem instead). Because I actively avoid advertising, I blow very little of my income on crap (if I don't know about it, I can't desire it). Instead, I put it into my investments, creating equity and security. I buy myself a solid future. It is a conservative choice. I could be buying more properties. I've heard all the criticisms, especially about paying tax I needn't be if I were acquiring more property to claim as a 'loss'. What is wrong with paying tax? I would rather have tax than personally pave every road I wanted to use. I'd rather tax than hope I never get sick or injured. I'd rather tax than try to create and reinforce the law myself. Civilisation at the price of tax is a bargain.

Applying my media strategy to your investments means if you put a 'no junk mail' sign on your rental's letterbox, you'll decrease the exposure of your tenant to the latest money wasters, and therefore increase money left over for essentials. While a rational economic perspective dictates 'leftover money' is for wants after needs are covered, any landlord not getting rent from a sitting tenant discovers not everyone is rational – they just don't think that without a roof overhead, the home cinema may get wet. What if your tenant wants junk mail? They can go to the store to pick it up personally, or look on-line. The specifics are not your problem. You can justify the "No Junk Mail" sign from an environmental point of view, and if you need me to explain why, you need to get out more.

A while ago I was at a body corporate meeting where the owners were concerned about the litter blowing around between their units, and costs of getting someone to keep the grounds tidy. A 'No Advertising Materials' sign above all the letterboxes halved the problem, cost next to nothing, and lasted a long time. The perceived value of the flats increased as they looked instantly tidier with a flow on effect for rents and occupant satisfaction.

If your current tenant doesn't want the "No Junk Mail" sign, put it up when they move out. The next tenant will take the flat with all the features, sign and all. You are doing their budget, the environment, and your bottom line a favour.

 

Our Philosophy

We are honest and act with integrity.  We think it is necessary to love what one does, leave things better than they were found and take time to enjoy the world while we walk it.   We bring quality to others in our dealings and treat people with respect.  
We think it is essential to have fun, so humour is always welcome at Rental Results.

Awards & Associations

We are a member of the Independent Property Managers' Association (IPMA), and Leading Property Managers of New Zealand (LPMNZ).

We are also members of the Wellington Property Investors Association and Jackie Thomas-Teague is the former president.