Mac the dog

Bury me deep my friend
Down where the core
of the earth can warm my bones
To forget that the twilight years
made me cold
Where the strength of the elements
will shore me up
As I sail beyond to that ever golden plain
And my heart will beat
for ever more
In the place where our friendship dawned
And I left my heart
in yours

– on the death of the family dog (Dec 2015)

Angular $http get from the console

Super useful string of code for calling http get requests directly from the console in Chrome:

$http = angular.element(document.body).injector().get('$http');

then

$http.get(...) // or post or whatever

Then test as many API request as you like.

Dr PropertyLove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Auckland

In 1987 I was the tender age of 8. I remember it as a halcyon year – the All Blacks won the inaugural Rugby World Cup; The Bangles were getting serious radio play; Silk Worm IV was the celebration of the corner dairy video gaming fraternity; The poster for Peter Jackson’s movie Bad Taste stared down at me from the movie store pulling the finger, like some sort of effigy to an exciting and mysterious adult world that I was yet to be a part of; But unbeknownst to me, that same grown up world was facing a shit-storm of financial woes after the Black Monday stock market crash.

Although I was too young to experience it myself, I’ve heard people talk about how punters were taking out second mortgages, and chucking them into shares leading up to the crash. The attitude of the time seemed to be – everyone’s doing it, so it’s got to be OK, right? And no doubt greed was running alongside at pace, encouraging everyone each step of the way. But as the old joke goes – after Black Monday, the only thing that could put a deposit on a white convertible 3 series BMW was a Seagull. In a few short years after the crash, unemployment had soared to 10.6% and interest rates were heading north of 14%.

In 1987 the average age of the Baby Boomer was somewhere in their early 30’s. I dare imagine that some of them would have learnt some pretty hard lessons from the crash (I’m looking at you John Key). But unlike me, they are old enough to have had some worldly wisdom at the time, and to take some lessons out of the whole thing. Which is why it’s extremely puzzling to me, that whats happening at the moment with the Auckland property market, has some strikingly similar hallmarks.

The Emperor’s clothes are exquisite

Property gurus will be quick to raise the issue of foreign investment having an adverse effect on the market, but what if this is only a small part of the bigger picture? After all the New Zealand government don’t seem to have been that keen historically on implementing a measure of foreign investment (although it’ll be interesting to see the stats out of the new legislation currently going through parliament) so maybe it’s not such a big issue after all?

Other people will point to the fact that the Auckland property market never goes down.

Fig4_large

And this certainly true on a historical timeline of 20+ years (don’t mention 2008), but it also true of shares. In fact if you look at the data, year on year over a long period in most cases shares are the same if not a better return on investment (for far less work). If you can find a copy of the 100 year Sovereign investment comparison chart, it makes for an interesting read. In the meantime this Australian market chart will have to do:

property-share-returns-shane_oliver

The generation that dare not speak its name

But there’s one thing that not many people are talking about in relation to the Auckland property market – the Baby Boomers. The Baby Boomers make up roughly 30% of New Zealand’s population. They’re a generation that has enjoyed some of the most economically prosperous years this small blue planet has ever seen. In the next 10 years, they’re going to be moving from being a tax generator (mostly in the top income tier), to a tax burden on our nation’s economy (if we can afford it). In fact, if you look at some of the people who are doing particularly well at the moment in the sharemarket, many of them are investing in services like retirement homes that are on the up and up with the slow but increasingly steady influx of retirees.

So let’s conduct a thought experiment. Given that the Baby Boomer’s are 30% of the population who lived through relative affluence, it would stand to reason they own at least 30% of the property around NZ right? Perhaps much more with the 4-5 bedroom family home, the bach, and the investment property they bought in the 90’s with the financial freedom that came from jettisoning the kids. Especially for those Auckland Baby Boomers, that property is doing exceptionally well. Considering they paid around $100K for it back in the 90’s and it’s now worth north of $600K who could argue? Between that and the $1.6 million family home, retirement is starting to look a little more realistic. But this is where the thought experiment kicks in. Retirement means having a certain amount of liquidity to fund your lifestyle. Property typically is one of the least liquid asset classes there is, and unless people create something like a reverse mortgage they’re going to need access to cash (accounting liquidity) to avoid limiting their lifestyle in retirement. The laws of supply and demand are well known drivers of market forces. If over 30% of the population who own arguably more than 40% of residential property increasingly want to fund their retirement in the next 5 years start cashing up, it’s going to create a certain set of market forces. Especially for ‘first time on the market in 25 years’ brigade – as our median income is around the 75K mark (and 150K+ for the top 20%). This would mean at 6% interest a $1.6M dollar home with a 20% deposit will cost $6K+ per month in interest only. For the ‘top tier kiwi household’ on $150K that leaves around $548 in the kitty per week for running the household. That may seem like a lot, but throw in the weekly costs of a $300 grocery bill, $80 power, $80 petrol, phone, internet, school fees, doctors, dentists, and the general money haemorrhage that is children and there’s not a lot of fat. Which means unless they’ve built up their equity to more than $600K, chances are even beginning to consider a home in the $1.75M+ range isn’t even remotely realistic.

So how many homes in Auckland now have a council valuation of more than $1.75M? If we use trademe.co.nz as a measure by dividing the houses for sale in the 1.75M+ range (696 units), by the total houses for sale (6449 units) we get a figure of 10%. That’s quite a bit of stock, so what happens to that stock when the vendor just wants the liquidity out of the house they paid 150K for in 1986 (after 12 months on the market with very little interest)? Even if they settled for 1.6M (-150K), suddenly the people who paid 1.6M for the house with a council valuation of 1.4M aren’t going to be very happy.

If the baby boomers are using their equity to pile into the market (as with 1987) with the view of making a capital gain to fund their retirement at all costs before selling off their asset base in 2 years time, we’re in the shit. How deep depends on the percentage of them who are involved in what is essentially a giant Ponzi scheme where each in turn borrows on the back of their equity, and then sells to an investor doing the same. My feeling is that the RBNZ is well aware of this, and the recent measures introduced are to try and soften a potential collapse. But even with that in place, we’re going to get double dipped by a generation who are desperately scrambling to gather a nest egg together. Which is fine, but they’re all going about in exactly the same fashion, expecting to all sell at once at the top of the market. When liquidity is the bottom line, the equity to debt ratio of the market is extremely important.

For Gen X’ers like me, I can only speak for myself. But for our family the whole thing is a lesson in patience, renting a rough around the edges 3 bedroom house in Remuera waiting to see what effect the Baby Boomers have on the market. Especially while the interest rates are going down. There’s some comfort paying 40% less in rent than the interest only would cost to buy our place (although that’s really all we can afford). Thankfully though, over 30% of the 3 bedroom homes in Auckland City are currently renting for $600 or less on Trademe. And in spite of the massive rates hike the ACC has just heaped on the market, I’d be surprised if this changed anytime soon with so much stock around. We also aren’t locked out of the market – based on our budgeting we could theoretically service up to $700k at 7.6% on one income. But if we buy into the hype, and are stupid enough to take on the debt levels that these ‘investors’ have heaped upon our markets, we become by default as stupid as they are. Even worse, we may end up inadvertently shouldering the burden of the baby boomers by giving them the liquidity they crave, whilst taking on the debt levels they originally set in their desperate clutch play for retirement.

In summary if any of these theories hold water, then we’re temporarily living out the austerity resulting from other people’s greed and madness. How temporary that turns out to be will be a big factor – I wish I had a crystal ball but I don’t. The tipping point could be one of a myriad of reasons and factors, and if I’m completely wrong we’re fortunate enough that we’ve got options both nationally and internationally at our fingertips. At the end of the day 2016 is likely to be another halcyon year – after all, the Rugby World Cup is coming up in September. So what could possibly go wrong?

The kids are getting inline

A short time ago I was looking for an Android app that we could use with our kids to get their chores done. There were several apps available but none of them really did what I wanted, so I decided – “Hey, I’m a guy who builds online software. Why not do it myself?’ And thus dottyhq.com was born. The whole process kicked off late in 2014 and now we’ve got a mobile website that works across any mobile device right in the browser, and behaves like a native app.

And how well is it working with our own little software testers? In a word – FANTASTIC! It’s actually surpassed all my expectations about how the kids would respond. They’re regularly completing their chores; in absolute hot competition with each other; and there’s the added bonus of always having their pocket money balance on hand when we’re out so if they’re asking for something, we can give them option of buying it for themselves. Overall it’s teaching them to take ownership of their own money, and giving them a solid structure and set of expectations to build good habits with their chores.

Here’s some screenshots from their current status this morning:

Zach     Liv

I’m pretty stoked to be able to offer this sort of thing to our friends to use as well, and slowly other success stories are making their way back to us. It’s pretty feel good stuff.

If you want to get it for your kids, it’s available at dottyhq.com.

Petone

There is love in this place
It is woven into the fabric of the air, by a young couple
There is love in this place
It tears the quiet of the room, with this new babies cry
There is love in this place
It looks up with a child’s eyes, to see it’s mother
There is love in this place
It’s a refuge from a busy world
There is love in this place
It is shaped by the memories that have gone before
May there be many more

– leaving our small Petone home of eight years (Oct 2013)

Work fun timez

Working on a little project where I’m recreating a nostalgic geocities page. It’s amazing now that you have to use specialised toolsets (like Photoshop) to generate lo-fi oldschool-ness.

site

 

Ezra and Passionfruit: State of Play 2015-16

It’s been a long time since I sent out an email – there’s some extremely exciting reasons why that’s the case, on which I’d like to fill you in…

Wellington Web

After 6 years, Wellington Web is winding up

I started Wellington Web after coming back from paternity leave to my UX Design job at a Wellington media agency, where I was immediately made redundant. It was a formative and character building time. We’d just had our second child who was only a few weeks old; but I’d been thinking about going out on my own for a while, and believed that there was a huge amount of opportunity to develop quality marketing websites for SMEs using Open Source technology without a price tag in the tens of thousands. So, I incorporated Passionfruit Online Media Ltd., joined BNI and setup a marketing website at wellingtonweb.co.nz. That was 6 years ago and along the way I’ve met some great people, and am happy to have produced some great results for over 100 different clients. My estimate from analytics is, that over 80% of clients received a 100% return on their initial spend within 6 – 12 months of launching their marketing site. In many client cases, only a few extra leads were required in the first 3 months to recoup the relatively small amount spent. I still believe that having a simple and effective website that acts as an online brochure or lead generation form, and has a specific call to action asking customers to buy is a key ingredient for any small business. The landscape is ever changing, but it’s a still good idea to include a strategy that incorporates Google SEO, as well as an increasing number of niche channels where potential local customers exist in their hundreds of thousands.

Where to from here with Wellington Web?

It’s with a mix of emotions that I’ve made the decision not to take on any new business under the Wellington Web moniker. For my existing clients who have websites and hosting with me still – I’m committed to maintaining what you currently have in place indefinitely. However, It would be in your interests to review your web presence soon, as some of you need a refreshed template that’s mobile device ready. For new work, I can recommend three Wellington based businesses who specialise in WordPress for you to follow up –

But otherwise I’d like to thank you all sincerely for your business over the years, and I wish you all the best for the future. If we aren’t already connected on Linked In, please add me to your network nz.linkedin.com/in/ezrakeddell.

2014-15 Summary

Many of you will know that our family made the transition to Auckland from Wellington in Feb ’14 to be closer to family. It was a big move after being in our beloved Welly for over 15 years. We’re now starting to feel like we’ve settled a bit more, we’re seeing more of our family than ever, and although we miss our Wellington friends, we’re loving Auckland and all it has to offer. It’s also meant a number of changes for us on the business front. For the better part of the last 3 years I’ve balanced Wellington Web and also contract work as a specialist UX/UI Designer and Front End Developer for the likes of Xero, Yellow Group, Vodafone and various Government agencies and other businesses. 2015 marks another step forward, with our family deciding to forgo getting into the madness that is the Auckland property market, and use some of our capital to focus on delivering a range of web apps that will appeal to an international market. Enter Wiry.

Wiry

The future

From passionfruit.co.nz

We have a unique opportunity in this small piece of Godzone down at the bottom of the planet. What if there was a product that cost nothing to produce except time? And that same product could then be scaled almost infinitely, and delivered instantaneously to the customers that are wanting it. If the customers like the product, they could then effortlessly tell their friends about it with a single click of a mouse. And those customers make up the largest market place in the world where a niche can be upwards of 3 million people. Hell, you’d probably say it’s the perfect opportunity for a country like ours down at the bottom of the world. And you’d be right, it bloody well is. And right now the opportunity, enjoyment and potential financial reward in this industry is pretty astronomical, and it’s a privilege to be part of it.

Since February of this year, I’ve been working full time building no less than 4 different web apps. I’ve partnered with a great developer, and we’re due to start rolling them out over the next few months under the parent company brand ‘Wiry’. We’re mostly still in the ‘cave of development’ at the moment, but if you’d like to keep up with what we’re doing, stay on this mailing list, as I’ll be making periodic updates as we launch each web app.

Safely

Which brings me to the first web app we’ve launched – getsafely.com.

Think about this – who knows you well enough to tidy up your affairs if the unthinkable should happen, and something unexpected occurs in your life? Did you have an idea that needed to be preserved; or a list of all your social media accounts and passwords only you know; maybe an old friend was in your debt;  or you’ve always wanted to send a letter to a loved one, but were never sure of the right time; even just somewhere to put digital copies of all your important documents that people need to know about in this specific situation.

Safely is an online service that securely stores your important information in place and sends it on to the right people in the event of the unexpected.

Feel free to register an account and try it out for yourself – it’s currently free to register at go.getsafely.com.