Anticipation for a great 2010 in real estate

For many 2009 has been a challenging year. As compared to 2008 it has been a lot brighter.

In the last 12 months there were a total of 67,197 residential sales as compared 60,981 in the period to October 2008 – a 10% increase. The good news is there is great scope to see sales rise even more in 2010 – based on a 10 year average of sales as a ratio to the number of houses across the country we should be seeing sales averaging 96,000 a year! – so there is upside growth in sales to come, hopefully we will see some of this in 2010.

(To get a fuller picture of these facts please read this analysis as presented on the Unconditional blog).

As far as activity online is concerned, this year has been nothing short of staggering. Over the past 12 months close to 50 million visitor sessions were undertaken across the 7 leading real estate websites (as monitored by Nielsen Online).

As the chart shows this growth has been unstoppable as each year more and more buyers turn to the web to search for property – so many in fact that total user numbers have doubled over the past 3 years.

For realestate.co.nz our rate of growth has been even faster, not only have we more than doubled since 2006 we are now seeing the number of individual visitor sessions per week up over 46% in a year; with now an average week seeing the website provide over 145,000 users with the most comprehensive real estate listings source of any website in NZ.

This is great news for the industry in general, especially when you remember that realestate.co.nz is your website – owned by the industry, your industry, protecting your long term interests.

That was last year now let’s think about the coming months. The first 3 months of the year are tradtionally the most active during which viewing and enquiry levels peak. The chart below clearly demonstrates this. The shaded area indicates the quiet Christmas break, with the top solid blue line showing the weekly traffic across all these websites to date. The dashed blue line then goes on to estimate the level of visitors traffic we can expect to see in January and February – potentially well over 1,100,000 visitors per week.

To take advantage of this anticipated peak in viewing and searching it is so important to use these next few weeks to prepare to get the most out of the next 3 months:

1.  Get those listings right

It seems so simple but too often the basics get forgotten:

(a)   Photos – get the best collection of the best images. Make sure the #1 photo (the first photo in the sequence) is the best representation of the property. Remember the more photos a listing has the more the number of visitors, it is a fact

(b)   Address – showing an address generates a map which buyers love so they can get a perspective of where the property is and what the area around it is like – they want to use Google Street View or Zoodle – so be their friend and help them

(c)    Description – provide rich information that enables a buyer to make an informed assesment on the property. Describe the key benefits of the property and the local community – be seen as an expert who is keen to share valuable insight into living in the area – an area or neighbourhood you know so well

2. Promote those listings

To have a listing on the web is just the starting point. You need to recognise that with more people search online nowadays than in print publications you need to look to focus vendor paid marketing online.

The “Featured Listings” on realestate.co.nz are used widely by so many agents who see the value of the $250 per 2 week investment in promoting their client’s listings and see the results in the greater exposure and increase in viewing numbers.

Get in quick to grab your chosen suburb for the summer perod – we often sell out as there are only ever 3 properties featured in each suburb at any one time.

3. Get out and promote yourself

Recognising that buyers searching online for new homes are more than likely to be thinking of selling their home means that advertising your services on realestate.co.nz is so logical.

The Featured Agent adverts which allow you to promote yourself as one of just 3 agents per suburb is so effective. We still have spots available from now until the end of March and from just $15 per month, there is no better way to solicit enquiries from the massive audience on the site.

To buy a personal profile advert for your chosen suburb all you need to do is login to our Agent Pro website at www.agentpro.co.nz (don’t forget this link is at the bottom of every page on the website) – sign up if you have not already done so, then choose your desired suburb, check that the month you want is available and then buy online with a valid credit card.

December 10 2009 | Market stats and Nielsen Online stats and Online marketing | No Comments »

Record level of website traffic

The month of August turned out to be another bumper month in terms of traffic to real estate websites. Following a record level in July, August saw another new record established with a massive 1,489,294 unique browser visits to a variety of real estate websites as monitored by Nielsen Online.

The table here shows the top 10 websites as recorded by Nielsen for the month.

Not only is this good news for these websites, but is also great news for the industry as these record levels are a key indicator of interest from property seekers searching for property and information on the market.

In total the traffic represented a year on year growth of 17% – an extra 216,264 unique browsers as compared to August last year.

For realestate.co.nz the month was not just a new record but represented a growth of 50% from August last year – far ahead of the 17% growth of the market and second only in terms of growth to Barfoot & Thompson website. The 50% increase represents an additional 132,125 unique browsers visiting the website this year that did not visit last year – great news for your listings and for your clients.

A complete analysis of the online market and the performance of the website of realestate.co.nz including useful sales inserts can be viewed by downloading the September report here.

The report provides insight into the growing usage of the web for real estate search as well as demonstration of the value of the web in attracting domestic and international interest in your listings.

September 14 2009 | News | No Comments »

Realestate.co.nz limited – Annual Report 2008/9

Realestate.co.nz is an industry owned website – we are enormously proud of this fact as well as the support that we receive from the real estate industry. We are unique in a world where the international media barons dominate the print and online real estate advertising marketplaces, to be able to offer you a NZ owned, cost effective tool for marketing yourself and your listing in a website that classically punches well above its weight.

As an industry owned website we are keen to be transparent about our business – a business you all share in, to enable you to see what you get for your subscription. You can download and read a copy of our annual report which details the performance of the website over the year to 31st March 2009. In addition we would encourage you to share your comments and thoughts on this blog post.

Annual Report – Realestate.co.nz Limited.

Financial year ending 31 March 2009.

1. Key performance metrics

All metrics are as at 31st March 2009

2. Chairman’s Report

This past year has been a challenging one for the whole of the real estate industry. The direct consequences of the economic recession saw property sales drop by half and sent ripples through all sectors of the industry. Online real estate marketing was not immune. Realestate.co.nz Ltd was impacted by the loss of over 150 subscribing offices that ceased operations in the past year. Such a scale of office closures impacts subscriptions, the primary revenue driver for the business. Heeding early warning signs, the Board and management embarked on protective strategies and actions which has enabled the company to end the year in excellent operational and financial health.

For the 12 months ending March 2009 the company reported total revenue of $2,854k, a decline of $327k from the prior year as a direct result of the loss of subscribing offices. That decline in revenue caused the operating profit before license fees to fall to $67k, from the prior year $483k.

Beyond ensuring that we remain financially sound, financial success for Realestate.co.nz Limited takes a back seat to ensuring the success of realestate.co.nz as an effective marketing tool for the subscribers. A key measure of the success of the company in the year can be judged in the strength of the subscriber base which grew in percentage terms to finish the year at a new high of just under 93% of all licensed real estate offices. An equally significant vindication of the growing success of the website was the closure of the competitor website of allrealestate.co.nz in December of 2008. That website had aggressively launched in October 2005 with the backing of the media muscle of News Corporation through the Australian company REA Group which runs the #1 real estate website in Australia. Despite that backing and some very aggressive attempts to dominate the NZ market the website was closed as, in the judgment of its owners, it could not justify the continuing investment required just to hold its 3rd place in the market.

Their demise has assisted the realestate.co.nz website to grow in value to the property seeking public both domestically and internationally. The monthly traffic to the website now exceeds 360,000 unique browsers per month, significantly up from the 260,000 per month a year ago. Whilst not attaining the #1 spot in terms of domestic traffic the website ably demonstrates its appeal in being the clear #1 website based on international visitors searching for NZ properties with a clear margin of 50% more traffic than the #2 website, with over 110,000 unique browsers per month from over 200 countries.

During the year the company has strategically sought to broaden its business base and consolidate its position of being the most comprehensive website for content as well as an authoritative source of real estate information. New incremental revenue was derived from the premium marketing services of featured listings and featured agents during the year. A new company was launched in January as a joint venture with Terralink International providing rich and comprehensive information on all of NZ residential property through an innovative new website – Zoodle. This website has already established itself strongly in the market for property reports and community information and regularly receives over 35,000 monthly unique visitors as well as steady revenue from property reports sold online.

Building on the platform established in the prior year around social media and property data the company has actively promoted its growing role as a reporting service of key data from the website as a lead indicator of consumer activity. This initiative has captured significant media coverage, critical in building the visibility and credibility in the marketplace and placing the company ahead of competitors who could equally have taken the opportunity to provide and promote such data analysis.

As a demonstration of the effective role of social media the traffic from unique visitors to the agents’ own Voices blogs as well as the Unconditional blog now surpass 20,000 unique browsers per month capturing a unique and credible place in the market for timely and accurate property market information.

Far from believing that our work is done the realestate.co.nz team have embarked on a challenging redevelopment of the site to provide an even more compelling marketing opportunity for a broader range of property types. This new investment will reflect the feedback provided by public users of the site and offer an improved level of engagement for users and ultimately improved marketing outcomes for subscribers.

As Chairman of the Board I would once again like to acknowledge the contribution made over the year by the directors of the company who have given generously of their time as well as their demonstrated support of the site. To the realestate.co.nz team, which includes our partner companies, I offer my thanks for their ongoing commitment, dedication and belief to deliver a high value-add service, support the continued development of the site and provide marketing to assist in developing and growing the realestate.co.nz brand. There exists within the team an urge to constantly develop and enhance the website and I am confident that the coming year will see the fruits of their vision take the website to a new level.

The last and most important thanks should go to the industry at large who continue to demonstrate their support for the site, as it is becoming a “must-have” within their marketing portfolio. Realestate.co.nz Limited respects and appreciates its role in providing the real estate industry of NZ with a highly effective, cost competitive real estate marketing website where the value created in the business will deliver long term benefit for all of those in the real estate industry

Jeff Davidson
Chairman – Realestate.co.nz Limited

3. Company structure

Realestate.co.nz Ltd has 2 shareholders. 50% of the shares are owned by REINZ Member Services Ltd, the remaining 50% are owned by Property Page (NZ) Ltd owning 50% of the shares.

Board of Directors

The board of directors for the year ending 31st March 2009 comprised the following:
Board Member Shareholder representative

Murray Cleland – REINZ Member Services Ltd

Mike Pinkney – REINZ Member Services Ltd

John Ross – REINZ Member Services Ltd

Ross Hunter – Property Page (NZ) Ltd

Peter Thompson – Property Page (NZ) Ltd

Bryan Thomson – Property Page (NZ) Ltd

Independent Chairman – Jeff Davidson

Employees

The management team and employees of the company comprised the following as at 31st March 2009

Alistair Helm – Chief Executive

Phil Dunn – Chief Operating Officer

Kerry Kissane – Training and customer services manager

Katherine Jariel – Customer services representative

Crystal Fell – Customer services representative

4. CEO outlook for 2009/10

The website of realestate.co.nz continues to offer a tremendous service to the real estate industry of NZ.

In the 3 years of operation, the site has demonstrated that with the unified support of the industry a lean operation can compete and challenge any well resourced and funded media company to offer the property buyers and renters of New Zealand a market leading website whilst ensuring that the costs to this industry are controlled.

At no time over the past 3 years has the website rested on its laurels. With constant development and enhancement it has striven to set new benchmarks and provide new services to both its consumers and customers.

This forthcoming year will again be a period of development for the company and the website. There are many new features that we have planned to incorporate into a re-design of the website. The focus is on providing property seekers with a more engaging and valuable experience in using the website – an experience that prompts them to visit regularly as well as share their experiences with their friends, family and colleagues.

The web in general is becoming a far more social environment as people demand greater transparency and authenticity enabling them to be able to make more informed decisions in regard to products and services they buy either directly online or through information provided online. The real estate industry is being challenged by this drive for greater openness and interaction, the winners in the future will be those in the industry that recognise this trend and embrace the online opportunity – using technology to build their profile and their referral base.

The website of realestate.co.nz intends in the coming year to take a leadership position to provide tools and services to assist the industry to embrace this era of transparency and openness as well as cement the dominance of the web as the most effective medium for advertising properties and promotion of salespeople and companies. A key part of this development is the more specialised segments of the industry catering to commercial property agents, business brokers and rural specialists. To each of these dedicated areas we intend to develop bespoke solutions that are tailored to their needs as well as their clients’ needs thereby ensuring that the website continues to offer a true one-stop-shop solution for all segments of the industry.

The promotion and advertising of the website is recognised as a key requirement to build consumer awareness and through that customer loyalty. In today’s fragmented media world the route to achieve this awareness no longer solely relies on traditional mainstream media. It is for this reason that the company continues to seek out opportunities to utilise new and emerging platforms for promotions of the website and thereby endure that the marketing investment is efficiently and effectively invested.
Alistair Helm
CEO – Realestate.co.nz

September 14 2009 | News | No Comments »

Sales sheet for realestate.co.nz

I was asked today by a licensee for a sales sheet his team could use when presenting the site to vendors. He was keen to be able to share pertinent information on the rich comprehensive content of the site as well as the scale of traffic.

More than happy to oblige I have developed this portrait format sheet which can be downloaded as a pdf and uses in sales presentations.

The measure of traffic comes from the latest data from Nielsen Online who produce this ranking of the top websites each month – this one for April showing the realtive position of each website. As a point of note when comparing April 2009 with April 2008 the total traffic (unique browsers) to realestate.co.nz is up 41%, whilst the total of all sites is up just 6%.

May 08 2009 | Market stats and Nielsen Online stats | No Comments »

Realestate.co.nz market report – February 2009

Delivering more property buyers – that is what realestate.co.nz is doing week after week and month after month.

The performance of the website continues to grow and set more records. January took us to our highest ever month for visitors – 386,910 that is a 34% increase as compared to January last year and twice the growth of any other real estate website.

We have produced this monthly report to provide complete information on key facts about the website for the month of January 2009. The report is able to be downloaded here as a pdf document (700kb) or else you can select each page you need and download then as single jpg pages. Hopefully the information is of value. If there is ever any other information you require never hestitate to contact me by email or a blog comment below.

February 04 2009 | News and Nielsen Online stats and Online marketing and Web facts | No 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 realestate.co.nz 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 »

Record end to 2008!

We are right on target for 2009!!

The month of December was the most active month ever for realestate.co.nz since we launched two and a half years ago – we broke the barrier of 300,000 unique browsers for the very first time!

Clearly the benefit of the closure of allrealestate and the redirection of traffic has assisted the site reach out to a new audience, but this level of audience in December (which is always the slowest month) is unprecedented. Just look at the numbers.

December 2007: 193,418 Unique Browsers visited the site

December 2008: 300,164 Unique Browsers visited the site

That is a 55% increase over last year. It was also over 20% higher than the traffic in November, all other real estate websites recorded a drop in traffic between November and December.

Very importantly the new visitors spend even longer on the site than the prior months. There were some detractors who believed that a growth in audience would lead to shorter duration visits – far from it. In November the average visitor used the site for 8 minutes 51 seconds, in December 9 minutes 53 seconds.

It is really important to remember that whilst December is historically the quietest month of the year in regard to viewing property – the months of January. February and March are the most active. Last year realestate.co.nz traffic went from 193,418 in December to 288,476 in January!

2009 is going to be a very exciting year – it has started that way already and it is only the 5th day.

January 05 2009 | Market stats | No 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 realestate.co.nz 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 »

Rental property inventory growth is matched by visitor traffic growth

The level of stock of rental listings has grown markedly over the first half of the year, peaking at close to 6,500 listings before falling back slightly over the past few months – potentially a large part of this could have been as a consequence of properties being withdrawn from sale for lack of buyer interest and thereby being placed on the rental market through property managers. This was the subject of a recent post on the Unconditional blog titled “Home owners opt to rent out properties that are struggling to find buyers

The graph below shows the movement of inventory (blue bars) over the past 18 months as well as the level of web traffic (red line) to rental listings over the same period.

It is very clear from the graph the extent to which the website has grown in relevance and appeal for rental properties in NZ – from an average a year ago of around 35,000 unique browsers per month to the current level of 50,000 per month.

The website of realestate.co.nz truly delivers a comprehensive audience looking for a comprehensive presentation of available listings be that rental properties, properties for sale, commercial properties, businesses for sale, lifestyle property as well as farms and agricultural land.

October 07 2008 | Market stats and Web facts | No Comments »

Online real estate July 2008

As with the general state of the real estate market visitor numbers to real estate websites in general remained soft in June as represented by the graph below. This graph tracks the total of 7 real estate websites for the past 2 years.

The level of visitor traffic across this collection of sites averaged 327,000 visitior sessions in June as compared to a pretty much identical 328,00 in May, these level equally are identical to thsi time last year. The positive note from these statistic is the clear view that depite the slower market for property sales and general enquiry the level of searching and activity of browsing for property has not diminished and property viewing still remains an active past time for kiwis!

In terms of performance of websites the relative traffic performance remains stable with the Top 10 sites for June as detailed here from Nielsen Online. These figures show the average daily unique browsers visiting these websites during the month and these figures rather than the total unique browsers in a month are generally now regarded as a more accurate reflection of true website visitor activity. The data clearly shows the consumer attraction to the websites that provide comprehensive data.

Looking at the tracking performance of websites the following updated graphs provide a rich analysis of the online marketplace.

July 10 2008 | Market stats and Nielsen Online stats | No Comments »

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