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Archive for the ‘Agent Tips’ Category


HouGarden – a few frequently asked questions.

Posted on: August 24th, 2015 | Filed in Agent Tips

Is HouGarden owned by is not owned by It is independent of any real estate agency or organisation, providing a level playing field for vendors and agents who are seeking to reach Chinese purchasers.

What is the business relationship between and HouGarden? was founded in 2011 by Sam Yin. Since then has kept a close business relationship with in a joint venture arrangement. HouGarden pulls all listings directly from and translates them for the Chinese buyer market.

How does HouGarden get my listings on to their site? has an agreement with for all the listings on their site to automatically feed into via an API system. translates the key information in the listing into Chinese, such as numbers of bedrooms/bathrooms, floor and land area, etc. but the rest remains in English, such as the listing subject and listing description. provides agents with opportunities to have their listings highlighted on the site by paying a fee and receiving a ‘Featured’ or ‘Showcase’ listing – very similar to that on, as well as additional opportunities for agents to promote their listing and even themselves.


What listings get updated to HouGarden and how often? has sections for residential, commercial, rental, rural and business for sale. All the listings that appear on will automatically feed into It takes no longer than 12 hours to get the listings live on HouGarden.


If I buy a premium listing on does it automatically upgrade on has its own premium listings products, and a premium listing on is not ungraded when it appears on


What do I get if I upgrade my listing on HouGarden?

It depends on how much you’d like to spend. Agency discount packages start from just $99 Inc. GST for a three week marketing campaign, and continue from there. A ‘Plus Package’, which includes a three week feature listing (stays at top of the page and larger size) plus a three week showcase (inclusion in carousel at the very top of the page) for just $249 Inc. GST. There are packages for commercial listings, new projects, special photography, video, WeChat (Chinese Facebook) and more – all designed to help you market your property most effectively.

Who do I contact at HouGarden for –

If I would like a representative from HouGarden to come and visit my office, upgrading a listing, update my agent profile, enquire about a listing that is not displaying correctly, take banner advertising on the site or finding user stats about HouGarden?

Contact the HouGarden office administrator, Lizzie, on 09 479 8978 and she will pass the requests onto the responsible person or deal with it herself.


Where do I find the latest HouGarden flyers?

Please download from here

What is the difference between HouGarden and other Chinese listing sites?

HouGarden is the only Chinese site focusing on New Zealand, and since it has all the listings it is by far the most comprehensive real estate portal for Chinese people looking for property in New Zealand. For those Chinese wanting to buy New Zealand property while still living overseas, and for those Chinese people living here, it is by far the best opportunity to view New Zealand properties.

For vendors and agents who want to target the Chinese market, HouGarden is unmatched in its viewership, especially from Chinese in New Zealand who currently make up around 36-40,000 visitors per month coming back to the site more than once. On HouGarden, these NZ-based Chinese and China-based Chinese spend on average 21 minutes and view 18 pages per visit – they are hunting property.

When you upgrade you listing on HouGarden it is manually translated by our team into Mandarin. This means there is no translation errors and the listing read professionally to Chinese buyers.

0 Text Alerts

Posted on: August 19th, 2013 | Filed in Agent Tips

Keep in the loop with by joining our text alerts! Opt In Service – Terms and Conditions

You can opt in to’s Opt in Service by texting in JOIN to 5445.

1. All messages to your handset are FREE. Standard SMS fees apply to all messages sent to the shortcode 5445. Contact your network for more information.
2. By opting in, you agree to be contacted by about future updates and offers and events that deems may be of interest to you.
3. Opting out of the Opt In Service

> If you have opted in to receive updates and offers by SMS, you can text STOP to the shortcode 5445 at any time to opt out and be removed from the database.
> You can also email or call 0800 732 536  to be removed from the database.

4. takes no responsibility for any messaging or data costs incurred as a result of interacting with the Opt In Service. This includes but is not limited t incorrectly testing another service or,  the excessive use of text messaging or use of any mobile service. Standard SMS fees apply to all messages sent to the shortcode 5445.

5. Any personal information collected about individuals as part of the Opt In Service will be collected, stored and used in accordance with these Terms and Conditions privacy policy (available at The specific personal information collected may include (but is not limited to):

> Contact name (first name and surname);
> Contact phone number;

6. You have the right to view information stored about you and to ask for it to be corrected if it is incorrect. For any further information please contact customer service centre on 0800 732 536.


Seven tips to selling your house

Posted on: July 3rd, 2012 | Filed in Agent Tips, Buying / Selling a home, Online marketing

Buying and selling a house is not, and should not be considered an art – such an important investment / asset should deserve the value of scientific and mathematical analytics.

“Seven tactics for selling your home”  (Redfin – a US based real estate company) outlines facts borne of scientific data and analysis that should be read and understood by all property owners and agents alike. The data might be from the US, but the relevancy to NZ I don’t think would be disputed. Applying a local interpretation provides this summary.


1. Don’t overprice your property – clearly the age old dilemma of the vendors expectations being beyond the rational desire of the buyer to pay what they believe the property is worth. But did you know the impact of a protracted sale on the ultimate price?

2. Set your price to show up in web searches – as cited in an earlier post “So what price is that property on the site” pricing to search criteria on websites is critical

3. Best day to list a property – the US research says the best day to list is Friday, classically this is when the weekly magazines come out, but did you know that most searches on are undertaken on a Monday lunchtime – listing on the weekend with an email alert on Monday morning can coincide with the peak searching at work on Monday mornings

4. Stay engaged – pretty logical as your property is your most valuable asset so applying the time to the selling process would be a good investment in your time

5. Market the property online – with over 80% of real estate searches starting online this is logical. Added to this is the fact that each listing on is viewed for an average of 77 minutes per month; with the website recording well over 100,000 hours of viewings per month by over 240,000 unique viewers

6. Don’t move out of your house when selling – the US research shows a reduce price results as a perception of a distressed vendor

7. Don’t list when others around you may be suffering mortgagee sales – a panicked marketplace is not the time or the place to sell

Clearly there are many more – presentation, decoration, photography etc etc, but it is compelling to see the statistics supporting these key 7 tips.


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 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 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 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 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.






Changing focus of enquiries to property listings

Posted on: April 29th, 2011 | Filed in Agent Tips, Website searching

The web is a vast repository of data. The key is making sense of it and providing that information to those who rely upon it to run their business. In the case of real estate our role at is to not only run a popular and comprehensive website for real estate listings to support the advertising needs of our customers – real estate agents, but also to share key data of the behaviours and trends we see in the use of the website.

A key outcome of great value to real estate agents is leads – strong prospects made up of both vendors and buyers. Such leads can come from a variety of connections from the website. The most eagerly anticipated lead is from an email sent from the website to an agent regarding a property. Second only to this is a phone call originated from the contact details of the listing agent displayed adjacent to the listing.

These would generally be regarded as the most significant lead generation mechanisms from the website, however there are others. Each listing generally has a link from the webpage of the listing on to that listing on the agent or office website. Additionally each agent and office has their own webpage on the site which has links to their own website or social media platform; again providing an opportunity for enquires to be made by clients to agents. Many of such leads may result in the opportunity for agents to make listing presentations as prospective vendors use to profile agents. This profiling allows a vendor to establish the professional capabilities by reviewing the approach an agent takes to profiling, promoting and displaying a current clients’ listings.

One trend that has been noticeable and is demonstrated by the chart below is the extent to which is acting as a referral site to agents own websites.

In March of this year just under 400,000 instances of referral links were made from to agents and offices websites, this is up significantly on the 317,000 in March of last year.

This trend of increasing referral to real estate company and agent websites potentially points to greater researching on the part of serious property buyers, seeking comprehensive facts regarding properties and agents. This trend is only likely to continue in the future with the growing focus of buyers and sellers to online searching.

It is interesting to note that this trend could be a factor behind a recent number of comments made by real estate agents that lead generation from their own website has been growing – this could well be the result of serious enquiries originated from and then referred onto their website. A core principle of since the start of the company back in 2006 has been to provide as comprehensive and easy access for consumers to communicate with agents using whatever medium they choose – this now appears to be more through referral links than any other form.


When it comes to searching for property nothing beats the ease and functionality of the web – true?

Posted on: November 12th, 2010 | Filed in Agent Tips, Featured, Website news

Searching for a home istock - croppedThat fact holds so true and has been validated in consistent research and usage – especially as everyday close to 100,000 unique visitors check out property information online in NZ (on we average of 22,000 per day) – far in excess of any print media. They love the ability to refine searches and be notified of new properties; as well as view dozens of photos, maps, videos and property statistics; all from the comfort of their couch or desk.

Having said all of that, there comes a time in the process of house hunting when printed information is invaluable.

The printed page is still one of the best ways of sharing vital information in a close group of people. In the case of open home viewings, I know from personal experience the ease of grabbing a set of printed details for each of the properties we are going to visit. From listening to our customers this is often their experience as well. It is interesting how that contrasts with earlier responses I remember well when the response was “we are a website – why would you want to print details?”

To help just such people (I suspect more than we might imagine!) we have made some tweaks and added some technology so that now you can print details of an individual listing in a nicely formatted pdf file that can be shared with your friends and partner.

pdf printThe print function lies at the top right of every listing page (and has a clear highlighter saying “New PDF”) – depending on the browser you use, it will create and download a pdf or it may open a new tab showing the document.

In addition to collating all the information presented on the listing – photos, address, specifications and a map; we also have added the latest data of viewings for the listing. These statistics are presented in a chart showing the number of viewings of the property day by day over the past month as well as where those viewings have come from, anywhere around the world.

Sample pdf print of a property listing

Listing view stats(By the way these charts are accessible for any listing and are updated dynamically – just click the link in the top right hand side of the page marked “listing viewed xx times”).

So whenever you want to grab a record for a property and scribble some notes, then you can now use this great tool and have all the information laid out in an easy to read format.

We do however ask you to act responsibly and not print excessively! – we don’t wish to be the cause of environmental devastation as our print media colleagues are!


Putting your house on the market this spring? – 5 key tips

Posted on: September 27th, 2010 | Filed in Agent Tips, Buying / Selling a home, Featured

For sale signOver the next 3 months we are likely to see over 35,000 new property listings hit the market. Over the same period the likely number of sales will be around 15,000. That would assume that there is roughly a 50/50 chance of selling your house this spring, that would be right if it were not for the fact that today there is over 56,000 properties on the market. Now you can see the challenge – how to ensure that your house gets bought and becomes one of those sales stats and allows you to move on – as opposed to being part of the high inventory of unsold homes.

Success in real estate in today’s world relied far more on the web. Research from just a couple of months ago reaffirmed this fact.

We decided that we should provide some useful advice around helping sellers get the most out of online marketing and took the opportunity to quiz a leading global expert. Simon Baker was CEO of for most of the last 10 years and in that time built it into the leading Australian real estate website. In this video interview I ask him to share his thoughts  as to the best way to market your home.

Simon sums up the tasks in 5 easy tips:

  1. Check out your prospective agent online – do they understand online marketing? – how do they present themselves and their clients listings online? – how effective and efficient are they at responding to enquiries online?
  2. Make sure your listings are featured on a wide range of websites – every website should be available to all agents
  3. Make sure the online presentation is high quality with comprehensive information
  4. Standout from the crowd – take advantage to give yourself and your property an advantage – use premium listing adverts, they are incredibly cost effective
  5. Keep a close with your agent to web performance – viewing, enquiries, responses

Good luck with selling your home this spring – but don’t leave it to luck – give yourself the upper hand!


The first week is crucial in selling your home

Posted on: September 20th, 2010 | Filed in Agent Tips, Online marketing, Website searching

There are enumerable phrases such as “the early bird catches the worm” or “you only get one bite at the cherry” or “first in – best dressed” – so it is with real estate, where based on research a new phrase can be adopted:

“Missed the first week and you may have missed the market”

A simple piece of analysis has been undertaken as shown in the chart below. Aggregating the daily viewings data of a sample of 1,079 properties listed on the website over the past 3 months from around the country shows that the most active period is the first week. Fully a quarter of the total of the first 2 months viewings takes place in those first 7 days.

Visits to listing by days on the market Sep 2010

The reason for this is not difficult to appreciate, active buyers are already subscribed to receive email alerts of new listings, has over 100,000 customers with email alerts set up. In addition for those eager to watch the local marketplace saved searches always show the latest listings as the default on – no need to filter by latest, we do it for the customer.

This buyer behaviour is critically important for agents and vendors to understand fully as it needs to drive a set of key actions:

  1. Getting all the photos ready and uploaded before a property is listed – you can never have too many photos, there is no restriction on on the number of photos, we also host videos which can be a great way to view listings
  2. Ensuring the listing is well presented in an emotionally appealing description that provides loads of facts about the property and the local area
  3. A clear indication as to the price expectation of the property – buyers are eager to understand if the property is affordable within their budget
  4. The #1 photo which is the one included in email alerts is the best – the best at selling the property’s best features. Often this is the view of the front of the property, professionally photographed from the road

Get these four essentials right and you are ensuring that your property has the greatest chance of grabbing that viewing audience. Get it wrong or decide to change some details after a week and you could already have missed the boat. This is especially true when it comes to price. A reduction in price of a property posted in the 2nd or 3rd week to reflect a weaker market is less impactful than getting the price right at the outset before someone rejects the property in their mind.

I am grateful for the US real estate company Redfin who first wrote about this analysis last month in an article titled you only get one chance to make a first impression, the story was then picked up by the Wall Street Journal .


Real estate marketing – practical online advice

Posted on: September 20th, 2010 | Filed in Agent Tips, Featured, Online marketing, social media, Website searching

iStock_000000504669XSmallThe recent “Future of Real Estate” conference held in Auckland provided us with the opportunity of sitting down with the keynote speakers and interviewing them to provide some global perspective to the opportunity emerging in online marketing.


Joel Burslem is a highly regarded consultant with a background in online real estate marketing which has included stints at Inman News, Prudential as well as 1000 Watt Consulting where he currently works. In this interview I seek to better understand Joel’s perspective, advice and insight into blogging from the standpoint of a real estate agent.

Search Marketing

No successful business these days can ignore the importance of search marketing and search engine optimisation. For real estate this is ever more important as the future of lead generation for agents will likely come from online referrals and evaluations. To achieve standout requires a deep appreciation and understanding of search. For the conference we invited Charles Coxhead to speak on this key topic. Charles has an extensive experience in this area and in this interview I speak to Charles and get him to share some of the critical issues and advice around this subject.

Online Marketing

With such an excellent line up of speakers, we grabbed the opportunity to have a panel discussion with Joel Burslem, Charles Coxhead and Simon Baker. This free flowing discussion starts off looking at the dynamic shift in real estate advertising from print to online as witnessed around the world. It then goes on to talk about the priorities for real estate companies, offices and agents in their online presence and marketing, covering the tools of Facebook and Google Adwords, amongst other things.

We split the session into 2 videos covering the 20 minute discussion:

Part 2


How best to promote your property to attract buyers?

Posted on: August 6th, 2010 | Filed in Agent Tips, Buying / Selling a home, Featured, Online marketing

Question marks croppedThere would not be many days go by when this question is not asked of me by friends and more importantly real estate agents. I am also sure it is a key question asked of almost all agents by vendors.

The reason why I believe that this issue is gaining greater focus is a convergence of market and media.

The property market is alive.. but not as yet firing on all cylinders – this year is beginning to look like a 65,000 sale year – as compared to last year which was a 69,000 sale year (but of course a long way away from 2003 which was a 120,000 sale year). This slow pace of sales is resulting in a high inventory of unsold houses on the market – today some 56,844 listings for properties for sale are featured on the website, equating to over 11 months of equivalent sales. The market therefore is tough for sellers – raising a property’s profile when there are so many others on the market is a challenge.

The other factor is media – the facts are clear and the trend is undeniable – more people, more of the time search online for property for sale. There will come a time when everyone will use online – today it is close to 80%. That does not mean that print advertising is dead, it just means it is not so relevant anymore and is no longer a necessity. The web is therefore the prime media for searching and finding property. However there is an interesting aspect of the web that is its greatest benefit and and at the same time its greatest challenge.

Tall poppies smallAs companies and individuals have found over the years the democratisation of the web means the advantages of scale are removed and everyone can promote themselves and their products and services to the 1.3 billion people connected online in our world. So the issue is no longer one of being online, it is about being visible and being found online. In the context of real estate listings online it is the question of how to stand out from the crowd – to be the “Tall Poppy’.

Everyone of the 1,800+ suburbs across NZ has an average 31 properties on the market – all such properties have anxious vendors keen to see how capable real estate agents address the issue of creating standout in this online world. The answer is that the smartest agents are already preempting this question from vendors and add into the marketing proposal a Premium Featured Listing on and similar offerings on other websites. These standout adverts ensure your property is seen by prospective buyers who can’t fail to see the impact these premium spots offer.

Residential Flyer Vendor RE image fileOn Premium Featured Adverts are restricted to just 3 per suburb and appear at the top of each suburb page. In this way the listing sequence of the results is not disturbed which from research we know is a serious no-no! As well as this exclusive featuring on the chosen suburb page the property is also featured in the district and region pages as well as one of 6 properties featured on the home page in rotation.

The results of this scale of advertising are significant – on average this type of advertising raises daily viewings of a listing by 10 times – so a normal 12 views a day turns into 120 a day. The adverts are featured for 14 days and clearly in that time the property is likely to be seen well over 2,000 times. To see the actual impact try clicking on the home page and review the daily traffic for any listing by checking out the viewing stats through the link marked “Property viewed xx times”.

The cost of this Premium Featured Advert is just $250 (inc GST) for 2 full weeks – compare that to the typical print advert which barely lasts for a day or so before falling victim to the recycling bin whilst the online advert is working hard 24 hrs a day for 14 days – added to which you know exactly what you get in the true number of viewings from online – facts impossible to glean from a print advert of a property.

Fancy trying this impactful advertising for your property – tell your agent what you want and he can arrange with us, or if you like, contact us and we will arrange through your agent.

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