Raves and a little rant from Paihia to Auckland

On the weekend I had the distinct pleasure of being a guest speaker at the Northland National Road Carriers event in Paihia. It was great to have the pleasure to speak with and learn from people that have been on the road for many years and are very passionate about what they do.

When I present I try to really engage with the audience, show them that I care and that I really want to understand what matters to them. I can tell you I learned a lot from them and hopefully they will have learnt something from me too.

We have known for a long time and you will find it in past blogs from me that our freight industry driver pool is ageing. The average age is in the mid to late 50’s which is a real problem as people get older and many younger people if they want to drive would rather go to the Australian mines or other places where they can earn a lot more money.

Meanwhile we have people with a wealth of valuable experience, some of whom are still driving at the age of 70 and clearly they are still bright, alert, experienced and capable.

My focus and mission was to find out if they put as much effort into preparing for their journey by way of finding out about traffic information on their route as they do on preparing their vehicles inside and out and their loads.

Whilst initially participation in the discussion was slow and I was prewarned that many of them would not put their hands up, it became very clear that some of the tools used for provision of real time traffic information are not accessible to that age group. Many of them don’t use social media, even to keep up with family, most of them appear not to use apps, even industry apps designed especially for them. They are still mired in ‘time proven’ 2-way radio and other word of mouth communications to share information with each other.

This is a generalisation, many did put their hands up, the younger ones, but I got a call from one of those younger ones saying “You’re talking to the wrong generation, Mate”. Yet, these are the drivers in many cases driving very modern rigs with the same responsibilities as the young guns in their forties.  So after many discussions, I concluded that I need to have more discussions with them and also gain more focus on despatchers and other ways of communicating with these people who are key to keeping our country moving and flourishing. We have seen what happens with the Kaikoura earthquake, how quickly places get isolated if freight can’t move. They only carry enough essential stock of fast moving consumer goods for a few days (which is normal).


A free service from The Cabbage Tree

While I was in Paihia, which was beautiful, warm and friendly and I loved the relaxed atmosphere.

One of the typical little things is that there were baskets with umbrellas in them dotted around town. The idea is that if there is a shower, you grab yourself a brolly and when you get to your next destination you drop it off for someone else to use. Nice one folks.

We drove home on the Sunday after enjoying the last All Blacks test of the season, there’s nothing like a win against France to put a smile on your dial, especially because being the last match of the year, whatever happens at that last match you have to carry with you to the next season. Sorry I’m a Kiwi and I love my footie:)


So we hop in the Corvette for the drive home, most of which was warm and sunny and we experienced a couple of things, one which was wonderful and the other not so much, especially for my wife.

There are a number of passing lanes on the road south, particularly between Whangarei and Auckland and there was a lot of traffic in both directions. But here’s the thing, other than when there was the odd very slow vehicle, a large truck or a very old campervan that had a maximum speed of about 60km per hour, when people took the legal opportunity to pass. At any other time, the majority of motorists didn’t use the passing lanes at all. They all stayed in single file, knowing that they wouldn’t get to their destinations any quicker if they had to keep merging. I don’t see this all over the country, but I do see it a lot in Northland. It makes you proud that so many people do the right thing because they choose to.

The rant is different. There are a lot of road works to the south of the summit of the Brynderwyn range and a lot of it is coned off with a speed limit of 50km per hour. We had almost reached the summit at exactly 2PM (my watch vibrates on the hour) when a very large milk tanker and trailer came around the corner at pace. It must have been doing 70 or 80 km as it reached the cones and the front driver side wheels were on our side of the road.

My wife was far from impressed as our car is left hand drive which had her eyeballing the wheel nuts of the huge truck’s wheels. If he had been a couple of feet closer he could have been driving over the top of our car like those tanks you see on YouTube clips.

The frustrating thing is that the driver won’t be reprimanded because the 50 kph speed limit is a temporary one for the road works and therefore wouldn’t have registered on the very good Fleet Management system the company uses. I don’t know if he was in a hurry, distracted or had another reason for speeding on a high crash zone piece of road, but a little closer and I wouldn’t still be blogging. The profile of our car would have made it the perfect ramp for the truck to squash.

Anyway, we survived but the rest of the journey was far from relaxed.


Posted in Business, car safety, Customer Research, Customers, driver behavior, driver distraction, drivers, driving, driving app, Fleet Management, Freight App, GPS Tracking, Location Based Consultant, Motoring, safer driving, safer journeys, traffic, traffic congestion, Traffic Control, Traffic Information, Traffic Management, Traffic Optimization, truck safety, Trucks | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

10 Ways Not to Die in Your Car in A Split Second

So I’ve been reading the book by Vijay Dixit about how his daughter died in a car crash on a long straight road, on her way home to her family from college. The driver was simply looking for a napkin. Not doing drugs, not playing games, just a simple thing all of us who drive have probably done many times. Shreya Dixit was cut out of the car, helicoptered to the nearest hospital where she died shortly after arrival.

A Police spokesperson from City of Eden Prairie, Minnesota in the video said that in 80% of crashes, distraction often of less than 3 seconds was a factor.

The book doesn’t just talk about their experience and loss, but also how they found help to deal with the grief and how they turned that into a mission, a foundation which talks to children at schools, helps people who either were the driver that killed someone, or the victims.

There is so much new evidence out now about our ability to focus and multi-task. When we first learned to drive, we were taught to monitor the road in all directions looking for cars pulling out, looking for animals crossing the road or kids getting off a school bus. We had to be really focused and it made sense. As years go on our children don’t see things quite the same way, or they have an overestimated belief of their ability to multitask. I have family members who in the past used to think it was nothing, sending a text message on a quiet stretch of road.

But as the book describes, you have one or both hands on the phone, you are thinking about what you are going to write, you start keying it in and then you are thinking about the response. Your brain deals with all of these things in a linear fashion. It is very capable, but it completes a task and replays or ponders on it  before starting on the next one. Our limbic brain (I’m sure someone will tell me if I got that wrong) has muscle memory and can perform basic tasks while we do these things like keeping the car on the road. But should a baby pram suddenly race down a driveway, or a kid chasing his football, while you are sending a text message and driving at 40 miles and hour and their chances of getting away are slim.

The book outlines many of the things that we do and I’m going to share a few. Using the concept of ‘Workload rating’ which is effectively about how much of your brain power is used during certain activities. A rating of one means your m ind is already fully occupied. This was researched and compiled by David Strayer a Cognitive Neuroscientist at the University of Utah.

  1. Single passenger driving. 1 x WR (workload rating), i.e fully occupied in order to drive safely and be ready for that car coming round the corner on the wrong side of the road, the red light runner, or someone just reaching into their pocket to get and light a cigarette, or perhaps spilled their hot coffee or for the Kiwis and Aussies, a very hot meat pie on their lap.
  2. Changing the station on your radio is 1.21. Not too  risky, but take in-car entertainment systems, the music on your Smartphone, a service like Spottily (which I use in my car a lot of the time) and other systems where you might be searching for an artist or scrolling to find your favorite song. That is way more than 1.21 isn’t it?
  3. Listening to an audio book on Tape, CD or podcast. I do this a lot too. I listen to all sorts of leadership, special interest and educational podcasts. I’ve done this ever since they first came out on tape. After all with today’s traffic congestion, I spend around 500 hours a year going to the office or the airport every year. That’s 12 and a half working days! That comes to 1.75 working units, because I’m not only listening to the book, I’m cogitating, looking at ways that I can use the knowledge I’m gaining, perhaps leadership skills or more specialized topics. The more complex, the more thought you need. I suffer from cancer fatigue so I have learned not to listen to anything like this when I’m driving home from work, because the risk is too high that I could be oblivious to the Harley Davidson’s lane splitting on each side of the car, or the guy next to me who s swerving because he is chasing Pokemon at the wheel.
  4. The next one might surprise you and that is talking to the passenger in the car next to you. The passenger is looking at me (generally trying to look at my eyes, while I’m driving and I feel rude f I don’t periodically look back. That comes in at 2.33.
  5. Using a handheld cell phone is rated at 2.45. That’s pretty obvious. Remember though we are talking about mental focus requirements here. This isn’t about the fact that you have one or maybe one and a half hands on the steering wheel. It is the focus you are placing on the phone call. Ever noticed when someone was talking on the phone and you ask them a question, they possibly don’t even hear you. When you are on the phone your brain is working hard. You are thinking about the implications of the call, maybe your wife with things she wants you to pick up on the way home, your boss talking about work matters, someone telling you about their relationship problems. You are now putting way more energy into the phone than you are on the drive. Next time you are engaged in a  phone call (not while driving!) see if you can monitor what else you are doing. Do your eyes roll up to the top right hand corner, around 2 o’clock, you’re listening, you may be problem solving, trying to think of ways to help someone, you might be engrossed in a funny story or some family gossip, or worse, perhaps hearing about a family accident or illness or other bad news.
  6. Hands Free Phone. I stopped using mine, mostly for the reasons above. It was better than Siri. If I tell it to call home or my wife, it does that, rather than Siri that tends to make a phone call to a random number when I ask it to set a reminder or save a memo, which I have also stopped doing. So a hands-free phone is still 2.27 working units, only slightly better than holding the phone. I now don’t make or answer calls in the car unless there is an urgent reason, such as having just driven past a serous car accident that hasn’t been attended by emergency services, but I’m not in a position, perhaps i the wrong lane, to stop.
  7. Speech to text is really interesting and at a high of 3.06. I guess it is because you really have to concentrate on listening because often the voice is not well developed or in an accent you are not familiar with. I trialed an email speech to text solution which seemed like a great way to cut down the workload before I got to the office. The problem was that I had to tell it whether to save the message or archive it. The problem was that many of my emails are complex in nature and therefore require a lot of concentration. Sure I’m not reading, but I am certainly taking a lot of attention off my driving.

The list can go on, but I think the points are well made. We don’t intentionally put ourselves at risk (unless we are at that adolescent pubescent age where nature has decided that it wants us to take risks). Statistics show that adolescents are pretty good drivers on their own, but get their mates in the car and they are 50% more likely to have a accident. Adults also have more crashes when they have passengers, which links back to  item 4. above. The conversation. You could potentially reduce that risk, simply by saying, I don’t want to be rude and am enjoying your company and the conversation, but want to keep my eyes on the road.

Most mornings when I drive to work I see people eating their yogurt, shaving, putting on their lippy, looking up and down at their lap (yeah right, must be very interesting)  or overtly using their mobiles, having a great chinwag with their passengers, customers, reaching for something in their glove-box or that they dropped on the floor and so much more.

The fact is we have all done or do so many things like this and we have all, I’m sure, had close misses either caused by ourselves, or by another motorist. We call them accidents, but are they really?

onesplitsecondRead the book and the testimony including from some people who through their distraction have effectively killed someone, often a family member or their best friend. We see those stories on the news pretty much every day. The book A Split Second which I am reading on my Kindle is well written and has cleared up a lot of misnomers for me and is changing my behavior with some reluctance I may add.

I live in New Zealand and we have many crashes where people were either fatigued or distracted. A lot of our roads are narrow and winding, with hills where there is very little visibility of cars, trucks, stray animals or even flocks of sheep or cattle, where Shreya Dixit died on a long straight road. It’s the end of the school holidays and a lot of Kiwis are heading home with cars full of tired grumpy children (it rained just about right through the whole 2 weeks) and bored kids on road trips can be very distracting for the driver as any parent knows.

Chances are someone in New Zealand will die due to distracted or fatigued (which causes distraction) driving this weekend. US statistics from last year say that this weekend 18 people WILL DIE due to driver distraction. Imagine if that was one of your loved ones, your child, your brother or sister, one or both of your parents. How will you get over that, will you ever get over that? If you are the person who died, how do you think your family and close friends will cope with it?

Again I commend the book to you, it will surprise, shock and please you. It should change your life and I’m sure will save many people’s lives.

Don’t become a statistic, drive safe, be patient, be alert. If you need to make a phone call or something else, stop, or let a passenger deal with it. No phone call or text is worth your life.

As always I welcome comments.

Posted in accidents, car accidents, distracted driving, distracted pedestrians, DistractedDriving, driver distraction, driving, Motoring, safer driving | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are you a rubbernecker?

Ever wonder why it takes you so long to get home on the freeway when the crash is going in the other direction? 

It never ceases to amaze me how many people just need a quick loopy look. Just a second is all they need and they’ll be satisfied.

Tell me you’ve never done it.

Surely a little look won’t matter?

Don’t worry folks, there’s nothing to see hUere, Oh well there wasn’t!

Need I say more?

How do we change people’s innate need to know what’s going on?

Posted in accidents, car accidents, car crash, Crash, distracted driving, DistractedDriving, rubberneckers | 1 Comment

Retail Isn’t Dead, It Just Needs to Keep Reinventing Itself

I read an interesting story this morning from the Business Insider, saying that Amazon is opening up over 100 Pop Up Stores around the US. The irony is inescapable that Jeff Bezos’ business that supposedly was the demise of many retailers, especially in books and music, is now going to become not only a retailer, but in some of the most expensive mall locations.

It will of course be super successful, especially if they have knowledgeable staff. Even people like me who hate shopping, have certain weaknesses. For me it is cool electronics, gadgets, books and music. I have a Kindle but I also have a library of a least a thousand books, having given a similar amount away to hospice shops and other charities. It is now more of a collection of some of my favorite authors.

I have written countless blogs about Dick Smith Electronics, Borders, Sounds and other stores that could and should still be here and the common thread was they didn’t keep their best staff who had sales skills and product knowledge, because they didn’t pay them enough or value them, they tried to become mainstream lookalikes and compete on price instead of value and customer delight.

They certainly opened the door to Amazon, Ali Baba, Deal Extreme and lots of other sites, but as my blogs (largely focused around BAU) pointed out,  many of the reasons for failure were poor management or board decisions, not because the market didn’t want to spend money with them.

One of the last times I shopped at Dick Smith, I wanted to buy some Kindles for my family. I wanted to see the difference between the Fire and the Paperwhite and confirm that you can access Auckland Public Library eBooks, which as you can see on the story, their Point of Sale material says you could. You’ll find the story here. I bought the Kindles from Amazon.

In other blogs I predicted the demise of Dick Smith Electronics for several of reasons, starting probably 3 years or more before they went down. The rot was a lot worse than I realized and the court cases continue. In my humble opinion, shareholders and customers were badly ripped off and a successful business lost its way. It should still be here and profitable. It frequently amazes me how poorly some businesses are run. It seems that not only did they not listen to what their customers wanted, but they failed in even basic things like aged stock and stock turn, which is criminal in retail and wholesale. But they also lost track of what their customers wanted, in fact my experiences suggested they didn’t give a damn about their customers or in fact most of their staff in later years. They became an also ran and left the reasons people went to them to businesses like JB Hifi and Jaycar.

Even smaller niche stores, like local hardware DIY stores can fight against the mega stores, but they need help and don’t have time. When they close their doors for the last time, they might like to think back about whether they should have made time. There are people that can help them. One thing I do recommend is when you buy a retailer from someone who has failed in their business, don’t let them train you!

Borders was one of my favorite stores for lots of reasons. They still have a few stores around I believe, selling soft toys and all sorts of things to survive. Their model needed to change a little, but not a lot. I had a few ideas. I didn’t share them all, but I did share quite a lot. I have learned that there are too many people who aren’t prepared to pay a consultant a few hundred dollars for information that can save or earn them hundreds of thousands or millions. I have taught retail millionaires how to make more money. If only I had asked for a profit share on the results they gained from my advice and training! If I had another life I would be a large store grocer or a mega hardware DIY retailer. Both are licenses to print money and only scratching the surface of their potential.

It’s a beautiful day today and I’m going to take the roof off the car and go for a drive. But I guarantee if I went to the local mall it will be busy with people checking out products, touching them, asking questions and spending lots of money. The companies that are doing the basics right including looking after their staff, giving them PK and teaching them about the importance of customers, listening to their customers, managing inventory, maintaining a point of difference, will make a reasonable profit.

Retailers in today’s age of mobile, location based services and customers who have a variety of ways to purchase product, need to be switched on. Those who have managers and boards who focus on old school BAU (or not as in the apparent case of DSE now playing out in court) and just expect increased profit and decreased overheads will find ways to say that it was a fait accomplis that they went under, that it was out of their control because of online retailers, will fade from memory.

All business needs to constantly learn and make an effort to keep up with the play. It’s not rocket science. Most of the things we are starting to do now were predicted by Gartner, by Arthur Anderson (they may have died through a scandal but they were prophetic when it came to the future of retail), by the NRF which still has amazing conferences in New York every year. This is an evolution and its all about timing. The things that are happening today, the successes and failures were predicted 10-20 years ago.

In fairness, sometimes things are obvious from outside, but you don’t have to use consultants. Invest in a tax deductible business trip to New York for NRF or the best of the best conference for your industry segment, you can sight-see at the same time and make it your annual holiday. You have time for that right? Learn and try some things and your Return on Investment will be massive.

If you can’t do that, read. There are awesome papers and books on everything you can imagine, passionate people who want to share their knowledge. As Einstein said, if you do the same things you always did and expect a different result……. Actually he was wrong. Luigi Cappel says, “If you do the same things every day, you will atrophy and so will your business”.

I could go forever but the sun beckons. Nothing is a given. New wild cards aren’t that new, its just that they have taken the initiative. Businesses like Uber, AirBnB, Turo, Lyft and others that are popping up every day are challenging BAU and taking business from others who could have just as easily taken an agile model, asked their customers what they wanted and delivered, which would have meant these new businesses wouldn’t have had an opening. In fact, it’s not too late. Instead of complaining when you see a new cool model trying to attract your customers, why not build it into your existing business and shut them out by becoming better than you were? Be thankful that despite the fact that you didn’t ask your customers what they wanted, someone else did.

Posted in Amazon, New retail ideas, Retail, retail survival, retail systems | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Looky Loo or Rubbernecker – growing my traffic jargon vocabulary

looky looI was monitoring RTTI or Real Time Traffic Twitter accounts yesterday and read a new name for an old problem, that I hadn’t heard of before. Down Under we call them rubberneckers. It’s the same result though. Frequently when there is a bad accident on a freeway, it’s people driving on the other side in the other direction that slow down for a look that often causes more problems than the accident itself. In fact I would question, if someone has a nose-to-tail because they were looking at another crash, is it actually an accident?

Not long ago there was a five car nose-to-tail crash on an Auckland motorway. Police and emergencies managed to keep one lane flowing and traffic was moving pretty well. In the opposite direction traffic was almost at a standstill. The reason was because of people slowing down to look at the crash. Frequently in those sorts of conditions there are secondary crashes, caused purely because of people’s innate curiosity. Then of course the situation gets worse.

This happens around the world all the time. People try to blame the state for not enough lanes or for other reasons, the fact is, you could have ten lanes and its still going to happen, because people want to know what’s going on. Some countries have tried barriers, mostly used to protect people from seeing very nasty injury accidents, that even more makes people want to slow down.

This blog from Contract Hire and Leasing in the UK says that‘Rubbernecking’ has been known to increase congestion and cause minor accidents or fatal collisions, with an estimated knock-on cost of £750m to the economy every year, according to the Department for Transport. Check out the photo here. Which side of the road do you reckon the accident was on?

Apparently some 75% of people admit to rubbernecking and I expect a very large percentage of them also complain about rubberneckers especially when they are in a hurry.

Do a search on Twitter for rubberneckers and you’ll find it is a massive pet hate. So how do we stop it?



Posted in car accidents, car crash, distracted driving, real time traffic, rubberneckers, safer driving, traffic congestion, Traffic jam | Leave a comment

Remember the jokes about what if computer manufacturers built cars?

Mashable Australia put out a story this month about A Tesla that crashed while on Autopilot, where the ‘driver’ died and discussed the implications to the industry.

So what exactly does autopilot mean. I’ve been on the jump seat on the  flight deck of aircraft several times when they are on autopilot. The crew keep an eye out and are ready to act, but they also might be having a coffee, a meal or turning around for a chat. They can do so safely and it is normal practice. Some captains might tell you that it is a safer and more comfortable flight.

There is one significant difference and that is there are no other planes within a potentially dangerous distance and as soon as something does come into their airspace, or there are environmental changes, the pilot is alerted and takes back control. The biggest difference is that they have time to take back control of the aircraft.

Now come back to the Tesla and various types of driverless or autonomous cars that share the road with a ton of other vehicles ‘manned by drivers of various degrees of skill. Remember the pilot has trained for years before he is allowed to fly a commercial airliner. The person in the car next to you might not even have a license!

Let’s look a bit closer at those people and compare their behaviour to the rigor of a commercial pilot. Half of them wouldn’t pass a road driving test, whereas a commercial pilot has to constantly re-qualify their ratings for each type of plane they command and that includes simulations of events that are tough and realistic enough to come out of a SIM , vomiting and emotionally shaken, so that they know how to deal with a situation if it really occurs.

One of the issues I have discussed in the past is visibility. In this story they talk about the color match between the truck trailer the Tesla hit and the car itself. It was difficult to distinguish.

In the street furniture data capture exercise I was involved with, on bad weather days or under intense low ambient light that Auckland commuters face every sunny day, it is very difficult frequently to see much of anything including speed restriction and others signs. Then on bad weather days like twilight in the rain we have to deal with things like ghost markings, where old lane markings can be difficult to distinguish from the new markings. They can be meters apart. Lots of crashes or incidents are blamed on people following poor quality data, which could be similar data to that which autonomous cars would use. Here are 18 examples.

How about other humans that want to interfere, like boy racers https://thefuturediaries.com/2013/04/19/boy-racers-make-sport-with-driverless-cars/. I drive a Corvette and frequently have young drivers wanting to bait me or show me how fast their Mazda Familia is. I choose to ignore them, but I have the ability to not only react to their frequently irrational behaviour, but also to their faces or gestures, something a LiDAR system can’t do.

Pokemon MapI heard a comment yesterday from someone quoting a driver who is big on Pokemon Go. He said “There was a Pokemon on the Auckland Harbour Bridge and I had to really slow down to get it.” That in itself is scary as hell, especially with the high winds and harsh weather conditions we have had recently, but more importantly, how will a driverless car cope with other vehicles individually or in groups, like the story above. That sort of behavior “does not compute”

It is interesting to read in the linked story that Tesla’s car is in fact a ‘Level 2’ and as such they expect the driver to keep his hands on the steering wheel and if they don’t, an audible alarm will sound. In effect it is not yet a driverless car, it is a car that assists the driver.

This is interesting when I hear about the fact that a Tesla drove itself over the Harbour Bridge some months ago. Check out this link to the story and video from the NZ Herald http://bit. Apparently the driver had his arms folded. He therefore did not comply with Tesla’s regulations unless that car was more sophisticated than the current models. Here’s another example in Sydney:

Now put yourself in the ‘drivers seat’ of this car, if you could afford one and imagine showing it off to your friends, which of course you would do if you had one. Would you be demonstrating your driverless car with your hands on the steering wheel?

Once again, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for driverless vehicles when they are ready, safe and suitable for our road network and can operate safely next to all the people who run red lights, don’t indicate last second lane changes on motorways, are distracted by playing Pokemon Go or sending messages on their phone. I love the idea of distributed ownership and other concepts that will come from this. I just wonder if we are being a little hoodwinked by manufacturers who are looking to generate huge profits from their designs now, not in 10 years time.

Remember the jokes of what if Microsoft designed a car? Here is one of Bill Gate’s own stories http://bit.ly/29RJXh0. Well guess what? Brands like Google are now doing exactly that. Are you ready for this? Would you buy one today?

Posted in Autonomous cars, bad gps, Best GPS, Car Nav Caused Crash, Car Navigation, commuting, driver distraction, Driverless car, GPS Accuracy, GPS Car Nav, GPS MAde Me Do IT, GPS Maps, GPS Nav, GPS Problems, Pokemon Go, traffic, traffic congestion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

8 Things to know before you start looking at buy a house

Buying a House Final Cover ArtI drive past people on my way to work daily, struggling to get their cars out of their driveways on busy streets, I mean they are waiting minutes just for a gap to safely get out of their driveway. I wonder to myself, did they research this hours? Surely they looked at it during rush hour (as someone recently pointed out, no one gets to rush st rush hour). Surely they did their homework on what it’s like to get in and out of the property.

I live in Auckland where the prices are going up every hour as 3 more people move into the city. hat’s right we average a new resident every 20 minutes, supply isn’t meeting demand and it won’t for some time.

I was in Europe last year and I noticed in the Netherlands that property which used to have a similar value to New Zealand houses on my previous trip was now cheaper. I looked at real estate in Nashville 4 years ago and there were beautiful homes on an acre or more of land, you know with the big pillars at the front door, for less than half of the value of my Auckland property. I was sorely tempted to buy one, except that I couldn’t afford to travel there frequently to enjoy it.

Those homes weren’t always cheap, but the market bubbled and many say it will eventually happen in Auckland. I don’t think that will be any time soon despite the interventions of Government, simply because so many people want to live here. Council predicts that we will grow by around a million people in under 30 years. That’s a few apartments and houses that will be needed and we already have a shortage, frequently stated as around 30,000. There is even a shortage of quality building materials. Now there’s a thought, what if you bought a house on an unsound concrete base or it was a leaky home.

It astounds me that people put more time into planning a wedding than they do in researching where to live for a big chunk of their lives. They leave it up to the Real Estate Agents to guide them round. I have bought and sold a few houses in my lifetime and  can tell you there are some awesome agents around, but like any profession, there are also a lot of people who go through the motions or are simply focused on getting their next commission cheque. (Kiwi spelling folks:))

So what should you be thinking about? Here are a few links of short blogs related to my book.

  • Crime statistics on a map. Have you ever been burgled? Some streets have more problems than others, even in the best neighborhoods.
  • Value in relation to distance from the city by train stop. With new light rail and improved rail services, this will have an impact on your investment in Auckland. Here’s an example from London.
  • Where can an average earner buy in your area?
  • I find the racial divide interesting. I didn’t consider that when I bought my latest house because it means nothing to me, but in some areas it can mean a lot to property values. Like it or not, its a fact, even in New Zealand where we truly celebrate the differences. Check out the gaps in America. Is that scary or what?
  • How about pollution. Do you have kids with asthmatic tendencies? Did you check out things like pollen? One of the things we liked about our first home was the fruit orchard over the back fence. What we didn’t know was that they regularly sprayed it with pesticides.
  • Do you want to live near people who are like you? Have the same income levels, the same interests and opportunities as you, or perhaps slightly better? Do you want to live somewhere where unemployment is high and times are tough. People that have similar values to you might be of concern.
  • Does school zone matter? Do you want kids to go to a certain school? Do they have aptitude for something that a particular school offers, but where zoning restrictions limit where you can live if you want to be eligible to go to it?
  • What about the looking process, how do you remember which house had the mold in the bedroom and which one had the nice carpet, nice view, man-cave. There are tools and tips.

These are just a few items to think about. There are so many more in my Kindle eBook which will cost you less than 2 small coffees. In fact it looks like they are running a promotion on it, because when I looked this morning it was $5.32! If you got one simple tip out of it that’s worth it’s weight in gold! If that’s too much, have a look at that blogs in the Real Estate stream of my blog. There are plenty.

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