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Developing the New Zealand Winter Home process is a close cooperative consultation between us and you.

Here are the results of the second reader survey and our suggested solution based on what you've told us.

 
 
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Winter Home Survey Analysis

And a solution to what you've said you want
 

Unlike what we think of in North America, a New Zealand motel is a friendly, comfortable, and convenient place for people to stay.

Motel units are clean, spacious, and well fitted with amenities.

 

 

There are many different reasons why people choose a New Zealand Winter Home, and many different choices to select from.

Based on our reader surveys, here's what may represent the best option for many readers.
 

Survey results

Results of our second reader survey were very helpful - and also slightly surprising.

Length of stay in NZ each year

I'd been assuming most people would live in their NZ Winter Home for four or more months each year.

Survey responses suggest otherwise.  Half of respondents said they'd stay for a much shorter period - between one and two months.

Only 3% of respondents said they'd stay for five months or more, and 90% of people plan to spend less than four months a year in New Zealand.

Preference for Condos over Houses

There was also a stronger preference for condo style ownership compared to house ownership in this survey compared to the first survey.  In the first survey, answers were close to evenly split between preferring a free standing house or a condo in a condo block.

This time, condo preferences outnumbered house preferences six to one.

Shared Ownership

The question about interest in a shared ownership plan received a positive response - three times as many replies were moderately or very interested compared to those moderately or very opposed.

When asked what size share they'd want most people indicated a one third or one half share.

No-one wanted a one fifth or smaller sized share.  This is very different, of course, to traditional 'time share' where you normally get shares in one week increments (ie one fiftieth of the year/ownership).

Renting when absent

The greatest unanimity of opinion was on the subject of what to do with one's Winter Home when one was not living in it oneself.  84% of answers said they'd definitely or probably want to rent their home out, with the other 16% being either 'Don't know' or 'No real preference' answers.

No-one said they did not want to rent their home out during the time it would otherwise be vacant (although some of the comments helpfully pointed out pitfalls that need to be considered).

Survey Analysis

Not considered in this survey, but a focal point of the first survey, was the size of investment people were willing to consider in a NZ Winter Home.  For most people, the necessary level of investment, in today's buoyant NZ property market, is simply too high.

This affordability issue is plainly a major driving force encouraging people to now consider a partial share ownership.  For people planning to spend one or two months a year in New Zealand, a half or third share ownership plan could make a great deal of sense. Two or three couples could each spend one or two months in NZ during the winter season without the need for severe conflict or compromise in terms of when each couple would be able to use the shared condo.

The appeal of the shared ownership was shaded by some thoughtful comments about potential problems associated with such an approach.  Probably when considering a high cost condo investment, people felt the pluses outweighed the minuses in a shared ownership scenario.

Short term stays also mean there may be less need to duplicate 'all the creature comforts of home' quite as fulsomely as might be the case if considering an extended 4+ month stay each year.

NZ Winter Home Solution

There is no single and completely inclusive approach to satisfy everyone's various needs.  But there is also no requirement to find such a thing.  It is entirely possible, within a region, to have a mix of different housing styles - individually owned or owned in shares - with a common servicing resource to care for and let out the houses and condos during their owners' absences.

However, the two sets of survey results, combined with the real world constraints of the NZ property marketplace, end up suggesting a concept that may be of broad appeal to many potential winter home owners.

This would involve buying a motel development and strata titling out the individual motel units, enabling you to own your own affordable and comfortable motel unit.

Individual ownership of NZ motel units

New Zealand motels are not the sleazy dives that sometimes spring into mind when the word 'motel' is used in a North American context.  They are the main form of tourist accommodation for New Zealanders when vacationing in other parts of their country.

Each unit is like a small apartment - it usually has one bedroom, with some having two and some being studio units.  It has a small kitchen, a living area, and of course, bathroom too.  The units are invariably clean and well cared for, and there are usually communal laundry facilities and grounds.

Each individual motel unit is likely to cost something less than US$100,000, and you'd probably choose to spend some money on upgrading the standard of furniture and fittings to make them more cozy and home-like, more suited for private ownership and month-plus stays, rather than catering primarily for transient guests staying no more than one or two nights.

Your total investment in a unit is likely to be between $100,000 and $125,000.  In round figures, this can be considered half the cost of a condo and one third the cost of a house.

Motel unit share ownership

With such an affordable cost of complete ownership, we expect there to be less interest in shared ownership.

We could make one or two of the units available in half shares (probably costing $60,000 - $70,000 each), but there's little purpose in making available one third or one quarter shares because the growing hassle factor definitely outweighs the reduced cost saving in such cases.

A motel unit is already optimized for renting when you're absent

Obviously, a motel unit is ideally set up to attract as many guests as possible when you're not present yourself, helping to ensure you get a generous rental return.

A motel unit is 'expandable' if you have guests visiting

Most people indicated, in the first survey, they wanted at least two bedrooms.  We suspect this second bedroom was primarily for the 'just in case' visit from friends and family, an event that survey respondents noted would probably be uncommon rather than regular.

If you own a motel unit, you have an easy solution when guests arrive.  Simply have them stay in one of the other units in the motel development.

Of course, you could also choose to invest in two motel units if that was a preferred option.

What do you think?

Is this a good idea?  A great idea? Or ???  Do you have questions or comments about this concept?  Concerns?  Or do you think it a wonderful approach?

Please give me your thoughts.

 

Originally published 10 Jul 2005, last update 28 Nov 2012

 
 
 
 

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