Industry Insiders: A column featuring the experience and opinions of leading industry proponents brought to you by The Real Estate Voice.
Company or organisation: REINZ
Job title: Chief Executive Officer
What attracted you to the real estate industry (and when)?
It was a mix of a great opportunity and some solid advice from my brother — who was already in the profession —that brought me to real estate. I had been working in a commercial FX company and decided I needed a change.
Around that time, a job description landed in my inbox.
The position was with Barfoot & Thompson, and it was exactly what I was looking for.
After speaking with the recruiter, I called my brother. His advice was clear: this is an amazing industry to be in and one you will love. I accepted. That was in 2007.
What do you love most about the industry?
The people. Real estate is the great equaliser. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’ve come from – anyone can be successful in this profession. Provided they are ready to put in the hard work required.
What do you consider your proudest moment or greatest achievement (in the industry)?
One of my greatest achievements is helping to navigate digital transformation in the agency I was working in, as the industry was adopting digital at pace. New entrants were disrupting traditional operations, and there was a great thirst for change.
Manual processes were being automated to streamline activities. I was Head of Marketing at the time, and it was hugely exciting to be a part of bringing the profession into a new, digital world and implementing change at a grassroots level.
Biggest challenges in the industry? How has the pandemic affected the way people buy, sell and rent property?
Some of the biggest challenges faced by the profession don’t start within it.
When properties are sold (and prices determined), we see the outcomes – where the challenges become real.
There’s a push in New Zealand to address supply-side challenges and deliver new homes and measures to improve affordability.
However, before we see this in the real estate market, there are challenges, costs and pressures across the delivery of planning rules and infrastructure, financing and economics, and the psychology of the market. This all has an impact on what we handle day to day across all sectors of the profession.
COVID-19 and repeated lockdowns bring additional challenges.
These arise from the quick introduction of new technology to enable continuity of service through changing alert levels to changing expectations as people increasingly consider where they live, who they live with, and proximity to loved ones.
Latest real estate/economic trends affecting your state or region?
The ongoing pandemic is impacting trends in the sector.
Varying levels of lockdown across New Zealand has seen a mixed bag of results. However, people remain confident in real estate, and underlying year-on-year growth in prices and sales continues.
The introduction of government measures to address affordability by attempting to dampen investor demand and increase the supply of new, higher-density dwellings is adding new complexity (and hopefully supply) to the market.
These things will take time to flow through the market. As always, the profession will adapt to the needs and desires of its customers.
How would you improve the process and incentives for property ownership, from an owner-occupier and investment perspective?
The incentives are already there – NZ has seen capital growth in property just about every year for the past 60 years.
I think the focus is less on improving incentives for ownership and more about looking at the mechanisms the profession develops to make the process easier to navigate — and how it leverages new technology.
Real estate has long been on a path of digital innovation; something that the pandemic has accelerated.
What’s the biggest misconception people have when buying or building a home?
That it’s easy — because it’s not. And then you add emotion to the mix …
What tips would you give for future-proofing an investment?
Be patient and buy well and, when you have bought, ensure that you keep up with property maintenance.
Also, tenants are your property’s guardians – good tenants are a great investment.
What should prospective buyers look for when choosing a property?
There’s no right or wrong answer; it’s a matter of personal preference.
So, list what you want and understand that you will need to compromise.
Look for a great agent and trust them – leverage the advice and knowledge of the profession.
And, of course, do your due diligence.
In terms of technology and interaction, what do you think buying a home will be like in 2030?
We’ve already started to step into the future, with technology enabling people to view a property without setting foot inside it — vital in the current environment.
Technology will continue to advance to provide a ‘feel’ for a house that current visuals don’t deliver.
I hope in 2030, buyers will have a fully immersive and personalised virtual experience.
Rather than a tour of someone else’s home, it’s your home, filled with your belongings, painted in your colours.
Information is available in one tool – from the CV (capital value), AVM (automated valuation model) and bills to sustainability metrics, and proximity to family, friends, work, schools.
Imagine standing on the deck and seeing where the sun sets, lighting at different times or seasons, noise levels, and wind direction – all taken from data from the house over the previous year.
Smart, digital contracting will be ubiquitous, and the sales process seamless, fast, always compliant and safe.
And people will still visit open homes for fun on the weekend.