The performance of the real estate industry, and those businesses, like MethSolutions, that are part of the real estate value chain, has the potential to influence our economic, social and emotional wellbeing. The ‘glue’ that holds the real estate industry together, is REINZ. The Real Estate Industry of New Zealand. And REINZ has a new CEO, Bindi Norwell.

Bindi Norwell, CEO REINZ

Bindi Norwell, CEO REINZ

I recently found myself at the same table as Bindi at a real estate industry awards dinner. This gave me the chance to have a conversation and get a sense for the person behind the title. I was mightily impressed.

I was even more impressed, when Bindi agreed to respond to a few questions so that the MethSolutions Blog, includes some content that goes above and beyond the murky world of methamphetamine!

You moved back to NZ with your family from Europe; how are the Norwells settling in?

Brilliant, I love New Zealand. We’ve been here seven years now and my family is really happy here, this is a great country with friendly people and the kids love their schools!  We have managed to travel across quite a lot of the country and I am continuously amazed how beautiful it is – it’s a very special part of the world.

Having had a few months to get your feet under the table; what have been the things that have excited you most about your new role?

I’ve really enjoyed getting immersed in the industry, getting to know a huge number of our members. I have enjoyed travelling to different parts of the country from Northland to Southern Canterbury to meet our members and discuss what is going on in their community and local area.  There can be very different opportunities and challenges depending on where you are in New Zealand. I have also enjoyed working on policy and legislative issues – meeting with Ministers and Policy Makers to discuss legislation and how they may impact on the real estate market.  I love thinking about the opportunities with new technology and researching key trends in New Zealand as well as internationally and how we can support our members in leveraging new technology to support their businesses.

With a professional background that has seen you focus on strategy development; where do you see the big opportunities for the real estate industry to build and add value to its customers?

There are a huge number of opportunities for the industry, but some of the priorities we’re focusing on at the moment, are leveraging the extensive data we have, and looking at how technology can support the industry, and our agents, such as Virtual Reality, smart homes and the internet of things. Technology is changing quickly and offers many exciting opportunities for real estate agents to add more value to their customers and clients.  For example, beacon technology can be used to automatically send information on properties to interested parties in a particular area.  Virtual reality is a great way of showcasing properties and commercial buildings and enabling potential buyers to visualise different colour schemes for new builds.  The list is endless.

Part of any strategic planning exercise, is to look at the potential down side; what do you see as being the biggest challenges faced by the industry?

Supporting the industry with the increasing regulation is a key focus for us going forward. There are a lot of regulatory consultations and we work very hard on helping get the balance right between protecting customers and regulating the industry. We believe that to be effective, any approach needs to be practical, clear and enforceable. I am personally a strong supporter of leveraging working parties or industry discussions to foster creative thinking and testing elements to help ensure changes are practical and useful.

Our business philosophy, is based around the belief that the best outcomes tend to come when people find ways of cooperating and collaborating on issues; where do you see opportunities for cooperation and collaboration within the real estate value chain?

A couple of good examples are the working groups, such as on methamphetamine contamination and anti-money laundering. There are some great people in our industry who are working hard to achieve some positive outcomes.

Another example, is working with other industry sectors such as Developers and the Government and thinking about new ways to address the housing issues the country is facing at the moment.  I attended one last week called the Auckland Housing Summit that brought together a number of people from different areas such as policy makers, developers and real estate agents to discuss the situation and think creatively on potential actions that can help address housing issues. It was a powerful workshop as it started with why it matters, a potential vision and leveraged the creative thinking power of people with different skills and experience and developed some clear actions for next steps. “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them” said Albert Einstein – a very fitting quote they kicked off the session with.

We would all like to achieve more, in a shorter time frame! If you had a magic wand, what would the one thing you would change about the Real Estate Industry.

An increased clarity in the market in terms of the data, so that people understand what’s really going on and can make informed decisions on house purchases. We believe REINZ can add significant value in this area by providing a trusted source of market intelligence. Also, we hear many comments from the industry on the struggle for first home buyers to get onto the property market with LVRs and banks tightening their lending criteria. Ideally, finding a creative solution would help make it easier for First Time Buyers to get into the market, balanced with the right protections in place.

Lastly, we’d like to ensure that Kiwis have healthy homes to live in and that a plentiful supply of homes is available.

Finally, every business owner is told to spend more time working on the business as opposed to getting stuck in the business, this can be challenging; what are your top tips for business owners struggling to ‘find the time’ for strategy and planning?

I agree this is difficult to do, but in making sure that you focus on the right things and making time in the day to reflect and understand your priorities. When you get stuck on a way forward, which can be very time consuming, I like getting people in a room and brainstorming together to help find the solution and look at it from different points of view.

It’s also important to have a clear picture of where you’re going over the next 1-3 years so you know your ‘true North’.  This helps guide focus and priorities.

MethSolutions Summary

So there you have it. Opportunities abound in the Real Estate Sector and the use of good quality data, well considered by industry experts, will see things moving onward and upward. Our thanks to Bindi for taking the time to share her personal insights with us. We wish her and the real estate industry leaders she works with well, in forging a successful future for all those involved the real estate value chain.