A generational change in buying and selling property

by Alistair Helm in


Whilst marketing a property for sale recently, the owners casually showed me the advert for their property when they bought it back in 1993. A quarter of a century ago. A generation ago. It’s amazing how time moves on and things change.

The advert got me thinking just how much has changed in the process of buying and selling real estate over the past 25 years.

The leaflet, an A4 flyer was very likely the primary method of marketing back in 1993. A single page with one photo, photocopied and distributed to interested parties; available at the office of the real estate agent and at the open homes. There was not internet, no portfolio of professional photography with drone aerial images and video walk-through to allow people across the world to virtually experience the property.

To be made aware of this property’s status of being ‘on the market’ required eager buyers to visit the real estate office and / or read the Saturday newspaper or pick up the local property magazine.

Advertising back then would certainly have relied upon a window card in the office, with the photo of the house, and by photo, I mean a real photo processed and printed on photographic paper. One photo would probably have sufficed.

In addition to the open home, prospective buyers would have likely been chauffeured around the neighbourhood in the local agent’s car, a critical requisite in those days. Mobile phones and laptops were yet to become ubiquitous.

As for property information available to buyers. This was probably limited to the address, section size and number of bedrooms as the flyer clearly shows.

12 Waterview Rd 1993.png

This brief overview was probably further shortened and simplified into the newspaper advert – something like this:

Devonport – chtr family villa, 3brm, 504 section N facing. $255,000 Tel. Smith R 445 2243

An amazing 89 characters. Far shorter than a pre 2017 tweet and more a txt msg than an advert. But don’t forget in those days newspaper advertising was sold by column inches.

There was no market statistics readily available to assist buyers. At the the time with the Real Estate Institute had only begin collating property sales data a year earlier, so prospective buyers would not be able to tap into market trends nor any version of Homes.co.nz with an estimated property valuation. Buyers had to call upon the expertise and experience of the local listing agent. As to the condition and integrity of the property, no LIM would be provided. If a prospective buyer was keen they could visit the local council offices in the village and actually look through the property file for the address which were held in large ring binders and contained copies of all the documents the council held on the property – photocopy charges would apply.

So much has changed but at the core of the process the local agent role has not changed, an agent guiding, advising and supporting the seller remains central and core to the facilitation and negotiation between seller and buyer. Sure the market price of such property has changed; 25 years of Auckland price appreciation has seen to that, however be grateful for what you wish for as the mortgage rate back in 1993 was over 9%, and had been over 20% in the prior decade.