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Facts on the volume of property sales

Posted on: August 9th, 2010 | Filed in Buying / Selling a home, Featured, Media commmentary

Global Economy and Housing Meltdown around the WorldThe headlines today were focused to what is variously called a “stalled housing market” or the “Do nothing” housing market. However as is often the case, it is really important to look beyond the headline and rhetoric, and examine the facts.

The housing market has slowed enormously in the past year as measured by sales volumes. The trusted and consistent statistics for property sales come from REINZ. The Real Estate Institute collect sales data from all licensed real estate agents across the country on a monthly basis to provide their monthly report. Somewhere around 90% of all properties sold in NZ are managed by licensed agents giving the Real Estate Institute a very accurate representation of the current market transacted in the past month.

The latest data to hand from REINZ is for June 2010. In that month 4,575 property sales were recorded – down 24% from June 2009, however up 6% on the June 2008 sales results. For the first 6 months of 2010 a total of 29,844 properties were sold, as compared to 34,169 in the same period of 2009, a fall of 13%.

REINZ sales data

Clearly the table above shows the market in a very low state of activity, and potentially July sales figures could show a further year on year decline when the July figures are published on the 13th August, however what was most interesting in the articles on the market today was the quote by Research Director Jonno Ingerson

“The number of house sales in recent months has dropped around one third from the same time last year, and is also around one third below the long term average. We are now approaching similar levels of sales as during 2008 at the height of the recession”

The quote is very interesting as it was not backed up with any factual sales data, nor has QV in the past referred to sales data. QV undertake their analysis of property prices based on Land Transfer documentation, this data clearly includes sales stats, however as the data set of these recorded sales is based on settlements rather than unconditional transaction records the data tends to cover an extended period which may span a couple of months given variable settlement terms.

To enable people to make informed decisions as to the state of the property market requires accurate information, if QV has a more accurate and up to date insight into the property market it would be great to see this information, especially if it does highlight sales down by 33%. I will naturally be very keen to anlayse and share this new transaction data on Unconditional, so I look forward to a response from QV to help provide insight if this data.


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.


NZ Property Report – July 2010

Posted on: August 1st, 2010 | Filed in Featured, NZ Property Report

blue pen and small houseThe July 2010 NZ Property Report published by 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 July. 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.

The July 2010 report shows the first signs of some balancing within the market with new listings declining and a matching fall in asking price expectation. Both of these signals match to the reality that the property market is moving at a very slow pace in regard to sales and therefore for those needing to sell, pricing appropriately and marketing smartly are the only approach that can generate interest from what is clearly a reduced pool of buyers.

Realestate_DownloadNowA full print version of the NZ Property Report – July 2010 is published below and is available for download (1.2MB) and distribution.

Summary of the market – July 2010

July_NZ_Property_report_coverWith the property market now firmly in the middle of winter the level of new listings coming onto the market has eased to a level expected of this quieter period of the year. For almost 9 months the flow of new listings has been at a level ahead of a year prior, but in July that trend was reversed. The net result of this steady flow of new listings for over 9 months is seen very clearly in the inventory levels. Measured on an equivalent number of weeks of sales the inventory of unsold houses across the country remains at high levels as compared to long term averages.

This strength of listings matched to the existing stock of unsold houses is challenging for property owners looking for buyers in what is a very slow paced market. In terms of sales of properties as reported by the REINZ the first 6 months of 2010 have seen just 29,844 sales; compared to 34,169 in the same 6 months of 2009 – a 12.7% decline.

It would appear that set against this market with high inventory and strong new listings sellers are heading the advice of real estate agents to price property to attract interest in the market which is what is driving these more competitive prices, down from $410,058 in June to $400,481 in July.

As has been commented on before the market situation between provincial and metropolitan NZ continues. In terms of new listings the 3 key metro areas saw an 11.6% decline in new listing in July compared to 2.3% increase for the sum total of provincial regions.

Asking Price

Asking_price_chart_July_2010Asking price expectations of new listings coming onto the market fell significantly in July. From a peak of asking prices in March of $422,648 the truncated mean asking price has fallen to just $400,481 in 4 months.

This price represents a seasonally adjusted fall of 1.1% from June; it is also at the same levels as the month of July in both 2009 and 2008 signaling the softness in the market.

New Listings

Chart_of_new_listings_July_2010The volume of new listings coming onto the market fell slightly from the June level of 11,106 to 10,586 in July. This represented a 2.3% decline when measured on a seasonally adjusted basis.

Over the 12 months to July 2010 a total of 145,733 new listings came onto the market. This compared with 134,378 in the prior period – an increase of 8.5%, on the same comparison property sales have at least kept pace up 8.1%


Chart_of_inventory July 2010The level of unsold houses on the market at the end of July totaled 52,404 up slightly from June. This represented the equivalent of 46.8 weeks, as assessed on a seasonally adjusted basis.

The inventory levels had been beginning to fall over the preceding two months, but this month saw a slight correction.

Regional Summary – Asking Price Expectations

Map_of_asking_price_July_2010The regional view of asking price changed significantly in July from both May and June. Asking prices have continued to ease with the scale of falls in some regions becoming quite marked as seen by the deep red colour in 5 of the 19 regions; these indicate falls of over 5% as compared to an average of the preceding 3 months – all are in provincial north island regions. Wairarapa with an asking price of $250,135 is the lowest reported over the past 3 years.

Asking prices did however firm across 3 regions – Queenstown lakes, Nelson and Gisborne. These South island regions also were regions that showed a more balanced market in both listings and inventory.

All of the 3 main metro areas showed easing in asking price most noticeable in Wellington and Canterbury, the latter showing a 4.6% fall from the 3 month average.

Regional Summary – New Listings

Map_of_new_listings_July_2010Whilst July levels of new listings were down just 1.7% compared to the prior month there was a turning point in the market. July was the first month this year to witness a decline on a –year-on-year basis; the last such month was back in October 2009.

Across the regions based purely on levels of new listings there were 8 regions of the 19 that saw falls indicating a switch from a buyer’s market to a seller’s market. Matched to these regions there were just 6 regions showing growth in listings with the Coromandel, Nelson and the West Coast recording listings growth of over 20%.

The Northland region recorded its lowest level of monthly listings at 399 since the beginning of 2007, down 5.7% compared to June and 3.2% below July 2009.

Regional Summary – Inventory

Map_of_inventory_July_2010The indicative trend highlighted last month where there were a number of regions which were beginning to find a balance with less influence of buyers has taken a step backwards with the vast majority of regions back into a stronger position for buyers. Even the Nelson region which in June showed a modest sellers market has fallen back somewhat to a more balanced market.

In July of the 19 regions, all but 5 are showing a significant buyer’s market based on the current inventory as measured against long term averages.

The 3 regions of the country which are fairly well balanced with neither a buyers nor sellers market are regions with a heavy influence of lifestyle and potentially overseas interest – Queenstown, Nelson and the Coromandel.

Lifestyle Property

Chart_of_new_lifestyle_listings_July_2010The flow of new listings for lifestyle properties continued to fall in July with just 833 new listings across the country, placing July amongst the lowest months going back to 2007. On a year-on-year comparison July was down 13.9%.

The asking price expectation also fell from $573,893 in June to $536,155 in July – a 2.3% fall as compared to the prior 3 months, but identical to July 2009. Significant price falls were seen in Gisborne, Canterbury, Marlborough, the Manawatu / Wanganui as well as the Wairarapa.


Chart_of_new_apartment_listings_July_2010The apartment market as judged by new listings seems flat with the past 3 months witnessing almost identical levels of new listings – 559 new ones in July. This represents a 23.7% decline from July 2009. Within the Auckland region where the majority of apartments are, new listings in July totaled 349, identical to June but down 35.5% as compared to a year earlier.

The asking price expectation of new apartment listings fell 7.7% in July as compares to the recent 3 month average at $357,616; this represented a 2.1% decline as compared to July 2009. For Auckland the asking price was $323,327 – down 8.3% compared to the recent 3 month average and down 5.5% as compared to July 2009.

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:

Property_price_index_July_2010 data is compiled from asking prices of new residential listings as they come onto the market via subscribers to the website. The website currently has over 94% 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.


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.


With the largest database of properties for sale in NZ, is uniquely placed to immediately identify any changes in the marketplace. The NZ Property Report is compiled from new listings coming onto the market from the more than 1,160 licensed real estate offices across NZ, representing more than 94% of all offices.

With an average monthly level of over 10,000 new listings, the 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 11,106 new listings in the month of July, a total of 165 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 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: 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 350,000 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 over 5,000 listings for all types of farms and agricultural land as well as over 11,o00 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 26,000 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 4,000 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 1.5m 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 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 1,160 offices, the company represents over 94% of all listings from licensed real estate agents in NZ.

The full NZ Property Report for June 2010 can be downloaded here (1.4MB 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 The next NZ Property Report for August 2010 will be published on this website on Wednesday 1st September 2010 at 10am.


The touch screen – transforming our consumption of media

Posted on: July 26th, 2010 | Filed in Featured, Technology

touch screen croppedI sense that we are reaching a tipping point (to quote the title of the excellent Malcolm Gladwell book) when it comes to our engagement with consumption of media.

I have just spent a week in the US at admittedly a technology conference for real estate, but my overwhelming sense is that we will witness within a year (maybe two at the outside) the transformation of our media consumption

We are at the dawn of the transformation where our simple finger(s) will drive our actions.

It started barely 3 years ago with the launch of the iPhone and as ever the adoption curve has become exponential. The iPhone was followed within a year with a couple of other smart phones all using our simple index finger to drive a complex computing platform in the palm of our hand. That couple of mobile devices (calling them phones is misleading) has grown into a flood as the Google Android platform has provided the open-source option to Apple’s proprietary system.

Adding to the smart phone platform has come the iPad, with a a staggering 3 million iPads sold in the first 100 days – far exceeding the initial sales of iPhones 3 years ago – this for a product costing over US$500 of which the majority of the first quarter of a million buyers had not even seen let alone touched the device before they typed in their online credit card order. A staggering US$1.5 billion in pre-order sales has to be a record for a brand new piece of complex technology.

This pervading wave of new hand-held mobile computing devices radically changes our engagement from the humble keyboard to the screen. For anyone who owns or has used a smart phone or an iPad (of which there are reported to be several thousand in NZ already, yet it is not officially on sale) the user experience is both intuitive and instantly engaging. You are drawn to “click” (touch) and swipe; you pinch to zoom and rotate to change perspective – the keyboard suddenly seems part of the typewriter generation.

The comment was made to great amusement at the conference that the 3 year old son of one of the presenters went up to the TV the other day and tried to swipe the screen to change channel!

Having said that I am still typing this using a traditional keyboard, and that is where the demarcation exists. The touch screen mobile devices are consumption devices, whereas for content creation the traditional PC with a keyboard still retains a functional efficiency. There is a blurring of the edges admittedly when you attach a blue tooth keyboard to an iPad, but that reinforces the point that our adopted manual dexterity for the keyboard is hard to supplant with a touch screen – some how the physical keys depressed to reinforce typing is too ingrained in our psyche, or at least it is for our current generation.

As a point of clarification the expression “media consumption device” does not imply a restriction to just reading magazines, viewing music and movies or playing games – just take a look across the endless aisles of apps for the iPhone or iPad, now totaling close to 200,000 and you can see almost every conceivable concept presenting every conceivable form of data.

So where does all of this take the real estate industry and the property searching process. As I stated in the summary from the Connect conference, “Location is context” and mobile computing devices are location aware devices so this tipping point will be critical for real estate. Being mobile to be able to view property information will benefit both buyers, sellers and agents. The insatiable demands of buyers and sellers to be better informed in the data that lives behind property transactions will be forthcoming at the point of decision making – inside a property, for as much as rich media can provide great insight to a property nobody is going to make that buying decision without doing the walk-through, well almost nobody!

Full Disclosure

I have both an iPhone and iPad – my experience with the iPhone was instantaneous (although I was a late adopter), it is both intuitively simple and yet so staggeringly valuable and versatile. As for the iPad, I have had it for 2 months and I had an initial passion as part of the novelty; this waned slightly, however once I adjusted to its use as a complement to a laptop and the addition of some awesome apps I am now beginning to get hooked – seriously hooked! The recent launch last week in NZ will certainly only enhance the experience as I suspect we will see a flow of excellent local apps onto the “shelves” of the app store.


NZ Property Market Pulse – July 2010

Posted on: July 22nd, 2010 | Filed in Featured, Property Pulse - Regional Market Report

Property Pulse Property Market Pulse report provides a set of factsheets for each of the 19 regions of the country consolidating the latest data from key sources in the real restate market. From the Real Estate Institute (REINZ) comes the latest sales numbers for June as well as the median sales price for key regions and the stratified sales price for key centers. From the comprehensive database of listings comes the key measure of inventory of unsold properties on the market.

Property Sales

The number of property sales is a key measure of buyer activity. The Real Estate Institute release this data on a monthly basis from the sales made by all licensed agents in the prior month making this data the most timely and comprehensive. Actual monthly sales data is effected by seasonal factors, for this reason seasonally adjusted data is presented which clearly shows one month to the next if the sales are going up or down.

NZ national sales seasonally adjusted July 2010


Sales in June fell by 3.6% from May on a seasonally adjusted basis. A total of 4,575 property sales were recorded by licensed real estate agents in the month of June. Back in June 2009 the total sales was 6,040. In the first 6 months of 2010 a total of 29,844 properties were sold across the country this is down 12.7% as compared to the first half of 2009 when 34,169 properties were sold.

Property Price

The selling price of properties measures that critical balance between what a buyer is prepared to pay and what a seller is prepared to accept. The Real Estate Institute data of prior month sales produces a median price. This raw number is then re-calculated through a model developed in partnership with the Reserve Bank of NZ to create a Stratified Price, which ensures that volume changes in key price segments do not skew the figures.

NZ Statified sales price July 2010


The stratified price rose slightly in June to $363,925 from $361,600 in June. The June price is up 4.2% as compared to June 2009. As highlighted in the chart above the sale price across the country has remained fairly stable over the past 9 month with some small ups and downs. The current price is still 4.5% below the peak price in the market back in November 2007.

Stock of Property

The number of properties on the month is provided from data and measures the level of seller activity in the market. The data represents the total number of new listings coming onto the market each month and is compiled at the start of each month for the prior month and is published in the NZ Property Report. The measure of properties on the market is represented by the number of weeks of equivalent sales, and judged on a comparative basis with prior months more accurately reflects the state of the market.

NZ Inventory Jul 2010


The level of inventory of properties on the market measured in equivalent weeks of sale fell again in June. It now stands at 45 weeks as compared to 47 weeks in May and 35 weeks in June last year. The long term average is around 38 weeks which would indicate that the market is still very much in favour of buyers rather than sellers.

These statistics are the aggregation of all the statistics from across the country. As is well know by those in the industry, real estate is a local business and in an attempt to provide greater insight into the local market the same set of key data – sales, selling price and inventory has been calculated for each of the 19 regions of the country. Check out the factsheet for your local region to see what is happening in your neck of the woods.

North Island

South Island


Connect – the global conference where technology and real estate “connect”

Posted on: July 17th, 2010 | Filed in Featured, International, Real Estate Industry, Technology, Website searching

San Francisco skylineWhat began as a small gathering of technologists and tech minded real estate people over a decade and a half ago has evolved into the most significant global conference on real estate – not just real estate technology. I make this statement as the reality is that technology is, has been, and will in the future, continue to be the largest change agent of this industry globally.

Connect is hosted by Inman News – the specialist news service for the real estate industry and its charismatic founder and host of the conference Brad Inman.

This year’s San Francisco event (they are hosted twice a year – New York in January) has just wrapped up and for me as a regular attendee the value of the event never fails to deliver.

A key essence of the event is information overload. The feeling that after 3 days you have been exposed to the largest mass of insight and emerging comprehension of where this industry is heading in the future. There are always (I sense deliberately) more sessions and content than one person alone can consume. That means that after these 3 days I have to sit down and re-read the scribbled notes and digest the learning in order to come up with a picture that has emerged from the conference.

There isn’t a single message promoted as the theme of the conference, but there is always, in summing up the conference an emerging train of thought that can best describe the conference. For me this year that came from one of the final speakers on the last day – Matt Gilligan of SimpleGeo, who made the simple statement that “Location is Context”. A simple statement, but in my mind loaded with powerful inference. For over the past 2 years the emerging role of mobile technologies has grown and grown to the situation where at this conference more than any other preceding Connect conference mobile was all anyone talked about. Mobile is all about location and being location aware is in a broader context a radical paradigm shift for almost all businesses, however for real estate location is at its very core. The phrase “Location, Location, Location” is an international phrase as well known as the McDonalds “I’m Loving it” or Nike’s “Just do it”

A show of hands ably demonstrated the view of the attendees (some 2,000 of them) as to ownership of smart phones (>70%) and iPads (c.15% after just 3 months on sale!). This industry, or at least those at the forefront of technology adoption within it, are embracing mobile as a game changer for the industry. The exhibiting companies as well as almost all presenters talked and demonstrated smart phone apps and iPad apps – next year this portfolio will undoubtedly extend to include Andriod and potentially Microsoft Mobile Window 7.

Another interesting stream of content from the conference of specific relevance to was the whole area of search. A couple of excellent panel discussions and workshop looked at search as the online tool of entry to the real estate marketplace. Providing an unbiased and external perspective was Gary Flake of Microsoft who rightly asked the question; could there be a better way of searching for property? after all the facet based search on price, bedrooms, bathrooms and property type is really a crude way of interpreting the characteristics of lifestyle / lifestage. This theme was picked up by a workshop group who having the benefit of a 24 period to debate and discuss the issue came back with some excellent proposals around leveraging the “Social Graph” to apply all that accessible online information tied up collectively in all your personal behaviours, actions and intent online to better present property that really should suit you.

The practical application being that if you were able to share your key social graph around these parameters – salary = price range; family scale = size of house; age = size of house / location; entertainment likes & activity = location / style of house. All of these clues are bound up in your profile & activity on sites such as Facebook / LinkedIn / Amazon / iTunes / Netflix / your bank account. Now clearly this list includes some very non-public data and as such raises some red flags, but just challenge the concept for a moment to say, if this social graph was inputted through an algorithm to the database of available property on the market as well as alerts to new property, it would certainly provide a richer set of results than just searching for 3 bedroom homes under $500,000 in inner city suburbs of Wellington.

The Connect conference is in many ways a reaffirmation of the fact that we live in a wired (& more so these days wireless) and mutli-connected world and the issues and challenges faced in the real estate market in NZ are so similar to the issues in Europe, US, Australia and Asia, further evidenced by attendees from all the major developed countries of the world represented at the conference. This was further evidenced when set against the hi tech apps and online tools profiled at the conference, a presenter talked of the abandonment rate of telephone inquiries which divert to voice mail and from research how low the return call rate was. It left a sobering reinforcement of the fact that technology cannot replace the human process, but hopefully can make the smarter agents more effective and efficient and enable them to track that performance more accurately as an individual or business owner.

Connect is a valuable event. It has grown from being a US domestic event to become an international event – even noted by many at this years conference that Australians seems to be “everywhere”. I personally was delighted to see a good number of NZ representatives eagerly absorbing the content. It is a conference I would highly recommend to anyone with a conviction to invest in their career in real estate and who recognises the game-changing role of technology in that future.

Sydney skyline

Great news could be on the horizon, there was a question asked in the closing session as to other locations for hosting Connect. The question was posed by an American, their question was directed at an alternative US location, but the answer from Brad included the inference that they might look at international locations – Beijing and Sydney were mentioned.

To have a Connect in our Asia Pacific region would be enormous and I will share my passion and support to try and get such a conference organized.


June property sales signal continued weakness

Posted on: July 14th, 2010 | Filed in Buying / Selling a home, Featured, REINZ Monthly data

REINZ monthly article headerJune signals the start of winter and traditionally sees sales volumes fall. In statistical terms June has a seasonality factor of -4.5% indicating that sales should be around 4.5% less than an average month. For 2010 the sales of property across NZ fell short of seasonal factors – well short.

In the month 4,575 properties were sold; down on May and also June last year. These figures are released by the Real Estate Institute (REINZ) from submitted sales data from all licensed real estate offices across the country.

Applying this seasonality factor, June sales were down 3.6% on May at a seasonally adjusted level of 4,790. Tracked on a seasonally adjusted basis over the past 5 years clearly shows not only where the market is, but also where it appears to be heading with clear sections highlighted to show trends.

Seasonally adjusted sales to Jul 2010

To provide insight to the state of the market as judged in volume terms the chart below tracks June sales for each of the past 10 years. The chart not only shows the relative scale of the market but puts 2010 sales only just above the lows of 2008.

REINZ property sales for NZ - June

It now seems clear that the 2009 sales recovery was more a bounce back driven by a weakness of pricing combined with a segment of sellers that were forced to sell, 2010 now seems to signal a significantly quieter level of market activity.

Taking not just a single month but a 6 month period assist in removing monthly anomalies and shows how in the first 6 months of 2010 total property sales have totaled just less than 30,000. At 29,844 these first 6 months of 2010 are lower than the first 6 months of 2008 which were only slightly higher at 29,870.

REINZ 6 month sales of NZ property 2000 to 2010

As the chart above shows this level of first half year sales places volume at the lowest level since records began with REINZ back in 1993.

Whilst there is no denying the significant change that has occurred to the consumer attitude to debt allied to property investment and borrowing in general over the past 2 years as a result of the global credit crisis and Great Recession, the impact on property sales seems to be more pronounced than would have been expected by this factor alone. There is strong evidence now borne out by these sales figures that a sector of the property market is either sitting on the sidelines or taking a significant period of time out – this sector being property investors. For looking back their influence on the market in the period of 2002 to 2007 is unmistakable.

However what is interesting in analysing property sales figures is to stack them up against the number of dwellings in NZ to look to what extent the frequency of property turnover has changed over the years. Taking the census data for the number of dwelling as the base in each of the past 18 years and applying the moving average total of property sales presents the following chart with the measure of the % of all dwellings transacted each year.

Property sales of dwellings Jul 2010

The last couple of years not only show significant lows as compared to the peak years of 2002 to 2007 but also measured against the more “normal years” of the 1990’s. The current level at 4.2% of all dwellings transacted per year compares to the long term average of 6.3%.


Mortgage approvals data adds to the stable of valuable property stats

Posted on: July 13th, 2010 | Filed in Buying / Selling a home, Featured, Money Matters

Calculating financial dataAn overriding principle of this website of Unconditional as a complement to the listings website of, is to provide timely and informative insight into the state of the property market, and with it the key statistics that can assist in better understanding the market.

We provide through the statistics from the website the NZ Property Report which looks into the supply and inventory of the marketplace – how many new properties are coming onto the market and how much stock of unsold houses are on the market.

To this we also analyse the monthly sales statistics from REINZ as well as the stratified house price index.

It is very clear from the latter statistics, especially volume sales that the NZ property market is either (dependent upon your perspective) in a depressive trough or operating in a new normal.

The chart below summarises the NZ Property market across the best part of two decades. The red line indicating the moving annual total of property sales (right hand axis) with the blue line indicating the value of those transactions (left hand axis).

NZ Property sales moving annual total 1993 to 2010

The latest data to May 2010 shows that in that preceding 12 months 66,769 properties were sold, whilst this is up from the low point of the year to February 2009, when a total of just 53,520 properties were sold, there has been a noticeable recent decline which followed a period of improving sales coming out of that bottoming of sales. Preceding that was the nearly two year decline in sales which took annual sales from 106,243 in the year to April 2007 to the low point in February 2009.

As ever making objective assessments of the future direction of the market is not an exact science and is why many respected economists and academics are reluctant to make such estimates preferring to let the current direction of trends from a variety of sources help point the way; one such set of data being discussed recently has been mortgage approvals.

Mortgage approvals are statistics released by the Reserve Bank, and are collected from a survey of 7 registered banks and provide statistics of the weekly volume and value of new credit lent for the purchase of property. The chart below tracks such data in terms of the weekly number of mortgage approvals on a 4 week moving average for each of the past 3 years.

NZ Mortgage approvals 2008 to 2010

Very clearly new mortgage approvals are running considerably lower than the prior 2 years. Whilst the fact that they are low would not come as a surprise, what is somewhat surprising is the fact that they should in theory mirror the volume sales of property over the same period. Tracking monthly property sales over the past 3 years on a similar chart as shown below does not produce that mirror image.

NZ Property sales 2008 2009 2010

This would seem to indicate that mortgage approvals are not exactly correlated to property sales. Reading the inclusions and exclusions of the data from the Reserve Bank does help to provide an explanation.

The mortgage approval statistics include both refinance to another bank as well as where the liability holder changes as in the case of sales to family trusts.

Whilst the specific details are not available it would seem to indicate that the property market is being typified by far less refinance switching between banks and potentially less trust transfers as home owners as borrowers seek to manage their current mortgage, without hunting around for refinance deals. This would be especially true as switching banks for refinance could open up issues such as debt to equity ratios when the property value may have fallen in recent years.

Another factor behind the lower mortgage approvals rate to property sales rate could well be the first signs of “Baby Boomers” selling down properties for which a new property could be funded mortgage free.

As ever richer information in the form of property statistics can be helpful to make better informed decisions in the market, and thereby ensure clarity and comprehension.


Mortgagee sales still show the drawn out effects of “The Great Recession”

Posted on: July 5th, 2010 | Filed in Buying / Selling a home, Featured

iStock_000007731653XSmallRecent statistics would certainly point the way to an improving ecomomy with the March quarter recording a 0.6% growth following a 0.9% growth, however the sober reality as Bernard Hickey describes it, is, in his judgment a Clayton’s Recovery – the recovery you’re having when you are not having a economic recovery. The reality is that for people caught with a large debt burden then this “recovery” is not feeling too good and the latest data for mortgagee sales certainly supports this view.

Over the first 4 months of 2010 a total of 765 properties have been sold as mortgagee sales – where the owner has defaulted on the terms of the lending agreement and the lender as the mortgagor has sort to recover as much as the debt as possible through a mortgagee sale. This total of 765 compares to 726 for the same period in 2009 and 246 in the first 4 months of 2008 before the Great Recession began.

Whilst the scale of mortgagee sales show little signs of abating the rate of growth seen over the past few years appears to be slowing and the outlook should be brighter in the medium term. A key indicator of the future scale of mortgagee sales is the inventory of mortgagee properties featured on The chart below tracks the weekly total from 2007 to the present day. Currently there are 279 mortgagee properties comprising homes, units, apartments and townhouses as well as lifestyle properties. mortgagee listings 2007 to 2010

The chart certainly highlights that the peak of the market for new listings of mortgagee properties was back in 2008 & 2009, the calmer days of 2007 are still a long way off.

Another key indicator of the mortgagee market is the degree of searching on the web for mortgagee properties as an indicator of demand from investors or general buyers looking to capitalise on stress in the market to negotiate for a property. The website of tracks all keywords used on the site – some 500+ every week with over 8,000 weekly specific keyword searches. Amongst the most actively searched over the past couple of years have been the phrases around mortgagee property – mortgagee sale, mortgagee auction, mortgagee. The chart below tracks these weekly searches and matches the volume to the weekly inventory of mortgagee property on the market. mortgagee searches and listings


With the Chinese currency set to rise NZ property could be an attractive investment

Posted on: July 3rd, 2010 | Filed in Featured, International

China arrivalsThe Chinese currency (Yuan) is predicted to rise in the coming months following the decision in early June to remove the pegging of the currency to the US dollar. The strategy adopted over years ago was designed to stimulate exports by effectively depressing the value of the currency.

Now that the Yuan will become more of a floating currency its appreciation as a function of projected economic growth will improve the overseas purchasing power of Chinese nationals looking for investment options. The domestic property market in China has gone through a boom and this is predicted to drive smart investors to seek overseas options. This could result in more Chinese buyers for NZ property.

Fact / Hypothesis / Wishful thinking? – only time will tell. However it is very interesting to use the power of the property website of to examine overseas traffic particularly from mainland China and Hong Kong.

The rich data of a website is perfect as a source to analyse just such a hypothesis – using the IP address analysis it is possible to detail exactly what proportion of all traffic to the site comes from which country and what they look at on the site.

Analysising this data over the past 18 months shows a striking fact – that as the currency exchange rate between the NZ dollar and the Chinese Yuan has risen and fallen so the level of viewings by Chinese and Hong Kong based computers has followed an identical path. This pattern is unique to these markets as the metric is not absolute traffic, but percentage of all traffic. The chart below shows this very clearly.

NZ Property searching from China and Hong Kong mapped to currency movements

The red line with the right hand axis measures the value of the purchasing power in NZ dollars of the Yuan, whilst the blue line with the left hand axis tracks the percentage of all visitors to the website each month from mainland China and Hong Kong combined.

As to what this audience is looking at – the answer simply and in some ways not unexpectedly is apartments. The chart below tracks the traffic to just apartments on the over the same 18 month period compared to traffic to all listings on the website, on the same scale axis.

Interest in NZ property from mainland China focused on apartments

The chart shows the percentage of all visitors looking at apartments viewing from mainland China and Hong Kong as the red line which is signifcantly above the same measure for percentage of all visitors looking at all listings on the website as the blue line. Also of note is the significant rise in apartment viewing since late 2009. At the peak in late 208, over 2% of all visitors viewing apartment listings on the site were from China and Hong Kong and the current level of interest is certainly heading that way again.

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