The busy minds at HAPS are wondering things.
This week, we have been wondering who actually benefits from transparency in home and property related matters and what we have uncovered, is that the homeowner has a lot to gain but the industries that fuel the property market, have much less to gain by being honest and transparent. Interesting!
It’s no secret that most people can see the value of being organised and having a way to securely record documents and data relating to their largest asset. But for these practices to really take hold and become ‘normal’ they need a champion in at least one industry to encourage, provide or require transparency. So let’s look at some of these industries with this issue in mind.
Surely building firms would love to have a safe, secure way to record all materials used in a construction project? Or what about a secure process for recording and handing over warranty information and user guides? Well, as it turns out, the grey area where there is lack of full disclosure is also where some companies profit. For example, a manufacturer warranty on building materials is often made void by lack of correct maintenance, but this is not information that everyone is aware of. Therefore, if this information is not transparent, customers/homeowners will in some cases unknowingly neglect to take care of the materials correctly. It also means that in the event of a warranty claim, the manufacturer is advantaged by the lack of appropriate maintenance, while the homeowner is disadvantaged specifically in the case of the claim, and more generally in the overall good maintenance of their home.
So what about insurance? How many of us randomly pick an amount to cover our home and contents based mostly on guesswork, which has nothing to do with the actual value of our stuff? Surely, a detailed inventory with photos, receipts etc. to correctly insure your home and contents would be helpful to the homeowner and insurance companies? Without this kind of transparency, claims can be anything but fun and are more likely to be a big headache. Most small claims are relatively simple, as you can usually see what has been damaged, or know what has been stolen etc., but if the goods are not there, it is difficult to prove they existed in the first place. In the event of a big claim such as fire, most of us would struggle to provide proof of possessions, or even remember every item that has been destroyed – and who is advantaged in this situation? The insurance company puts the onus on the homeowner to provide evidence and is not obliged to pay out if they are not satisfied. A transparent, secure record of everything you own would definitely be of benefit to the homeowner in the event that you needed to prove a claim.
Real Estate Industry
Once more, surely it would help to sell homes if there was a detailed, longitudinal record of everything to do with the property and chattels? This makes sense, but particularly in a sellers market, when buyers are missing out and making high bids to secure anything they can, this just isn’t necessary. Of course, at some stage the market will move again, but with our population growth outstripping property supply, it may be a long time away for New Zealand. Also, if a transparent record brings to light anything that hasn’t been done on the property, the real estate agent is bound to disclose this to prospective buyers. Furthermore, the murky grey area of houses being tarted up for sale – regardless of what might lurk beneath the shiny surface – is not particularly compatible with the transparency of a longitudinal record.
I think you probably get the gist! In all of these examples, the party that stands to benefit the most from being organised and documenting the home and possessions is the homeowner. So why aren’t we doing more of this? What stands in our way? Maybe it’s finally time to proactively engage in this subversive act?