The appeal of NZ property is universal – we are lucky (some would say) to live in such a beautiful country, a place many people can only dream of living. Our property though is accessible and appealing to overseas investors and prospective new residents.
Just compare NZ to Australia, here there is no Capital Gains Tax or Stamp duty; additionally overseas investors are restricted in Australia to new builds as opposed to the far more limited restrictions here.
These circumstances are driving an ever growing audience to listings on Realestate.co.nz from overseas. Just last month over 110,000 unique visitors checked out property on the site from outside NZ, that represents over 1 in 4 of all of our visitors each month.
The most active viewers are those in the English speaking countries of Australia, UK, US and Canada, but Asia is assuming a greater and greater presence among this audience growing at 3 times the rate of growth of other countries. This certainly reflects the economic relations NZ is building with its Asia Pacific partners.
This audience though is not as well catered for as English language speakers. This is somethingthat we have focused on over the past year. The main issue facing us has been the ability for us to provide a Chinese language version of the site which can rank highly when Chinese based property seekers are searching for NZ property – especially as the major search engine in China is Baidu. As a company we have always invested heavily in Search Engine Optimistion (SEO) to drive our site and brand given the credibility this brings to our site, however optimising in English for Google is a very different issue from optimising for Chinese language search on Baidu.
This challenge has been solved through a partnership which Realestate.co.nz has established with a NZ/Chinese company HouGarden.com. The company combines the domestic Chinese technology team with the best of SEO capabilities in the Chinese market. Based in Auckland and Beijing, Hougarden has built a website that provides a rich information source for property seekers combining the full listings from Realestate.co.nz translated into Chinese with translated news stories covering the broad NZ economy and property news.
It was decided that translated listings in Chinese would be best presented on a separate website and domain name, rather than on a sub domain of realestate.co.nz and that is the rationale for the partnership with Hougarden.
So how does it work?
Hougarden uses the API of Realestate.co.nz listings to populate their website, all the content of listings including photos, description as well as agent contact details are provided on the HouGarden site in Chinese. By using the API the listings on HouGarden are synchronised with Realestate.co.nz so new listings and withdrawn listings are updated at the same time.
The site provides the great functionality and usability as Realestate.co.nz and the deliberate similarity in look and feel is a deliberate decision to reflect the true partnership relationship.
Property seekers making an enquiry through the HouGarden website by email can choose to respond in Chinese or in English. These email pass through Realestate.co.nz with a human translations service provided by HouGarden. The agent will receive the enquiry in English with a clear message detailing that the enquiry has come via HouGarden website from a Chinese enquirer and whether the original enquiry was written in English or Chinese.
We recommend that agents receiving these enquiries develop a relationship with a Chinese speaking colleague to assist in managing these requests, although clearly an enquiry written originally in English can be directly responded to. It is the plan for the future for Hougarden to potentially provide a return translation service.
The launch of Hougarden was marked this week by a presentation and official signing ceremony in Auckland. Pictured below is Sam Yin the Managing Director of HouGarden.com with myself after the signing ceremony.
We are very excited by this development as a further means for Realestate.co.nz to provide increased profile and advertising for our customers’ listings – reaching out to the massive audience of 1.3 billion Chinese both in NZ and in China.