The Unconditional Blog

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Archive for the ‘Website searching’ Category

3

So what are the top 20 suburbs people are searching?

Posted on: July 22nd, 2009 | Filed in Website searching

Ever wondered where most people are looking on the website for property? – here is the latest results.

Covering the 3 months to the end of June as compared to a year earlier shows some very interesting movements as the ranking ladder shows.

top-20-suburbs-june-2009

Dusk over QueenstownBig movers!

The lifestyle appeal of the Queenstown region keeps growing. Both Queenstown itself and Wanaka feature heavily with the latter jumping from 22nd place last year to number 10 and Queenstown up 2 more slots to make the top 3 suburbs across the country.

The top 2 of Remuera and Auckland Cental continue to dominate with over 200,000 visitors each over the period.

The other lifestyle climber is the Bay of Plenty suburbs of Papamoa; up 5 slots to number 7 and Mt Maunganui; up 7 slots to number 8.

Big falls!

Palmerston North and Oamaru both experienced big falls, equally so the prime Christchurch suburb of Merivale fell out of the top 20; down 6 slots to number 22, although the other prime Christchurch suburb of Fendalton maintained its position inside the top 10.

Auckland suburbs still dominate the top 20 with nearly half of the top 20. An interesting newcomer is the Hawkes Bay suburb of Havelock North which jumped 5 slots to number 19 with over 93,000 visitors.

6

Aussies eye NZ property websites as much as job sites

Posted on: July 17th, 2009 | Filed in International, Website searching

The statistics released today by Nielsen Online showing the level of interest in NZ job websites is also naturally reflected in the level of interest shown by Australians looking at property websites.

As the NZ Herald reports in June 51,097 unique browsers from Australia viewed NZ job sites – an increase of 30% on September last year . At the same time 82,684 unique browsers from Australia viewed NZ property websites – a smaller 2% increase on September last year, fairly closely matchingt he growth in NZ traffic.

Clearly job searching is a precursor to any move and therefore property search may well lag behidn the forward trend. However the scale of traffic is certain an indicator to the overall level of interest by Australians in our country.

In analysing the data I was drawn to the relative strength of the realestate.co.nz website to Australians searching for NZ properties. Based on traffic (unique browsers) the website was ranked 11th placed of all NZ websites. However when judged on the metric of engagement which is the total time spent on the site it was ranked the 5th most actively used NZ website ! An amazing 15,500 hours in the month of June.

Top 5 most actively used NZ websites by aussies

9

Have signs of distress left the property market?

Posted on: July 14th, 2009 | Filed in Website searching

There must come a time in any cyclical event, especially one as cataclysmic as the one now described as the “Great Recession” when the dissenting voices start to believe that there is a bottom and we may have reached it. Today’s headline from Bernard Hickey certainly alludes to that “Economic weather report: Car sales weak, but green shoots showing“.

A key indicator of the consumer psyche of the property market can be read in many ways – one of which is the number of property searches undertaken by keywords on this website.

The past 6 months has seen a steady decline in searches for the keywords that best describe the negative sentiment that was so prevalent in the latter part of 2008 and early 2009.

Desperate / must sell / motivated / urgent

These 4 words alone were generating well over 150 searches a week back in the first quarter of 2009 – today that total has fallen to around 80 a week.

By comparison the keyword of mortgagee is still the #1 searched word – last week a total of 742 such searches were carried out on the site, in the first few months of this year that weekly total regularly broke 2,000 searches a week.

As to the real estate industry’s propensity to insert these words into listings – here are the totals on the site today and the comparison back 6 months ago.

Desperate: 67 listings – down from 93

Must sell: 2,527 listings – down from 3,269

Urgent: 344 listings – down from 436

Motivated: 1,080 listings – down from 1,377

15

Google leverages mapping capability to assist property buyers

Posted on: July 6th, 2009 | Filed in Website searching

Google today released simultaneously in NZ and Australia an important enhancement to the feature set of Google Maps. Now you can efficiently view the location of properties for sale on the rich platform of Google Maps.

Take a look at this example here for Napier:

Google real estate NZ with realestate.co.nz

By clicking on an individual pointer fuller details of the property are presented.

Google maps real estate feature set of an individual listing - realestate.co.nz

With a strong working relationship already established with Google – realestate.co.nz has been one of the companies working with Google to deliver this service and ensure that on day 1 the mapping facility is populated with the majority of all properties for sale.

Realestate.co.nz is the most comprehensive property website in NZ – today hosting 110,000 listings of which 52,320 are homes and lifestyle properties for sale – a far larger selection than any other website; and now as realestate.co.nz uploads to Google on a dynamic feed it means that over 93% of all properties for sale at anyone time will be featured on this new Google mapping feature courtesy of realestate.co.nz.

It is interesting that the media have taken the view that this launch is “Google’s.. latest weapon to take over all aspects of the internet“. As a website operator clearly they think we are threatened – far from it.

Websites have so much to gain from Google and the relationship is mutually beneficial – realestate.co.nz enjoys an enormous visitor traffic from Google, which is by far and away the #1 place NZ’ers use to search online – we on behalf of our customers work with Google to provide them with the best information to help them answer the search questions people ask about about property by the millions every hour of everyday.

This launch is another great benefit for home buyers, property investors, real estate companies and real estate websites – Google helping to organise and make easily available the world of information.

6

Property market trends – buyer demand

Posted on: June 25th, 2009 | Filed in Buying / Selling a home, Website searching

This post complements the earlier post which looked at sales trends. In this post I want to look at the demand indicator of the market as seen from the statistics of websites focused on real estate.

In the first 6 months of this year an average of 975,000 sessions every week were undertaken by NZ’ers onon real estate websites – this is the aggregated total of just the number of NZ’ers searching for property – staggering! This statistic continues to demonstrate and reinforce the fact that over 80% of all real estate searches start online – a number that keeps growing year-on-year.

With an average session duration of just over 15 minutes that means that over a quater of a million hours a week are spent by NZ’ers searching for property – this is clearly a national infatuation – close to rivalling reality TV!

However whilst people may well be logging on to real estate websites at the rate of 975,000 individual sessions per week, this number nowhere near relates to the number of people who are actively looking for property. At anyone time there is usually only around 25,000 people really actively searching.

Part of the reason for this massive disparity is the enormous traffic on Trade me. Just last month over 3.4 million unique visitors went to Trade me searching over a million items across hundreds of categories – whilst on that site those visitirs quite often check out property listings which has a massive consequential effect on these numbers.

Despite this, tracking web traffic on real estate websites can provide insight to comsumer sentiment as a surrogate for active buyer sentiment and interest in researching for property. The graph below details the weekly level of visitor sessions across all listing websites over the past 2 1/2 years.

NZ real estate traffic - total industry to June 2009

The blue line tracking 2009 to date certainly highlights the growth of online searching compared to 2008 and 2007. The red line of 2008 is notable for its lack of seasonality movement after the first quater of 2008 – a function of a somewhat depressed consumer sentiment as the realities of the great recession crept in.

Representing this data not in absolute terms as the chart above does but as an index measure helps to remove the factor of the ever increasing usage of the web as an underlying driver. The chart below shows this index representation of the data and shows a clearer view of the real health of the market.

NZ real estate web traffic - total industry to June 2009

Presented in this way shows more clearly the seasonality of the market, the peaks post Christmas and then again in the spring. The 2008 data shown by the red line shows even more clearly the significant slip in interest through late summer of last year and also the failure of buyer interest to rise in what would have been an expected seasonal upturn in spring.

The trending line for 2009 shown in blue does very clearly demonstrate a close correlation to the 2007 year – a year that might well be regarded as a year typified as a steady market. The peak of summer activity this year might not have been so high but recent weeks show that interest remains strong albeit set against a seasonal slowing of interest.

As noted earlier the scale of property viewing online is of a scale that can be influenced by factors outside of core buyer interest and intent to purchase. That is why it is valuable to review statistics from further along the path from casual interest to serious enquiry. This statistic is best represented by email enquiries sent from the website of realestate.co.nz. Every week many thousands of emails are sent to agents acting on behalf of vendors, such emails establish contact between interested buyers and those agents and largely then lead to a purchase at some stage in the future making email enquiry traffic a potentially far more reliable indicator of demand for properties.

The chart below tracks the level of email enquiry on an indexed basis which once again removes the factor of the significant growth in traffic to realestate.co.nz in the past year (+30%) and the consequential rise in email enquiry to agents.

NZ property emails enquiries sent from realestate.co.nz June 2009The most striking thing as represented by this chart is the relative strength of enquiry by email in the year to date. Compared to both 2008 and 2007 the scale of email enquiry remains strong. A component of this could be the greater ease with which prospective buyers are interacting with agents through the website; equally an underlying increased level of buyer demand could be a key component of this strength.

This heightened level of enquiry certainly mirrors the sales activity of the first 5 months of this year in which sales have recovered from the exceptionally low levels of 2008, with sales up by 33% on a year-to-date basis.

The seasonal easing of enquiry for 2009 is very clear as the latest data is reflecting more closely 2007 trend. It will be most interesting to see the tracking of this as we head into the traditional season uplift in spring.

The detailed examination of the trending of 2008 is very interesting as shown by the red line – activity would at best be described from this chart as subdued verging on comatose! If you overlay on that line the key news / economic stories of 2008 you can very clearly see how the web is very much a lead indicator of consumer sentiment as it affects the buyers propensity to undertake real estate search. To be clear I have overlaid on the graph below the 2 major periods of 2008 to demonstrate this correlation.

NZ real estate email enquiries impacted be economic factors The February downturn reflected the convergence of media stories highlighting global recession and the falling property prices in NZ and around the world as well as stalled property sales. The 15th September date will forever live in history as the day Lehman Bros collapse plunging world economic indicators into the red.

0

Rise in net immigration reflected in property web site stats

Posted on: June 22nd, 2009 | Filed in International, Website searching

The latest data released by Statistics New Zealand show that long term migration to NZ continues to grow. The month of May saw a 727 net gain.

The reporting of the stats by Bernard Hickey Alex Tarrant on interest.co.nz judges that the gains are being driven by a decline in outbound loss to Australia and a net gain from countries like India and the Philippines – the latter furnishing the dairy industry with workers, the former adding students.

These statements backed up by the analysis of the raw data from Stats NZ interested me to look at our own analysis of monthly trend of overseas viewers of real estate listings. The latest charts of the top 20 countries viewing rental property and property for sale are shown below:

International visitors to rental properties May 2009 realestate.co.nz

International viewers to property for sale - May 2009 realestate.co.nz

The key growth (year on year) in property listing views continues to be from countries like China, India and United Arab Emirates (Dubai). Comparing the Stats NZ data with our own data and then reflecting on Bernard’s Alex’s comments certainly shows some very strong correlation.

  • China shows a 21% year on year growth (full 12 months) with 5,459 new long term arrivals – our data shows that year on year viewings of property to buy is up 116% from China, rental viewing is equally up 63%
  • India shows a 36%  year on year growth (full 12 months) with 6,827 new long term arrivals – our data shows that year on year viewings of property to buy is up 72% from India, rental viewing is equally up 97% – clearly showing student interest in renting
  • Philippines only shows a 6%  year on year growth (full 12 months) with 3,715 new long term arrivals – our data of viewings of property to buy does not hit the top 20 countries from Philippines, rental viewing is up but only a more modest 13%
  • France shows a 26%  year on year growth (full 12 months) with 1,173 new long term arrivals – our data shows that year on year viewings of property to buy is up 38% from France, rental viewing is equally up 43%
  • United Arab Emirates (Dubai) shows a 27%  year on year growth (full 12 months) with 379 new long term arrivals – our data shows that year on year viewings of property to buy is up 77% from UAE, rental viewing is equally up 53%
  • And finally a decline has been seen consistently from South Africa over the past few monthss in regard to viewing properties on this website. In terms of Stats data it shows an 8%  year on year growth (full 12 months) with 2,860 new long term arrivals – our data shows that year on year viewings of property to buy is down a massive 47% from South Africa, rental viewing is equally down a massive 58%

Looking to draw some comment here it is important to realise that whilst these 2 sets of data relate to the same month (May 2009) clearly there is likely to be lag effect from viewing property online and making a move to a new country. This may explain the data on South Africa which could be fore-telling the data from 6 to 9 months from now as a decline in new immigration from this country could eventuate.

6

So what does a median price property look like?

Posted on: June 14th, 2009 | Filed in Website searching

The latest monthly report from the Real Estate Institute shows median property prices in May fell slightly from $340,000 to $337,500. However a median priced property is a very different proposition dependent upon where you want to live and what is your chosen lifestyle.

So I thought it might be interesting to look around NZ to see what you get for the median price in each of the 13 regions covered by the REINZ figures and as represented on the website from amongst the 42,500 homes for sale today.

All of the properties below are being marketed at or within a couple of thousand dollars of the median price for the region.

pp716324-1

3 Bedroom - Whangarei $300,000

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2 bedroom - Mairangi Bay, Auckland $450,000

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4 bedroom - Deanwell, Hamilton $312,000

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4 bedroom - Waipawa, Hawkes Bay $259,000

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3 bedroom - Gonville, Wanganui $220,000

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4 bedroom - Hawera, Taranaki $260,000

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3 bedroom - Wallaceville, Hutt Vallley $380,000

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3 bedroom - Nelson $330,000

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2 bedroom - Christchurch $285,000

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3 bedrooms - Cromwell $427,000

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3 bedroom - St Kilda, Dunedin $223,000

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3 bedrooms - Otautau $180,000

1

Open home times – one site has it all!

Posted on: June 14th, 2009 | Filed in Website news, Website searching

istock_000000719688xsmallIt’s as much a part of the NZ property market as street signs and auctions! – the open home is the efficient and effective tool to enable agents to promote their clients homes and in doing so evaluate the interest in the property from prospective buyers.

However whilst there is no doubt that open homes remain a popular weekend activity for inquisitive property seekers – the process of planning an open home schedule has been up until now a challenging task requiring a degree in project management and a well structured Gant chart!

Well now just as property search was revolutionised by the web, so organising open home is equally being revolutionised by this website.

As of now anyone can search on any area of the country and select just the properties for which there is an open home planned in the next 7 days. No more cutting up the local newspaper or property magazine and gluing pieces of paper into a timetable – the web can do it all for you. Here’s how.

Realestate.co.nz Open homes June 09

  • Search box – this box now features a tick box, select this and you will just see the open homes featured on the site today with scheduled times in the next 7 days. At this time there are over 2,000 scheduled in the next week – that should keep you busy. As a point of note as with all listings we rely on the individual agents to provide the details to us of the open homes as well as their company data integration system. With this feature only launched today we will see the number of listings featuring open home details grow significantly over the coming weeks.
  • When you do any search for property at region, district or suburb level, whether it be for an apartment, house or unit, 3 bedroom, 2 bedroom etc you can filter the result by ticking the “only show open homes” tick box at the top of the filter. So for example if you were interested in looking for a home with 2 or more bedrooms in Taradale in the Hawkes Bay and you were looking to spend between $400,000 and $500,000, then you would have a choice of 16 listings to tempt you – of those 4 of them have open homes times scheduled this weekend.
  • Now having selected your chosen area and refined search if you save that search by registering your selection as part of “My Property” you will not only be sent notification emails of new listings that match your search but each Friday we will send you (your choose) an email which details in chronological order all the listings with open homes scheduled in the coming week. A great tool to making the planning of open home visits so much easier.
  • Never fear as to being kept informed of the status of open homes as the data transfer between each office and our database is very frequent ensuring that if for any reason an open home is cancelled or rescheduled then you can with this weekly email or by checking before you set off review the status of all open homes.
  • Best of all for every open home you are interested in viewing you can from the website download an reminder to your iCalendar or vCalendar which is compatible with most calendar based applications allowing you to take the details of each open home with you on your phone, PDA or iPhone.

As ever with all facilities on realestate.co.nz you know you are always seeing the most comprehensive selection of real estate listings of any website. There is no other website in NZ that has such a comprehensive selection of properties of all types. As at this time we have over 111,000 listings of which over 42,000 are homes for sale, 10,000 are lifestyle properties and over 17,000 residential sections. We have a subscriber base of over 93% of all licensed real estate offices and thereby are displaying the most comprehensive view of the market.

Expect more from us in the coming months as more and more open home details will be presented on the site. We have plans for further enhancements with mapping of open homes and in time GPS driving details – technology offers such great opportunities – all designed to help you make better use of your time in viewing those prospective new homes. Happy open home viewing!

7

NZ property statistics – comprehensive and accessible

Posted on: May 29th, 2009 | Filed in Buying / Selling a home, Website searching

There is a classic line from that iconic kiwi Fred Dagg “we don’t know how lucky we are!” – well when it comes to property statistics we may not appreciate how lucky we are.

In preparing this month’s NZ Property Report I was eagerly searching the web to identify comparable measures for inventory of properties on the market when I came across this timely article regarding the same statistics for the Irish market.

I was amazed in reading this piece that in Ireland they do not have a more reliable indicator of the property market than a quarterly report from the leading property portal daft.ie – this report similar to our own Property Report tracks listing movements and asking price, however this is only produced every 3 months.

When it comes to property sales it would appear from the article that data is not so easily accessible in Ireland as it is in NZ.

Just to reflect on the richness of NZ property data:

  • The Real Estate Institute (REINZ) produce a monthly report compiled from all unconditional sales in NZ undertaken by licensed real estate agents. This data would represent around 90% of all sales. The data is drawn from residential property sales as well as section sales.
    The data is presented in terms of median selling price by region and by suburb with full monthly historical data together with a measure of the time to sell a property tracked as days on the market – all for free
  • The Real Estate Institute (REINZ) produce a monthly report on the rural market tracking sales data of all rural farms and lifestyle properties by region with median price. The data is presented as a 3 month moving total all for free
  • Realestate.co.nz produces a monthly property report detailing the number of new listings together with the asking price expectations across the main regions of the country. The data is compiled from the most comprehensive source as the website is the most comprehensive property listing website in the country – all for free
  • QV provides a monthly index of property valuations by suburb based on the assessment of the variance of the sale price to the capital valuation of those properties that have sold in those suburbs in the last 3 months.
  • Zoodle provides on its website by each of the 1,600 suburbs around the country a summary of the property market detailing number of recent sales, the median price, the number of new property listings and the number of viewings of property on the site, together with days on the market and stats on rental property listings. All data is presented in clear graphs tracking monthly trends – all for free
  • Zoodle also together with QV provides data on individual properties detailing historical property sale records as well as online valuations and recent property sales data – all are reports that are purchased online.
  • Department of Building and Housing provides statistics on rental rates for different sized properties by suburb over the prior 6 months – all for free

For details of the inventory tracking of NZ property market akin to the Irish report then on Monday 1st June the NZ Property Report will provide this data in detail.

10

Rise in international property searching reflects rise in immigration

Posted on: May 26th, 2009 | Filed in International, Website searching

international-focus-on-immigrationThe media commentary of the last few days has polarised around the impact of returning kiwis and increased long term migration:

Whilst most of the articles in commentary or in posted comments are quick to dispel the presumption that such increased demand will fuel property prices, none can refute the assertion as the NBR commentary rightly says “Certainly they will all need somewhere to live. The buyer pool will be boosted and rental properties will have more tenants scrambling to get in the door“.

This is exactly what has been witnessed by some key indicators of international searching for NZ homes for sale and homes for rent on this website over the past year. We have analysed these trends and provided some detailed statistics.

Searching for homes for sale

This is the largest segment of the website – currently there is over 53,000 listings of properties for sale including lifestyle properties. In the past month there were over 134,000 searching sessions from countries outside of NZ for these properties – around 1 in 3 of all visitors to the realestate.co.nz website are viewing from overseas, making it the #1 website of choice for international visitors.

The top 20 countries searching for property to buy is detailed below:

NZ international visitors searching for properties to buy realestate.co.nz April 2009

The major markets in terms of traffic are the big 3 of Australia, the UK and the USA which account for close on 70% of all international traffic. Significant year on year growth is seen from the US up 63% in a year as compared to total international traffic up 14%. The UK and Australia however are flat or in the case of Australia down 9%.

Significant increases in traffic are seen from China and Spain both showing growth of over 200%, equally Russia, Taiwan, Singapore and not surprisingly United Arab Emirates feature with traffic more than doubling in the year. A very significant drop has been seen from South Africa, which a year ago, was the 5th most active visiting country, slipping now down to 17th with a 49% decline in traffic

Rental Properties

Interest from overseas tenant looking for property to rent of which there is over 7,000 on the site currently has grown by 17% over the past year with over 25,000 visitor sessions in the past month.

NZ International visitor traffic for rental properties realestate.co.nz April 2009

Again as with searching for property for sale the same top 3 countries dominate. In this case the growth again is from the US with another decline from Australia and a flat performance from the UK. Canada at #4 equally showed significant year-on-year growth up 82%.

Big movements are witnessed with interest from Spain and Ireland, the latter up 172% moving up from 12th to 7th place. Just as with property for sale – South Africa is witnessing a decline in rental property searching recording a 55% fall although the scale of interest still warrants a top 5 spot.

India ranks much higher in rental property search (#10) as compared to #20 in terms of property for sale with a more than doubling of interest for rental properties over the past year.

Notable departures from the Top 20 are Fiji and Switzerland, the former seeing a 33% decline in rental property.

Note

The data of traffic for Australia has been adjusted to account for the significant increase in traffic to realestate.co.nz following the closure of the website of allrealestate.co.nz in Dec 2008. That website a subsidiary of the leading Australian real estate website (www.realestate.com.au) derived a significant percentage of traffic from Australia which now re-directs to realestate.co.nz.

To enable a like-for-like comparison the historical data from that website for Australian traffic has been de-duped with the data of traffic from realestate.co.nz for those months of last year to create a true picture of Australian searching trends.

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