Trade Me Property assumes the mantle of data insight leadership

by Alistair Helm in ,


Trade Me Property today released a new competitive attack on its rival Realestate.co.nz with its inaugural Property Price Index. This report provides insight into the trends in asking price by region and also by property type. In my view vital information from a credible source that will be greatly appreciated by the real estate and financial community.

In launching this new report Trade Me Property has literally picked up the baton from Realestate.co.nz - a baton it seems Realestate.co.nz was only too happy to relinquish, but this may turn out to be a decision it comes to regret in time.

The NZ Property Report from Realestate.co.nz was conceived of over 5 years ago and has become a vital insight into the supply side of the property market, data that was quoted and reviewed by financial institutions and real estate industry as well as the media. Sadly the last 12 months and especially the last 6 months has seen less and less effort focused on the report by the management of Realestate.co.nz. The lack of focus started with the timeliness. When it first came out and for the first 3 years it was published on the 1st day of each month and the media become accustomed to this information which built brand profile and credibility. Latterly however it often took until the 15th of the month before being published. Added to tardiness was incompleteness and lack of openness. The release of the monthly information ceased to be a complete report and became simply a press release and just last month the data was not even published online and no access to the raw data has been made available. At this time the online source still only shows the July report. Clearly Realestate.co.nz attach little importance to being judged and viewed as a respected knowledge base and thought leader - that is the baton that Trade Me Property is grasping.

So what is there to like about this new report from Trade Me Property?

As with all things from Trade Me there is a simplicity and clarity of communication I admire, clean graphics aid comprehension.

However the real value is in the detail. They are the first source to have segmented any property information by property type. To describe NZ property sales price by one number when that number is made up of such a variety of differing house sizes and types from apartments to townhouses and units is too simplistic but that is what all the other source do - be it REINZ or QV.

Trade Me Property Price Index details the typical listing price for 1 & 2 bedroom houses as compared to 3 & 4 bedroom houses and the trend over the past year. Who would have thought that within the headline price of property in Wellington rising at an annual rate of 6.8% that large 5+ bedroom homes are down 5.2% over the past year.

 

The overriding benefit of this report is timeliness, being produced on the 2nd day of the month - ahead of all other property reports on the September data. This is how it should be as a property portal has the data at its finger tips to compute and present in minutes.

As to future wishes. I hope the raw data will be published so those organisations who have found the Realestate.co.nz so valuable will have access to this alternative data which is potentially more comprehensive as it features private listings as well as licensed agents (of course the boycott of Trade Me Property by some agencies may still limit their ability to represent the whole market but statistically this data should be representative). It will also be great to get more granular data so people can see the trend in listing price for a suburb and for 1 & 2 bedroom houses in a particular suburb over time - now that would be great.

In my view Trade Me Property has made a smart move and Realestate.co.nz have dropped the ball - let's see if there is a reaction and Realestate.co.nz realise how important this move has been.


Trade Me Property continues to struggle

by Alistair Helm in ,


Another month has passed and the continued impasse within the real estate industry as individual companies decide as to their commitment to Trade Me Property continues. This all began late last year and with each passing month I have the sense that the struggle for Trade Me Property grows. They still attract an enormous audience relative to Realestate.co.nz but losing support and loyalty of their customers - the real estate salespeople and business owners must be hurting.

A month ago I reported on the latest analysis of the differential in listing stock between Trade Me Property and Realestate.co.nz. At the time the total inventory advantage fell to Realestate.co.nz with Trade Me having just 92% of the listings.

A month later and the relative advantage has moved further towards Realestate.co.nz. For the data presented below I have made an adjustment for the component of 'private sale' listings on Trade Me Property to thereby provide a more accurate reflection of the differential for licensed real estate agent listings. This adjustment revised the 92% figure to 83% of all licensed agent listings on Trade Me Property at the end of April.

The passage of the month of May has resulted in a weaker relative position for Trade Me Property now with just 76% of the listings stock of licensed agents as compared to Realestate.co.nz - close to 1 in 4 of every agents listings is now not being displayed on Trade Me Property.

A significant drop has been seen over the past month in the inventory of Barfoot & Thompson on Trade Me down from 95% to 78% whilst Ray White continue to shows the strongest support slipping just 3 percentage points from 97% to 94%. By contrast Harcourts, the largest NZ real estate company now has less than 2 of every 3 of their listings on Trade Me Property.

With the passage of time so the transition of real estate companies to the new subscription regime has progressed, my latest insight is telling me that almost all of the major real estate companies are now onto the new subscription plan of a payment of a single fee for every listing (rate card $159 + GST). However unlike the prior monthly subscription fee of an "all you can eat" model just because a real estate company is on the subscription plan does not mean all of the listings of that company are displayed on Trade Me Property.

New listings are a more accurate indicator of the level of support for the new pricing model and the data of listing numbers taken from the respective websites shows how the industry is acting in voting with its marketing dollars on behalf of its clients.

In the month of May Trade Me Property only displayed 3 out of every 4 of the new properties listed in the month on Realestate.co.nz. That disadvantage was even more significant when you look at the new listings in May from the largest real estate company Harcourts which displayed less than 6 out of 10 of it's new listings on Trade Me Property; for LJ Hooker it was only half of all new listings. Ray White continues to show what looks to be staunch support with 95% of all new listings in the month featured on Trade Me Property.

New listings are the life-blood of the industry and these figures certainly show that this impasse over listing fees may well have started out as a regional boycott with the mass-removal of all listings, but has now turned into a more damaging and potentially insidious erosion of new listings one-by-one, day-by-day, agent-by-agent.

 


Trade Me Property adds School zones

by Alistair Helm in ,


Whilst Trade Me Property may still be grappling with issues of agent loyalty and patronage, the technical team appear to be focused on what is important - adding richer and more relevant information to the site. 

School zones are a much quoted detail in many property listings as agents recognise the importance (and value) of the 'in-zone' location of properties. Whilst no objective data is available on the added value of an 'in-zone' location for NZ property or any consumer research, I did find some insight from overseas. In the UK a recent report entitled "The Good School Guide" produced in association with the Estate Agency Savills has found that parents are prepared to pay a premium of almost 22% to buy a home close to some of the best state secondary schools in the country.

In the US a recent homebuyer survey from the National Association of Realtors. The survey examined factors influencing neighbourhood choice amongst the various generations. For those aged 34 to 48 years the quality of the school district was the third most important criteria after overall quality of the neighbourhood and the convenience to work.

So with this endorsement of the value of such information it is therefore surprising that it has taken over 5 years for either of the leading real estate websites to incorporate school zone data into the mix. Credit should be given at this time to Barfoot & Thompson who incorporated School Zones into their excellent iPad app last year.

The Ministry of Education has provided an open data platform of school zones for years and provides an interactive map to help the public identify the zones of all schools (those that define a catchment area).

Trade Me has just this week released an upgrade to their website that delivers an excellent integration of not only the the school zone data but all data on schools within the geographical area of the property for sale.

The functionality is within the map section of the site and delivers not just the details of which schools are in zone but also key facts about those schools - size and decile ranking as well as distance from the property. The selection of schools covers Primary, Intermediate and Secondary both state and private schools.

Whilst I think this is a valuable enhancement of functionality to go alongside the other recent enhancement of boundary view I think the user experience could have been better enhanced along these lines.

  • The School information could have been incorporated into the primary facts about the property rather then making them a opt-in option of the map - simply listing the 'in-zone' schools would be a real pus and putting that up front.
  • The schools by type could be ranked by distance from the property in descending order. Also using a colour scheme to differentiate between state schools (showing in/out of zone) separate from private schools.
  • The addition of this valuable data to their iOS apps - especially given the level of usage of the mobile app environment when searching for property and the map-centric aspect of search.
  • Probably the greatest missing component given the data integration is "search by school zone" within the search function so instead of searching for 5 bedroom homes under $800k in Onehunga and then having to look at each one to see which are in-zone for Royal Oak Intermediate you could add this requirement into the search options.

Overall though a great step forward and so good to see a step up in technology innovation from Trade Me Property.