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 »

Monthly report – December 2008 fact sheet

December was a record month with 300,000+ unique visitors an increase of 55% over last year and 22% more than in November.

Most significant is the specialised appeal of the website – within the total of 300,000 unique visitors was 189,500 who DID NOT visit Trade me property website in the month – that is over 58% of the total just visited to check out the most comprehensive selection of property on the market.

Full details of these facts are in the January 09 fact sheet here.

January 08 2009 | Market stats | No Comments »

Which real estate website to use? – analyse the property listings numbers

With the online landscape markedly changed today (1st December) with the exit of (now directing visitors to this website) the “head to head” analysis of as compared to trade me property becomes ever more important. The key determination of value for this industry has always been as proposed by this company comprehensive content.

The most valuable website is more likely to be the website with the largest number of listings – people keen to look for property will always gravitate towards the site that acts as a “one-stop-shop”. Some detailed analysis provides some insight important for all real estate offices to consider.

We have accurately tracked the listings of residential property on and trade me property over the past 2 years maintaining a detailed record on a like-for-like basis. The summary of this analysis is presented in the graph below.

The numbers are pretty clear – has maintained over 20,000 more properties for sale as featured on the website than as featured on trade me property website over the past 2 years

The data is directly comparable as each data set of listings comprises the estimate of just licensed real estate office listings on each website. How have we done this?

We have on a frequent basis undertaken a sample of around 6 suburbs across the country every 2 months and worked out how many of trade me property listings are “private” and how many are from licensed agents. We have then also applied a factor to the listing stock to estimate the number of properties that are marketed as general listings. The net result of this is the graph above.

The graph shows that the differential of content has remained in excess of 20,000 properties for all of the 2 years, expect for the month of June 2007.

At the peak in February of this year (prior to the decision by Barfoot & Thompson to list on Trade me) the differential stood at 34,000. Following the addition of the 7,000 listings from Barfoot & Thompson the differential came back to 26,000 and then by September has slipped to 23,000.

The past 2 months has seen an increase again with the latest listing comparison showing a differential of 25,000 – with 67,000 residential properties on as compared to 42,000 on trade me on a like-for-like estimated basis of licensed real estate marketed properties.

December 01 2008 | Market stats | 2 Comments » website to close!

On Monday the 1st of December the online real estate market in NZ will change – no longer will the real estate industry have to choose between 3 property portal websites to promote their listings – one of them ( will cease operations and there will be just a choice between 2 major players. Not only is shutting up shop, but will directly benefit as all inbound traffic to will be directed to from visitors in NZ and overseas. This will significantly increase the visitors to from December.

This is the time and opportunity for this industry in a unified manner to support one website – a website owned by this industry, supporting this industry and offering this industry the most cost effective and consumer focused website for real estate.

This is also a time for celebration and recognition – to recognise the support this industry has shown in subscribing and promoting over the past 2 years since launch – that support, that subscription income has gone 100% towards making the site the best in the market – that success has lead to the exit of a competitor – what better demonstration can there be of success than to vanquish a competitor?!

One step closer to #1!

There has only ever been one objective for and that is to be the best, the most valued, and the most comprehensive real estate website in NZ – that goal is within our reach, to have strong competition makes us stronger and we are getting stronger and will in the coming months.
The growth in visitors to the website as compared to over the past 3 years shows exactly why it has been tough for the #3 player in the market. It became a clear case of “if you can’t take the heat – get out of the kitchen!”

The key to the success of any real estate website is comprehensive content and for this was the problem. This is shown clearly below in average quarterly listings of residential property on each of the 3 websites. Content is still very much king!

Decision by REA Group to close down

The REA Group is a global leader in the online property portals business operating 22 websites around the world including the clear #1 in Australia – This company which is 60% owned by News Corp attracts over 9 million unique browsers per month to its collection of websites. The press release sent out last Friday details the terms of the agreement that has reached with REA Group as part of the closure of its website. This marketing alliance will provide REA Group with a reference site of the stature they need to provide access to their global community. For this provides enormous visibility for international visitors seeking out NZ property.

It is important to make note that this is a marketing alliance – there is no change in ownership or management of The company remains 100% NZ real estate industry owned – supporting and protecting the NZ industry.

It is also timely to remind all real estate professionals that the website is and always will be available to any licensed real estate agent. We do not take any private listings – we are not nor will we be in the future in any way tied to membership of the Real Estate Institute (REINZ). The Institute does own 50% of the shares in the company, however for the website to continue to be the best requires no restrictions on subscription to any licensed agent in NZ.

What this will mean for and the industry

This removal of from the NZ market is fantastic news – it provides a better service to the consumer – people searching for property hate having to visit loads of websites to find the answer to the question” what is on the market”. At this time has over 90% of all listings – this will grow as the remaining few office subscribe to feature their listings – that will continue to make the best site for content – the one and only website the buyers need to find the full picture. For more details read this post from Unconditional.
For the industry this is fantastic – the industry can save money – no need to spread your marketing dollars across many sites – focus on where the buyers go – the buyers want comprehensive content. In addition with this strengthening of the options for competitors to charge more than the subscription of $200 per office per month charged by gets tougher – why show any office pay more than $200 per month?

Some key points regarding the battle for the real estate online dollar

  • Online is where 80%+ of all real estate searches start
  • Google is the leading search engine in NZ – has worked relentlessly to ensure that it offers searchers the best answer to these questions – try it yourself – “ask Google for property / homes for sale in you city, town or suburb” – you are far more likely to find a link to than any other website.
  • delivers more international visitors than Trade me. This advantage will only grow further as the alliance with the 22 REA Group websites and those 9 million+ unique browsers commences
  • Realestate delivers value – one fee $200 per office per month, open, transparent and equitable – now and into the future. Compare us to Trade me property – over the past 2 years it has increased fees – single listings have risen from just $49 in 2006, to now $199! And with featured combo that rises to $268!! In the same time the fees for have not changed. Think about it Trade me property charges more for a single property listing than we charge for a whole month of all your listings!! is a NZ owned and operated website – it is constantly being enhanced to deliver results for you – we support you to enable you to close more deals. Just look at these advantages:

  1. We send emails to your inbox personally – not just a single email account for the office – this ensure you deal to emails immediately, that makes buyers happier
  2. We actively embrace new technology – we are currently the only property portal to feature videos on the website
  3. We ensure your listings look their best – customers want rich content – we have no restriction on the number of photos on your listings and with our partnership with Open2view your listings look the best
  4. We are the only property portal to offer all agents the tools to build your business – with the Voices blog platform any agent can build their referral business
  5. We provide education and support, we undertake regular presentations and onsite support – because we are a part of the industry not just an media machine
  6. We were the first property portal website to feature maps – with Google maps the consumer gets the benefit of aerial images and soon Google StreetView
  7. We don’t feature private listings – we support the industry rather than setting up home owners to compete with you and your business on the same website

We value the support of this industry – we want to help you in your business – please contact us if you have any questions or need our help. We are here for the long term and focused on the #1 position.

November 17 2008 | News | 3 Comments »

The continuing demise of classified print publications

We are all aware of it by our own behaviours – classifieds are marching ever more speedily to the web. This industry understands it as over 80% of all real estate searches start on line and keen buyers now spend nearly 3 hours per week reviewing real estate websites. It is simple and intuitive – see all of what is on offer anywhere, anytime – always up to date!

So it is no surprise then the see that the first of the major classified print publications has folded – Auto Trader ceases to be after this week – go grab a copy as it is the last. Launched in 1981 the publication was an instant hit and dealt a blow to the newspapers who at the time dominated all car advertising. It made its owners and founders wealthy, it has made it’s current owners very good returns, but clearly it now recognises that it cannot continue to compete against the web.

However whilst the logical strategy would have been 5 years ago to plan for this by building and promoting a website to become the Autotrader on the web – the website that attempted to succeed the magazine has failed to establish or hold a position of relevance as compared to Trade Me Motors which is a better site for cars. 4 years ago Autotrader online drew around 100,000 UB per month, today that has grown to around 120,000 UB per month – Trade Me in the same period has leapt from 700,000 to over 1,300,000. Game over!

This is a warning sign for the real estate industry – don’t let a single operator dominate the media for your product or service or you will forever be beholden to their rate card!

October 07 2008 | News | No Comments »

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 »