The Unconditional Blog

The impartial voice of the industry

 

Archive for the ‘Website news’ Category

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Enhanced reporting of web traffic on property listings

Posted on: May 26th, 2008 | Filed in Website news

New web traffic data on realestate.co.nzEver wanted to know how many people viewed your property last Tuesday now that it’s featured on this website? – and of those 23 viewings how many were from your second cousin in Vancouver??

Well now you can!

We have today added enhanced functionality to all listings on the website, showing the daily traffic for the past 30 days as well as the source of those visits from key countries that view the site. Just click on the link of “Listing viewed xxx times” at the top right of the listing page and 2 graphs open up to share vital information on every one of the 108,000 listings on the site.

* Just as a point of note before I get lots of comments / questions, the data of location based visits only commenced collection at the beginning of the month. Total viewings are recorded since the listing was first published on the site.

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Realestate.co.nz website is owned by the industry – claims to the contrary are untrue

Posted on: April 4th, 2008 | Filed in Real Estate Industry, Website news

An article in today’s NZ Herald reports on claims made by a former employee of REINZ (Gordon Meyer) that this website is not owned by the real estate industry. I as CEO of Realestate.co.nz Ltd can refute those claims completely.

The paper states that Mr Meyer claims that “REINZ went down the path of transforming itself into a money-making entity, investing $6-8 million in a property advertising website, Realenz (now realestate.co.nz), which members still did not own. It amended its constitution in the 1980s to enable it to engage in commercial activities”.

For the record RealENZ was the property listing website established by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) in the mid 1990’s. It was the leading website for property for almost a decade during which time the REINZ held a key ownership position.

In August of 2006 the RealENZ website became realestate.co.nz following the establishment of a joint venture agreement between REINZ and Property Page (NZ) Ltd (PPL), forming the company Realestate.co.nz Ltd.

PPL is a company owned by the following real estate companies: Harcourts, Harveys, Ray White, Barfoot & Thompson, Bayleys and L J Hooker.

With this ownership structure one can very easily see that this website company (Realestate.co.nz Ltd) is 100% owned by the real estate industry through some of the franchise groups and companies operating in the industry as well as the industry body which itself is owned by all licensed real estate agents.

The reference in the article to the degree of investment made by REINZ in the RealENZ website is something I cannot comment on as my accountability only covers the period of the operation of Realestate.co.nz Ltd.

The article goes on to quote REINZ President Murray Cleland who took issue with Mr Meyer’s criticism, saying profit was never put before people. He said Mr Meyer was bitter and did not realise that realestate.co.nz was a huge success, with every major agency involved.

In echoing Murray Cleland’s comments I would support those who have supported this website by highlighting that in the last year alone the site has cemented its position in the real estate category as measured by Nielsen Online as the clear No. 2 website (behind Trade Me) attracting just on 250,000 unique browsers per month on average, a growth of 31% year-on-year ahead of the market growth of 21%.

Alistair Helm

CEO – Realestate.co.nz Ltd

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Can the real estate industry demonstrate eco-friendly responsibility?

Posted on: March 17th, 2008 | Filed in Agent Tips, Website news

It may be the fact that today’s St Patrick’s Day, but I am inspired to write a post on green issues in the real estate industry.Can the NZ Real Estate demonstrate green action?

I was standing in line at the local Post Shop just now watching as someone came in to empty their post box. Struggling to extract the mass of ‘marketing flyers’ from local real estate agents she proceeded to unceremoniously dump all of them in the bin – a bin that was as you can see from this camera phone image (apologies for a shaky image) was already straining at the seams with yet more of these real estate flyers!

The real question here is – does the real estate industry realise how damaging this mass of wasted marketing material is to the environment?

I undertook a quick guesstimate of the impact of all of these flyers being dumped in rubbish bins – in a week. I estimate that based on 17,000 real estate agents in NZ the industry produces over 34 tons of paper (this excludes magazines and newspapers – just mail dropped flyers) per week!

Now courtesy of an online green calculator I found out that to produce this mass of paper uses up 816 trees per week – 42,000 trees per annum.

Now we are a real estate website so you may think we have a slight agenda here – we do!

We want to assist the property buying and selling public by providing the most valuable and effective means of searching for property of all types. You might also think that with the growth of the web as the preferred means of searching for real estate real estate, that agents might realise that random mail drops are neither cost effective nor environmentally friendly!

So next time you get the opportunity and are speaking to a real estate agent you might like to remind them of the impact on the environment that their mail drops is having to our beautiful country. Maybe it is time one or all of the real estate companies decided that going green would be a neat marketing tactic.

As for ourselves I can confirm that we here at realestate.co.nz are going greener – as of the end of this month we will cease to produce and distribute paper forms, invoices, letters and statements – collectively saving this country over a quarter of a ton of paper and allowing 6 more trees to live!

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Premium photo service of open2view now featured on this website

Posted on: March 15th, 2008 | Filed in Website news

If there is one thing that people constantly request of the website – it is more photos and bigger photos!

Well now we can meet their request, we have just this week implemented an integration of the photo content of open2view into this website. So if you are currently selling a property and you decide to commission open2view to photograph your property then the photos will be featured on your listings of your property on realestate.co.nz.

To see how this works, have a look at this listing from Gary Potter and Glenice Taylor who are selling this “Colonial Splendor” on the North Shore , the property listing showcases 12 agent photos, 41 open2view photos and 3 interactive floor plans. Certainly a very comprehensive presentation of a beautiful property.open2view photos now on realestate.co.nz

High quality photos and a comprehensive portfolio of photos were 2 of the top 5 demands of the property searching public in research undertaken last year and we have been working to enhance the websites presentation of all listings; to work with open2view we judged to be the best solution.

If you are not aware of the services of open2view, then a brief introduction. They are a kiwi company who having successfully developed a franchise photographic service a number of years ago have taken their fantastic service and now operate in Australia and the USA – a great export story for NZ business.

Here in NZ if you want to use the services of open2view you need to discuss this with your real estate agent as they arrange everything directly with open2view. In terms of getting your open2view photos onto your listing on this website, that happens automatically. Currently there are over 8,000 properties in NZ which are currently on the market and use the services of open2view.

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Web statistics clearly show a very slow property market

Posted on: February 10th, 2008 | Filed in Buying / Selling a home, Real Estate Industry, Website news

The fact is that as at the end of December 2007 there were just over 60,000 properties for sale on realestate.co.nz amongst the total of 99,000 listings in total. The balance being Commercial property, Farms and Agricultural land and Businesses for Sale as well as Property for rent.

The website is subscribed to by over 1,300 real estate companies across the country and represents close to 90% of all listings by licensed real estate agents, thereby anointing the website with the title of the most comprehensive website for property in NZ and also a very critical ‘bell weather’ to the ‘lead indicators’ of the property market.

By analysing the sales statistics from REINZ and cross matching it with the listing stock on the website you quickly build a picture of the current state of inventory in the NZ market for property.

In the space of 12 months through 2007 the level of inventory rose from around 4 ½ months at the start of the year to 8 months stock at the year end, this growth was most pronounced in the second half of the year, shooting up from 5 ½ months in July.

In absolute terms the number of houses seeking buyers has risen by over 10,000 (June 50,134 to December 60,427). The figure at the end of January was slightly down at 57,525 however we will have to wait until the January statistics are released by REINZ to see if this reduction in stock was reflective of sales or withdrawals.

So what can we glean from the data as a key indicator of the state of the real estate market?

Clearly with a stock level of around 8 month worth of sales – the supply far outweighs the demand with a consequential ability for buyers to be patient and selective – allowing them not to be panicked into a buying frenzy as was the case over the past couple of years. As for sellers, the competitive effect of this amount of stock of potentially alternative options for buyers means presenting a property in the best light to attract a buyer and then ensuring that price expectations are realistic. A reality is that properties are selling – just not in the amounts that they used to so if you plan to sell, you need to be realistic to the market.

However as with any statistics caution needs to be applied as these statistics are broad based across the whole country, and just as there is no median house, so there is no marketplace for all 57,000 properties. The fact is that real estate is a local market.

Looking on a regional level, not surprisingly the analysis shows up some interesting variances:

inventory-table-feb-08-3.jpg

Immediately you are drawn to the regions of Northland and Central Otago Lakes with nearly 2 years and 1 year’s inventory respectively; both of which are areas with a active tourism impact and which have been subject to extensive development over the past few years.

At the other extreme Otago and especially Southland record the most modest growth in inventory and low actual stock levels, Southland the lowest inventory in the country at the end of the year with just 4 months. The two areas of Auckland and Waikato / BOP represent collectively 49% of all the inventory and therefore mirror naturally the national figures. Wellington which is normally considered to be a market immune to peaks and troughs certainly seems to indicate a real growth in inventory from around 3,700 in the first quarter of 2007 to end the year at just on 5,000 properties on the market.

Whilst the January sales figures due to be released this week will indicate the likely trend for 2008, it is pretty clear from all other indicators that the property market has slowed considerably, the Auckland sales reported by Barfoot & Thompson for January being some 40% down. January is traditionally one of the quietest months and an indicative figure or between 4,500 and 5,000 sales across the country for the month would seem likely. This would be a 40% decline and be the slowest January since the early 90’s.

It is proposed to update these inventory statistics on a regular basis on Unconditional – subscribe to an RSS feed to ensure you are kept informed on this and other subjects on the real estate industry.

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Property searching remains bouyant

Posted on: December 13th, 2007 | Filed in Website news

Website trafficTraditionally searching for a new home takes a back seat to the mad rush for those last minute Christmas presents. This year however internet property searchers seem as glued as ever to their laptops.

In an average week over 300,00 unique browsers (unique visitors) across NZ seek out real estate online. This graph shows weekly domestic traffic to real estate websites and clearly shows the growth in online activity in the 2nd half of the year. The anticipated Christmas slow down witnessed last year seems to be holding off, the key question is what factors are influencing this retained interest?

1. Are we just seeing a greater degree of researching being done online – reflecting a more knowledgeable consumer seeking comprehensive information?

2. Are we seeing the power transfer from sellers to buyers – does that motivate some people to see this as a great time to buy?

3. Is there a belief that interest rates are at the peak and therefore affordability at today’s rates can only look better in the future?

4. Is the more compelling and richer information provided by real estate websites driving more reliance on web sites that traditional media of newspapers and magazines?

It would be interesting to know your thoughts and personal experiences.

(As a foot note, the statistics presented here are from Nielsen NetRatings and cover some 27 individual real estate websites in NZ)

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So what price is that property on the site?

Posted on: December 9th, 2007 | Filed in Buying / Selling a home, Money Matters, Online marketing, Website news

It is the question that ever visitor to our site asks – if not directly to us by email, then at least to the screen in front of them?

If I could do one thing for this site it would be to make sure that every property featured had a price.

Homes for sale are not like cars, where there is no question that a 4 year old Honda Accord is worth $20,000. Every house on the other hand is unique and therefore only the classic market forces of supply and demand will establish a price. We want to work to improve the transparency of pricing on all of the listings on the website to help you more effectively search.

To start with a useful piece of information for you to know. Every agent posting a listed on the site is required to provide us with either a stated price (which we display) or if it is being sold as a tender or auction or is just POA or Negotiation (or other acronym) , the listing agent must supply a price range. Armed with this information we deliver results for searches that you make on the site.

So if you search for homes for sale in Paraparumu priced between $400,000 and $500,000 you will see a selection (based on today) of 39 homes, only a third of which have a price, the rest are marked as “offers” or “negotiation”. All of these listings however were provided to us by agents who told us that the price range fell between $400,000 and $500,000. We do not, and would never try to be clever and add properties to individual priced searches for which we know the price range fell outside the range you selected.

Having explained this part of the site mechanics, it is clear that some agents select ranges that are just too broad. This is something we do not condone and we are constantly communicating with the industry to try and get them to price more openly all properties to help you – the buying public.

2

Welcome to Unconditional

Posted on: November 11th, 2007 | Filed in Website news

Welcome to “Unconditional” – the impartial voice of the real estate industry. The intent in launching this blog is to provide the New Zealand marketplace with a platform for the presentation and discussion of topics that relate to real estate, hosted on the site that most New Zealander’s go to when looking for any kind of real estate.

The intention is to provide a regular flow through this blog of topical, informative and relevant comments and stories related to this industry that hopefully will inform and provoke debate and comment – naturally for a blog to be valuable and successful requires interaction.

s equally important as what the blog is – is what it is not. It is not a Q &A environment (that will come shortly) – although feedback is vital; it is not a soap box for any political or vested interest party; it is not an advertising medium for any product or service.

As a point of clarification at this stage I would like to make a point clear. Realestate.co.nz is an industry owned real estate website – that is to say the ownership is made up of real estate companies and the Real Estate Institute (REINZ) – the industry body that represents the members of this industry. This website is a commercial business and acts independently of the REINZ. This blog is not the expressed opinions of the Institute, it is important for it to act, and be seen to act independently, so as to provide a valuable community for New Zealanders who are interested (actively or passively) in real estate.

This blog is written by me as the CEO of Realestate.co.nz Ltd with the assistance of a small team. At times in the future others may contribute articles to this blog where it is felt that their opinions and views will be of value to the community.

As a final point, one that needs to be made – in engaging with the blog please respect the views of others – this blog can only exist as a valuable service if people respect basic etiquette. Postings in the form of comments that make irrelevant or disrespectful references will be removed. Let’s establish some value through a common sense approach, and let’s enjoy the interaction.

Alistair Helm
CEO – Realestate.co.nz

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