Life is a journey

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First it was the T42, Mongolia, and now the “Ride to Conquer  Cancer”

I have a great friend who constantly tells me that New Zealand is just a big adventure playground. How true that is, and over the past year or two I have finally set aside time to start “seeing my own country” as well as throwing in some overseas travel of course.

Last year I wrote about my trip to Mongolia, and also riding the 42 Traverse – Central Plateau. Since then I have been itching to mountain bike everywhere. I have read about tours Mountain Biking in Bhutan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Japan, Kenya, or the route of the Vines – France…..Oh so many choices, what to do 1st?

Why choose one? If you know me well then you’ll know that actually I plan to do them all. It’s just a case of when….

So, my latest adventure is now for a good cause.

I have only been a mountain biker not road rider, but I spotted an ad a few months ago for “the ride to conquer cancer”. It is a charity fun ride and not a race (thank goodness) leaving Auckland, and riding out of the city for 100 kms on a Saturday 16th November spending the balance of the day camping, and then riding back into the city another 100 k’s on the Sunday 17th November this year.

My mountain bike rides at Woodhill are usually only a max of 20 ks at a time, so 100 k’s in one day seemed pretty hideously long to me. Can I sit on the seat that long?

My second challenge is that I live in a gorgeous but little apartment, with a serious lack of storage so my bike lives in my spare shower. Visitors to the bathroom get to admire the bike!!

Where on earth could I store a road bike? My friend Spyda came up with a solution. I am now the proud owner of 2 fat boy tyres (actually they are very skinny) that interchange on my bike.

So if you are out of the road early in the morning you may see me riding very slowly around Auckland City. I’m the one that everybody else passes at great speed. I have to remind myself that the ride to conquer cancer is a charity ride and not a race!

How you can help?

I am the least sporty person I know, so if I can ride a bike, I’m sure anybody can. The ride to conquer cancer is a totally charity focused event. As soon as you make a donation the funds are actually credited to The Cancer Society even though the event doesn’t take place until November. So you can either help by sponsoring me and making a donation here:

Enter my name



At this link…  Sue’s donations to help conquer Cancer


or join me on the ride.

Every rider is committed to raising $2500. If neither of these options appeal you could become a volunteer on the weekend. You can read All about the Ride to Conquer Cancer

I consider myself extremely blessed. My mother, sisters, brother and all of my immediate family in Greece are all still alive.  Cancer is not something to have hurt our family.

This is the very reason I want to do this ride. I know I am one of the lucky ones.

I have lost a couple of girlfriends to cancer when they were far too young and also had to watch how devastating it is for their children, beginning their adult lives without their Mum to attend their weddings, meet their grandchildren, watch them grow old.

Even though it is only a small gesture. I’m thrilled to be able to do something to help fund research that we hope will help find a cure. Any help you can give me towards by donating to my ride is very much appreciated.

The last 5 years have certainly been very interesting for me, full of challenges that I proud to say I’ve worked through and the new biking adventures are all part of the new life my business mentor Dr Fred Grosse  is helping me design.

We love to hear what adventures you are designing for yourself, and if we can be of help in anyway, setting plans and budgets, paying off the mortgage early so you can achieve your goals, just let us know.

We would also be thrilled if you would Like us on Facebook   so we can watch and help you meet your challenges and goals and generally having fun.

And, if you can a little donation can go a long way

Suzanna Mihakis   Sue’s Donations  to help Conquer Cancer



Latest Property values statistics from Property IQ for Sept 2012

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Residential property values have continued to gradually increase at a nationwide level according to the latest PropertyIQ index for September. Values are up 1.8% over the past three months and 5.3% over the past year.

As a result values have now edged ahead of the previous market peak of late 2007.

Jonno Ingerson, PropertyIQ Research Director said “while nationwide values have been slowly increasing for over a year now, we need to put this into context. The rate of value increase is relatively slow, currently around 5% per year compared to the 10% to 15% we saw during the mid 2000’s”.

“The current value increase is also being driven largely by Auckland and Canterbury. If those two areas are excluded then values across the rest of the country have only increased by around 1.5% over the past year. Furthermore, although values are now just above the 2007 peak, when adjusted for inflation they remain 12% lower.”

“The number of sales in the last few months is higher than in 2010 and 2011, but the years since the global financial crisis have been characterised by very low activity. There is a lack of listings in many areas, particularly Auckland, which is also likely to be constraining sales numbers” said Jonno Ingerson.

“First home buyers and investors are definitely more active in the market now than has been the case for several years. However, in general buyers are acting carefully, doing their research and not overpaying. This is despite the lack of listings, which would ordinarily mean increased competition and prices” said Jonno Ingerson.

“Spring is usually a time when the number of listings increases as people prepare their property for sale during the warmer months. There is some evidence of this seasonal lift, but it is only slight” said Jonno Ingerson.

Old Auckland City continues to have the steepest increase over the past 12 months, up 8.4%, with Manukau and North Shore close behind, up 6.8% and 6.3% respectively. The increase in these areas is reflective over the past three months also, with old Auckland City rising the most, up 3.6%, and Manukau up 2.8%.

Values continue to rise well above the previous peak of 2007, with the wider Auckland area up 7.8%, another 1.2% increase on last month. Old Auckland City now sits 11.2% above peak, with the North Shore 5.9% and Manukau 4.7% above. When adjusted for inflation no area has reached the previous peak, with Old Auckland City the closest at -2.8%.

Growth in Auckland continues, and while the volume of listings has increased we are still seeing a shortage of suitable stock for both improved properties and vacant residential land. This is leading to limited choice for potential buyers in an already heated market. As a result, further competition for quality properties that come onto the market is likely to increase.

With the strong, sustained period of growth recently, and the typical expected lift over the coming months, property values are not expected to slow.


Interest rates

We were absolutely thrilled yesterday to hear the Reserve Bank Governor announced that he was keeping the OCR the same.

As I have mentioned in past newsletters, it is reviewed every 6 weeks on a Thursday. Sometimes it is a live telecast and we all sit in the office and use it as team time to watch and listen. We find the Journalists questions and therefore the answers far more enlightening than the basic announcement (and some Journalists questions more entertaining from their stupidity).

There has been a lot of talk, speculation and crystal ball gazing about when to fix, or keep floating. What we all sure do now know is that newspapers sell by feeding us stories, fact or fiction.
I have wondered whether we should keep an annual diary of the headlines, because it seems to be the same headlines at the same time of year, every year. Property investors now know that having a empty property at the beginning of the student year is a good thing! The media will report it and run it for several days. Ho hum…it’s the same old same old.

However, the media certainly do cause many clients stress and any indication that rates could rise causes concern. The simple answer is you fix when you are happy with the rate being offered and can live with it. If funds are tight and you cannot take the risk that the rates will rise – fix. Fixing your mortgage is just like taking out insurance. You are buying security.

This Global Financial crisis and certainly the issues in Greece and the rest of Europe are a major headache for many. This is history in the making and not something we can look to the past and predict any specific behaviour because we have seen it before. I personally believe politicians and economists do not really know what is going on. They can make as many assumptions as they like, but ultimately money is spent by human beings, this crisis is not a repetition of the past and our behaviour can change simply by what we are being fed by the media.

As you are aware, interest rates are at the lowest levels for many years. These times present good opportunities for borrowers to reduce debt by repaying their loans off faster. Many clients are quite happy to coast along and risk a floating rate. Others are now starting to want some level of certainty.

Banks are now knocking on our doors wanting to negotiate rates for clients. We have come to the conclusion if you need some certainty in your life and your expenses are one area that you want to control, then it is probably time to fix your mortgage.

As always we do not charge to review your mortgage and we will help by obtaining some good longer term fixed rates to guarantee that certainty.
just click here to send us an email or you can contact Bevan directly on bevan@stml.co.nz, or Sue on sue@stml.co.nz


Accidents and New vehicles

You may wonder what this has to do with mortgages?

Its simple really. Most of us cannot survive without our wheels, and it’s one common reason for clients needing loan top ups. Having had 2 car accidents in December I am well aware of the inconvenience of being without a car.

Sadly my beautiful Volvo convertible, that I have driven for the past 12 years, was written off, after a male (staff member at the National bank), drove straight into it while parked on Tamaki Drive. Not only did he hit me but managed to send the Volvo with (my little dog) Bella inside, into the back of Fergs Kayaks. In turn the trailer smashed into Fergs car. I’m not sure if the Kayaks survived, but both the Volvo and trailer have been written off.

oops – it\’s dead

Bevan had been using my Toyota Rav as his company car, so that was returned to me quick smart. In this instance I did not have an excess to pay because I was not at fault, so all is well you think?……sadly not.

Roll on to accident no 2:….

It was New Years Eve, and after having purchased a new fishing Kayak for Bella and I to go out and catch snapper in our gorgeous harbour I was frustrated that the kayak was just being driven around looking good on top of the RAV waiting for the perfect opportunity to have its maiden voyage. If you were still in the North Island for Xmas you will recall the weather had packed a sad.

Whilst I was enjoying suddenly sitting up so high in the car, (the sightseeing is so different up there) after the low Volvo for so long, I completely forgot that the Kayak was perched on top of the RAV. An attempt to drive into down town carpark taught me one very important lesson!

Kayaks not only float they can fly! Oops.

This time the car accident cost me the insurance excess and I was left waiting another month before I could test my new Kayak. The Kayak didn’t suffer any damage thank goodness, but the story has kept all of my friends entertained.

We are frequently asked to assist with loan top ups to buy new vehicles. In both accidents I have been lucky and have had a vehicle to fall back on, but some clients are not so lucky, and a loan to buy new wheels is the only option.

We are very conscious that road rules are changing shortly, so to ensure you do not need to make a phone call to us for a loan top up, here is a very quick test that we hope keeps you safe on the roads, and your money in your pocket.

Give way rule quiz

It is only 9 questions and takes just a minute or 2. Bevan and I both scored 8 out of 9 without reading the new rules, so I would recommend you stay clear of little girls driving a Toyota Rav, with either a mountain bike on the back or a Kayak on the roof until I have learnt the last rule and can get 9/9!

Take the test now


Inland Revenue Department – Online Services

It is often frustrating for clients wanting to apply for a loan that one of the requirements is to provide evidence of your past income. Did you know you can access this yourself online using the IRD website?
I have recently helped several clients set up a free online account at IRD and obtain past tax summaries. All you will need is your IRD tax number.

This is what you do: Click on the link below:
ird register a login

Follow the instructions, which take about 1 minute to complete.
Then make the call to the IRD direct line (yes believe it or not, they answer it quickly!). They will help activate the account, and then you are all good to go.

You will need an access code, and password. Using the theory of keeping things simple I was able to use an access code and password that I use for internet banking….and of course…as with all access codes and passwords, you do need to keep these details confidential.


Westpac offers its support to Earthquake victims

Westpac’s announcement to brokers yesterday will be very much appreciated and will certainly be of help to some clients.
The Christchurch earthquake last Tuesday as you know has been a significant natural disaster.

Westpac’s top priority has been the well being of those affected and we are truly committed to supporting our employees, our valued business partners, customers, and the community in Christchurch.

Westpac has financial relief packages available to assist customers impacted by the Christchurch earthquake which include:

Personal Customers

Access to an emergency overdraft facility for a 45-day term at a special interest rate of 5%, with a further 45-day term if required, under the same terms and conditions. All establishment fees will be waived.
A 90-day mortgage repayment holiday (please note that interest will continue to be added to the loan for the repayment holiday period)
No early repayment costs for customers who have had a home destroyed or have suffered major damage as a result of the earthquake and wish to repay their fixed rate home loan
No adjustment fees for customers wanting to restructure a home loan as a result of the earthquake

Business Customers

For small business customers impacted by the earthquake – access to a temporary overdraft facility of $20,000 for up to 90-days at a special interest rate of 5%, with no application fees or penalty interest to apply
For commercial/corporate/agribusiness customers – access to a temporary overdraft facility of $500,000 for up to 90-days at a special interest rate of 5%, with no application fees or penalty interest to apply
For commercial/corporate/agribusiness customers – a waiver of early withdrawal costs for term deposits
Westpac would like to acknowledge the well wishes and enquiries we have received from many of you in regards the welfare of our staff in Canterbury, it has been truly heartwarming and most appreciated by the team.


Earthquake appeal

We have received this email today and felt compelled to share it with you all. Penny and Lucy you are amazing and we will be helping….

Dear Friends

We want to help the people of Christchurch.

We are reaching out to our friends to send boxes of essential non perishable goods from families in Auckland to families in Christchurch. I am sending this email to 50 Friends, hoping you could you please forward this email to 10 of your friends and ask each of them to fill a box. So that put simply 50 friends x 10 friends = 500 FRIENDS. The aim is together we will reach 500 friends so we’ll have 500 filled boxes with food and love to donate to the people of Christchurch.

So far in less than 24 hours we are amazed at the generosity, and with one person saying YES , it has turned from an idea to reality.
A 20 foot container and transport and fuel have kindly been donated. (Thanks to Eddy at Eagle Transport in Tauranga)
Waiwera Water has generously donated more bottled water that will also be sent down to Christchurch in the container and Allied Pickford thank you for the 500 plus boxes that are on the way to us today.

The plan is:
· 500 standard sized boxes have been kindly donated by Allied Pickford. Each box is 500mm wide x 420mm high x 260mm deep (roughly 2 wine boxes in size)
· the boxes can be filled with non-perishable goods (a list of items recommended by Christchurch ground staff is below)
· the container will be at a downtown Auckland location (location TBC) on Friday 4th March (from lunchtime until late afternoon), Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th March (the exact times and location will be on the boxes). We will also confirm this via email in the next few days.
· we can deliver 10 boxes to you on Wednesday (tomorrow) and Thursday for you and your friends to fill and drop off at the container in downtown Auckland or please bring goods to this location to pack (we will provide tape and empty boxes)
· we want to photograph some of the boxes and put the photos on our facebook page so please put messages, pictures of love, hope and support on or in the boxes
· the container will be transported down next week to the New Brighton distribution centre and the amazing people at the RANGIORA EARTHQUAKE EXPRESS have provide advice and assistance to make this possible www.rangioraearthquakeexpress.com

You being one of our friends we would really like your help. So 500 FRIENDS has started.

The people at RANGIORA EARTHQUAKE EXPRESS assisting with helping the people of Christchurch have stressed that most of following items would be really beneficial. Please try to adhere to the following list:
12 x Canned food – baked beans, tuna, salmon, spaghetti
2 x packets of dry soup
2 x 2 minute noodles
2 x Dried food – rice, pasta (500gm packets)
2kgs Cereal – Weetbix
2 x Tube of Toothpaste
2 x Toothbrushes
4 x Bars of soap – personal
1 x Shampoo (please wrap in a plastic bag in case it leaks)
1 x Conditioner (please wrap in a plastic bag in case it leaks)
2 x Wet Ones (packet)
1 x Dog/cat Food (dry food) *
1 x Deodorant
1 x Tea towel
4 x Roll of toilet paper
2 x Paper towels
1 x Tea bags or coffee (packet)
2 x Rubbish bags (pack)
2 x Box of matches
1 x Can opener
1 x Packet of Lollies (no chocolate it will melt)
1 x Sanitary pads (packet) *
1 x tampons (packet) *
1 x Tin of baby formula *
Please put messages, pictures of love, hope and support in the boxes for families in need

A photo of all the food that you can fit into one of the boxes is below. We shopped at New World and the above items cost about $150, which included baby formula which cost about $25.

An inventory of the above items are attached to the side of each box. Can you please tick off the items in your box as this will facilitate easy distribution of the boxes in Christchurch. If you don’t have time we can make a box on your behalf for a donation of $150. Please email me on ph@pennyhay.co.nz if this is how you would like to help.

So we are asking with BIG hearts that you please get involved and get back to me with hopefully a YES that you can take 10 boxes…or even more if you wish. We want this to get there fast!!
Please get back to me today (Tuesday) if you would like us to deliver 10 empty boxes or you can arrange a central pick up with us.

Many thanks with love and hope for the Christchurch people.


Penny Hay Phone: 473 6031 or 021 678 252 Email: ph@pennyhay.co.nz
Lucy McKenzie Phone: 473 5052 Email: lucyestelle@gmail.com


Christchurch Earthquake and bank penalty policy

The Earthquake in Christchurch has caused devastation not only to the city and its citizens but to our country as a whole. As New Zealand and the world watch and wait for hope, our thoughts turn to Canterbrians, to the loss of their homes and the destruction they are faced with.

In every situation where a mortgage is placed on a property, the lending will not advance the funds to purchase the house without evidence of house insurance being in place and the lender noted as having an interest in the property. If EQC are going to condemn a house and not allow residents to move back in, that would normally result in a payout on the insurance. Whenever there is a lender noted as having a mortgage on the property the cheque would go to the lender to repay that funds off the mortgage. This is all fine and most of us would want the mortgage repaid.

My concern came when I realised that many clients still have fixed rate mortgages. I have only ever in all of my years in finance known of the fixed rate penalty being waived on one occasion. This was in fact due to EQC paying out becuase the property was condemned due to a landslide. The lender was going to impose the penalty until we intervened on behalf of the client and appealed to their common sense.

We have been in touch with lenders to ask this very question now, and I am absolutely delighted that both ASB and Sovereign have confirmed that they would not charge break costs on receipt of the EQC payout.
Their email goes on to state…
“”We have also decided that when the loan is re-established, after the property has been repaired, we will re-instate the loan at the original rate if that is what the customer wishes to happen. These principles also apply if we receive interim payouts from the customer’s general insurer.
The policy applies to both ASB and Sovereign.””

Well done ASB and Sovereign. It is really great that they lenders have appreciated that rules should sometimes be broken. We all understand that when we sign fixed rates agreements, it is a contract, but sometimes contracts have to be broken, and common sense should prevail.
We do expect to hear from Westpac and trust they have taken the same view.


Are you a budding TV star?

I received an interesting email this week that we thought we should share. Both Stu and Bevan have homes only very recently renovated so neither are keen to start the process again, and I certainly have no desire to be on television, however if you would like to be a TV star and renovate your home, with lots of goodies for free, check this out


Landlords – Water charges

The ability to pass on the cost of water charges to tenants has been a bone of contention for landlords for many years. The Residential tenancy Act amended last year now has some clarity around the charges.
It is a question we are frequently asked so here is the extract from the act that we hope should help you.

39 Responsibility for outgoings
• “(1) The landlord is responsible for all outgoings in respect of the premises that—
o “(a) are incurred whether or not the premises are occupied; and
o “(b) are incurred for common facilities.
“(2) Without limiting the generality of subsection (1), the landlord is responsible for the cost of—
o “(a) the general rate (within the meaning of section 13 of the Local Government (Rating) Act 2002) payable in respect of the premises; and
o “(b) insurance premiums payable in respect of the premises; and
o “(c) any body corporate levies payable in respect of the premises.
“(3) The tenant is responsible for all outgoings in respect of the premises that are exclusively attributable to the tenant’s occupation of the premises or to the tenant’s use of the facilities.
“(4) Without limiting the generality of subsection (3), the tenant is responsible for the following charges, incurred during the tenancy, in respect of the premises:
o “(a) electricity and gas:
o “(b) telephone and Internet:
o “(c) supply of water if the water supplier charges for water provided to the premises on the basis of consumption.
“(5) In this section, premises includes facilities that are exclusively for the use of the tenant.”

and if you want to read the act : RTA