The Unconditional Blog

The impartial voice of the industry

 

Archive for the ‘Home features’ Category

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.

5

Kiwi ingenuity to the fore! – world’s first cool drawer!

Posted on: April 8th, 2008 | Filed in Home features

That’s a bit of a corny headline I know – but I think given the tone of some of the discussions of late regarding the state of the NZ property market and the NZIER report today on the business and economic sentiment we need a shot in the arm!Fisher & Paykel - Innovative Fridge Draw

Great kiwi ingenuity has done it again – the boys and girls at Fisher and Paykel have once again broken the kitchen appliance paradigm and 10 years after launching the world’s first Dishdrawer we now have the world’s first fridge / freezer that can be fitted into a standard kitchen draw – the Cooldrawer. How incredibly sensible and simple is that! – you can as the article says have different drawers around the kitchen set at different temperatures to handle your frozen meats and dinners, your salads and fruits and of course the classic beer fridge.

Best of all is the fact that the one drawer unit can morph at the click of a switch from fridge to freezer so if you have the need to pack up the beer fridge you can convert one Cooldrawer to super chill mode – super fast suitably chilled the bottles, before turning back the nob to a more moderate chill level.

Another smart energy saving element not highlighted in the article that just came to me is the fact that as it is a drawer when you open it, the cold air cannot “fall out” as happens with conventional upright fridge / freezers, thereby doing your bit for the environment.

So I say congrats to the R&D team at F&P as they rightly claim “70 years of innovation” – just a pity that having read all of this great news when you go to the F&P NZ website I can’t find out a single fact about this great new product!!

2

Swimming pools can be dangerous, but so can a host of other dangers around the home

Posted on: March 29th, 2008 | Filed in Home features

Swimming pools are part of most people’s wish-list when it comes to their dream home. The past 10 years has seen that dream realised more and more with an average of 1,800 new pools installed each year across the country taking the number of homes with pools to over 73,000 or around 1 in 20 homes.

That demand and appeal shows itself on the realestate.co.nz website with “swimming pool” being one of the top 6 searches attracting over 400 such searches every week – at present there are close to 3,700 properties for sale on the site which feature a pool.

swimming-pool.jpgNo surprises there, in the appeal of pools – what is surprising is the incessant focus of our regulators to tell us how we should protect ourselves and our families from what they obviously think is our complete ignorance and stupidity when it comes to pool safety.

You clearly get the impression when you read the current regulations or have a visit from your local authority pool inspector that you have committed a crime in even having a pool, something akin to owning a vicious dog and as such you need to be protected from it for your own safety with a barrage of locks, signs, fences, alarms and search lights.

Now I am in no way making light of the very serious issue of drowning of children in swimming pools. Whilst the latest statistics indicate that the rate of drowning once at a level of over 11 per year has fallen to an average of 4 over the past 7 years – a vast improvement, however anymore than zero is a tragedy.

What gets me as reported today, is the government’s insistence to constantly impose more and more regulations on pool fencing as a means to save lives. There must come a point when someone has to say enough is enough, you cannot regulate our society to death (excuse the pun). We all need to accept personal responsibility – if we really wanted to stop children drowning we would have cover and fence to 3 meters high all body of water over 2 inches deep, because that’s all that is required for a child to drown.

Just as we cannot build fences to protect children from cars on the road, we cannot expect all pool owners to constantly build tighter and tighter security around pools. Added to this fact is the reality that not all of the 73,000 pools are in homes with young children. A statistic I heard last year from a senior official in my local authority when inspecting my pool fence was that over 60% of all drownings are of children in the home, of the balance 75% are of children visiting that home. That leaves 1 in 10 of all drownings the result of children sneaking onto other peoples properties and climbing 1.5 metre fences and then falling in and drowning; given there have been only 4 drownings per year for the past 7 years that means this single occurrence would only happen every 3 years across the whole of NZ.

I know that parents want to protect children and will do everything they can 24 hours per day to protect them from pools, power tools, cars, escalators, bikes, playgrounds and a hundreds other dangers – the fact of the matter is that accidents will happen, regulations will not prevent accidents – people prevent accidents. Lets apply some common sense and not decree yet more fencing regulations for pools.

As an aside I have fitted a pool alarm at the insistence of my local authority in addition to the fence. My initial reaction at the request was dumbfoundedness. However now I have this device I wonder why this is not the primary priority of regulations rather than door locks and fences as an alarm is the first hand signal of a child falling in, and is far less intrusive on the property and the joys of having a pool.