Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Upgrade to Voices blogging platform

I am very conscious that we have had many questions as to when we are going to upgrade the Voices blogging platform.

The current version does not support some of the add ins and enhancements that we know that you want, like the ability to embed videos and presentations.

We have been somewhat limited over the past few months with spare capacity of developers as we have transitioned our development team from NetConcepts to Sparks Interactive.

Now this transition is complete I am more confident that we will be able to upgrade the Voices WordPress application from the current version right up to V 2.8 within the next few weeks. When I have a confirmed date I will make sure we communicate it.

For those of you who are not sure what this is all about – worry not. We will ensure that any changes we make do not effect your blog. However the upgrade will change the look and feel of the look  and feel of the admin side of the site so we will help with training.

August 28 2009 | New feature and Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Join a free online seminar with Stefan Swanepoel

If you are quick you can take advantage of this special free seminar by Stefan Swanepoel to he hosted online next Wednesday the 18th March between noon and 1pm (NZ time – how convenient!) – the seminar will be focused on Stefan sharing his insights on the industry from his just-published 2009 Trends Report.

Places are limited due to technology so register now – I have! To register click here

March 13 2009 | Events and News and Uncategorized | No Comments »

Real Estate Trends Report 2009 – Early bird special

As part of the recent presentations round the country I have been sharing insight into the Real Estate Trends report of 2008 authored by Stefan Swanepoel. As you will recall we hosted a visit by Stefan back in July and had the opportunity to share the fantastic knowledge and presentation skills of Stefan with a good number of people in this industry.

At the time I highlighted that Stefan has had a tremendous pedigree in observing and foreshadowing trends in this industry as he has been writing his annual report since 1997.

Well now is the time for the 2009 report (well actually in February when it is shipped) – here is a great offer – order by the end of November and you get US$50 off the price (Usually US$149, yours for $99).

I cannot speak highly enough of this book – the 2008 book was for me a clear perspective on the challenges which are being faced by the industry globally – trends that go far deeper than the surface crisises and cyclical nature of the industry – trends that will re-shape this industry. To be informed is to be forearmed, and this has to be the best way to be forearmed.

To order the book visit the RealtyU bookstore and pre-order a copy of Real Estate Trends 2009.

October 24 2008 | Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Web traffic for real estate – September 2008

September turned out to be a record month for online real estate in NZ. Excluding international traffic a new high of 1,034,181 NZ unique browsers visited at least one real estate website in September.

A key to this growth (+13% vs. Sep 2007) was the traffic generated by QV’s free property valuation offer – that site alone attracted 161,478 unique browsers (there average per month is of the order of 50,000). This clearly showed the fascination people have in this country to know the value of their property – never more true at this time with uncertainty of future values.

For the month of September received 188,837 unique browser visits up 3% on the same month last year and 4% up on the August month – that as shown by the daily chart on the right results in an average daily unique visit of 12,211 placing the site firmly as the #2 in the market.

October 07 2008 | Market stats and Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Letter to the real estate industry

For this month’s email I have chosen to write what I see as an “open-letter” to this industry. I would urge you to read it and share it with your colleagues.

All of us in this industry face a very challenging period over the next 12 months, just as we have done over the past 9 months. The smart professional operators in real estate will be here in 12 months time, stronger and more successful – we want to be a part of your success. For that to occur needs for us to work together – your support of is more important now than ever before – I would urge you to read on, and take the opportunity to comment on this letter through the comments section.

The competing web market place for real estate listings

It is just 2 years since the website of was launched – such an anniversary provides an opportunity to look back and reflect upon this period.

At that time this industry was being wooed by new competing online marketing options of Trade Me and Allrealestate; both owned by international media empires and both equally keen to carve out a share of the estimated $150 million this industry spends each year on advertising. Into this arena we launched – a website that had on day-one a key advantage – rich content. We had then, and we still have today over 90% of all licensed real estate offices in NZ subscribing and thereby delivering the most comprehensive real estate website in NZ.

Just look at the figures either in total or by category – whichever way you look at it is the most comprehensive and relevant website for your listings in NZ.

This advantage of comprehensive content has been our advantage over these past 2 years – for whilst we started just holding onto the #2 spot in terms of web traffic website, we have never lost sight of that #1 position, and as a result we have widened the gap between ourselves and the #3 and #4 players in the market.

The goal of #1 is still firmly in or sights, but the goalposts set by Trade Me have meant that we have been significantly handicapped; or put it another way, they have been significantly advantaged as they have the equivalent of a grunty V8 as compared to our wonderfully environmentally friendly hybrid car, as everybody else in this online marketing game is driving now!

Trade Me is the largest website in NZ and its stellar success is proving a windfall for Fairfax to the tune of $70 million of profit in the most recent 12 months. The property classified section benefits directly from its exposure to the massive 2.8 million audience the site gets every month – of which just 22% of NZ visitors check out properties whilst on the auction site. Additionally within their total audience of property visitors there is a huge overlap with visitors to

It is really important to remember that serious buyers of property of all types in NZ are smart – firstly they get the web – they use it daily, they are smart enough to recognise the efficiency of a single website which provides the most comprehensive portfolio in one place ( – however they are not 200,000 or 400,000 or 600,000 in number – there are in fact barely 30,000 of them. Bear this in mind so as not to be seduced by huge audience numbers – biggest is not always best when what you really want is a defined target audience.

State of the market

I know how challenging it is to run a real estate business in today’s market. We are a business owned by this industry which gives us an innate connection with the industry – our role is to work to help you build a better business, whatever your chosen field of real estate.

Further I know that in these times the costs of operating your business will come under closer scrutiny. I encourage all offices to do this – it is good business practice. However I would urge you to make a distinction between operating costs and marketing investment especially when it comes to the web. The web is proven in research study after research study to be the most efficient, relevant and popular means of searching for properties.

When it comes to costs effectiveness you should not have to question the value of the web – and in particular the subscription to The charge of $200 per office per month is the same as that charged 2 years ago. The competitive websites and the newspapers have done nothing to help this industry over the past year or two, quite the opposite – in some cases increasing costs by well over 200%!

I would also urge you to be careful when evaluating your marketing budgets not to believe that all website are the same or to get caught up in evaluating website purely on the response rates of email enquiries for example. Should you judge a website by how many emails you receive? – it may turn out to be the case that email enquiries may have declined because consumer sentiment and interest in general has declined – but don’t assume that this is because a website is not delivering results, remember a website is not just a means of generating leads, it provides a showcase for your listings 24hrs a day to a worldwide audience. The motivation of prospective buyers to send an email has often little to do with the website and more to do with the state of the market.

I am pleased to say that in this regard in total is actually delivering 20% more email enquiries over the past 3 months than a year ago – the question is – are you getting your fair share of enquiries or are they going to competitor agents ?

I make these comments because more than ever this industry needs to recognise and support the website of The site is owned by the industry and its role is to protect the interests of the industry and safeguard them from the competitive threats of competing media owned websites so as to secure a cost effective marketing platform for the long term. Our income is directly related to the success of this industry; as we derive the vast majority of our revenue from office subscriptions. With office closures we, like yourselves face challenges in managing costs to ensure we maintain a balanced budget to the satisfaction of our shareholders.

Media coverage

You may have noticed that over the past 6 months has been receiving a greater degree of coverage in radio, TV and newspapers. This is part of a strategic plan to raise awareness of the brand name and to create a competitive position for the website.  I am always seeking to find ways to cost effectively promote the website – advertising in traditional forms of radio, press and TV is not justified for our scale of operation from a cost perspective and with a greater fragmentation of media it is a challenge to create awareness. It is for this reason that I have leveraged the media appeal of property to build our profile.

I have used the statistics of the website to highlight trends and information which has captured media headlines. Naturally with the association of the real estate industry in name and ownership the media always want someone to be a “crystal ball” gazer to predict the trend. I tend to steer clear of this and stick to facts of the website. However as we all know the media want to create stories from a mix of opinions and this can at time lead to a different interpretation being presented from that originally envisaged.

Please be aware that I hold a deep respect for this industry and would not in any way defame or talk disrespectfully of this industry or those professionals who hold this as their career. With the benefit of the Unconditional blog I have the ability to make public any statement I make in the form of an article or press release. So I would urge you if you have a question regarding any quote I have made in the media to check out the latest blog post as it will include the relevant press release in the context of how I made it to the press.


I just wanted to highlight how the website has been a leader in technology and support for this industry over the past years – consider these initiatives we have implemented:

  • the 1st to add maps
  • the 1st to add embedded videos
  • the 1st to partner with Open2view for rich imagery
  • the 1st to provide a private forum for the industry
  • the 1st to offer property-on-maps searching
  • the 1st to write a blog for the industry
  • the 1st to offer free-of-charge agent blogs
  • the 1st to detail web traffic stats on all listings
  • the 1st to offer a confidential location on business listings
  • the 1st to offer RSS feeds of listing searches

We intend to continue innovating because we focus on one thing – running the best real estate website in NZ.

I would encourage you, your colleagues and your teams to gain a greater understanding of this critical component of real estate today – the power and influence of the web. We are undertaking presentations around the country at many local venues. We started in Otago and Southland this week and for those that came along for the 90 minutes of information, education and insight in the presentation we believe we delivered on the principle of supporting this industry – we know because we have received some great feedback – so don’t get left behind by the web – the presentations are free (we even give you coffee or tea!). Full details are to be found here.


To close I want to thank you for your support for the website – we are working  to help you to sell real estate everyday; but without your support in the form of subscription, promotion of the site or use of the great services such as free blogs or featured listings we would not be able to provide you with this industry-owned website which is the envy of many global real estate industries. We trust you will remain loyal and continue to support us in the coming year; ready for us to celebrate our 3rd birthday with you this time next year!


Alistair Helm


021 610 510

September 15 2008 | Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Unbeatable Spring offer

This has got to be the best offer we have ever brought to this market. now you know I am not one to exaggerate so trust me – this offer cannot be beaten!

Add one of our popular featured listings together with  professionally made and voice over crafted video and send your listing into hyperspace! – Just $395 (inc GST) – this cannot be beaten.

Let the sales leaflet do the selling – print it off discuss it with your vendor and get in quick, spaces are limited so book ahead, this offer is valid until Christmas.

Remember when some website say featured listing check is truly featured or just highlighted!!! -our tend to deliver 10 times the traffic and the statistics tell you how it is helping other agents in this industry so don’t miss out – book now!

September 01 2008 | Special offers and Uncategorized | No Comments »

Stefan shares his thoughts on the Australian and NZ market

Following the very successful visit of Stefan Swanepoel last month, from which we have received excellent feedback. It is very interesting to read this post by Stefan to his US community regarding his observations on the real estate market in NZ and Australia.

Real Estate News from New Zealand and Australia

By Stefan Swanepoel
This week I am in New Zealand and Australia giving talks in both Auckland and Brisbane to various different local real estate technology companies, a leading real estate brokerage and a large real estate association.

Similar to our real estate market their market also experienced a strong surge in property prices during the period from 2002 to 2007 but, although not caught in the subprime mess of the USA, they could not escape the resulting global hangover. That coupled with the rising price of oil and “Downunder” is also feeling the pain of a poor real estate market. Their market is currently experiencing a significant and dramatic decline in sales with March numbers down approximately 50% in New Zealand.

As Australia is much larger in size and thus more diverse, the declines vary depending on the state. The overall market is definitely slowing to the same extent as New Zealand – the following provides you a snap shot of what’s happening:

  • Queensland – sales numbers down 30%
  • New South Wales – slow, no real change the last 18-24 months
  • Victoria – sales numbers down 25%
  • South Australia – sales numbers up 20%
  • Tasmania – sales numbers down 15%
  • Western Australia – sales numbers down 50%

Similar to the initial stages we experienced in the U.S., the pressure is on prices to decline but many sellers are still holding out, so no major reductions; yet. Although not significant, nor expected to become as significant as in the U.S., foreclosures are also slowly on the rise. As is the case here, the general mood in New Zealand and Australia is fairly gloomy.

What is interesting is that the utilization of the Web by the public in Australia and New Zealand is amongst the highest in the developed world. It’s this global down market phenomenon and the surging usage of the web that is going to be the catalyst to re-engineer the real estate brokerage industry.

For those who have not been “Downunder” – neither country has a MLS (multiple listing system) so the influence of the web and its use for the marketing of houses, has a different dynamic than in the U.S. Both countries however do have a powerful, national real estate portal that is focussed and drives significant traffic to their websites and basically functions as a national MLS. The two sites also have similar names although owned by different entities: in New Zealand and in Australia

Watch these two countries carefully, as in some cases they may actually leap-frog the U.S. and lead the way with respect to web-based real estate innovation.

August 05 2008 | Uncategorized | No Comments »