Category Archives: Property tips

Dogs in suitcase ready for move

Moving With Pets And Keeping Them Happy

When moving with pets, keeping the four-legged family members happy is an important part of a successful shift. And with attention to a few small details your pets can be safely and happily transported to your new home.

Moving with pets starts with open homes

Good pet care around moving house doesn’t just start once you’ve signed on the dotted line. It’s a good idea to consider your cats and dogs as soon as you list your home for selling. Keeping your property open-home ready obviously involves your pets as you need to ensure is free of animal related mess. If you have a dog try and make time to give them extra walks and park visits so they’re less inclined to be destructive around the house, upsetting your best laid open home plans.

Always make sure your dog is away from the property during open homes as even small, friendly dogs can make some visitors anxious. And having loads of strangers traipse through their territory can be very stressful for dogs and cats.

When it comes to cats, they’ll most likely have a secret spot they will sidle off to during the rush of open homes, but if you have a particularly scared cat you could consider placing them in a cattery for a day. More realistic is to just ensure they have a safe place to hide out and they have plenty of food and water in a discreet place outside. And make sure you call them and try for lots of reassuring cuddles when the open home is after.

Moving with pets - cat in a box

Moving day

Try and keep pets away from the hustle and bustle of packing as they do pick up on any unsettled vibes and may decide to hide out where you can’t find them till the fuss is over. If possible consider moving cats and dogs into a boarding facility for a day or two while you get the last packing and loading done, then collect them on the way to the new property.

Talk to your vet about how best to calmly transport your pets between your old home and new. Depending on the distance you’re travelling and the age or disposition of your pet they may recommend some sedation to ease the stress.

Once you arrive at your new home it might be tempting to set your pet free from its cage to explore, but in fact new spaces can be overwhelming for animals. Set aside a room for your pet that they can stay in as they acclimatise to their new environment. Just keep in mind that if your pets don’t get along now is not necessarily the time to lock them in a room together!

Make sure they have somewhere secure to sleep, like a familiar blanket or cushion in a box or on a familiar chair as well as plenty of food and water – and, for cats, a litter box. Make sure you visit them often for reassuring cuddles and to make sure they’re eating, drinking and using the litter box, but if they’re reluctant to come out from under that bed don’t force them. They’ll gradually come around once they get used to their new surroundings.

Take dogs outside for toilet breaks accompanied by you, on a leash if necessary as they get used to the new property.

Although it might seem a logical thing to do, when moving with pets it is not the time to do a big wash of your pets’ blankets or bedding. The familiar smell of a favourite blanket will be a big sign to them that your new house is their home now.

Use your pet’s behaviour as a guide to when they’re ready to explore more further afield. If they still run and hide whenever someone comes into their room, they’re not ready. But if they’re friendly and relaxed then you can start to expand their access to the rest of the house. With cats you can gradually move their litter box further afield until it’s outside.

If it’s possible locate your pet’s feeding and sleeping spots in areas similar to your previous home.

As they venture outside for the first time let them explore at their own place with you nearby. In the end you will be the most familiar thing that lets your pet know this is now home so spend some time with them!

Post originally featured on the Harcourts New Zealand Blog: Keep your pets happy on the move.

Moving house with kids

Moving house with Kids? Here are our tips to keep kids happy on moving day

Moving house with kids can be stressful and upsetting for everyone, but particularly young children, especially if they’ve previously only known one home. But with a little foresight, planning and some good old distraction techniques moving to a new home need not be traumatic.

Before moving:

  • Keep the kids as involved as possible in the process of moving house. Before you start looking for a new place talk to them about what they’d like a new place to have, or even draw pictures of what they want their new bedroom to look like.
  • Have them research your new neighbourhood and make a list of places they’d like to visit and explore once you’ve moved.
  • Once you’ve bought a new house, either take the children for a walk-through so they can see their new bedrooms and play areas like the back garden. Or have them search for the house online and, if possible do a virtual tour.
  • If possible make a few visits to the new neighbourhood before moving so the children can see where their new school is, or where the local playgrounds are and take some time to walk around so everyone can get their bearings.
  • Give them printouts of the floor plan of their new bedroom so they can start to plan where they want to put their things.
  • Have your kids research the new neighbourhood or town themselves and make a list of places they want to visit.

During moving:

  • Let each child pack a box of their favourite toys themselves, then have them write their name on it, and decorate it. And make sure they help load it into the car or moving van so they know it’s going with them to the new house.
  • Give each child a special responsibility on moving day and print them out a label with a job title like “head toy packer” making sure everybody’s favourite toys are accounted for, or “chief librarian” to make sure all the favourite books are packed, or “head gardener” responsible for collecting all the pot plants.
  • Keep calm! Kids will pick up on your stress and anxiety about moving, so try and focus on making it a fun adventure however and whenever you can. It may even ease your own state of mind!
  • Keep a picnic basket readily available and well stocked so you have plenty of snacks and drinks to keep children occupied as well as refuelled.

After moving:

  • Once you arrive in your new house on moving day, unpack and set up the children’s rooms as a priority so they feel at more at home more quickly. Make sure the rooms are welcoming and recognisable as theirs with familiar duvet covers, furniture, toys and books.
  • Keep a few large moving boxes for making forts.
  • Plan a special celebration “first night” dinner, that easy to prepare and fun – try a pizza and ice cream picnic on the lounge floor.
  • Set up a treasure hunt around your new section so the kids become familiar with it.
  • After moving day try and return to a normal routine, of normal bed times and meal times, school and play as quickly as possible to help everybody settle.

property tax dollars

What do your property tax dollars go towards?

By Landon Miller of Harcourts Premier Properties, California USA

If you’re like many other property owners, you likely cringe when you get your property tax assessment in the mail. But as annoying as it may be to have to open your wallet to pay these pesky taxes, they do actually serve an important purpose.
You’re not just throwing money at Uncle Sam; instead, you’re contributing to the greater good of your neighborhood and surrounding communities.

So, what exactly does your property tax money cover?

 Public Schools

Your property taxes go toward a few different things, not just one. Public schools depend on tax dollars to be developed and to remain in operation.

This component of property taxes is typically the biggest item on just about every property tax bill; in fact, it generally accounts for more than half of it. And in areas with a large student demographic or top-rated schools, this number can be even higher. You can bet that along with highly-appraised schools come higher property values.

While public schools get plenty of their funds from the government, the biggest supply typically comes from local homeowners in the area.

Local Public Safety Departments

A big part of your tax dollars go towards paying public safety officers, including uniformed police, 9-1-1 support personnel, firefighters, paramedics, and anyone else involved in keeping the public safe. Property tax money also covers the costs associated with keeping these individuals working and on the road, including police and fire stations, and vehicles and trucks.

If any additional personnel need to be hired, or if any more cars or stations need to be added, city and municipal governments will typically have to hike property taxes to make it happen.

Public Roads and Parks

Nobody likes to drive on roads full of potholes or stroll through parks full of debris and overgrown weeds. The municipal government hires people to take care of roads, sidewalks and parks, and it’s the homeowners that flip the bill through property taxes. Such maintenance includes traffic light repairs, paving roads, filling potholes, removing snow, and other improvements.

Municipal and County-Level Operations

In order for municipalities and counties to be able to carry out their day-to-day operations, they need money. And the majority of that funding comes from property tax revenues. How the money is split up between the municipality and county is often apparent, but in many other cases, it’s not.

In some areas, money may be fully collected by one entity, then divided appropriately. For instance, you might pay your municipality for allocations on one single bill, after which the apportioned money is then sent over to the county.

How Are Property Taxes Calculated?

The amount that you pay towards your property taxes will depend on the market value of your home, as well as the pre-determined assessment rate. This rate is a percentage that will vary from one jurisdiction to another. In order to come up with your property tax obligation, the value of your property is multiplied by the assessment rate.

Whether you pay these taxes directly to the tax department or pay them through your mortgage lender, you’ll get a copy of the bill at least once each year. Make sure you take them time to look over the bill and see exactly how the money is allocated so you can get a good idea of where your hard-earned dollar is going.

Municipalities, counties, and school districts depend on property taxes to support their budgets. Without adequate funds, there wouldn’t be enough money in the pot to take care of the schools, streets, parks, and public safety officers. The more money a local government needs, the higher your property tax bill will go to meet the demands.

Open Home

Why hold an open home?

An open home is one of the most effective ways of marketing a property and attracting interest from a wide variety of buyers.

Some of the many advantages are:

  • You have plenty of time to ensure your property is tidy and ready for inspections
  • You can control the viewing times
  • Open homes can create plenty of activity, even in a slow market
  • Interest and activity can trigger urgency with buyers
  • The sales consultant’s time is put to best and most effective use, and they will have the opportunity to talk to numerous people about your property
  • Comments from open home visitors can provide feedback on price, presentation, sales appeal, etc.

How can you prepare for an open home?

Your sales consultant will do all the marketing necessary to attract the maximum number of visitors to your open home. However, it is the seller’s responsibility to present their home in the best possible light.

Here are 10 quick tips on how to make your property “open home ready”:

  1. Declutter – an overcrowded room looks unappealing and smaller than it actually is.
  2. No one likes the idea of living with other people’s dirt. If your home smells good and looks clean you are creating a great environment for viewers.
  3. Keep decorations simple and don’t display family photographs. You want buyers to visualise their own things and family in your home, not yours.
  4. Make each room count. Give each one a purpose so that your viewers can see how they could use it. Don’t leave any room as a storage place.
  5. First impressions count and last. Think about the first aspects that potential buyers will see – like fencing, the letterbox and the driveway.
  6. Remember the small things. Check light switches to make sure they work. Fix any doors or cupboards that don’t close. Fix leaky taps.
  7. If you can, give your walls a fresh coat of paint. Choose neutral colours to avoid individualising your property too much.
  8. Fresh flowers and soft music playing in the background give a good impression.
  9. If cold outside, have a fire going or heaters on.
  10. Fresh coffee on the stove, vanilla in a slightly warm oven or on a hot element, or aromatherapy oil burners give a very inviting smell and can sweeten stale and musty homes.


You can be assured your Harcourts Sales Consultant will ensure all open home visitors sign a register with their contact details. This is for security reasons as well as to follow up later for feedback on your property.

If you have chosen to market your home without disclosing a price, under no circumstances will your Sales Consultant talk to a potential buyer around your price expectations.

A sales consultant’s first duty is always to the seller and you deserve to have the best opportunity at achieving the highest amount of money that a buyer is willing to pay.

landlord insurance for flooded bath

Landlord Insurance: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Many may consider landlord insurance unnecessary, confident that only the best tenants will emerge from a stringent selection process to lease their property.
And with good tenants, what could possibly go wrong with your investment – right?

Time to take a cold shower and consider this carefully. Or how about take a refreshing bath?
A very good tenant, in an apartment building, fell asleep while pouring a bath. The water not only flooded their unit, but seeped through the floor, damaging the ceiling, carpets and electrical appliances in the apartment below. Because the owner of the apartment took out the right landlords’ insurance, he was able to quickly repair the damage to his own unit. He was also able to claim the excess payable as a tax deduction. The owner of the unit below had no insurance, leaving their only course of action to sue the tenants upstairs, seeking to recoup costs for repairs.

Whether it be a house, unit or townhouse, an investment property is often among the most valuable assets anyone will own.

The importance of taking out landlords’ insurance was borne out by a recent survey which revealed that two out of five landlords had experienced tenants damaging property or defaulting on rent in excess of the value of the bond (Source: Home Insurance Comparison).

While standard house and contents insurance will cover such events as theft, fire or various natural occurrences, landlord’s insurance is specifically designed to protect the landlords’ investment.

For example, landlord insurance can cover you for:

  • Malicious or accidental damage by tenants or their guests
  • Vandalism
  • Damage caused by structural alterations to the building without your consent
  • Theft by tenants or their guests
  • Legal action if taking action against a tenant
  • Liability for a claim made against you
  • Loss of rent if the tenant defaults on their payments or leaves early.

The same applies to investment properties that are units or townhouses, although existing body corporate insurance may already cover you for building and legal liability for public areas. Check with your body corporate to find out what existing insurance policies cover.
As with all types of insurances, the cost and conditions of different landlords’ insurance policies on the market differs greatly, so take the time to talk with your Harcourts Property Manager about finding an insurance policy that suits your specific property.
It is important to buy an insurance based on its suitability rather than price, and to clearly understand which is included and what is not.
For example, some policies will cover only “malicious” damage made by tenants and not “accidental”. Often there are strict conditions that apply to covering default rent payments.
If you rent out a fully or partly furnished property, you may also need to add contents insurance to cover items such as whitegoods, furniture or appliances. There are many other factors to consider.

The good news is, insurance premiums and any excess payments are tax deductible.

Yes, landlord insurance will cost you a small amount each year, but it will save you from sleepless nights wondering what will happen if the unexpected becomes reality.