Me and My Money: Sharon Cullwick, New Zealand Property Investors' Federation

Sharon Cullwick, executive officer of the NZPIF says we're nearing the top of the current boom cycle.
Sharon Cullwick, executive officer of the NZPIF says we're nearing the top of the current boom cycle. Photo credit: Supplied.

"I'm renting at the moment. If I can't find a property that works, I don't buy it.  

"The property market works on a clock and we're fast approaching the top of the boom cycle." 

Sharon Cullwick, executive officer, New Zealand Property Investors' Federation.

Money. It's the driving factor behind many life choices, but is it the be-all and end-all?

'Me and My Money' is a regular feature that investigates Kiwi attitudes towards money and what drives the choices they make.  

Currently a renter herself, executive officer of the New Zealand Property Investors' Federation Sharon Cullwick agrees properties are overpriced. 

The property market is nearing the top of the boom cycle, so property investors should stick to their criteria and first-home buyers can afford to wait for the right home, she says.

As someone who has a spending allowance - and sticks to her purchasing rules - Sharon prefers to make property purchase decisions against the current cycle.

1. Are you a saver or a spender?

I'm a saver.

I give myself an allowance which I can spend on whatever I like and I save the rest. To keep things in balance, I donate time to help others.

2. Share a New Year's resolution about money

My financial goal for property investing is to always stick to my purchasing rules. 

I'm renting at the moment. If I can't find a property that works, I don't buy it. The right one will come along soon enough. 

3. What has been your biggest financial lesson, success or failure? 

It takes time and money to establish yourself, so protect what you have.

4. Give an example of a recent purchase that you consider was great value for money

I haven't purchased an investment property for a couple of years. 

I prefer to buy counter-cyclical and feel that properties are overpriced at the moment. 

5. What advice do you have for first-home buyers finding it difficult getting onto the property ladder?

A first house doesn't have to be a forever home. Just get into the market. 

With the property market as crazy as it is at the moment, there's no need to get in today! 

Wait - prices will ease (they always do) and competition won't be so hot.

Rushing into a decision when there's an emotional attachment may not be the best property.  More opportunities will come along.

6. How can property investors make the most of the current financial climate?

At present we see many first-time property investors entering the market. 

The property market works on a clock and we're fast approaching the top of the boom cycle. 

You don't have to buy today - maybe wait for the tide to change. Have your investing criteria and stick to this. If you don't find something that works for you financially, keep looking.

It's said that a property 'boom' happens every seven-to-ten years. When the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) hit, in 2007 to 2008, there was a boom. In 2009, things slowed down. This may be the same thing happening now.

7. How might the loan-to-value ratio requirements, slowing house price growth and interest rate rises in the medium term affect property investors?

The combined effects will slow things down a bit.  

But it's important to keep in mind that if fewer investors buy properties, there's less rental supply for tenants.

Not everyone wants to own their house. People moving to a new area may want to see what the schools and community is like before buying - or they can't find what they're looking for... they need to rent - I'm currently in that situation. 

We need to have a balance between first home-buyers, owner occupiers and rental property investors. It's not there at the moment - we need to try and help people out of emergency housing and give them a proper place to live.

 8. What was your last impulse or 'fritter' purchase and how did you feel about it afterwards?

Late last year, I had a little spend-up on clothes. 

As always, it felt good at the time but when the clothes were added to my expanding wardrobe, I found I really didn't need them.  

9. If you had spare cash to invest, what would you invest in? 

In the current climate, I'd look at paying down debt. 

The mortgage interest rates and term deposit rates are low - there's no point having money in the bank unless it's put to work.

10. Does having more money increase happiness?

I don't think anyone has as much money as they'd like.

I think we need to be happy with what we have and if not, change it.

Set goals and go for them. There are many, many things people can do that don't involve money and create fantastic memories. 

11. The best money advice someone's ever given you?

My father always said to me:

'Ask yourself these questions before you purchase anything: do I want it, do I need it and can I do without it'? 

Answering these questions shows that if things don't provide any benefit, we can do without them.

The views expressed in this article are personal and are not professional financial advice.