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Property's In Our DNA

Will Alexander looks back at the first game of Monopoly and how its fundamentals remain relevant today.

By: Will Alexander

1 October 2021

Whether we like it or not, property is always going to be highly attractive for New Zealanders. First conceived and patented in 1904 by Elizabeth Magie, Monopoly was originally called “The Landlords Game” to illustrate the negative impact of the “law of rent” and the economic imbalance. Fast forward 117 years, and the concept of buying land and maximising profit by renting the ground for the best use more or less underpins our society today.

Sitting around the latest iteration of Monopoly growing up, the basic concept of buying property, renting and developing the land was entrenched into our minds. Those who kept their $200 for passing “Go” each time around the board and saved fastidiously certainly looked cash-rich and had no issue with paying rent. But those who invested every dollar they acquired into buying Mayfair and all the rest looked poor initially, but over time, and every time, their net worth snowballed. The fastidious saver was at the mercy of swelling rents and monopoly of the land.

Although the newspapers would have you believe that modern-day landlords set out with the intention of crushing their tenants, the concept of owning more land and realising the full potential is what Western civilisations are taught to do. “The Landlords Game” is the quintessential Kiwi dream, and for that reason, over a long enough timeframe, it will remain as one of the best options for investing our money.

As New Zealanders sit at home under level four lockdown restrictions, the property market will undoubtedly be questioned, and arguments will be published that will either denounce or support this hypothesis. Even with the support of government subsidies, businesses will be under a considerable amount of pressure, and, inevitably, many will not see the light of day after this latest resurgence of Covid-19. It makes you question what maintains and holds values through various crises – and where I should live in this new world.

The dire predictions about the property market after lockdown in 2020 never came to fruition. The months after lockdown have been the strongest in recent memory across provincial New Zealand. Property values increased significantly around the regions, and there was and will continue to be strong demand from people relocating from the major cities.

Before Covid-19 existed and our typical freedoms were taken away, throughout history, investing in a sound property has been as stable and attractive as investing in gold. It is tangible; there isn’t enough, and after the GFC in 2008, checks and balances were introduced to mitigate a similar event.

Post Covid-19, the value of owning your safe haven and a larger slice of Aotearoa has only but grown. We see solid and consistent capital gains right through the country, not just in the larger cities, plus Kiwis no longer take their liberties for granted, and the value of living in a warm, safe home has become even more valuable. If we can’t go anywhere, where we live becomes a massive focus and key incentive moving forward.

The Landlords Game is as relevant as it was back in 1904, and buying, selling and investing in property throughout New Zealand continues to be a good use of the $200 you receive each time you pass Go.

Maybe it is time for a new game?

As the General Manager for Property Management at Property Brokers, Will Alexander is passionate about this industry and innovation - focused on implementing solutions that improve operations, customer experience, and business profitability. He is a staunch believer in; people, property and working smarter.


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