Author Archive

from chained to the office, to freedom in the country—how to manifest your dream career or business

Thursday, November 30th, 2017


Recently Laurie’s story of career reinvention was profiled in several of Cassandra Gaisford’s bestselling self-empowerment and career rescue books. We know that year-end can be a time when many of our clients reconsider their plans and forge new year’s resolutions. Often the decisions which are considered involve either changing careers or re-engineering current modes of work. We hope the below provides encouragement and support for any career changes you may be considering—and urge you to consider nothing less than ‘awesomeness’ in your quest for success.

from chained to the office, to freedom in the country

“What counts for me, in business and in life, is making a difference. That and having fun. Okay, it’s not always fun. Sometimes it’s b***** stressful,” says Laurie Wills, a mortgage expert with a passion for butterflies.

“But work feels less like a slog when I get to help awesome people make their dreams come true. I’m lucky to have clients I’m proud to call friends. Of course, the odd bottle of champers I’m sometimes sent goes down a treat too.”

But Laurie yearned to be free from the confines of an office. He wondered if he needed a break from the industry. But then after analyzing what he really needed to be happier at work it came down to two central themes. More freedom and control.

He sold his shares in his first mortgage business, and after a short break, started a new business, Awesome Mortgages. With a vision for the future, and a blueprint about how he wanted to operate, he re-engineered his processes. An early adopter of new technology, at the time of writing, he remains one of very few, if any, mortgage advisers working remotely.

“It was exciting to see some of my clients make a move to a warmer climate, and I thought, ‘that’s what I want to do too.”

It was an audacious move that definitely paid off. Together with his partner, they left Wellington and moved onto their own lifestyle block, overlooking the magical Bay of Islands in New Zealand.

It was a dream that wouldn’t have come true had he not spent time early on in his career planning, getting clarity about how he wanted to live and work in the future. But the move wasn’t without some apprehension.

“How will people feel if we’re based in the Winterless North,” I wondered. “Will they balk and walk if they can’t do business over a caffeine shot? What about the tie, the dark suit, the polished shoes? Will a T-shirt and shorts send the wrong message?

“I thought it could, but my partner, said, ‘Trust me. It’s what you do, the results you get, and the integrity you do it with, that attracts people to you, and keeps them coming back. That, and all those razor-sharp deals.’

“We kept our dreams alive by creating a manifestation board on the fridge. One of the captions we pasted was, ‘Thriving Up North.’ And that vision has come true. The financial years since making the move have been the biggest, most financially successful in my career as a mortgage expert.”

In the first year alone after swapping his pinstriped suit for shorts, Laurie helped his clients purchase in excess of $65 million dollars worth of property. In the following two years, all records have been broken.

There is a myth that people’s highest income earning years are over after fifty, but as Laurie’s experience shows changing it up can pay big dividends.

“Best of all we’re both happier as a couple,” he says. “Plus, I’ve still been able to pursue my passions.”

Laurie’s passion is researching exotic butterflies. He is renown by many as the Indiana Jones of the butterfly world, due to his exploits and intrepid exploring in jungles, inaccessible mountains, and dangerous landscapes. He’s discovered many species new to science and co-authored several important scientific articles.

His passion sustains him, but he accepts it’s not something he can do to make the kind of living he aspires too. While he’s also passionate about negotiating the best outcomes for his home-buying clients, his day-job funds his lifestyle and passion. And now that he’s taken control back and re-engineered where, when and how he does his work he has better balance.

“Some of the negotiations I’ve concluded while up a tree, butterfly net in one hand, iPhone in the other, while in Papua New Guinea. I’ve also helped people buy homes while I’ve been high in the mountains of war-torn Bougainville.

“Then there were the mortgage negotiations made all the sweeter while I was swinging in a hammock in Fiji. But most of my help has been given while enjoying my own slice of paradise back home. I really do think the warmer climate has given me superpowers when it comes to getting the best outcomes for my clients.”

Yip, there’s a myth in the mortgage industry which Laurie has happily proved wrong, that you have to don a tie, work relentless nights and weekends, and invade peoples’ privacy by going to their homes.

By making positive changes in his life that better reflect how he wants to live and work he’s proved recent research conducted by the University of Cologne right. Happier people earn more money.

In the next chapter, we’ll summarize the key themes and help you find your sweet spot.


This is an edited extract from The Passion-Driven Business Planning Journal: The Effortless Path to Manifesting Your Business and Career Goals by Cassandra Gaisford. To purchase your copy and learn how to stress less and love life more, click here—


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Posted in Awesome news, Blog, Stories of reinvention, Wealth Creation

stress less during the home renovation process

Tuesday, October 31st, 2017

Kiwi’s don’t just love their homes, we also love the opportunity to improve, extend, redecorate or redesign our castles. In fact, the freedom to do up your home or investment property in the way you choose is one of the awesome benefits of property ownership.

Doing a house up to fit your grand design is exciting—but potentially stressful. With finances to raise, decisions to make, contracts to sign, contractors and subbies to watch…things seldom go to plan. Cost escalations, drama, conflict, and mayhem are just some of the stressors which can turn things less than sweet.

But there are a few simple things you can do to minimise the stress during the renovation process.

begin with why

Remind yourself of your vision. Why are you making changes?  Do you really need to redo everything? Does it have to be so big, grandiose etc.? Is a renovation the best way to go, or would you be better finding a new ready-made home, or going for a rebuild?

stay true to your vision

Watch out for expert “creep.” We created this term to describe the tendency for some architects, who are paid a percentage of the total cost of the build, getting you to scale everything up.

“Super-size me” they may be thinking as they make more and more suggestions—seemingly with your best interests in mind. While this may be true (bigger may be better) the opposite can also be true. The bigger the project the more money those on a percentage make and, if it’s truly grandiose, the more professional acclaim. Be mindful.


The best decisions are joint decisions made harmoniously with everyone achieving a win-win outcome. But, not everyone operates like this. The builder we chose before embarking on our recent major renovation is excellent at what he does, down to earth and helpful. Best of all he is genuinely interested in achieving an outcome everyone is happy with. The fact he’s still friends with his clients says it all. When we first met him he told us, “Work should be a joy. I go to work to have fun.”

balance head and heart

Go with logic and decide with heart – balance the two for powerful decisions.  Watch your stress levels. When you are calm and happy the quality of your decisions far exceeds those made when stressed out of your skull. This is a biological and neurological fact!

be prepared for chaos

Renovations ‘aint pretty! Things get destroyed. Change stresses some people out more than others. Know your ‘pain’ threshold. If things seem like they are spinning out of control, that there are too many things on the boil, or you just can’t stand the noise, find your bolt hole. Take a break.

It may be escaping to the movies, going for a massage to manage stress levels, or putting a hold on things and taking a few weeks out until your adrenaline and stress hormones regulate. Or you may decide not to live in while the renovations proceed.

Don’t let the stress of the project get to you. It’s not that important. It’s a home for goodness sake—and it’s not a home if you ‘ain’t there to enjoy it. Take stress seriously. Listen to your body barometer when everything’s stressing you out.

do the numbers

Be wary of spending too much, especially if there’s a risk of over-capitalising. That’s not to say ‘renovate to market’ and neglect your own needs, but do some due diligence. Do the numbers stack up in the short-term or longer-term. Are you investing in the future for a little pain now?

What’s the backup plan if it all goes pear-shaped? Can you get more finance? Raise some cash? Secure a loan from family? Rent the whole house out or just a room on Airbnb for extra cash? Or, worse scenario, sell?

Rather than suffer a financial meltdown later, is now, before you embark on your grand design, the time to scale back?

tap into expert advice

If you’re doing relatively major renovations it’s likely your bank will want a registered valuation outlining the impact of the changes you’re planning. Even if your bank doesn’t request a valuation it’s smart to consult other experts to get their feel for what you’re doing.

A good valuer will often recommend savvy enhancements to your initial ideas that can give you better bang for your Kiwi dollars, or give you an even more outstanding finish. A pre-renovation assessment from a valuer will also help you avoid over-capitalising and eroding valuable equity.

Ask your way to success. Seek out others who have finished remodelling projects similar to the one you are about to embark on. Knock on their door, ask if they could offer some advice. Very often, people are only too happy to help. Ask them what tips and ideas they can share with you, and what potential pitfalls you could avoid. Most people are very proud of the end result of their home rennovation and happy to share their experience.

It’s never too early to talk to a mortgage adviser. Make sure that you have a top-notch qualified professional on your side. An experienced mortgage expert will have helped many, many people like you. They can shed some light on the process, where to begin, what to do first, and also offer proactive advice on the pitfalls to watch out for, and how to bring together the team of experts you’ll need to ensure your home renovation project is a success.

good renovations start with good planning 

Done well, home improvements can be incredibly rewarding and exciting and can often be a better solution than selling your current house and changing homes. At least you know the bones of what you have, and you can put the money saved on real estate commission towards other costs. Like, getting professional advice from an architect or interior designer, or another professional with the skills and vision to update your home and give it a fresher feel.

With planning and foresight, including hiring the best team to bring your dream to fruition, knowing how to manage inevitable conflict and proactively managing stress levels, your house renovation can be fun and stress-free.


Posted in Awesome news, Blog, Managing risk, Mortgages, Property Investment

changing lives: from tenant to first home buyer

Friday, June 10th, 2016

Piers and Loren It was such a pleasure to help this lovely young family purchase their first home. We were pretty stoked to receive the lovely story below and to hear how what we were able to do for them changed their lives.

Read, in their own words, how important it is to make the right steps, talk to the right professionals, and maintain your vision and dream that one day you too will have a place of your own to call home.

“We are a family of three living in Hawera, South Taranaki. Myself (Piers) my fiancé Loren and our son Odin. We also have a wee French bulldog crossed with a toy poodle called Ruby and a cat named Sooty whom we inherited from my late grandmother.

We have been renting in Hawera for over three years now. Recently, when looking to change rentals, we decided to explore the option of buying.

Renting has been tough, we have been on relatively low income for the past few years so have been renting at the lower end of the market. What that equated to was an older home, high ceilings, no insulation or heating, mould throughout the house, a kitchen you can barely fit one person in and to put it politely a house that was barely liveable. We were constantly sick during the winter season which meant our son was missing days at day-care throughout.

I finally got myself into a job on a reasonable income, not high income by any means but certainly enough that we were able to clear our debt and consider a move of house. Whilst looking at rentals online and getting depressed about the lack of options, Loren and I on a whim thought we would look at properties for sale.

We suddenly saw this whole other world of home ownership, which initially didn’t seem too far out of reach. Looking at the basic mortgage calculators we discovered that payments on a home, better than we had ever dreamed of living in, were less than we were looking to pay in rent. It also dawned on us that when renting, we were paying someone else’s mortgage, rates, insurance and a bit extra each week, contributing to their future rather than our own.

So off to the bank we went to talk about our options for mortgages and buying. We were soon crushed as the bank basically laughed us out the door. Ready to give up on the dream we were contacted by my sister and my brother-in-law, recommending that we talk to Laurie Wills at Awesome Mortgages, they told us “he can work miracles”.

Basing our judgement on the reception we received at the bank our hopes were not high. Laurie made contact with us, he listened to our stories and why owning a home was important to us.

This was what set Laurie apart from the rest, right from the first contact. He was not just interested in our income but also our personal stories, circumstances and why we wanted to buy.

Laurie understood how each individual lender operated and the criteria’s they looked to fulfil. He was able to suggest a strategy based on which lender he thought our chances were best with. He advised us on what we would need in terms of a deposit and with help from our families we were able to give Laurie the go-ahead to move forward in trying to secure finance for us.

What an Awesome result we got, in just over a week Laurie came back to us and delivered the good news that he had secured us finance, enough to purchase the home we wanted.

Furthermore it was at incredibly low rates and the whole package he negotiated for us was very affordable. Laurie kept us informed the whole way, phoning us as any issues arose and giving advice on how best to resolve them.

We never believed he would get us across the line, but, I can truly say Laurie acted with our best interests at heart and really went the extra mile because he understood how much this could change our lives for the better. I do not believe there are many others out there that would have been able to achieve the same result, nor, invested their time into helping us.

We are now soon to move into our new home with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, heating, floor and ceiling insulation, full fencing and with wonderful outdoor areas. The future we are now building is our own and we could not have done it without Laurie’s help.

To all those looking to buy I recommend you speak to Laurie, he is straight-up and will tell you exactly where you stand and provide you with the best advice. He acts with a personal touch and has a real social interest in helping people get into a home and having a secure future.”

Here’s a few tips to help all you aspiring first home buyers make your dream of home ownership come true:

  • Do the math—use online mortgage repayment calculators to work out what you may be able to afford
  • Reduce debts—this will help banks say ‘yes’
  • Look for ways to increase income – cashflow is king!
  • Maintain a healthy credit record—no one wants to lend money to someone who has a record of defaulting
  • Ask for help—family members and other people who care about your dream of home ownership may be able to help. If not financially, they may be able to connect you with the right people
  • Work with experienced, objective professionals who take the time to know you
  • Never give up on your dreams! With planning, perseverance and the right connections, they can come true 🙂
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Posted in Awesome news, Blog, First Home Buyer, Home buying, Mortgages

are Wellington mortgages rocketing skyward like Auckland?

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

lorange sculptures Wellington the new Auckland? There has been plenty of press of late suggesting that the Wellington property market has become like Auckland’s. But while prices are on the move Wellington has a long way to go before it becomes as over-heated as its counterpart up north.

Growing numbers of Aucklanders now simply can’t afford to buy or rent a house, and they are looking south, as well as east. Investors are looking for better buys too. We’ve experienced the shift first hand, helping record numbers of clients, both those living inside and outside Wellington, snap up property as they continue to grow their investment portfolios.

Johnno Ingerson, Director of Research at Corelogic, recently commented in the New Zealand Herald that buyer demand based on the number of valuations by banks, has surged to record levels right across Wellington, since December 2015, and shows no sign of slowing. And demand is outstripping supply, placing more pressure on prices.

“The total number of properties for sale in Wellington is around half of what it was this time last year, and continues to fall as the number of properties selling outstrips those being listed for sale. This dramatic fall in choice combined with high demand puts the power in the hands of the seller,” says Ingerson.

While there’s no statistical data kept on open homes volumes, we’ve heard scores of stories from clients about properties attracting record numbers of groups, and agents moving tender dates forward and calling interest before the official deadline. Auctions are on the rise too, unheard of for Wellington properties less than a year ago (other than super expensive homes or bespoke gems). That’s a big change in the Wellington market.

Our Wellington pre-approval numbers are at a record high and we are increasingly playing the role of coach and grief counselor to clients who have missed out on their sixth, seventh and even eighth offer. On the flipside, after being in a stagnant slump for so long, many of our Wellington-based clients who made smart buying decisions in the past are enjoying seeing Wellington property prices on the rise. Higher values mean they can leverage off equity and spruce up their pad, or make other smart investments.

“Values in Wellington had increased by just under 10 per cent in the four years to September 2015. Since then they have increased 11.2 per cent, the fastest since 2003. More affordable properties up to $700,000 have increased 15 per cent since September, while those over $700,000 have only risen 7 per cent,” says Ingerson. Amen to that. Our experience with clients confirms he’s 110% on the money with that. It’s great to see some balance in values returning to the Wellington market.

Investor activity has been climbing in Wellington since mid-2013, says Ingerson and they are now picking up 40 per cent of all sales. So while there are definite similarities to the Auckland market with high demand coupled with short supply and investors being the most dominant purchasers, only time will tell if the current rapid rates of value increase in Wellington will persist like they have in Auckland.

While experts differ in their opinions, it is universally agreed that the over-heated Auckland market and resulting housing crisis will require bolder action by the Reserve Bank.

Our view? If you’re looking to buy a home to live in or an investment property in Wellington put your best foot forward. There’s still plenty of good buys to be had.

Provided your ownership plans are mid-to-long-term (five years+) if the yield stacks up, or it offers you a lot in terms of desired lifestyle, we say ‘buy now’. But buy smart. Don’t be hasty, but don’t hold back. There appears to be no sign of the market cooling anytime soon.



Posted in Awesome news, Blog, First Home Buyer, Home buying, Housing Market, Investment Property, Mortgages, NZ Economy, Property Investment

don’t get caught without a LIM report

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015


When you finally find your dream home it’s easy to fall in love with the house and forget to take prudent steps to check that everything is in good order.

On the surface the property may look perfect: Perfect shiny new paint lacquered to a gleam; prefect interior with the latest high-spec kitchen and wondrous plumbing. Perhaps even a wonderful perfectly manicured garden.

everything that glistens is not always gold

Straight away you can see yourself in the house living your dream life and enjoying loads of barbecues with friends in the height of summer. But don’t be fooled. Everything that glistens is not always gold, and what started out as a low maintenance dream can quickly turn into a DIY disaster.

Finding the perfect house can be like finding the perfect partner: rare to find and harder to get rid of once you’ve made a mistake.

Scratch beneath the perfect veneer and there’s a high chance you will find cracks in the facade, especially if it’s been round the blocks a few times before. Houses, like people, often come with baggage. Baggage – that people keen to move on are often motivated to hide.

And don’t err by thinking if you just get a building report you’ll have all bases covered.

We learnt this lesson only too well, and took a killer-hit to the pocket in the process. Perhaps like us you consider yourself an astute, not easily fooled, good judge of character. But take it from us when it comes to buying a house, most likely one of the most expensive purchases you’ll ever make in your lifetime, there is absolutely no place for trust.

The grueling experience is behind us now, but 12 years ago we fell in love with our former property. The previous owner was a Wellington based architect. We assumed, as it turns out incorrectly, that as a professional the alterations he had done to the house would be compliant with council legislation.

With a fatally ‘she’ll be right Kiwi attitude’ we didn’t get a LIM report. The house looked so perfect, strong, stable, and built to endure. Plus it was the architect’s own home – surely he’d do an A++ job on his own house. Lesson one – never assume anything.

Not long after taking possession cracks began to appear. A damp feeling on the deck over the garage lingered and didn’t shift. The garage began to leak. We contacted the former owner, the architect who had designed and submitted the plans to Council for consent, then project managed the alterations to the deck himself. We told him of the problem, hoping he may be able to help.

Only then, not when we first expressed interest in buying the house, did he admit that he too had experienced some leaking. He said he ‘thought’ it had been fixed and thus neglected to tell us of the prior issue.

Code Compliance Certificate nightmare

The can of worms began to turn and unravel. A twisting in our gut occurred as to our horror we found the Code Compliance Certificate (CCC) had never been gained.

Astoundingly the architect told us he’d ‘simply “forgotten” to have this major alteration signed off.

We’d beg to differ. We quickly found that the deck he designed should never have been built. So many aspects were non-compliant; Even the height of the balustrade was illegal – a child could have toppled over and fallen to their death.

We contacted the architect to ask for his help sourcing the original plans. He was exceedingly quick to tell us his legal obligations had long since ceased. In this area he was very knowledgeable! Had 10 years not passed since the purchase we would have had some recourse, but it would still have been a hassle.

His sigh of relief was audible. Perhaps, we asked, accepting we were at fault for not getting a LIM in the first place, if he could save us the cost of having someone redraw the drawings, we could rectify the errors.

Incredibly, and with no remorse, he said he’d be happy to at his normal architectural fee. This despite the fact that he had the plans and drawings already on file.

costly mistakes

Left with little recourse to the architect, nor the Council, we dug into our own pockets. The total cost? Over $70,000 to repair and two years of acute stress.

We can tell you we would have rather flown first class around the world and spent six months living in Italy then spend the money fixing someone else’s mistake. We’re sharing the story to highlight the seriousness of taking shortcuts, or making decisions based on assumptions and trust.

We’re experts when it comes to getting an awesome mortgage and now based on lessons hard learned, we’re experts on the importance of doing due diligence prior to confirming your offer.

So take it from us – don’t get caught without a Land Information Memorandum (LIM) report when buying your next home.

peace of mind

The lessons learned during this process reaped benefits when it came to purchasing our new lifestyle property. Diving deeper into the details of the LIM report brought to light issues that could have future consequences in respect to easements. These issues gave us both negotiating leverage, and allowed us to to take steps to minimize risk.

To gain more information, including a comprehensive report detailing the history of the property you are looking to purchase, contact your local council. If the property is in Wellington follow this handy link >> Even if you’re not in Wellington this link also details all the useful things a LIM covers.


Posted in Awesome news, Blog, Buying a house, First Home Buyer, Home buying, Managing risk, Mortgages

looking back and looking forward

Monday, November 30th, 2015

Pohutukawa tree on the beach

What a massive year. It really has been awesome. We’re stoked to be heading into some well-earned, and eagerly anticipated, downtime.

What about you? Are you getting away, or saving your money to pay off your mortgage quicker? Whatever you do, make it count. It’s a cliché but it’s true, time is short. Too short, sometimes. Just ask Jonah Lomu’s widow, or anyone else who’s lost loved ones prematurely.

What counts for us, in business and in life, is making a difference. That and having fun. Okay, it’s not always fun. Sometimes it’s b***** stressful.

But work feels less like a slog when we get to help awesome people like you make your dreams come true. We’re lucky to have clients we’re proud to call friends. Of course the odd bottle of champers we’re sometimes sent, goes down a treat too.

But seriously, it’s so great to stay in touch and see so many dreams come true. We love the long-term relationships we’ve developed. Seeing people come from humble beginnings, starting off with one rental property, and over a very short time period building a property portfolio in excess of $4 million, is awesome.

It’s satisfying too, watching as clients’ families grow, or their circumstances change for the better, and helping them into new homes.

And I get a buzz helping people overcome obstacles. Like a ‘young’ man in his 50’s who was told he was too old to take out a 30-year mortgage. Really? Why? We all know life doesn’t come with guarantees. It was a pleasure to go into bat and get a fair result.

Being called the Prophet, or Interest Rate Guru, is testimony to my knack of getting interest rate predictions right. As one client said recently, “This is the fourth time in a row your interest rate advice was spot on. You’ve saved us thousands of dollars.”

Yes!! Nobody wants to pay a buck more than they have to.

an audacious move that definitely paid off

You’ve truly inspired us to make changes too. Living near Kerikeri on our lifestyle block, overlooking the magical Bay of Islands, is a dream that wouldn’t have come true were it not for you. It was an audacious move that definitely paid off.

“How will people feel if we’re based in the Winterless North”, we wondered. “Will they balk and walk if they can’t do business over a caffeine shot? What about the tie, the dark suit, the polished shoes? Will a T-shirt and shorts send the wrong message?”

I thought it could, but Cass, said, “Trust me. It’s what you do, the results you get, and the integrity you do it with, that attracts people to you, and keeps them coming back. That, and all those razor-sharp deals.”

(And yes, this really is the view from the office!)

a record-breaking year – the best yet

This financial year has been the biggest, most financially successful in my career as a mortgage expert. Thriving up North? It’s true! And best of all, I’ve still been able to pursue my passions. This year I’m on track to have helped Kiwi’s like you purchase in excess of $65 million dollars worth of property.

Some of the negotiations I’ve concluded while up a tree, butterfly net in one hand, iPhone in the other, while in Papua New Guinea. I’ve also helped people buy homes while I’ve been high in the mountains of war-torn Bougainville.

Then there were the mortgage negotiations made all the sweeter while I was swinging in a hammock in Fiji. But most of my help has been given while enjoying my own slice of paradise back home. I really do think the warmer climate has given me superpowers when it comes to getting the best outcomes for my clients.

Yip, there’s a myth in the mortgage industry, we’ve happily proved wrong, that you have to don a tie, work relentless nights and weekends, and invade peoples’ privacy by going to their homes.

By making positive changes in our lives, changes that better reflect how we want to live and work, we proved the research right. Happier people earn more money.

And Cassandra has been setting records too. In between co-captaining the Awesome Mortgages ship, her newly released book, Mid-Life Career Rescue became the hot new release on Amazon and shot to the #1 bestseller. If you’re sick of your job, or want to start planning for a better future, check it out. Change your life, before it’s too late. You can purchase it on Amazon here >>

And if you want, or need, to free yourself up to do the things you really want, we’re here to help. Like one of our clients, who plans to leverage off the equity in his home to open his own boutique brewery. Or others, who want to get on top of their mortgage and be debt-free quicker.

chase your dreams

As Cassandra’s book highlights, it’s not always about the money. It’s about quality of life – your health, your relationships, and your well-being. Yes, your time is limited, but your capacity to create your reality, your ability to chase your dreams, your nouse for setting goals and achieving them, is infinite.

But as you and I know, getting mortgage free quicker, and paying no more interest than you have to, opens the door to more freedom of choice.

I’m currently away for a week of R&R with my son Nick, who’s just finished 6th form at Wellington College. It’s father and son bonding time– which makes working hard even sweeter.

But, both Cassandra (who will be at the helm) and I wanted to wish you, and those close to you, a happy festive season.

Thanks again for your support.

2015 was amazing – together let’s make 2016 even more awesome.

Merry Christmas and safe holidays


Posted in Awesome news, Blog

to fix or float? 5 questions to ask before you decide

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

Fixed-or-Floating croppedimage600400-The big question on many peoples minds right now is whether to fix or float? Here’s an article on Westpac’s REDnews written by Luke Parker. We hope you find it insightful.
Interest rates are only tracking in one direction: down.With so much change going on in the market, home buyers and owners looking to refinance have some tough questions to consider: Do I fix? Do I float? Do I wait a bit more? Do I risk it and just take a punt? Laurie Wills, experienced mortgage broker and founder of Awesome Mortgages, says unfortunately knowing whether to fix or float is not a perfect science.

Laurie Wills Awesome Mort

No magic formula

“There’s no formulaic approach,” Laurie says. “You can’t say interest rates are tracking in this direction or that direction, house values are tracking in this direction, so this plus that equals fix for 2 years. It really comes down to each individual’s unique situation.”

He believes it’s a combination of looking at economic indicators, like what’s the Reserve Bank doing and what’s happening to the domestic and international economies which will all have an impact on interest rates.

“But also, the wild cards are buyer behaviour and banking competitive pressures.”

The mortgage specialist says you don’t necessarily know you’ve made the right decision until the end of that fixed-rate period.

“Then you can look back and see how it panned out based on where the market’s sitting at that point in time. You may find that having fixed earlier at a slightly higher rate has advantaged you at the end of the journey.”

Making a decision – food for thought

Laurie, an experienced mortgage advisor, believes it should always come back to cost certainty.

“How much peace of mind do people really want and what kind of cost certainty do they want? It’s very easy, and we all do it, to get caught up in that sort of trap of trying to save money through fixing. I get this is human nature, but I think we need to be careful that you don’t get caught up in that and really lose sight of the real reason why you should be picking, which is cost certainty.”

One of the biggest considerations for people right now, Laurie says, is how they will feel after they fix and there’s a further downward movement in rates.

He says that he sometimes sees people get to the point where they’re waiting, waiting, and waiting for the perfect rate, but it costs them in the long run.

“People wait, knowing there’s another potential OCR cut coming up. Suddenly they’ve sat for 2 or 3 months and nothing’s happened – in that time they could have already shaved a fair bit off their rate if they’d fixed earlier.”

The OCR and interest rate movement misconception

From an advisor’s perspective, Laurie sees part of his role as educating people around how the OCR works.

“Whenever there’s an OCR movement, I get this flurry of calls from people asking what the 2-year fixed rate is doing now. Well it doesn’t necessarily work that way.”

He says the general OCR movement will affect floating rates but won’t necessarily impact on fixed rates.

“But the public are conditioned to believe, for whatever right or wrong reason, that whenever the OCR goes up or down, that interest rates across the board are going to move.

“Sometimes I wonder whether there’s more of an artificial market evolving just purely because of competitive pressures between the banks rather than what you could link or explain as a result of the OCR movement.”

Pull out quote Laurie Wills

Everything is cyclical

For those new to the world of mortgage rates, Laurie says it’s important to understand that interest rates will change.

“Everything is cyclical. Interest rates will rise again, it’s just a question of when.

“If I was a first home buyer in the current market and I didn’t have a lot of equity, I would probably be favouring fixing longer than shorter, because the rates are very, very affordable.”

For first home buyers with less than 20% deposit and paying a low equity margin on their rate, Laurie says another consideration is looking at the potential to reduce their debt or increase their equity through a shorter fixed period and then going on to get a better interest rate for a longer fixed period.

Will rates stay low?

Laurie says his personal view is there’s nothing particularly scary on the horizon in the short to medium term, and by that he means the next few years.

“For me, the sweet spot now is really a 6-month or 12-month fixed rate term, but that’s as long as you’ve got some wriggle room if rates un-expectantly hike.”

But again Laurie puts a high value on peace of mind, saying, “People sleep easy at night if they’ve a 2 or 3 year cost certainty.”

That being said, “Other people will just naturally want to play the market and take a bit of a punt.”

Laurie’s 5 questions to ask yourself when deciding to fix or float:

  • How much certainty and peace of mind do I want? What impact will any interest rate rises have on my lifestyle and ability to meet my financial commitments?
  • How much flexibility do I want? At the end of the day, the rate that you pay is important, but your rate of pay is more important. So you want to be careful not to limit your ability to pay extra.
  • Is there a possibility that I might be going to sell in the short to medium term? If this is the case, you definitely wouldn’t be fixing.
  • Am I looking to take on board debt like additional property? It would be wise to try and forecast out and really consider what your needs are.
  • How am I going to feel if I don’t fix and then the market turns? How am I going to feel if I do fix and the market continues sliding down?
Posted in Awesome news, Blog, Buying a house, Home buying, Housing Market, Interest rates, Mortgages

your pre-approval just got sweeter!

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

jelly_beans_shellac-1isy0bq (1)Whether you’ve already found a property and gone unconditional, or are still house-hunting, transferring your pre-approval to Awesome Mortgages will sweeten the deal.

It’s easy to do, and the benefits will be significant.

your pre-approval

Home loan pre-approvals provide you with the confidence you have your financial ducks in a row and can buy a property. They’re a time-specific commitment from a bank to you, allowing you to progress your home-buying plans. But they don’t tie you to your current bank.

If you’re not yet pre-approved check out this blog post to find our how getting pre-approved can give you the home-buying edge >>

key benefits of transferring your pre-approval to Awesome Mortgages

Many lawyers recommend to their clients that they seek impartial advice from an experienced, professional mortgage adviser before accepting an offer of finance from a bank.

Gaining professional, practical and independent advice means less risk and greater peace of mind. Plus when you deal with a great mortgage expert you get more than just a mortgage. An awesome mortgage adviser will help you:

• get the lowest possible interest rates and best possible benefits (e.g. cash contribution)
• choose from a wider range of lenders and options
• get the best mortgage to suit your needs
• repay your loan faster
• make the right move and stay on top – whatever your needs

All these benefits stem from the professionalism and expertise of an impartial mortgage specialist. Someone who’s well connected and knowledgeable about what’s out there in the marketplace. Because they’re not aligned with any one bank, and not pushing just one barrow, you’ll never have to wonder, was there a better deal somewhere else? The wrong choice is often a costly choice.

All things being equal your current bank may well be the best fit for you. But to be able to make a considered decision it’s important to fully understand all your options and the differences between the banks.

impartial advice across a range of providers

One of the questions we’re often asked is, ‘what about the personal banker I’ve been dealing with? I quite like them. I feel like I owe them something for the time they’ve spent working with us.’

That’s fantastic. We’re all about relationships too. However, what you’ve got to think about first and foremost is what’s most important for you. You’re about to make one of your biggest financial decisions ever, and amongst other variables getting the bottom line right is critical.

Your personal banker can’t offer impartial advice. Nor can they facilitate any negotiations across banks to ensure you’re getting the best deal. Their loyalty and commitment, understandably, is limited to their own employer and their bank’s suite of mortgage offerings.

A professional mortgage adviser, on the other hand, can, and does, offer much valued impartiality and greater choice.

how to stay sweet with your current pre-approval provider

If you’re worried about damaging your relationship or getting offside with your current banking professional you needn’t worry.

The best way to position things with your current bank is something along the lines of, ‘We’d like to be drawing down our loan with you, but we’re about to make a very big decision and we want to make a fully informed choice. We want to know what else is out there in the marketplace to ensure we’re getting the best deal and you’re the right fit for us.

We can have that conversation with your personal banker, or you can. It’s what’s most comfortable for you that matters most.

If you do draw down the loan with your existing bank, the person who you were formally dealing with can still do what the industry calls ‘the handover or wash-up,‘ – liaising directly with you to set up any new accounts you may need. In this way they’ll have the satisfaction of helping you through the home loan process and be recognised by the bank as doing a great job. And you’ll get to continue the relationship and level of service you’ve come to enjoy. So wins all round.

Transferring your mortgage isn’t about burning bridges, it’s about opening doors.

will transferring my pre-approval mean I’ll lose my mortgage?

Transferring your pre-approval to a professional mortgage adviser doesn’t mean losing control. Good mortgage advisers have long-term contractual relationships with the banks and are often seen as an extension of their business development team.

Assuming your personal situation hasn’t changed there’s absolutely no way the bank you’re currently with will cancel your current pre-approval

It also can’t be taken away because bank lending criteria changes or because the Reserve Bank has imposed new lending restrictions.. A pre-approval remains valid until the expiry date set by the bank which typically is up to six months. The bank does however reserve the right to withdraw their offer if your financial situation changes and they are concerned you might not be able to meet your financial obligations.

So transferring your mortgage is not only a safe choice, it’s a smart choice, and it’s an easy choice.

smart advice from savvy professionals – we’re here to help

Whether you’re still hunting or have found your dream home, transferring your current pre-approval to Awesome Mortgages is simple and the benefits are awesome!

In short, it involves two quick steps:

1.) Completing a simple online application, which in addition to providing us with your financial information, lets us know what specific goals, plans and preferences you have for your mortgage

2.) Advising the bank who holds your current pre-approval that you now wish to work with Awesome Mortgages as your adviser.

By simplifying the process of transferring your pre-approval and saving you the time of running around, you’ll benefit from the clout we have with banks, our sabre-sharp negotiating power, and a bespoke mortgage tailored specifically for you.

You’ll then be able to settle into your new home with the confidence you’ve made a really smart choice.

As one of our clients recently said recently, “They won’t just get you a great home loan – they’ll get you an awesome home loan!”

Contact us now to get started.

Posted in Awesome news, Blog, First Home Buyer, Home buying, Mortgages, Pre-approval

refixing your mortgage – switching banks might get you the best deal

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side1croppedIs it time to fix your mortgage? Do you stay with your current bank or is the grass greener elsewhere?

When it’s time to refix their current mortgage clients often ask us if switching banks would get them a better deal. The common theme in all our conversations is that they’d be happy to stay with their current bank if they’re offering the best deal, and they’re equally happy to move if they can do better.

There are three main reasons why people look to make a move from their existing bank. Firstly, they’re after a better deal. Secondly, they may be unhappy with the service they’re getting. And thirdly, because their existing bank can’t or won’t lend them the money they want to progress their plans. Or it may be a combination of these three factors.

Whatever your reasons for considering a shift, you’ll still be wanting to get the sharpest possible deal. If your current bank will give you this, great. But, if not, it may be time to consider a change.

The reality is that your bank is not going to risk losing you if the interest rate you can get down the road is better. We’d much rather see you remain with your current lender than have you swap and we’ll do our best to keep things sweet. Once we go into bat on your behalf they’ll often come to the party and match their competitors.

But where they’re unlikely to be able to compete is when the bank down the road is offering a sizable cash contribution to attract your mortgage. Currently, if you have a $400,000 – $500,000 loan, we’ve been negotiating $4,000, in some cases even $5,000, to lure you across. It’s significant coin. If the bank you’re with can only match the best interest rate in town, which is the same as their competitor, and it’s only going to cost you say $800 in legal fees to move your mortgage, the cash contribution remaining of some $3,000 to $4,000 is a powerful incentive for many to switch. For a possible maximum of three hours of your personal time it’s a significant hourly rate, and the benefits don’t always stop there.

match fixing

When we negotiate rates with your bank and your new bank there is a point where you can’t keep going back from one bank to the other asking them to match and better the other. Our approach with negotiating with the banks, particularly if you’re looking to change is to make it very well known to your existing bank that you’re looking to move, that you are shopping and have asked us to look at other offers, and that there is a very, very high chance that they may lose your business. We emphasize that they must put their best foot forward. We will very rarely go back and give them another shot. After all, do you really want to stay when they’re holding out on you? And as we’ve already highlighted, your existing bank can’t compete with the cash contribution so if that’s the motivator, the decision is easy – you’re going to move.

pricing versus service and other qualitative considerations

It’s however not always about price. Other factors can and should enter the equation. Let’s face it, some banks do it better than others. Some banks provide better service, or may have more ATMs in certain locations, or have a nicer banking environment. Some banks offer greater flexibility without you facing early repayment recovery costs to pay extra during a fixed rate period. There may be philanthropic considerations. Banks support many worthwhile causes and endeavours and some may be close to heart.

Okay, so you’ve factored all these things in and decided to switch banks but despite the benefits you’re worried about the hassle.

switching banks is easy

If there’s one thing banks have got down to a fine art it’s moving customers from one bank to another. Banks have a streamlined switching process which in almost all cases the process is relatively hassle-free and the gains can be significant.

Changing your mortgage can save you heaps of money through sharper interest rates, reduced fees, and giving you the opportunity to change your loan term and structure to get mortgage free quicker.

We know you’re busy and we’re committed to making the process seamless and hassle-free. We have years of experience helping people make successful mortgage switches and are here to walk you through the process. You can sit back and trust all the detail to your Awesome Mortgages team, a trusty lawyer, and banking professionals committed to making the change effortless.

First of all we’ll be negotiating the sharpest possible rates and benefits. Once we’ve applied to the new bank on your behalf, gained an approval, analysed the best structure, and the background work is in place, it’s a simple matter of getting you all set up. Just five easy steps is all it takes: application, approval, acceptance, signing new documents and confirmation your new loan is in place.

if you’re thinking about switching your mortgage to a new bank here’s a few important things you need to know:

new loan documents

Once you’ve decided to make a move and firmed up a date to make the switch you’ll need to contact your lawyer, or we can contact them for you.

Don’t worry about any legal fees. These are in most cases $800 or less, and the cash contribution offered to attract your business will cover this – and more.

Your lawyer will contact your old bank and request from them what we refer to in the trade as a ‘discharge.’ This is the amount you’ll need to repay your existing mortgage on the day you switch.

If you have any repayments or interest accrued after your existing bank has given your lawyer the discharge figure or if there are any break costs these will be factored into the repayment costs to settle your existing loan.

Because you’re setting up a new mortgage the bank you’re moving to will prepare new loan documents which you’ll need to review and sign in the presence of your lawyer.

On the day of refinancing your lawyer will request from your new bank the sum needed to repay your old bank. Both your lawyer and your old bank will send you summary statements. So you will have a clear audit trail of the switch.

new bank accounts for your mortgage

You’ll need to set up new bank accounts. But there is no need to rush in. We’ll arrange for your new bank to contact you to tee-up a convenient time for you to call into a local branch. To make sure you are who you say you are (and to comply with new anti-money laundering requirements), you’ll need to take two forms of ID, and proof of your residential address (something like a utility bill linking your name/s to your address).

There will be a few forms to sign, new Eftpos cards and online banking to arrange and voila – you’re all set up. Oh, and don’t worry about setting up and transferring things like direct debits. Your new bank will do this for you. And if you would prefer they will even take care of closing your old bank accounts.

switching your other accounts

When you switch your mortgage you don’t always have to switch all your banking. Having said that, when banks are offering a sizable cash contribution to attract your mortgage then they generally expect you move the bank account you have your income or salary direct credited to and keep it there for a minimum of two years. Most people prefer to have accounts at only one bank because this simplifies the banking process.

It’s also easier to have the majority of your accounts in one place so that your payments and transfers go through more quickly. Having all your bank accounts under one roof also makes it easier to keep an eye on your balances so you don’t slip into overdraft or miss a payment which might affect your credit rating.

Your bank accounts don’t have to be switched the very same day as your mortgage is swapped. Banks will transition this to suit. You may prefer, for example – as one of clients recently did – to shift your salary account across and leave other personal accounts with your existing banks for a fixed period of time.

While banks might not make you switch all account in one go, for a really streamlined, hassle free approach it makes sense though, to move accounts sooner rather than later. You’ll often get a better deal with all your banking under one roof.

Shopping around the banks can be complex, time consuming and frustrating. We’ll handle the stress, gladly do the running around for you, negotiate competitive interest rates and terms, and show you ways to reduce the amount of interest you pay – all for free.

Switch your mortgage, save money and get a home loan that fits your lifestyle – now and in the future and enjoy greener pastures.







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Posted in Awesome news, Blog, Interest rates, Mortgages

sale and purchase agreements

Friday, August 29th, 2014

IMG_1607For weeks, months or maybe even longer, you’ve combed the real estate mags, scanned open2view, and Trade Me Property and had almost given up on the hope of ever finding the right property.

But the day has arrived. You’ve found your dream home and want to give it your very best shot!  So where to next?

You’ll need to decide how much you can afford or are willing to offer and work out your negotiating strategy. Unless the property is being sold by auction, you’ll need to fill out a tender document or let the real estate agent know the terms and conditions of your offer. You could email the agent with the terms or let them know verbally.

You get to call the following shots:

  1. The things you want to check out before you fully commit to buying – referred to by those in the trade as the ‘offer conditions’.
  2. The time you’ll need to satisfy your offer conditions.
  3. How much dosh you’re willing to part with as a deposit. This seals the sale and means there’s no turning back. The property is yours!
  4. When you want to move in or take possession – known as the settlement date.

offer conditions  

In principle, the more conditions you include in your offer the less attractive it will appear to a seller wanting an uncomplicated, quick sale.  But given what’s at stake when buying property you should avoid cutting corners and becoming exposed to unnecessary risk.

It’s easy to succumb to pressure or let your heart strings run away. We’ve all been there and done that. Laurie Wills, the property guru himself once got caught out big time. Taking what he thought was a calculated punt, in the final wash-up opting not to get a LIM cost him sixty grand and nearly a full-head of grey hair – something he’ll share with you in a blog post to come soon.

A sale and purchase agreement is a legally binding contract, so be sure to run it by your lawyer before signing. Seek their advice regarding conditions to include.

Here’s a few of the most common conditions – including timeframes, and estimates of the costs it takes to satisfy them:

Finance five working days but up to ten if you’ll need extra time for example to arrange a registered valuation

Building inspection five working days (Around $600)

House insurance one working day

Land Information Memorandum (LIM) ten working days ($330)

Registered valuation report five working days (Around $650)

Body corporate minutes and financial records five working days. A must do if you’re looking to purchase an apartment!

Title search one working day. It’s a good idea to have your lawyer check the title before signing the sale and purchase agreement as the cost is usually minimal and this then means one less offer condition.

Check out our star-performers for the names of lawyers, building inspectors, valuers and other experts you can trust and who will help you check out the property like a pro.

council property information

You can find out about the types of property reports available from the Wellington City Council by following the link here – Wellington City Council Property Information.

If the property you’ve got your heart set on is outside the Wellington area simply log on to the relevant Council website and follow your nose.

A large number of sale and purchase agreements and tender documents we come across are conditional on a Property Report rather than a LIM Report as many consider this adequate to check for things like unpermitted building work or outstanding consents.  But again this is something you should discuss with your legal eagle who will walk you through the pluses and minuses of the various options.


The deposit is usually paid to the real estate agent by the buyer once the sale and purchase agreement becomes unconditional (when all offer conditions have been satisfied). Or it can be paid on acceptance of the offer.

The money is initially held in the real estate agent’s trust account and the agent usually takes their commission from the deposit when the contract becomes unconditional.

Real estate agents may ask for a 10% deposit but in our experience a 5% deposit is most common. Rather than a percentage, parties often agree on a fixed sum such as $25,000.

Tenders usually require that a cheque is attached for the deposit. But how many people these days have cheque books?! Most end up paying the deposit by making a bank transfer after being notified that their tender has been successful.

Make sure you have access to cash to pay for the deposit as getting a short term temporary overdraft from the bank is expensive.

Once the offer becomes unconditional you won’t be able to get your deposit back if you change your mind for any reason. So be sure you really want the property!

settlement date

The settlement date can be some time after the date the offer becomes unconditional. Most people aim for four weeks after all the offer conditions have been satisfied and the sale has been sealed.

It’s common for the agreement to show next to the date “or earlier by mutual agreement”. This means that if everyone is on the same page you can move in or take possession earlier than initially agreed.

If the preference is for a real speedy settlement, this can happen in as little as a couple of days. We recently helped clients move in within just 48 hours of sealing the sale!  Be sure to check with your lawyer before agreeing to a really short settlement date as an “urgency” fee may apply. And a word of caution if you’re using KiwiSaver to buy the home – short settlement dates won’t work as application to withdraw KiwiSaver funds can only be made when the sale and purchase agreement has gone unconditional (all offer conditions have been satisfied).

residential property sale and purchase guide

Click here to download a copy of the Real Estate Agent Authority’s guidelines: REAA Residential Property Sale and Purchase Agreement Guide.

risk versus return

Of course you can always weigh up the pros and cons of checking things out before making an offer.

On one hand you’ll have a cleaner offer or possibly even an offer with no conditions. But on the other hand, how will you feel, having parted with a wad of cash to check everything out if your offer isn’t accepted?

At the end of the day information is power and smart decisions are informed and considered decisions.

Wishing you happy (and careful!) house buying.

P.S. Remember, always have your lawyer check your sale and purchase agreement before you sign it!


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Posted in Blog, First Home Buyer, Home buying, Mortgages