The Unconditional Blog

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Accuracy of property listing data

Posted on: May 16th, 2011 | Filed in Agent Tips, Buying / Selling a home, Website searching

The NZ Herald today published an article “Revealed: NZ’s top homes for sale“. The article utilised search data from Realestate.co.nz which is publicly accessible to search out the most expensive top 20 properties currently advertised on the website.

The article highlighted a property which was advertised on Realestate.co.nz for sale at an asking price of $17.5m. This was the price which the agent had sent through to our system, and therefore this is the price we displayed for the property.  The property upon investigation is actually for sale at $1.75m.

The NZ Herald has had to make a update to its online article to reflect this error presented in the article, the print article though was published based on the data presented on the website at that time. To be clear Realestate.co.nz was not approached to provide this information.

Now clearly this situation is not satisfactory – it is not satisfactory to the property owner as very people will be interested in looking or enquiring about such a property at that extreme price level; and not satisfactory to the prospective buyers who may question the accuracy of data on the website.

Running the website of Realestate.co.nz is a challenge of extensive data management. We display over 74,000 residential properties for sale or rent at any one time, around 700 new listings are added on an average day together with around 500 changes to property details. These additions and changes are provided by the total of over 1,050 offices subscribing to the website who send data to us electronically all the time.

If we were to start to review every listing coming in everyday to look for mistakes or accuracy of information we would need to employ an army of reviewers. That however is not the real issue. The key issue is that it is not possible for us to review or audit any of this data as we are not in a position to know any details of specific properties. The listing agent who is providing a service to the vendor is responsible for the accurate collation and publishing of this information on the web and in print.

Such situations as these are deeply frustrating to us. We act immediately we are informed of an issue or if a complaint is made to us. We investigate and communicate with the agent concerned and take immediate action, in this case to correct this price. In other cases we often remove the listing pending any investigation to ensure that no misleading or inaccurate information is displayed on the website.

The key thing is this regard is the importance for all agents and salespeople on behalf of their clients to proof their listings and in that way ensure that every advert whether on the web or in print is accurate and a true representation for the property they are marketing on behalf of their client.

 

 

 

 

Article Discussion

  1. Alistair,

    Mistakes do happen and there is not much we can about that except to check and recheck our listing and marketing information.

    That aside, the biggest mistake here is that the journalist, Anne Gibson did not do her job properly. Did she not call all the agents for the properties that she was suggesting for the article to make sure that her facts were correct or did she ascribe to the belief that “if it’s on the internet, it must be true”.

    If she left a message and the agent did not call back the property should have been excluded from the article.

    She did a poor job

  2. Martin,

    Thanks for sharing that perspective. I echo your opening paragraph, we need to ensure that as an industry, as much focus is given to web published data as print – the web content is more likely to be seen and distributed far wider; and given the power of Google indexed and accessible for longer than the paper that turns into Friday fish & chip wrappers!

    As to the view of the journalist, I cannot agree.

    As a member of the public looking for property, should they be expected call each agent to check that the details of the property are correct and ascertain that the property is on the market? – no, the fact is the web is not an in-house database. Everybody should expect that an advert (for that is what a listing is) placed on the web is a true offer for sale and that the particulars are correct. That goes for not only the company website, but also to the websites that the company syndicates the content to.

    I think this is an important wake up call, to the accurate representation of property data.

    I welcome your or anyone else opinion or comments.

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