Aaron Tunstall is the managing director of multiple award-winning Impression Real Estate, which specialises in property management and sales and manages over 1500 properties Auckland wide.
THIS IS HIS TAKE.
How do you see the next 3 months playing out?
I feel the next the 3 months are probably going to be relatively ok. The Government is obviously pouring large amounts of money at the problem and that will get most people through in the short term. Later this year is where I feel it is going to get tougher, as the wage subsidy runs out, mortgage holidays expire, and the credit cards are at a maximum. We are very fortunate as a nation and we are hitting this downturn coming off a very good base. I was listening to Grant Robertson speak and the Tourism industry is clearly a real problem and going to have a major impact. He did not sugar coat the fact that some people in Tourism are going to have to look to other industries for work and he made that even clearer but allocating only a minimal amount of the budget allocation to the industry.
What is happening with international students? Have they all left?
They haven’t left and really why would you leave a country that has hit Covid-19 out of the park. We did experience less international students from China this year and that was simply because they were dealing with Covid-19 well before we were. Heading into lockdown our vacancy was approximately 2.5% above normal and only because of having fewer students from China. Similar to the GFC of 2008, NZ does not have an oversupply of accommodation and therefore we are well placed to get through until the borders are open again.
What is happening with Airbnb rentals? Have people already switched them over to long term?
Absolutely. Like hotels, the Airbnb market has been severely hurt, but they do have an alternative which is the long term market. Just talking about central Auckland, there are typically about 750 available properties at any one time. Post lockdown, that has all but doubled to 1450. We have had an enormous amount of enquiry from people switching their Airbnb properties to long term. Added to that, we have had Hotel operators asking us to help them fill their rooms to long term tenants.
What should people consider before buying an apartment?
My favourite saying right now is don’t waste a good crisis. Property is an incredible way to help build your wealth and an apartment provides fantastic cashflow. Interest rates are at an all-time low and not going anywhere fast. Weather tightness, the nature of the title (leasehold), and the structural integrity are three key things to ensure you are aware of before buying. Set yourself a goal to buy a property in the next 6 months and start doing your research now. Pick some buildings you particular like or perhaps just an area. Set your budget and be ready to buy when that property meets your criteria.
What should people consider when selling an apartment?
It is obviously an uneasy time for people right now, but the property is a long term investment, therefore don’t be spooked by the current financial climate. If you have to sell, and some people will, then the presentation is the key to achieving a price you are happy with. If a small refurbishment is out of your budget, then spend a small amount of money on staging the property with professional photography. I would also talk to your agent about offering a 6–12-month rental guarantee to provide any investor purchaser with certainty that they will have a paying tenant in the short term.
What blogs and subscriptions do you follow closely?
I really like what Tony Alexander has to say. And staying on the theme of the economy, I listen to the Planet Money podcast which is a light-hearted explanation of world economics. It is really interesting, you will enjoy it.
Messages for Overseas investors
We have a large client base of overseas investors, and like Kiwis, they see the benefits of investing in this very privileged little country. If there is one country in the world I would want my money right now, that would be NZ.
Cash – deploy
Post Covid-19 we have 6 people in my office who now want to buy a property. They were not in that position prior to the lockdown. Like myself, they believe in the short term it will be a good time to buy an investment property. Extremely low-interest rates, LVR restrictions lifting and perhaps some better buying in the market has prompted them to prepare themselves to buy. We are in strange times right now, so don’t financially stretch yourself too much, to ensure like NZ you still have some cash in your rainy-day account.
What exactly are property managers doing for clients?
About 30% more than we used to right now. The changes in legislation for our industry over the past few years has been incredible. Ultimately I believe this is a good thing, however, the documentation now required for a rental property is extensive. We live and breath this industry and it is even a challenge for us at times. I believe a property managers role is changing and this is where Impression is heading. We want to be your trusted property advisor and help you with any decision you make as an investor. While we may not have all the answers at hand we can certainly point you in the right direction, whatever situation presents itself. While we still ensure your property is tenanted legally, rent is paid and maintenance is carried out, we also provide you with our network of property professionals to maximise your return on investment.