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New Zealand Winter Home Update #4

3 August, 2005 

Good morning

I am currently in New Zealand, researching the practicalities of the winter home concept, and loving the environment here.  Although it is winter, the weather is close to perfect - as I write this, the morning sun is streaming in the windows, and I can hear the beautiful sound of NZ's native Bellbirds in the trees around the house I'm staying in.

But it hasn't all been relaxing pleasure.  On Sunday alone I visited over 20 different open homes - a feat which indicates, among other things, how wonderfully compact and easy it is to get around in Havelock North.

I have visited homes selling for under US$70,000; and have stood on 1 acre vacant lots selling for twenty times that amount.  I've inspected tiny apartments on a twelfth of an acre; and marveled at the glory of a 750 acre block of land.  And, yes, in among everything else (did I mention there are over 30 wineries in the region....), I've also found some excellent winter homes for us.

Your feedback prior to traveling to New Zealand has been invaluable, with perhaps the two biggest changes in my own thinking arising from your interest in share ownership rather than complete ownership, and the statistic that most people will choose to stay for less than two months each winter/summer (which validates the practicality of shared ownership).

These two factors have been enormously liberating and beneficial.  Stated most simply, it means we can afford to share a much nicer property, but at no greater personal cost and requiring minimal or no compromise or inconvenience.

Which would you prefer :  To stay in a $150,000 unit for the 6 - 8 weeks each year you'll be in New Zealand, or to stay in a $750,000 unit, at the same cost (or less) than the $150,000 unit?  In a unit that is larger, more modern, better fitted out, with less maintenance, and in a more convenient location?  Yes, it is an easy choice.

Shared ownership has another benefit as well.  With the ongoing costs of ownership - land taxes, utilities, etc - being split several ways, these costs also reduce, making it feasible to consider keeping the unit exclusively for the use of the owners, with no need to rent it out to strangers in the off-season.  This is a decision the owners of each unit could take jointly, but it is another potentially positive outcome of the shared ownership concept.

I'm getting close to making an offer on one, two, or possibly three luxury townhouses (part of a block of four - the fourth has already been sold to a local resident) located right in the heart of the village of Havelock North, close to the twin cities of Hastings and Napier in Hawkes Bay on the East Coast of the North Island.  But I need to be sure I'm on the right track before doing this, so I'm asking for your advice again.

These three townhouses are each about 2000 sq ft in size, on two levels, and with an attached single garage.  On the main level are the living areas, master bedroom with king sized bed, ensuite bathroom and also half-bath for guests.  Deck areas are accessed from both the living and master bedroom areas.

On the lower level are two more bedrooms (one with a second king-sized bed, the other with two twin beds), another bathroom, and a study.

There are lovely views over the village of Havelock North and west to the mountain ranges beyond.  On a clear day, you can even see Mt Ruahine in the distance (NZ's active volcano).  You get a generous measure of mid-day and afternoon sun, until the sun sets behind the ranges, and if you get too hot from the sun streaming in, simply turn on the air-conditioning.

Each unit will be furnished to a high standard, including a lovely gas stove top in the spacious kitchen area, stainless steel appliances, washer and drier in the laundry area, furniture, fittings, cutlery, crockery, pots, pans and kitchen gadgets, linen, home entertainment system including multi-standard HDTV (for both American and NZ/UK type video) with DVD and VCR, broadband Wi-Fi, and, yes, when you open the garage, there's your late-model mid-sized car provided inside.  In short, the only thing you need to bring with you are your clothes, and you can even store some of those on-site to lighten your baggage in the future, too.

The cost?  I'm selling twelve equal shares in each unit, with each share entitling you to two weeks stay during the high season (between the two equinoxes in September and March), and am keeping a share for myself, too.  Most people will probably choose to buy three or four shares, for a 6 or 8 week entitlement during our winter.

Each share is currently projected to cost US$46,500 (NZ$66,250).  Assuming no off-setting rental income, monthly ownership dues would be about $80 (NZ$115).

I'm continuing to develop a complete website to explain the concept in detail, and to tell you about New Zealand - why I think it is the best place in the world for wintering over, and why I think Havelock North is the best place in New Zealand.  Until that is released, I've quickly put together a page here that has some pictures of the units - one of the units has some 'show' furniture in it, the other two are empty.

I need to know if I'm on the right track or not.  Is this something you might choose to participate in?   I don't want to suddenly find myself the unexpected owner of 100% of three luxury townhouses - as nice as they are, and as good a value as they are, three would definitely be too much of a good thing!  Please let me know your thoughts by filling in this short survey.

Lastly, can I remind you of our NZ tour this October.  If you don't have time to do the entire tour, we have two shorter options - the first half being the main tourist highlights, and the second half being an intensive visit to the Hawkes Bay region, of particular interest to you if you're considering a NZ winter home.

Thanks for your continued helpful feedback.

As always, I hope to greet some of you as neighbors and co-owners of winter homes, or - at the very least - as fellow members of the October tour.

              David M Rowell aka The Travel Insider

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