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Hi, it's Maxim here. This newsletter is about personal finance, Auckland property tips and NZX stock market insights. I appreciate you being here! Today you will learn:

● Your Guide to NZ Real Estate Activities During COVID-19 Lockdown
● Free Premium Plan from Blinkist: Key Takeaways from the Best Nonfiction Books

● Poll: Do You Think Now is a Good Time or a Bad Time to Invest in the NZX Stock Market?
● Top 10 Rises & Falls Over the Last 7 Days (NZX Stock Market)


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Your Guide to NZ Real Estate Activities During COVID-19 Lockdown
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As the COVID-19 situation continues to unfold and the Government makes further announcements we will continue to seek clarity and provide you with relevant information. Please find the latest update as follows.

Real estate agents and property managers are not considered an essential service during the New Zealand lockdown. 

This is not legal advice, but provides a recommended approach in certain situations. For all situations, regular communication between all parties will be essential.

Open Homes/Private viewings: These are not considered essential services so cannot take place in person. They could take place via online virtual tours or video conferencing type software, where people aren't required to leave their homes and no in-person contact occurs.

Auctions: These are not considered essential services so can only take place via phone or online bidding methods.

Settlements: In lockdown, vendors and purchasers will NOT be able to move in and out of their houses. For this reason, the New Zealand Law Society is recommending that the vast majority of settlements may need to be deferred until after the Alert Level 4 restriction is lifted. The party's lawyers will make appropriate amendments to the contract to facilitate this.

Moving if a property settles during lockdown: Travel will be restricted to essential travel only e.g. pharmacy/supermarket trip, so settlements and moving house should be deferred until after the Alert Level 4 restriction is lifted. The parties’ lawyers will make appropriate amendments to the contract to facilitate this.

Rural sales and tenanted property sales: Auckland District Law Society have considered situations where sales may not involve people leaving their home or any in-person contact (e.g. where a property is tenanted and the tenancy will continue after settlement) and have advised that whilst settlement can occur where no one has to have contact, purchasers and vendors may encounter difficulties when trying to get A&I, mortgage instruction, and other legal forms issued and signed. 

So, deferring settlement may still be the safest option. We would strongly recommend that the parties seek and follow the advice of their lawyers and not assume settlement can or will be able to occur. Physical property inspections cannot occur when we are under Level 4 lockdown.

Bridging finance: Vendors/purchasers should talk to their bank or financial services provider in the first instance.

Conditional contracts: These can still be confirmed during lockdown provided no travel/face-to-face meetings are required. 

If the condition(s) cannot be met during the Alert Level 4 period, then both the buyer and seller should take legal advice and either extend the condition until after the lockdown period or cancel the contract. The party's lawyers will make appropriate amendments to the contract to facilitate this.

Pre-settlement inspections: These are unable to take place in person during lockdown, however, if both parties agree, these could take place using video conferencing.

PROPERTY MANAGEMENT

Rental Viewings: These are not considered essential services so are unable to take place during lockdown unless done by virtual reality tour or pre recorded video/photos or other technology. If tenants need emergency accommodation, they should contact Work and Income.

Routine inspections: These are not essential services, so should be deferred until after the lockdown period in consultation with the landlord and their insurer.

Routine Maintenance: As this is not an essential service it should be deferred until after the lockdown period in consultation with the landlord.

Urgent Maintenance: If this is related to essential services e.g. power, water, waste, gas then it is likely this can be undertaken during the lockdown period. 

Rental increases: Rent increase freezes will apply for a period of 6 months from 26 March. If notice to increase the rent was given before 26 March, and the rent increase has not yet taken effect, the notice has no effect.

Rent still needs to be paid during this period, however, if tenants have lost their jobs and need support they should talk to their landlord/property manager at their earliest convenience to work out a payment plan or to see what financial support is available to them.

Restrictions on termination of tenancies will apply for a period of 3 months (initial period) from 26 March. The Government may extend the period once, for another 3 months if they are satisfied that it is necessary or desirable to support measures taken to contain or mitigate the outbreak of Covid-19 or the effects. 

Tenants can not be issued with a 90-day no cause termination notice during the lockdown period.

Owner wants to move back into the property during lockdown: The current law states a landlord must give 42 days’ notice if an owner or their immediate family wish to use the premises for their own use. 

Under the proposed changes (which are currently under review) this would increase to 63 days’ notice. We are waiting for confirmation in regard to which notice period should be used if this is required.

Moving tenants: The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) confirmed yesterday evening that moving rental properties is not prohibited. However it can only be done in extreme circumstances and Ministry of Health guidelines and the Alert System must be followed when moving. If parties cannot work together to plan a move within the rules set by the Alert System, then the move must not take place. Tenants cannot hire a moving service during this time.
 

All comments above are attributable to Bindi Norwell, Chief Executive at the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand.

Free Premium Plan from Blinkist: Key Takeaways from the Best Nonfiction Books
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You are doing your part to stay home and stay healthy, you are rethinking how to spend the time. Remember that learning can be a form of self-care—and I'm here to help.

Blinkist is doing a limited-time giveaway of the Premium plan with no strings attached. You will not be charged.

Until April 25, enjoy their full library of 15-minutes original shows, author-exclusive content, so you can learn and grow whenever and however you like.
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Poll: Do You Think Now is a Good Time or a Bad Time to Invest in the NZX Stock Market?

Read the comments, cast your vote and see the poll results on Facebook.
Top 10 Rises & Falls Over the Last 7 Days (NZX Stock Market)
🕑 3-minute read

Homeware retailer Smiths City has been placed on a trading halt. The company did not fit the classification of an essential business, so was forced to close its stores, and halt online trading, while the country was in lockdown. 

Smiths City was in talks with its primary lender, ASB, and expected to release a refinancing plan.

Abano Healthcare: Bidco may withdraw the takeover offer because of a Material Adverse Change. Abano has closed all its NZ dental practices due to COVID-19 lockdown. 

The situation in Australia continues to evolve rapidly and Abano will assess the relevance of any announcements on its AU dental network as they occur.

Comvita is experiencing strong demand for its complete range of products from all markets over the last month. It is classed as an ‘Essential’ business and is allowed to sell during the lockdown.

Metlifecare’s stock was down 21 per cent at $3.79. The Metlifecare purchase could hang in the balance after it was revealed this morning that the overseas takeover business had rights to pull out in the event of a material adverse change.

Retirement villages have been sold off as investors question whether the COVID-19 outbreak will hit their residents more harshly. They are vulnerable to a fall in house prices. This would deter older customers from selling up and moving, particularly those considering moving to a self-contained unit who can choose their timing.

Property Company Augusta said yesterday that Australia’s Centuria Capital would not proceed with test $180m takeover of the business. The parties did not explain why the deal had been scrapped.
P.S. Is there anything else that you noticed this week worth sharing? Let me know and I'll see how we can distribute it in the community.
There is nothing quite so useless, as doing with great efficiency, something that should not be done at all. — Peter F. Drucker

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Hi, I'm Maxim, the human behind this newsletter.

I research and interview economists, tax advisors and NZ investors to find tools & tactics that you can use to save time and money.
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