It’s the ability to stand back and think just slightly differently to everyone else, as well as a strong belief that it’s riskier to do nothing, which has been the secret to Matt and Sandra’s success. In her first full year at Bayleys, Sandra made it into the élite top ten percent of Bayleys agents nationwide. On fire from the start, the Power Property team has now grown to include husband Matt and a licensed PA, Marty. Matt and Sandra show us through their home on Te Ngaio Road in the Mount with their three sons Jack (16), Oliver (13), Tommy (10) and fluffy puppy, Roxy.
INTERVIEW JENNY RUDD PHOTOS MAREE WILKINSON
LOVE YOUR LIFE
“Follow your heart. Let your passion direct you. It will be something you are doing already, you just need to do it more.” Interesting, if slightly unorthodox career advice from Sandra which would make most frantically look into every nook and cranny of life for a patiently waiting, slightly hidden, wildly lucrative venture.
Matt and Sandra worked out what their ‘thing’ was at the nth hour after selling their home, leaving their jobs and buying tickets to head overseas with their baby son, Jack. It happened as they were painting the nicotine-stained walls and ripping up seven layers of lino in the house we are standing in.“We had already lived overseas for about five years and loved it. During that time we went about setting ourselves up financially, leveraging our little unit in Parnell and buying two rental properties, one in the Mount and one in Papamoa.”
Sandra says “It’s really important to us to love what we do. I still remember my first conversation with Matt in the Hillcrest Tavern. I was a 20-year-old law student and Matt a 21-year-old business student. It was about freedom, and how we didn’t want to be locked into boring jobs. We both wanted an exciting life.
“Whilst overseas, we taught in Japan and worked in London – what an adventure! Arriving back, we gave ourselves two years to find something we felt excited about. We chose to settle in the Mount; Matt took his teaching papers and I, my real estate papers, although I didn’t become an agent. The industry looked quite dodgy and I didn’t have the courage to navigate it so I went back to being a lawyer.
“Matt was frustrated with the school system, and I had a big pile of papers on my desk. The thought of working my way through it was tortuous.
“Our two years were nearly up. Within a matter of days, we left our jobs, sold our home and booked tickets to go back overseas. I never got to the bottom of that pile. Before we left, we wanted to buy another investment property; ideally a lesser house on a good piece of land. Walking into 36 Te Ngaio Road for the first time, we thought it was in such bad shape it would need to be pulled down, but venturing out to the backyard, we felt something.”
Matt says, “The house was an absolute mess; it had been built in several stages over a number of decades. We realised in order to get better tenants, we’d need to paint it and tidy it up. We loved doing the work and the rent it achieved was so much more than we forecast. There it was. The lightbulb. Our ‘thing’!”
Sandra continues, “We realised we could do the same thing to our other properties, so we cancelled our flights and got on with it, starting with our little cottage in Oceanview Road and progressing on to buying houses on Clyde Street, Riverton Road, Campbell Road, Oceanview Road, and flats in Tauranga. Our projects got bigger and we became more entrenched in property. It was such a great time of our lives; we were working together, and we had freedom.”
In amongst all this renovation, dust, moving, tenants and the happy boisterousness of three small boys, they went on another adventure; this time to travel round Europe as a family in a remotely purchased campervan. In all the fun and chaos, Matt turned to Sandra out of the blue and said “I love it how you make life exciting.” Sandra says this is still the best compliment she has ever had.
Throughout all this, the house at Te Ngaio Road kept changing shape. “The kitchen was initially tiny, and now forms part of Tommy’s room,” says Sandra. “We tidied it up a bit, then a few years later moved it to where you are sitting on the chaise longue. Some years later, we moved it to where it is now, at the front of the house, leading out onto the deck. I love it when houses evolve over time. Your home doesn’t need to be static.
“When we started renovating homes and putting them on the market, we wanted an intelligent real estate agent who had integrity and a sense of style. All of this eventually led me back to the work I had studied for years ago, but hadn’t the courage to do. I have become the agent I was looking for.”
The Powers take great pleasure in sharing their home. Hundreds of people have walked through their doors. Sandra looks back:
“We had to get rid of one lot of tenants because they used the BBQ inside, smoked weed in the conservatory, disconnected the power and stopped paying their rent. That was while we were living in the unit at the rear with our three young boys!“
Before we were agents, we trod the cash-flow-challenging path of residential development, so would supplement our income by renting our houses out to holidaymakers while we stayed in our campervan. One couple spent their first married nights in our house while we camped in a friend’s driveway outside Mount Primary – the boys had the shortest walk ever to their classrooms. Living in this fun, flexible way has given us some of the greatest adventures. They don’t have to be exotic holidays – one of my favourites used to be camping at Fernland Spa overnight, enjoying a soak at dusk and again at dawn with our boys.“
We have had lots of celebrations here over the years. The last big one was about a year ago; it was short notice so I wasn’t expecting many to show up. I was so wrong! We were overwhelmed and touched by the turn-out. I was planning to say a few words but it seemed impossible to interrupt a house full of conversations. We have a diverse group of friends: artists, musicians and straight-laced professionals. I love nothing better than throwing them all together. The energy is unreal and many great friendships and ideas have been born in our house. So, in the same vein, it’s not surprising I love my work. I am constantly connecting with people, finding matches and bringing people together in some way or other. I only hope everyone gets to experience something they love this much.”