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Archive for the ‘Website searching’ Category


Most searched and now least searched suburbs in NZ

Posted on: October 25th, 2008 | Filed in Buying / Selling a home, Website searching

The post of earlier this week “The most popular suburbs in NZ” has created a flood of emails (would have been nicer to have had blog comments!) – the consistent theme is “we want more details”. I have clearly tapped a rich vein here which I am more than happy to share a greater degree of detail.

Here then are the top 20 and bottom 20 suburbs. To be clear when I use the term “popular” I am referring to a ranking based on the “perception of demand measured as number of total viewings of listings in a suburb during a 3 month period ending 30 September divided by the average number of listings in that suburb. To avoid extreme results I have applied a cut off of 30 listings per suburb as the minimum.

It is also important to note that we are very suburb sensitive when it comes to real estate (as most people are when it comes to their suburb) so I must reassure you that I haven’t randomly designated the boundaries. The website of uses the official names and boundaries for all of mapping including provinces, regions, local authorities, cities, towns, areas, suburbs etc. We sourced this data and timely updates from Terralink, they provide this suburb data split to the emergency services. There are in total of over 1,600 areas in the ‘suburb’ category on the website including actual suburbs as well as townships and rural areas.

District Suburb
1 Christchurch Dallington
2 Dunedin St Clair
3 Christchurch Cashmere Hills
4 Dunedin Maori Hill
5 Auckland Westmere
6 Waitakere Titirangi
7 Auckland Ellerslie
8 Dunedin Roslyn
9 Auckland One Tree Hill
10 Auckland Grey Lynn
11 Auckland Mt Eden
12 Christchurch Sumner
13 Waitakere Oratia
14 Christchurch Merivale
15 Dunedin Andersons Bay
16 Waitakere Laingholm
17 Auckland Onehunga
18 Auckland Ponsonby
19 Auckland Glen Innes
20 Dunedin Port Chalmers

I think many people may be surprised by this data, it’s probably quite different than what people would say if they were asked to guess. My analysis and that of other that I have shared this with is that the Top 20 is a collection of affordable suburbs that have a good selection of family homes with a high standard of service infrastructure and established mid-high decile schooling.

It’s interesting to note the suburbs fall into two distinct categories – they surround the CBD or are quite a significant distance away. Obviously the satellite suburbs offer larger properties and homes, semi-rural views and lifestyles in the same price range.

Dunedin has tossed up two interesting suburbs that wouldn’t fall into the affordable family home category – the affluent suburb of Maori Hill and its neighbour Roslyn feature some of Dunedin’s largest, most established homes with some of the city’s most breathtaking views – the Remuera of Dunedin. However Port Chalmers, Anderson’s Bay and parts of St Clair fall into the ‘travel for lifestyle’ category.

These results have reinforced our research and feedback that indicates people are definitively using the website as a comprehensive resource and research tool for property investment rather than entertainment or tyre kicking. It’s very pleasing that people serious about the property market see the website as a valuable place to look for property rather than a place for looking at property.

The bottom 20 suburbs are shown in ascending order from the suburb of least demand of consumer visits to the website listings upwards (so for clarification Manakau has slightly more demand per listing than Aotea)

District Suburb
1 South Waikato Aotea
2 Horowhenua Manakau*
3 Far North Kaeo
4 Kaipara Kaiwaka
5 Western Bay Of Plenty Athenree
6 Hurunui Waipara
7 Hauraki Waihi
8 Kaipara Mangawhai
9 Kaipara Otamatea Surrounds
10 Hurunui Hurunui Surrounds**
11 Taupo Mangakino
12 Manukau Otara
13 Far North Whangaroa/Kaeo Surrounds
14 Manukau Clover Park
15 Manukau Manurewa
16 Western Bay Of Plenty Te Puke
17 Manukau Clendon Park
18 Waitakere Westgate
19 Waikato Te Kauwhata
20 Otorohanga Otorohanga

* This suburb may confuse people. This Manakau is the tiny settlement just north of Otaki (Spelt Mana rather than Manu – as per Manukau City)
** Hurunui Surrounds does not include the resort town of Hanmer Springs

This list of 20 suburbs has equally thrown up some interesting names and lots of questions. On initial examination the ‘least popular list’ may seem somewhat perplexing but it is again broken into two types and I think there is quite a logical explanation to it all. The ‘least list’ is dominated by rural areas that are too small to offer a lot of employment options and too remote to make daily commuting to the nearest town or city for work feasible.

The other suburbs are most likely suffering from damaged reputations. Manurewa in particular has sustained a series of negative and high profile incidents this year that may make people wary of moving in. However, Manurewa is a very well established family suburb featuring many well built homes from the 1950s & 1960s. There are some quite exceptional properties and gardens that will never make the front page but are worth searching for. Serious property buyers looking to bag a bargain will undoubtedly see the positive side of identifying the 20 least popular areas. There is not only value here but rare and special homes. They may be ‘least actively viewed’ in terms of website visitor numbers but how bad can a property be that’s large, rural, peaceful and private?


Most popular suburbs in NZ

Posted on: October 21st, 2008 | Filed in Website searching

The web provides for a rich array of statistics as the data of web visitors is so easily stored and analysed. It is for this reason that I decided it was time to divulge some Top 10 lists.

To start with let’s look at the most searched parts of the country as measured by total viewings of listings within a suburb. I should point out there are 1,619 individual suburbs featured on the website. The data is compiled over the 3 months up to October.

This top 10 list of most viewed suburbs not surprisingly features some of the prime real estate in the country with the top addresses of Remuera, Queenstown, Fendalton, Epsom and Mt Eden. It is interesting to see the inclusion of Palmerston North and Oamaru. Not surprisingly Auckland Central with over 1,700 listings pulls in top slot with over 177 thousand viewings of property listings in the past 3 months. The suburb covers a wide variety of CBD listings with a heavy focus on apartments. Of the properties currently being marketed the most expensive is the $4.5m penthouse apartment on Princes Wharf, with a student ‘Unilodge’ studio apartment being marketed for $57,000 (plus GST if applicable).

Another perspective of the top 10 suburbs is to examine viewings not just in terms of absolute numbers, but rather as number of views per listing. This metric provides more of a surrogate for real demand for an area.

The table below showcases these top 10 suburbs that it would be fair to say reflect a disproportionately high level of demand.

There is only one suburb common to both tables – Titirangi clearly demonstrating that it is both popular and also proportionally has strong demand. Interestingly with all its lifestyle appeal and stunning views there is only one property at this time marketed in excess of $1m with the median price of listed property at $450,000.

Unlike the top viewed suburbs this list is more heavily skewed to the South Island with 3 Dunedin suburbs, 2 in Christchurch and the balance all Auckland suburbs.

Taking top slot in the top performing suburbs is the Christchurch suburb of Dallington. This quiet suburb showcases a variety of property in the $250,000 to $450,000 range – and clearly over the past 3 months this is where there has been stong interest in viewing these properties which have been on the market.


Just how comprehensive are real estate websites?

Posted on: September 28th, 2008 | Filed in Website searching

We live in a world of convenience, where we expect to be able to make an informed choice from as comprehensive a selection as possible access the most relevant information.

So when it comes to searching for property to buy how can you be sure you are making an informed choice from the complete selection of properties on the market? – simple you would think, just go to the web!

The fact is though that not all real estate websites showcase the most comprehensive selection of property.

This issue was highlighted by this post on TechCrunch which rightly asked the question in the US of “how accurate are listings on real estate sites?” -as the author says

I suggested that the most important success factor for these sites is how comprehensive they are. The more listings the better because home buyers want to go to one place to find every home on the market. They want a single dashboard from which they can filter down the choices.

In an effort to assist in understanding what this means here in NZ I have presented here some facts on a national as well as a local basis, comparing 3 different websites. The key thing to remember between the US and NZ is that in the US each market has an MLS (Multiple Listings Service) – a central database whereby all agents feed all listings to one organisation which manages this database for the benefits of all agents and buyers – a clearing house for the industry. Here in NZ there is no such MLS which means that each company markets their listings individually and often exclusively.

So the facts. Firstly some websites like our own state on every page how many listings there are – in total today we have 107,000 listings across the whole website with 75,643 properties and sections for sale, drill down to see for example how many properties are listed for sale in Blenheim and you see 219. Trade Me Property similarly shows that in total they have 55,188 properties and sections for sale from the site’s total of 85,655 listings today and by comparison they have 104 properties listed for sale in Blenheim., another real estate web portal does not show the total number of listings on their home page; although in their annual report they state that as of June 2008 they had 40,725 listings. However when you do a search for Blenheim you do find the website has 69 properties listed for sale.

As is often commented real estate is a local business and to provide a perspective of comparable listings across these 3 major sites I have at random analysed a dozen suburbs around the country to see the results of the number of listings on each website. The graph shows the degree with which each website delivers as comprehensive selection within the particular suburb.

The fact is that being an industry owned website showcases the most comprehensive selection of property for sale in NZ. Equally being an industry owned website it is also important to highlight that it does not feature any private listings. An analysis of the listings on Trade Me Property which does featured private sales showed 18% of the listings for which the sample was undertaken were private listings.

Another key point to highlight here is the fact that most web portals for real estate do feature properties which are being marketed by more than one agent. A recent detailed study across the website showed that on average 12% of properties on the market are marketed as general listings by a number of real estate companies, this obviously results in duplicate listings – although this does show itself equally on all of these real estate websites.

So as clearly stated in the US post – when it comes to real estate as with any web search – the most comprehensive listing website is going to be judged the most valuable by buyers searching for property – you can’t beat the “one stop shop” mentality.


Queenstown property report – Sep 2008

Posted on: September 8th, 2008 | Filed in Regional News, Website searching

The Queenstown / Otago Lakes region has seen its fair share of property booms over the past decade. It has become a global vacation hotspot and property development has been dynamic. Now by combining web statistics with industry information we can provide some valuable insight into the market and the interest expressed through website visitors to this beautiful part of the world.

From a real estate perspective the local market of the Queenstown Lakes region mirrors very much the national market – the graph below shows in the red line the significant fall off in sales volumes of residential properties in the Otago Lakes region over the past 18 months. Matched with this softening of the market has been the rise in the inventory as reflected in the blue bars of the chart.

In the first half of 2007 buoyed up by an active sellers market the level of inventory was steady at around 1,800 listings in the region representing around 42 weeks of stock – an admittedly high level as compared to the national average at the time of 19 weeks (4 months). As sales started to slow through late 2007 and into 2008 the inventory levels crept up, and up to a situation now with around 2,300 listings representing just over 119 weeks’ worth of listings, based on current sales activity.

Whilst the current market is relatively quiet in terms of actual transactions, the website activity continues to be focused to overseas visitors. This region of the country is one of the most popular with overseas web visitors – attracting not far off one in every two visitors to these properties in the region. The graph below shows the comparison of the Otago Lakes district as compared to the national perspective of the whole website. The blue bars represent the monthly % of visitors to the website looking at properties in the region, as compared to the red line which is the % for all properties on the website. Both figures reflect the growing interest from overseas, more as a function of the websites appeal and global linkages.

As to the source of this international interest it is valuable to analyse the make up of this 45% of the visitors viewing the website from overseas. The top 3 countries visiting the site are consistent across all regions of the country – UK, Australia and USA in that order, the top 10 countries are represented in the chart below.

It is interesting to see how interest from certain countries has changed comparing 2008 with 2007 – most striking is the growth in interest from Hong Kong now the 5th most popular country source of visitor and over 170% up on a year ago. Despite the large % growth represented by Hong Kong most significant in terms of quantum of visitors is a decline in traffic visiting the site from Australia, down 41% with just 2,500 visitor sessions in the 2nd half of 2008.

As highlighted earlier the website can be a valuable lead-indicator of potential future activity, primarily about the level of demand as measured in website visitors and enquiries sent from the website to agents regarding listings on the site in the form of emails. This tracking shows some interest recent trends from this index chart on the right:

Whilst the level of enquiry fell away markedly (when measured as an index of average monthly enquiry) during the autumn and winter period of this current year; the month of August has seen a robust boost in email enquiries being sent to agents – potentially leading to a degree of a spring boost to flagging market activity.

Properties of interest

Within that rich portfolio of over 2,400 property listings on the website at this time for the region there are some very interesting properties on the website to tempt buyers.

The most popular Queenstown listing on the site is this striking property in Gibbston on 7 hectares. Currently being marketed by Brown’s Sotheby’s, this property is on the market for $3.25m.

The listing has received over 6,600 views since being listed. Of these visitors a high proportion have visited to view this property from overseas as per this graph for the listing which shows the traffic from each of the top 8 countries over the past 7 days.

Naturally the question always goes to the most expensive and the cheapest property in the region – well for $8.95m this 4 bedroom 385m2 home takes the top slot. Out of the top 20 most expensive properties on the site a whopping 25% are in this Otago Lakes region.

Whilst at the other end of the spectrum for just $35,000 and a lease cost of $2,010 per annum you could be living in Arrowtown in this 2 bedroom cabin.


Australian real estate now complete with Google Street View

Posted on: August 28th, 2008 | Filed in International, Technology, Website searching

Domain – the Fairfax owned real estate portal in Australia is the first of the Australian real estate websites to launch the Google Street View application within their site. The plans are in place for the NZ launch later this year, we are assured by Google. In the meantime have a wander down some suburbs from across the Tasman and literally peer over the fence!

The degree of coverage is pretty extensive as can be seen from this map of Northern Sydney where the key blue line on streets indicates the coverage for Street View. Equally outside of the major cities Google has driven down most of the streets. I found this place called Richmond on the Flinders Highway some 300 kms inland from Townsville in Northern Queensland – admittedly no houses for sale but you can still see all the homes in the place of less than 150 homes.

So be ready for the exposure of all of NZ’s streets soon – naturally we will be ready to offer it as part of the presentation on


Mortgagee Properties still the top search term

Posted on: August 18th, 2008 | Filed in Website searching

Tracking the stock of mortgagee properties this year has been seen as an effective surrogate for the underlying health of the NZ property market. Bernard Hickey over at the Rates Blog on has been tracking listings on our site and Trade Me since earlier this year – the latest report showed over 350 listings of mortgagee sales.

To add a degree of greater richness to the analysis I have detailed below the stock of properties listed on our website identified as mortgagee sales since the beginning of 2007. It is important to note that there is no category of listing for a mortgagee property, we can only track the use of the word “mortgagee” within the listing text, however given the imperative for agents to sell these properties quickly then the difference is not critical.

Additionally I have tracked the level of searching carried out each month over the same period for the key word of “mortgagee”. It is not surprising to see the correlation between the two – however the striking thing is the scale of the increase since the beginning of this year. The graph below shows the level of searches as the blue bars and the inventory of listings as the red line.

In terms of context the current stock of 256 “mortgagee” listings represents around 1 in every 400 listings on the site, whereas the searching demand of 5,600 in July represents around 7% or 1 in every 15 keyword searches.

Mortgagee property listings and searches on

Belief in private sales falls as property market falls

Posted on: August 5th, 2008 | Filed in Online marketing, Real Estate Industry, Website searching
FSBO - appeal falls as market falls

Step back a year or so ago when all seemed right with the property market. Prices were steadily advancing and buyers were plentiful, this was a time when the pervading view was selling a property was as easy as selling a second hand car. All you needed was the web and a sign board, this was the time when people were questioning the very existence of real estate agents.

Well come back to today and the reality of the market which has shown all the symptoms of a significant slump with the total sales for the first half of 2008 falling just short of 30,000 representing a 43% decline. Now it appears from research released today that sellers are turning back to the real estate agents to help sell their house.

The annual Nielsen Online study into the behaviour of buyers and sellers of property provides a rich insight into the market through the eyes of a sample of consumers actively using real estate websites. The survey examines many aspects of real estate marketing online as well as the buying and selling process.

One of the key finding of the report is that in the past year there has been a significant increase in homeowners planning to get a professional real estate agent to sell their property instead of planning to undertake a private sale.

41% of vendors say they will DEFINITELY list with a real estate agent compared to 35% last year.

In total last year the survey said half of all sellers would at least try to sell without using an agent, that number this year is 46%, with just 14% this year said they would definitely sell privately.

It is clear from these figures that as a consequence of the change in market conditions, sellers better recognise the value of a real estate agent to be better able to secure buyers and close a deal on their property.

This renewed confidence in the role of the agent to support the seller has not in any way diminished the critical importance of the web as the primary search and marketing tool for all parties in the real estate industry. In total across all websites monitored by Nielsen Online the total daily average number of browsers now exceeds 100,000 and in total these visitors consume over 1 million hours researching real estate website information per month, both of these traffic statistics represent growth over last year 22% in the case of daily browsers and 30% in terms of duration.

Examining the attitudes of prospective sellers to the real estate agent in general shows some interesting pointers. The factor potentially effecting the selection of an agent the most is reputation, for whilst “previous experience” of real estate company came out top with 39%, the fastest and most consistent growth over the past 2 years is reputation of the agent – from 34% 2 years ago to 37% now.

It is clear from reading this blog in the past you will be aware of the growth in individual agents writing their own blog – this is judged to be the most effective tool for an agent to demonstrate through open and honest communication a passion and competence and through blog comments attract genuine feedback. The Voices platform of blogs for agents has been a catalyst for this change with now over 50 agents actively blogging – all from a base of virtually nothing 6 months ago.

Survey background
Nielsen Online surveyed nearly 1,200 online users between April and June 2008.  The research was undertaken on four selected real estate websites and compared the data to the two previous Nielsen Online surveys in 2006 and 2007.  The report was commissioned by a number of companies operating specialist real estate websites and services within the industry and sponsored by .  The survey has a margin of error of 2.9%.

Buyer interest for Auckland property remains sluggish

Posted on: June 5th, 2008 | Filed in Buying / Selling a home, Regional News, Website searching

The latest data released by Barfoot & Thompson today continues to show a very soft property market within the Auckland region, and in some way foreshadows the likely story for the national picture to be presented by REINZ in the coming weeks. Just 515 properties were sold by Barfoot & Thompson in the month of May representing a drop of 53% as compared to the figure of 1,100 in May of last year.

A key consequence of the slowing sales is the ballooning stock of property on the market. Currently on the site there are 18,695 residential properties for sale across the Auckland region, some 3,500 more properties than this time last year. Based on the April 2008 REINZ sales figures the current stock of properties represents around 13 months stock, itself up from 8 months stock levels at the start of the year.

The other interesting fact is the extent of property searching for homes in the Auckland region. Seen below on a comparative basis to last year with 2008 represented by the red line, Auckland property is attracting proportionally less web viewings as compared to the country as a whole.

Auckland property web traffic - May 08

It is also interesting to reflect upon the seasonal nature of viewings of Auckland properties; although caution should be drawn to the expanded scale of the graph showing as it does a peak of 37% and a trough of 34% during the full year.


Property book – real estate publication online

Posted on: May 31st, 2008 | Filed in Media commmentary, Online marketing, Website searching

The launch date has arrived and we are now able to evaluate the deliverable of a new entrant to the property advertising market in NZ, both on and offline – so what do you think?

Having seen the website I personally can now see the logic behind some of the press release comments – the claim of “buyers will be able to register to receive weekly email updates hot off the press” makes sense when the website is actually a weekly ebook of the print publication – so clearly they can inform interested buyers each week that there is a new ebook.

The first week’s publication is for Auckland city and next week we are told that a North Shore edition will be released. The content of this week’s edition stretches to 24 pages and 31 properties – by comparison this seems a bit light with 4,789 Auckland City properties for sale on today.

The single lasting impression of flicking through the ebook online as a surrogate for the pleasure of a nice cafe and a chance to flick through the real thing, is the fact that if you ripped off the front page you could not possibly tell the difference between Property Book and Property Press – now, is this a case of imitation being the sincerest form of flattery? or is this a clear case of passing off and the matter may now end up in the high court. Either way let’s leave web searching for property online to the trusted and frequented web portal supported by the vast majority of real estate professionals, after all where would the web be without comprehensive content.


Who’s interested in buying dairy farms in NZ?

Posted on: May 30th, 2008 | Filed in Website searching

With today’s announcement of a final payout by Fonterra of $7.90 per kilogram of milk solids, pumping an estimated $9.6 billion into the NZ economy, the question must be asked as to the appeal of dairy farms in NZ to overseas investors.

As was reported recently the rural real estate market is performing strongly with dairy cited as a key driver with some record sales being achieved. Some of the demand for farms is made up of domestic investors as well as industry consolidation, but undoubtedly with such profitability and capital growth, overseas investors will be showing interest.

With over 6,800 farm and agricultural land listings on the website it is interesting to look at the key countries overseas who are visiting the website to search on this category. Our statistics track visitors from over 200 countries every month of which the top 10 are pretty consistent. For this category covering farms these countries are:

  1. New Zealand
  2. Australia
  3. Great Britain (UK)
  4. United States
  5. South Africa
  6. Canada
  7. Singapore
  8. Japan
  9. Hong Kong
  10. Netherlands

Domestic traffic represents 7 out of 10 visitors with the remaining 9 of the top 10 accounting for 85% of the balance.

What is most interesting is the change in visitors over the past year. Strongest growth has come from South Africa which has seen visitor traffic searching for farms grow over 270%. Of all visitors from South Africa 11% looked at farms (the overall average for all site traffic is 5% looking at farms). High growth has been seen from visitors from both Singapore and Hong Kong with 24% and 28% respective growth in visitors. In absolute terms the US is the most significant market with 8% of all US visitors to the site looking at farms representing a 25% growth in visitors searching for farms in the year.

The other countries in the top 10 including significantly the UK and Australia showed a 19% and 14% decline in traffic to farm listings.

International web traffic to farms May 2008

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