Archive for the 'Competitive activity' Category

Property management – Trade me wants to charge more / focuses on more services, not more cost!

The real estate industry continues to be challenged by the most extreme and uncertain economic circumstances. Set against this backdrop of low sales and declining income the last thing this industry needs is cost increases. However property managers will be bluntly faced with this issue from the beginning of May as Trade me increases fees – this time increasing both single listings and subscriptions for property management by 43% and 33% respectively. (The rise is immediate if you are not already a subscribing office).

Single listings go from $69 to $99 and subscriptions for property management offices from $299 to $399 per month – that will be exactly twice the price of a monthly subscription to for all your listings. This means that in the space of 3 years Trade me has increased the costs of property management listings by 400% and property for sale listings by 300%.

The rationale for this increase as the trade me communication states is that web site traffic has grown …

“The increased charge reflects a substantial increase in traffic (825,000 Unique Browsers) and enquiries (104,000 email enquiries in February) and also the introduction of a number of new features to rentals, including Google Maps and Street View, and the addition of car parks as a separate category.”

As a member of this industry I am concerned to see added costs lumped on an industry that is constantly challenged by the media as to the value for money the industry derives from this relationship – for years companies have been asked to pay more and more as “readership increases” justified the higher costs. Now newspaper circulation is falling and online audiences are growing so once again the media aims to exploit this opportunity.

However this time the industry has an alternative in so let’s examine the situation:

  1. “Substantial increase in traffic” (828,586 Unique Browsers in February) – this is true – as measured against a year ago it is a growth of 21%. Now compare that with with 364,055 Unique Browsers in February representing a higher increase of 26% as compared to last year.
  2. But what of traffic to just property management listings? – Surely, not all of these trade me visitors went to rental property? – sorry no data supplied
  3. The rental section of attracted 68,439 Unique Browsers in February an increase of 16% as compared to a year ago. It is worth remembering that rental listings on total 6,660 which represents just 6% of the total number of listings but attracts 18% of all visitors – this means close on 1 in 5 of all visitors are on the site to look for rental property. However as opposed to property for sale viewers of rental properties tend to be solely focussed on renting not viewing other peoples houses.
  4. “Introduction of new features” – Google maps & Street View. Well has been providing Google maps on the site from September 2006 and they are free to use. As for Street View – we went live at 6.45am on the 2nd December last year – the same time and day as Trade me – again it is free to put on any website – so there is no real value there
  5. The addition of car parks as a separate category? – well there are 33 listings of which 32 are private listings, so I am not sure this is a great benefit to professional property managers.

So how then does compare.

  1. charges no more for rental listings or business listings or commercial listings – the monthly fee for an office of $200 per month has been fixed for 3 years and is fixed for the next year and beyond. That is because we can as an industry owned site challenge the media owned companies to keep costs under control. One monthly fee covers all listings for an office.
  2. We send any email enquiries straight to the property manager listing that property – rather than trade me which sends all emails to one office email address. In this way ensures that you as the listing agent gets important queries straight to your PC or phone 24 hrs a day immediately they are sent.
  3. Your listings appear on the next day after you list, this is often 24 hrs earlier than on trade me for data uploading customers, again faster listing, faster enquiries and faster response.

New initiative

We have a new initiative which we will provide in more detail next month – but to give you some insight we thought it would be good to share the details with you. We are launching a rental texting service so interested tenants can subscribe to a free text service to be notified of new properties instantly they come on the site and then they can call you to make enquiries. This is added value – and look no price increase!!

Choose wisely when selecting where to advertise your property management listings and remember in February over 210,000 unique browsers visited but did not visit trade me property.

March 09 2009 | Competitive activity and New feature and News | 8 Comments »

What will be the outlook for real estate portals in 2009?

This was the questioned posed by Simon Baker over at Property Portal Watch in a blog post titled “Predictions 2009 – New Zealand“.

As you will see from my posted comments on the blog, I have added my perspective of how I respond to his comments.

The predictions he makes are very pertinent and are borne of a long experience in his role as CEO of before leaving midway through 2008. He is pretty close to how I think things will play out – of course excluding that belief that we will raise subscription fees to satisfy the expectations of shareholders. Our shareholders are in the industry and at this time the need is to keep costs in check.

It is worth also reading his observation regarding the Predictions for Australian online portal market in 2009, and particularly the view that will raise prices again to agents over there.

This is certainly going to be a very interesting year ahead for the real estate industry – no less challenging for us in running this website. Rest assured we are as excited about the forthcoming year as we have ever since we launched this site back in August 2006. There are many new developments we are planning – all of which will assist all of the professionals in this industry to become more succesful and valued as providing service to the property owners and buyers of this country.

January 05 2009 | Competitive activity and Online marketing | No Comments »

Yet another website – promising the world!

I received this letter the other day (as I know a lot of others in this industry have done) from a company called “Get Leased” – now you have got to laugh! – they think that I would sign up !! – great bit of direct marketing??

Anyway their claim is interesting:

A new independent website specialising in commercial and residential properties for lease or rent. It is the only online marketplace designed to meet the specific needs of real estate agencies, property management companies and private landlords seeking tenants for premises.

Now I am all for competition – competition is healthy and ensures innovation is brought to the market as well as keeping costs at a market competitive rate. What I cannot understand is why people in this industry believe in what almost amounts to a “lemming like” behaviour that a new website somehow has to be another valuable place for their listings.

Lets look at this new websites offer:

  1. Do they have any viewers? – no! – they are not advertising either offline or online (try a Google search for commercial property or property for rent – after page 10 give up they don’t appear)
  2. Do they want to make money off of your company? – yes! -$100 per month for 50 listings, and then in multiples of 50 listings
  3. Does it represent value? – no! – how can it they have no audience and they charge $100 per month for 50 listings. charges $200 per month for an unlimited number of listings – and has a regular audience of 270,000 unique visitors per month!

I am sorry but I get incensed when I see real estate offices sign up to these sites – an they are, just search on the site and you find companies advertising their listings – who do they think will see them!!

The web has become a massive, complex medium – every website, let alone a listing is like a single grain of sand on the beach – no body will find it unless it is part of a site that has an audience – 100 grains of sand are just that 100 grains of sand scattered on the beach.

Please – I know because you are reading this you will be smarter than to fall for this opportunistic business being offered through an anonymous letter, don’t believe that money you save from cutting back newspaper adverts should be spent of more websites – invest your money wisely and ask what can this marketing do and what will I get!

Updated 22 August

I have today received a follow up letter from Terry Kearns of Getleased. I have attached the letter here as a reference. Naturally and respectfully Terry takes me to task on a couple of my comments in my original post. I am keen to answer those issues and choose to detail them here in an open and transaprent manner to which others (inc Terry) can add their comments:

1. The letter is disappointed that I chose to use the phrase “opportunistic business” sighting that the website is the “result of many years working with real estate and the culmination of five years design and development work..” I stick to my opinion that the site is an opportunistic business; the judgment is that with the benefit of 5 years planning this website could have had a massive lead on the current key players in the market if it had launched 5 years ago. If the past 5 years have been spent on development, I would respectfully question the chosen technology provider as websites are today a commodity able to be developed in weeks rather than years. The whole website was a 4 months end-to-end project. I therefore submit that the site is an opportunistic development reflective of an ever growing proliferation of new websites starting for all types of real estate almost every other week.

2. The letter challenges the use of the phrase “anonymous letter” in the context of the letter I received. I concede that a better chosen word could have been “poorly targeted” as my name and company was clearly bought and used “unfiltered” from a mailing list as clearly we would be the last company likely to subscribe to getleased. The letter then goes on to imply that my comments were akin to an “overdone Nigerian scam” – these are the chosen word of the author, not my words – I certainly have a much higher regard and respect for competitors than to liken their tactics to such an illegal and immoral scam. I did (as you will see from the original post above) detail my respect for healthy competition.

3. As a final comment and one not addressed in the letter to me, but something I have noticed on the letterhead. The author uses the phrase “your independent website for commercial lease premises and residential rental properties” – I am confused – what is an independent website? – and by inference what is a website that is not independent?

Are not all websites independent, or is by some inference because it is owned by the real estate industry somehow not independent?

Anyway as ever I am always keen and open to discuss this matter through comments on this blog post – that way a fair and balanced opinion can be fostered as to the merits of one website vs another. I concede that there is much to be learned and innovative new entrants into a market can be a valuable addition to the customers in the market.

August 07 2008 | Competitive activity and News | 3 Comments »