Readers rally to back houses. It always happens. Whenever I write about investing in houses and shares in the same column, people say I’m unfairly negative about houses. In my final column last year, I wrote that the rise in house prices over the previous year was slower than the rise in: New Zealand shares, hedged overseas shares and unhedged overseas shares, all including dividends. That surprised me, and I thought it might surprise you.
Is it dumb to diversify shares or property? Diversification is not all it’s cracked up to be, according to a man who read my last column, which praised the spreading-your-risk idea. “Bill Gates didn’t diverse much, and it didn’t do him much harm,” he writes. “The fact remains that the richest people on the planet have become that way because they haven’t diversified.
One bad apple — New Zealanders are bad at diversifying. Most New Zealand shareholders are frighteningly undiversified. About 24 per cent of share investors own shares in just one company, and another 36 per cent hold shares in two to five companies, according to recent research by the stock exchange, NZX, and sharebrokers ABN AMRO Craigs.