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4

NZ Property Report – May 2011

Posted on: June 1st, 2011 | Filed in Featured, NZ Property Report

The May 2011 NZ Property Report published by Realestate.co.nz provides an insight into the state of the New Zealand property market as measured by the supply side of the property market over the month of May. The key measures of the market analysed in the report are the number of new listings, the asking price expectation for those new listings and the level of inventory of unsold houses on the market at this time. The report is compiled from data captured by the website and represents close to 95% of all property movements in the NZ market as managed by licensed real estate agents.

A full print version of the NZ Property Report – May 2011 is published below and is available for download (1.0MB) and distribution.

Summary of the market – May 2011

The prolonged sluggishness of new property listings, which has been evident for nearly 2 years, has at last seen a tip in the balance of the property market from favouring buyers to favouring sellers. At least that is now being seen in two of the major markets around the country – Auckland and Queenstown lakes.

The Auckland market which saw strong late summer property sales has now as a consequence of these sales matched to the slow flow of new listings, seen inventory levels below long term average. At the end of May the inventory of unsold houses on the market fell to 30 weeks as compared to the long term average of 34 weeks. The last time this level was seen was at the end of 2009.

The asking price expectation of the new listings coming onto the market in May fell back from the peak seen in April. Historically there is always an adjustment seen at this time of year. The seasonally adjusted asking price fell 2% nationally and that was reflected right across the regions indicating that the market still senses no significant property price inflation as yet with new-to-the-market vendors pricing to attract buyers who are still small in number across the regions.

Asking Price

The truncated mean asking price for all new listings in May fell significantly from $429,249 in April to $414,308 in May. On a seasonally adjusted basis the asking price fell just 2% in the month indicating a degree of uncertainty amongst sellers.

The overall trend of the past 2 years continues to show strength in asking price expectation.

New Listings

The level of new listings coming onto the market in May fell to 9,898. This represented a 16% year on year decline but a 1% seasonally adjusted rise from April.

On a 12 month moving basis the number of new listings in the past year totals 127,843 as compared 144,375 for the same period a year ago – a fall of 12%.

Inventory

The level of unsold houses on the market at the end of May continued to fall from prior months. May reported 48,352 down from 50,398 in April and 51,980 in March.

The recent relative strength of sales as seen in March and April has now stared to see a clearing of what has been a high level of unsold houses on the market over the past 18 months. Heading into Winter, a time of traditionally weaker listing will likely see this inventory level fall further in coming months.

Regional Summary – Asking price expectations

After reaching a new peak of asking price in April the national asking price for new listings fell in May. This fall was reflected around the regions with 12 regions reporting falls and just 7 showing any increase. There is seasonal trend behind this which sees the asking prices for May fall significantly as compared to April, likely as a result of the market entering the winter period.

 

There were 5 regions showing declines of more than 5% in asking price with both Wellington and Queenstown Lakes among them, both of these regions are also showing low levels of inventory. This potentially points to a caution over the state of the market with no significant inflation expectation amongst vendors, new to the market.

Regional Summary – Listings

The continuing trend of new listings as has been the case for over a year is decline in number. Again the chart by region shows a overall trend towards a sellers market with only Marlborough and Central North Island bucking the trend to show year-on-year increases in listings.

Two regions in May recorded the lowest level of monthly listings stretching back 4 years – Northland and Otago.

The level of new listings in the Canterbury region continues to remain weak as a result of the earthquake. In May 1,188 new listings came onto the market, down 29% as compared to last year. Comparing the first 5 months of 2011 with 2010 the number of new listings in the region has fallen from 8,972 to 5,736 a fall of 36%.

Regional Summary – Inventory

The levels of inventory of unsold homes on the market changed markedly in May. For more than a year the predominant view has been that the property market is firmly stuck in a buyer’s market with inventory levels well above long term averages.

Starting in March and now accelerating through May the key markets of Auckland and now Queenstown Lakes are seeing the results of stronger sales matched with lower levels of new listings leading to these two markets now being viewed as seller’s markets.

Not far behind the regions of Otago, West Coast, Waikato and Bay of Plenty are edging to a turning point in the market with more balance between buyers and sellers.

That still leaves the remainder of provincial NZ firmly in a strong buyers market with 11 regions seeing existing inventory well above long term average.

Lifestyle

The level of new listings of lifestyle property coming onto the market in May fell by 12% on a seasonally adjusted basis from April. A total of just 844 new properties were listed with a truncated mean asking price of $567,575. The asking price was up 2% as compared to the recent 3 month average, and up 12% as compared to prior year.

On a rolling 12 month average basis new listings are down 8.6% with 11,462 listed in the past 12 months compared to 12,546 last year.

Apartments

Listings of apartments showed a 17% decline on a seasonally adjusted basis as compared to April with 406 new apartments coming onto the market. The truncated mean asking price for these new listings was $369,834, which was down 3.0% on the recent 3 month average, and down 2.1% as compared to May 2010.

In the Auckland apartment market which represents over 60% of the market there were 267 new listings with an asking price of $328,326. The new listings shows a decline of 20% on a seasonally adjusted basis, and a 27% decline when judged on a year-on-year basis.

Property Price Index

Comparing the sale price of properties across the country to the asking price expectation is not a perfect comparison; however the trends tend to align. The benefit is that the data for asking price is of the market today, whilst the selling price is reflective of the market active between 4 and 6 weeks ago. The latest comparison is highlighted below:

Realestate.co.nz data is compiled from asking prices of new residential listings as they come onto the market via subscribers to the realestate.co.nz website. The Realestate.co.nz website currently has over 95% of all licensed real estate offices subscribing and providing all of their listings onto the website. The asking price is presented as a truncated mean price at a 10% interval.

REINZ data is compiled from reported unconditional residential sales from all members of the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand representing all licensed real estate offices. The sale price is published as a stratified median house price and is developed in association with the Reserve Bank of NZ.

Notes:

Truncated mean

The monthly asking price for new listings presented in this report utilises the measure of ‘truncated mean’. This measure is judged to be a more accurate measure of the market price than average price as it statistically removes the extremes that exist within any property market that can so easily introduce a skew to traditional average price figures.

The truncated mean used in this report removes the upper 10% and the lower 10% of listings in each data set. An average or mean of the balance of listings is then calculated.

Methodology

With the largest database of properties for sale in NZ, realestate.co.nz is uniquely placed to immediately identify any changes in the marketplace. The realestate.co.nz NZ Property Report is compiled from new listings coming onto the market from the more than 1,020 licensed real estate offices across NZ, representing more than 95% of all offices.

With an average monthly level of over 10,000 new listings, the realestate.co.nz NZ Property Report provides the largest monthly sample report on the residential property market, as well as a more timely view of the property market than any other property report. The data is collated and analysed at the close of each month, and the Report is compiled for the 1st day of the following month. This provides a feedback mechanism as to the immediate state of the market, well in advance of sales statistics which by the very nature of the selling process can reflect activity with a lag of between 2 and 4 months.

In analysing the details of the 9,898 new listings in the month of May a total of 98 listings have been excluded due to anomalies. The categorisation of Lifestyle property is defined by the land area of the property. The criterion is a property having in excess of 0.3 hectares and being situated outside metropolitan areas.

Background to Realestate.co.nz

Realestate.co.nz is the official website company of the real estate industry of New Zealand, it is an industry owned web business providing online marketing services to the real estate industry. The shareholders in the business comprise the REINZ (50%) and six of the largest real estate companies (50%).

The business operates a portfolio of websites all focused to specialist sectors of the real estate market:

Realestate.co.nz is the heart of the business and is focused to the residential property market. It features the most comprehensive selection of property for sale and rent across NZ. The website attracts a significant monthly audience of over 400,000 unique browsers, with over 110,000 of those visiting from countries outside of NZ.

nzFarms is a specialist website presenting the most comprehensive selection of farms and agricultural businesses on the market across NZ. At this time it features around 5,000 listings for all types of farms and agricultural land as well as over 11,000 lifestyle properties.

Prime Commercial is a specialist website presenting the most comprehensive selection of commercial property for purchase or lease on the market across NZ. At this time it features over 27,000 listings for all types of properties – retail, commercial, industrial and investment properties.

Prime Business is a specialist website presenting the most comprehensive selection of businesses for sale on the market across NZ. At this time it features over 4,300 listings for all types of businesses – retail, tourism, wholesale as well as franchise opportunities.

Zoodle is a specialist property information website providing very detailed data on all residential properties in NZ. The database comprises over 1.6m properties with detailed specifications, map and local amenities. The site provides online reports for free and for purchase covering valuation and legal information to greatly assist the needs of property buyers and sellers.

The web business of Realestate.co.nz site is the most comprehensive real estate web operation in NZ, currently hosting over 120,000 listings, covering this portfolio of residential property for sale and rent, commercial property for sale and lease, rural properties and farms, as well as businesses for sale. With a subscriber base of over 1,020 offices, the company represents over 95% of all listings from licensed real estate agents in NZ.

The full NZ Property Report for May 2011 can be downloaded here (1.0MB pdf document). Additionally the raw data is accessible here as an Excel spreadsheet enabling anyone to analyse the raw data and establish any trends or observations.

Usage rights are governed under attribution to the source of the data being Realestate.co.nz. The next NZ Property Report for June 2011 will be published on this website on Friday 1st July 2011 at 10am.

2

Real estate agents to embrace smartphones

Posted on: May 23rd, 2011 | Filed in Featured, mobile

Close to half of all agents polled in a recent survey said that they owned a smartphone with nearly 7 out of 10 of the remainder indicating that they would be acquiring one within the next year. These findings were part of a recent survey undertaken in partnership with 2degrees mobile amongst the real estate agents using Realestate.co.nz.

The survey was undertaken online with 216 completed surveys giving a margin of error of 4.2%.

Real estate agents were early adopters of mobile phones back in the 80’s and 90’s as their work environment certainly had them out and about more than many other professions. This adoption has continued with a clear imperative for all agents to have a mobile. The most active use of their mobile phone is to voice calls (40%) followed by texting (32%). It is interesting to note the preference of texting to handling emails on the mobile phone – just 13% indicating that they used their phone for this purpose.

At present the iPhone is the most popular type of smart phone for real estate agents with 24% of all those agents surveyed indicating that they owned the iPhone. Certainly the success of the Realestate.co.nz iPhone app would indicate the appeal of this smartphone to ensure that agents were able to be able to access the most comprehensive selection of property on the market. The adoption of Android at 17%; or put another way there is an Android user for ever 3 iPhone users, is higher than would be seen in the general population, and this signals a significant opportunity to ensure there is a Realestate.co.nz app for Android sometime soon.

As to the 54% of agents that do not as yet have a smartphone the message is clear that they will soon – 69% saying that they expect to buy one in the next 12 months with 40% indicating a purchase in the next 6 months. It would appear to be clear from these stats that a smartphone is now close to being by the end of this year a significant “must have” tool for all agents.

0

NZ Property Pulse – April 2011

Posted on: May 19th, 2011 | Filed in Featured, Property Pulse - Regional Market Report

Each month we publish a factsheet for each region of the country as well as a national report to provide an insight to the key numbers that detail the health of the property market across the country.

These reports for the month of April cover all 16 provincial regions as well as reports covering the 3 main metropolitan regions of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. The Auckland report is divided up into each of the main metro areas (North Shore, Waitakere, Manukau as well as Auckland City).

Each factsheet provides the key numbers in table and chart form using the key statistics from the Real Estate Institute of NZ and Realestate.co.nz. This provides the number of property sales in the month, the median sales price for those property sales, the inventory of unsold properties on the market, as well as the number and the asking price expectation of new listings brought onto the market in the month.

 

Metropolitan Areas

Auckland City

North Shore

Waitakere

Manukau

Wellington

Chistchurch

Provincial Areas

Northland

Coromandel

Waikato

Bay of Plenty

Central North Island

Hawkes Bay

Gisborne

Taranaki

Manawatu / Wanganui

Wairarapa

Nelson

Marlborough

West Coast

Otago

Queenstown Lakes

Southland

National Property Pulse

The national NZ property pulse factsheet for April 2011 is published using data from Realestate.co.nz and REINZ (Real Estate Institute of NZ).

Property sales across the country 4,987 in the month showed no growth on a seasonally adjusted basis in April but remain 4% below the levels of sales a year ago. The inventory of unsold houses on the market at 53 weeks of equivalent sales  continues to sit well above the long-term average of 41 weeks.

The stratified mean sales price for property sales across the country at $365,593 is exactly the same as compared to a year ago, but has shown growth over the prior 2 months. The asking price expectation of new listings though rose in April to a new record high of $429,249, which is 2% up as compared to a year ago.

The level of new listings coming onto the market in April at 10,181 was down significantly from March and down 17% as compared to a year ago.

4

Property searching on mobile is a clear winner

Posted on: May 13th, 2011 | Filed in Buying / Selling a home, Featured, mobile, Website searching

I was very interested to read this week of the performance of the Trade Me iPhone app. In a very open manner they shared their data with the NBR. This naturally prompted me to examine the data from the Realestate.co.nz iPhone app after our first 5 months of operation.

As far as uptake is concerned in excess of 1 in every 10 iPhone owners has now downloaded the app, a total exceeding 25,000 downloads since we released the app in November. Every day we continue to see over 100 new users discover this great way to discovery property for sale right around them.

Trade Me’s app was launched at the same time, and in that time they have had over 110,000 downloads. Like Trade Me we had modest expectations of around 12,000 to 15,000 downloads within 6 months; so for us 25,000 for such a specialised app as compared to Trade Me’s app which covers such a diversity of content, is really encouraging.

This strong adoption of real estate listings search on the iPhone is reflective of a global trend which has seen over 1 million downloads of the UK real estate website Rightmove iPhone app and across in Australia over 180,000 for Realestate.com.au iPhone app.

The most developed market in terms of mobile usage for property search is the USA – there the #1 property portal Zillow.com reports not only downloads exceeding 3 million, but the level of engagement of buyers with property listings on the mobile platform is fast approaching a third of all viewings. For Realestate.co.nz we see that in the past month 10% of all property listings views are made via the iPhone app with a further 2% being on the mobile web platform across a number of mobile devices including Android and the iPad; this after just 6 months, shows how important the mobile platform is to the experience of looking for property to buy.

Another very interesting insight in the usage of the mobile device is the heavy usage at the weekend. Whereas the web usage has higher activity during the week the iPhone is clearly a weekend tool – part of the open home toolkit for a Saturday morning allowing active property hunters to drive around the areas checking out what is on the market or sitting in a cafe between open home visits.

In terms of usage the iPhone is clearly not a tool limited to the inner city suburbs, in the month of April over 90% of all listings of property on the iPhone were viewed by property hunters – that is a figure which has grown progressively over the past months as the penetration has gown and usage has extended to every corner of the country.

Clearly we see the iPhone app (and future Android app) becoming a critical platform to provide property hunters with a great experience to aid the process of finding that perfect property. We have new developments and functionality planned for the next few months and will keep improving the experience. With a dedicated audience of over 25,000 we are fully committed to this sector of the market.

 

1

NZ Property Report – April 2011

Posted on: May 1st, 2011 | Filed in Featured, NZ Property Report

The April 2011 NZ Property Report published by Realestate.co.nz provides an insight into the state of the New Zealand property market as measured by the supply side of the property market over the month of April. The key measures of the market analysed in the report are the number of new listings, the asking price expectation for those new listings and the level of inventory of unsold houses on the market at this time. The report is compiled from data captured by the website and represents close to 95% of all property movements in the NZ market as managed by licensed real estate agents.

A full print version of the NZ Property Report – April 2011 is published below and is available for download (1.3MB) and distribution.

Summary of the market – April 2011

The NZ Property market certainly is showing signs of renewed activity, far from the levels of the mid 2000’s the current activity is measured and very much centered on the Auckland region. Whilst in overall terms the level of inventory weighs heavy on all regions the levels of sales reported in March show that buyers are certainly back in the market and beginning to clear some of this high inventory.

By the nature of the way inventory is reported (actual stock divided by 3 month average sales) the very low levels of sales in January and February is in some way holding back the reporting of this trend of greater activity. It is likely that with the reporting of the April sales that the next inventory report for May will show a significant fall in inventory levels of unsold houses.

The market amongst sellers is certainly not showing any impact of inventory levels, as a function of such seller confidence the national truncated mean asking price has risen in April to a new record high of recorded stats going back to the start of 2007.

As a further lead indicator to the market, the levels of new listings continue to track well below prior year. In fact we have seen 10 consecutive months of falls in listings numbers year-on-year.

Asking Price

The truncated mean asking price for all new listings in April rose to establish a new peak at $429,249 up from $421,940 in March. On a seasonally adjusted basis the asking price rose 2% in the month indicating a continued confidence amongst sellers.

The trend of the past 2 years shows continued strength in asking price expectation.

New Listings

The level of new listings coming onto the market in April fell to 10,181 in April. This represented a 17% year on year decline and an 8% seasonally adjusted decline from March.

On a 12 month moving basis the number of new listings in the past year totals 129,678 as compared 142,635 for the same period a year ago – a fall of 9%.

Inventory

The level of unsold houses on the market at the end of April continued to fall from prior months. April reported 50,398 down from 51,980 in March and 52,672 in February.

This steady decline in the physical number of new listings is not being reflected in the representation of inventory as measured in rate of sales as the recent 3 month period (Jan – March 2011) contained two of the lowest sales months recorded.

Regional Summary – Asking price expectations

The national asking price rising to a new peak at $429,249 was mirrored across the country as can be seen from the chart with a significant growth in all but 2 regions. The highest rising region was Otago which with a 12.5% increase to $298,817 has itself hit a new peak of asking price.

The Auckland market at $555,572 whilst not quite hitting the peak, continues to track at all time highs close to the peak set in December 2010 at $564,853. The April asking price was up 5% on April last year and showed a 1% seasonally adjusted rise from March.

Those regions that showed falls, Bay of Plenty with a 3% fall and the Central North Island with a 7% fall, both had seen strong asking prices through the latter part of 2010 and into early 2011.

Regional Summary – Listings

The picture for new listings across the country continues to show that there is weakness in bringing new properties to the market. There were 13 of the 19 regions that reported new listing down on prior year with 6 reporting falls of over 20%; both Coromandel and Southland over 40%. The former region has been suffering under a significant weight of inventory of unsold houses for many months.

In the main metro areas listings are low with the impact of the earthquake restricting new listings in Canterbury (down 32%), Wellington was weak with just 741 new listings, down 29% and Auckland down 17% with 3,325 new listings.

Two regions did see very strong growth in listings; of particular note was the Queenstown Lakes area which saw a raft of new listings including a large collection of apartments.

Regional Summary – Inventory

The regional map of inventory of unsold houses shows a very consistent picture of high inventory in all but the one region that of Auckland. This scale of inventory at levels well above long term average is very much a function of very low sales at the start of the year which despite the actual fall in properties on the market is making the evaluation of the market point to very high inventory based on rate of sale.

The Auckland market is very much on the boundary of moving from a buyer’s market to one favouring sellers. The Auckland market has seen a reduction of properties on the market from around 14,100 just before Christmas to currently 12,376.

Around the rest of the country the inventory levels reached new peaks in the Hawkes Bay, Manawatu/Wanganui, Northland, Otago and Southland.

Lifestyle

The level of new listings of lifestyle property coming onto the market in April fell just 1% on a seasonally adjusted basis from March. A total of 1,032 new properties were listed with a truncated mean asking price of $571,611. The asking price was up 5% as compared to the recent 3 month average, but up just 1% as compared to prior year.

On a rolling 12 month average basis new listings are down 4.5% with 11,764 listed in the past 12 months compared to 12,314 last year.

Apartments

Listings of apartments showed a 9% rise on a seasonally adjusted basis as compared to March with 452 new apartments coming onto the market. The truncated mean asking price for these new listings was $399,927 which was up 8.5% on the recent 3 month average, but down 4.1% as compared to April 2010.

In the Auckland apartment market which represents over 60% of the market there were 285 new listings with an asking price of $350,306. The new listings shows a rise of 24% on a seasonally adjusted basis, although when judged on a year-on-year basis they are down 22%.

Property Price Index

Comparing the sale price of properties across the country to the asking price expectation is not a perfect comparison; however the trends tend to align. The benefit is that the data for asking price is of the market today, whilst the selling price is reflective of the market active between 4 and 6 weeks ago. The latest comparison is highlighted below:

Realestate.co.nz data is compiled from asking prices of new residential listings as they come onto the market via subscribers to the realestate.co.nz website. The Realestate.co.nz website currently has over 95% of all licensed real estate offices subscribing and providing all of their listings onto the website. The asking price is presented as a truncated mean price at a 10% interval.

REINZ: data is compiled from reported unconditional residential sales from all members of the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand representing all licensed real estate offices. The sale price is published as a stratified median house price and is developed in association with the Reserve Bank of NZ.

Notes:

Truncated mean

The monthly asking price for new listings presented in this report utilises the measure of ‘truncated mean’. This measure is judged to be a more accurate measure of the market price than average price as it statistically removes the extremes that exist within any property market that can so easily introduce a skew to traditional average price figures.

The truncated mean used in this report removes the upper 10% and the lower 10% of listings in each data set. An average or mean of the balance of listings is then calculated.

Methodology

With the largest database of properties for sale in NZ, realestate.co.nz is uniquely placed to immediately identify any changes in the marketplace. The realestate.co.nz NZ Property Report is compiled from new listings coming onto the market from the more than 1,020 licensed real estate offices across NZ, representing more than 95% of all offices.

With an average monthly level of over 10,000 new listings, the realestate.co.nz NZ Property Report provides the largest monthly sample report on the residential property market, as well as a more timely view of the property market than any other property report. The data is collated and analysed at the close of each month, and the Report is compiled for the 1st day of the following month. This provides a feedback mechanism as to the immediate state of the market, well in advance of sales statistics which by the very nature of the selling process can reflect activity with a lag of between 2 and 4 months.

In analysing the details of the 10,181 new listings in the month of April a total of 127 listings have been excluded due to anomalies. The categorisation of Lifestyle property is defined by the land area of the property. The criterion is a property having in excess of 0.3 hectares and being situated outside metropolitan areas.

Background to Realestate.co.nz

Realestate.co.nz is the official website company of the real estate industry of New Zealand, it is an industry owned web business providing online marketing services to the real estate industry. The shareholders in the business comprise the REINZ (50%) and six of the largest real estate companies (50%).

The business operates a portfolio of websites all focused to specialist sectors of the real estate market:

Realestate.co.nz is the heart of the business and is focused to the residential property market. It features the most comprehensive selection of property for sale and rent across NZ. The website attracts a significant monthly audience of over 400,000 unique browsers, with over 110,000 of those visiting from countries outside of NZ.

nzFarms is a specialist website presenting the most comprehensive selection of farms and agricultural businesses on the market across NZ. At this time it features around 5,000 listings for all types of farms and agricultural land as well as over 11,000 lifestyle properties.

Prime Commercial is a specialist website presenting the most comprehensive selection of commercial property for purchase or lease on the market across NZ. At this time it features over 27,000 listings for all types of properties – retail, commercial, industrial and investment properties.

Prime Business is a specialist website presenting the most comprehensive selection of businesses for sale on the market across NZ. At this time it features over 4,300 listings for all types of businesses – retail, tourism, wholesale as well as franchise opportunities.

Zoodle is a specialist property information website providing very detailed data on all residential properties in NZ. The database comprises over 1.6m properties with detailed specifications, map and local amenities. The site provides online reports for free and for purchase covering valuation and legal information to greatly assist the needs of property buyers and sellers.

The web business of Realestate.co.nz site is the most comprehensive real estate web operation in NZ, currently hosting over 120,000 listings, covering this portfolio of residential property for sale and rent, commercial property for sale and lease, rural properties and farms, as well as businesses for sale. With a subscriber base of over 1,020 offices, the company represents over 95% of all listings from licensed real estate agents in NZ.

The full NZ Property Report for April 2011 can be downloaded here (1.3MB pdf document). Additionally the raw data is accessible here as an Excel spreadsheet enabling anyone to analyse the raw data and establish any trends or observations.

Usage rights are governed under attribution to the source of the data being Realestate.co.nz. The next NZ Property Report for May 2011 will be published on this website on Wednesday 1st June 2011 at 10am.

4

The wish list of property seekers

Posted on: April 28th, 2011 | Filed in Buying / Selling a home, Featured, Home features, Website searching

This week we have been extending the testing of our new beta site for Realestate.co.nz. In opening up access to a wider audience we have encouraged people to share with us the things they like about the new site, as well as those areas where we could do better!

Such an exercise is tremendous in opening up a dialogue with our users. To date we have received 116 emails. Reviewing and replying to them has been an enlightening and enjoyable experience as I have certainly gleaned a great insight into not only how they feel about the site, but also the things that as active users of our site they would love to see us do more of.

Overall we seem to have developed a site design and functionality that judged on this sample group is a positive step forward.

As well as functional feedback it is really interesting to hear of the things that people most want to be able to find on a website. Taking a simple poll of these comments I have tabulated the top 5 things people would most like to see on a real estate site.

Map based search

This is by far and away the greatest demand from our users and thankfully this is something that the new site delivers to the massive satisfaction of this audience.

Many have commented as to the excellent value and experience of the iPhone app that we launched at the end of last year (now exceeding 24,000 downloads to date and growing!). That user experience seems to so many people so intuitive that we had to bring it to the web.

A comment made by all the people was the extent to which they were surprised and disappointed that Google had ceased to offer this service. Now we can step in to fill this void and provide a vital way of display property for sale as seen from an aerial view perspective. Or as one email commented – “show the properties exactly where they are, rather than where the agent would like to have us think they are!”

CV

It is clear that richer data is expected by users of real estate website and the data that most frustrates them is the access to the CV or rating valuation. This is seen as a “must have” and as many quote – the data is accessible from most council websites.

The fact is we would love to add this key fact to listings on the website, however whereas a single query can provide the CV for a single property for free via a council website, to enable us to provide this for all properties requires access to a database for all properties. This is a service for which we would have to pay a significant license fee to local authorities or to QV who acting for these councils undertakes to provide the data.

Definitive price

This response (can we please have a price on every listings) is not news to us. Ever since we started the website in 2006 we have had constant comments and questions as to why we cannot get or encourage agents to provide a price on every property. Users of the site are vocal in their view that a price or a price guide would vastly improve the user experience. Many go as far to state that they completely ignore properties for which there is no displayed price – arguing that they have no confidence that the appearance of a property in the search results may not be a true reflection of the expected price.

We do share with these people that the listings we receive must be provided with either a display price, a search range or more common these days a non-display search price. We need to ensure that property listings for a filtered search price genuinely reflect the true range of the property for sale.

Land and building size

People generally believe that the size of a section or the size of the property should be as standard a set of data as the number of bedrooms or ensuites. It is hard to argue with this assertion as all properties have a legal title that defines the section size. As to building size this is certainly less easily available. To assist in this area we do integrate listings with property database of Zoodle which often provides section and building size. Where we can (accurate addressing of the property) we link directly from Realestate.co.nz to Zoodle.

Representative images

Interestingly a few comments were made as to the “authenticity” of some property images. The perspective was that photographers had been known to use certain types of lens to be – how it might be called “more generous” with the size of rooms when taking pictures.

Whilst we do not actively get involved in the production of photos (we simply display those images we are given) we are always delighted to see the general trend to have more photos, better quality photos and bigger photos. It is funny to think back 5 years ago when we started the website the average listing had just 4 photos and the size was tiny. Today the average has shot up to 16 and the size grown significantly.

0

Are signs of economic stress leaving the property market?

Posted on: April 21st, 2011 | Filed in Featured, Online marketing

Nearly two years ago I wrote a post asking the question “Have signs of distress left the property market?” – in retrospect this was a bit of an early call as since that time I am not sure we would collectively feel that we have yet got over the worst.

That article was written to analyse the searching behaviour of people using realestate.co.nz to seek out properties that were being sold with signs of distress and desperation as a function of the very severe economic conditions brought on by the Global Financial Crisis and our own recession.

Bringing this analysis up to date provides a perspective that things have improved – and some things have not!

Back in 2009 we examined 4 keywords that were being used in searches which we judged reflected an interest by eager buyers to find properties where the owners where suffering and in need of a fast sale. These words were: Motivated / Urgent / Desperate / Must Sell. The chart shows the tracking of the total for these 4 keywords over the past 2 years.

Clearly the searching for these keywords has fallen off – both in absolute terms (blue line) and as a proportion of all searches (red line). From the highs of 2009 when the rate of these searches was up to 150 per week the scale of such searches has calmed down to a level of less than one in every 200 searches.

However what is interesting is comparing the level of properties on the market which include these keywords.

Back in January 2009 there were 93 listings on the site using the word “Desperate“, 6 months later this had fallen to 67, now in April 2011 this is number is still 67!!

The phrase “Must sell” has 3,269 listings in January 2009, falling to 2,527 in July 2009 and today back up to 3,444!

The keyword “Urgent” showed up on 436 listings in January 2009, falling to 344 by July 2009 and today – up to 386!

The keyword of “Motivated” showed up on 1,377 listings in January 2009, falling to 1,080 by July and again today it has risen to 1,477.

So it would seem that whilst the urgency of buyers to seek out properties whose vendors are experiencing pressure of mounting financial stress has declined markedly over the past 2 years the use of these key emotive phrases by real estate agents on behalf of clients has not diminished.

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NZ Property Pulse – March 2011

Posted on: April 18th, 2011 | Filed in Featured, Property Pulse - Regional Market Report

Each month we publish a factsheet for each region of the country to provide an insight to the key numbers that detail the health of the property market across the country.

These reports for the month of March cover all 16 provincial regions as well as reports covering the 3 main metropolitan regions of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. The Auckland report is divided up into each of the main metro areas (North Shore, Waitakere, Manukau as well as Auckland City).

Each factsheet provides the key numbers in table and chart form using the key statistics from the Real Estate Institute of NZ and Realestate.co.nz. This provides the number of property sales in the month, the median sales price for those property sales, the inventory of unsold properties on the market, as well as the number and the asking price expectation of new listings brought onto the market in the month.

Metropolitan Areas

Auckland City

North Shore

Waitakere

Manukau

Wellington

Chistchurch

Provincial Areas

Northland

Coromandel

Waikato

Bay of Plenty

Central North Island

Hawkes Bay

Gisborne

Taranaki

Manawatu / Wanganui

Wairarapa

Nelson

Marlborough

West Coast

Otago

Queenstown Lakes

Southland

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Recessionary stress still felt in number of mortgagee properties for sale

Posted on: April 11th, 2011 | Filed in Buying / Selling a home, Featured, Money Matters

Whilst there maybe some signs of the recovery that most people have been longing for, one of the well known “lag” indicators – mortgagee property repossessions continues to make its presence felt in the NZ property market.

At this time there are around 280 properties on the market in NZ  (covering both residential and lifestyle properties) identified as being in foreclosure where the lender is forcing a sale as a result of the borrower being in arrears on the repayment of the loan or the borrower has signaled to the lender their inability to continue to pay and is therefore looking to exit the property.

There has not been any recent statistics released as to the scale of mortgagee sales since late last year, so in an attempt to shed light onto this sector of the property market we have examined key data from the website of realestate.co.nz.

Reviewing the current state of the market, the absolute scale of mortgagee properties is well below the peak of 2008 and 2009 when close on 400 properties were being marketed in this manner as shown from the chart below.

In absolute terms 280 properties is a significant number, however when put into context it represents less than one half of one percent of all the properties on the market in NZ for sale today – put another way it is only 1 in every 200 properties is a mortgagee sale. Even at the height of the recession the total only ever reached 0.75% of all listings.

This figure is far lower than the close to 10% of US properties that were in foreclosure in the peak recession period of 2008/9 – a situation that is yet to be resolved in many US states where the continuing levels of mortgagee listings and sales continues to drive down the sale prices.

Examining the past 3 years it would be fair to say that the trend for mortgagee listings is on a slow decline. It will likely take a considerable period for all the effect of the Global Financial Crisis and its impact on the NZ property market to work its way out of the system as far as mortgagee listings and for the level to return to the rate of around 100 at anyone time.

Another key indicator of the mortgagee sector of the property market is the use of the keyword search terms on realestate.co.nz as a means to locate mortgagee property. Over the past 3 years we have tracked this each week and the latest chart below shows the recent year.

Clearly the  peak of activity of keyword searching for terms such as mortgagee sale / mortgagee auction / mortgagee properties was back in 2008 and into early 2009. The recent 12 to 15 months has seen this fall away to a fairly steady level. That level is still resulting in these terms being in the top 5 terms searched on the site.

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NZ Property Report – March 2011

Posted on: April 1st, 2011 | Filed in Featured, NZ Property Report

The March 2011 NZ Property Report published by Realestate.co.nz provides an insight into the state of the New Zealand property market as measured by the supply side of the property market over the month of February. The key measures of the market analysed in the report are the number of new listings, the asking price expectation for those new listings and the level of inventory of unsold houses on the market at this time. The report is compiled from data captured by the website and represents close to 95% of all property movements in the NZ market as managed by licensed real estate agents.

A full print version of the NZ Property Report – March 2011 is published below and is available for download (1.3MB) and distribution.

Summary of the market – March 2011

Any analysis of the NZ property market for March would be incomplete without reference to the impact of the Christchurch earthquake. The Canterbury region is the second biggest property region representing around 15% of the market. In March the level of new listings in the region fell 36% compared to a year ago, whilst the country excluding Canterbury fell only 11%. Based on a representation of the national total it is likely that around 480 less properties were listed in the Canterbury region in the month than would have been anticipated at this time of year.

Nationally the rise in asking price was the most significant single piece of data from the overall report. The asking price nationally is now hovering close to all time highs and is particularly strong in the major cities. Auckland at $551,720 is up 1% as compared to prior month and prior year; with Wellington at $453,021 up 2.5% on last year and 1% from last month. Canterbury at this time shows no significant change in price in line with recent 3 month average.

The level of inventory of unsold homes on the market continues to grow, recording its 3rd consecutive month of rise to break through the psychological level of one year, reaching 53 weeks. Given this high level of inventory, matched to slow levels of new listings it is becoming clear that the high asking price is more likely to be the result of keen interest focused purely on new listings; leaving older listings somewhat “languishing on the shelf” at what could be unrealistic prices or presentation that needs refreshing to attract buyers.

Asking Price

The truncated mean asking price for all new listings in March rose again to $421,940 up from $420,265 in February. On a seasonally adjusted basis the asking price rose 1% indicating a continued confidence amongst sellers.

The trend of the past 2 years shows continued strength in asking price expectation.

New Listings

The level of new listings whilst rising in March was still 15% down compared to March last year. The current 12 month moving average total shows 131,722 new listings down 6% as compared to the prior 12 month period. The market continues to remain quiet in terms of listings and sales as has been seen in the REINZ sales reports for the last few months with both January and February reporting record lows. February sales totaled 4,502.

Inventory

The level of unsold houses on the market at the end of March actually fell from 52,672 in February to 51,980 in March. This represented the equivalent of 53.1 weeks of equivalent sales, as assessed on a seasonally adjusted basis.

The key driver of this rising inventory is more a reflection of somewhat lackluster sales than excessive new listings. The absolute level though at over a year of equivalent sales will continue to impact the market and maintain the “buyers-market” perspective.

Regional Summary – Asking price expectations

With a strong national asking price growth of 1.9% as compared to the recent 3 month average, the expectation would be to see a consistent trend across the country. The fact is that 11 regions of the 19 did post rises in asking price, however there were some significant falls. The majority of the falls were in provincial regions.

Both Wellington and Auckland saw asking price rise close to peak, with Wellington particularly strong with a 4.1% increase to come within $2,500 of the peak asking price indicating confidence in vendor expectations.

By contrast the situation in Northland and Marlborough, which both showed significant falls in asking prices taking those regions to record low asking price levels.

Regional Summary – Listings

Recent months has seen a consistent decline in listing numbers when judged on a year-on-year basis, this month of March shows some change.

Four regions posted an increase in new listings with Waikato the standout showing a 9% increase to 994 new listings, the highest level in over 3 years.

As previously noted the Canterbury region saw a 36% fall. Over the past 7 months since September a total of 8,558 new listings have been brought to the market across the region. This is down 30% from the 12,232 recorded in the same period in the prior year.

Wellington regions showed a strong performance with a 6% increase. This region has been active with increases consistently over recent months taking the 12 month average up 6% on the prior year.

Regional Summary – Inventory

A consistent picture of high inventory of unsold house on the market pervades the region map. There are pockets where levels are moderate, particularly in Bay of Plenty and Central North Island, however the remainder sit well above long term average.

Of the 19 regions a full 8 of them are now sitting at record high levels of inventory – Central Otago, Hawkes Bay, Manawatu / Wanganui, Nelson, Northland, Otago, Taranaki and the Wiakato.

In total provincial NZ which comprises all of the regions excluding the main centres of Auckland, Wellington and Canterbury reached a record peak of inventory of 76.7 weeks which compares with 36.6 weeks in the metropolitan areas.

These record highs as noted earlier are as much a factor of slows sales, are clearly offering a broad range of options to buyers active in the market.

Lifestyle

Lifestyle property performed fairly strongly in respect of new listings with a total of 1,096 coming onto the market in March up 17% from February and in line with March last year. The asking price expectation fell by 2% in the month from $552,591 to $542,975 which was down 8% as compared to March 2010.

Despite the overall levels in Canterbury lifestyle listings remained steady with 130 new listings as compared to 144 in March 2010, the reality would be that almost all of the lifestyle properties in the region would be well outside of the immediate vicinity of Christchurch city.

Apartments

Apartment listings grew in March but at 516 failed to reach the level of 613 seen a year ago. Based on a 12 month moving average volumes of apartment listings continue to fall with 6,216 in the most recent year down 9%. In Auckland the trend is down with 5% decline on a 12 month moving average basis. March saw 332 new apartment listings in Auckland down 8% from a year earlier.

The asking price expectation rose 4% in March from $365,150 to $378,494. This level though is down 3% as compared to a year ago and down 4% as compared to the recent 3 month average. Auckland apartment listings reflected a similar trend down 4% year-on-year.

Property Price Index

Comparing the sale price of properties across the country to the asking price expectation is not a perfect comparison; however the trends tend to align. The benefit is that the data for asking price is of the market today, whilst the selling price is reflective of the market active between 4 and 6 weeks ago. The latest comparison is highlighted below:

Realestate.co.nz data is compiled from asking prices of new residential listings as they come onto the market via subscribers to the realestate.co.nz website. The Realestate.co.nz website currently has over 95% of all licensed real estate offices subscribing and providing all of their listings onto the website. The asking price is presented as a truncated mean price at a 10% interval.

REINZ: data is compiled from reported unconditional residential sales from all members of the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand representing all licensed real estate offices. The sale price is published as a stratified median house price and is developed in association with the Reserve Bank of NZ.

Notes:

Truncated mean

The monthly asking price for new listings presented in this report utilises the measure of ‘truncated mean’. This measure is judged to be a more accurate measure of the market price than average price as it statistically removes the extremes that exist within any property market that can so easily introduce a skew to traditional average price figures.

The truncated mean used in this report removes the upper 10% and the lower 10% of listings in each data set. An average or mean of the balance of listings is then calculated.

Methodology

With the largest database of properties for sale in NZ, realestate.co.nz is uniquely placed to immediately identify any changes in the marketplace. The realestate.co.nz NZ Property Report is compiled from new listings coming onto the market from the more than 1,020 licensed real estate offices across NZ, representing more than 95% of all offices.

With an average monthly level of over 10,000 new listings, the realestate.co.nz NZ Property Report provides the largest monthly sample report on the residential property market, as well as a more timely view of the property market than any other property report. The data is collated and analysed at the close of each month, and the Report is compiled for the 1st day of the following month. This provides a feedback mechanism as to the immediate state of the market, well in advance of sales statistics which by the very nature of the selling process can reflect activity with a lag of between 2 and 4 months.

In analysing the details of the 12,247 new listings in the month of January a total of 156 listings have been excluded due to anomalies. The categorisation of Lifestyle property is defined by the land area of the property. The criterion is a property having in excess of 0.3 hectares and being situated outside metropolitan areas.

Background to Realestate.co.nz

Realestate.co.nz is the official website company of the real estate industry of New Zealand, it is an industry owned web business providing online marketing services to the real estate industry. The shareholders in the business comprise the REINZ (50%) and six of the largest real estate companies (50%).

The business operates a portfolio of websites all focused to specialist sectors of the real estate market:

Realestate.co.nz is the heart of the business and is focused to the residential property market. It features the most comprehensive selection of property for sale and rent across NZ. The website attracts a significant monthly audience of over 400,000 unique browsers, with over 110,000 of those visiting from countries outside of NZ.

nzFarms is a specialist website presenting the most comprehensive selection of farms and agricultural businesses on the market across NZ. At this time it features around 5,000 listings for all types of farms and agricultural land as well as over 11,000 lifestyle properties.

Prime Commercial is a specialist website presenting the most comprehensive selection of commercial property for purchase or lease on the market across NZ. At this time it features over 27,000 listings for all types of properties – retail, commercial, industrial and investment properties.

Prime Business is a specialist website presenting the most comprehensive selection of businesses for sale on the market across NZ. At this time it features over 4,300 listings for all types of businesses – retail, tourism, wholesale as well as franchise opportunities.

Zoodle is a specialist property information website providing very detailed data on all residential properties in NZ. The database comprises over 1.6m properties with detailed specifications, map and local amenities. The site provides online reports for free and for purchase covering valuation and legal information to greatly assist the needs of property buyers and sellers.

The web business of Realestate.co.nz site is the most comprehensive real estate web operation in NZ, currently hosting over 120,000 listings, covering this portfolio of residential property for sale and rent, commercial property for sale and lease, rural properties and farms, as well as businesses for sale. With a subscriber base of over 1,020 offices, the company represents over 95% of all listings from licensed real estate agents in NZ.

The full NZ Property Report for March 2011 can be downloaded here (1.3MB pdf document). Additionally the raw data is accessible here as an Excel spreadsheet enabling anyone to analyse the raw data and establish any trends or observations.

Usage rights are governed under attribution to the source of the data being Realestate.co.nz. The next NZ Property Report for April 2011 will be published on this website on Sunday 1st May 2011 at 10am.

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