Could the agent boycott of Trade Me end up driving more people to private sales?

by Alistair Helm in


The old adage that ‘perception is reality’ could potentially be occurring in the minds of property buyers and particularly sellers in the Hawkes Bay and Hamilton areas of the country. For if you were a normal everyday property buyer or seller using your usual means to keep in-touch with the property market through email alerts and web browsing, what you would notice in these two regions is that there seems to be far more ‘Private Sale’ properties being advertised on Trade Me.

This increase in private sellers is the perception. The reality is that there are less agent listings. 

What the real estate agents undertaking this boycott need to appreciate is that their next client is not that likely to be reading this article (I actually hope they are) nor the other media outlets that are discussing this issue - their prospective clients are browsing the news headlines and then reading the weekly women’s magazines!

These clients pay no attention to the number of listings on any page - all they want are new listings. They continue to turn to Trade Me everyday in huge numbers to view new listings. There may be less new listings, but how are they to judge the reason for this?

They certainly are not likely to stop using Trade Me Property to browse property for sale - why should they? They have been doing it for years and in their minds eye nothing has changed. The site looks identical and new properties come on the market everyday. They are not conscious that there are less (in fact no) new properties from the likes of Property Brokers, Tremains, Lugtons, Lodge and Harcourts. What they do see is far more properties coming onto the market from private sellers.

Just compare the first page of new listings in the Hawkes Bay with a comparable region - say New Plymouth in the Taranaki. In New Plymouth the first page with 50 listings consists of 6 private sale listings - 12%. On average Trade Me property comprises around 16% private sale listings on average. Now examine the first page of 50 latest listings for the Hawkes Bay - 40 of the 50 are private listings - 80%!


To the average property buyer searching the site today the one thing they notice is less agent listings. Do they instantly think - "ah yes of course my local agent is boycotting Trade Me so I must switch across to" or could it be they think - "ah more people seem to be trying to sell privately, this must mean something, maybe when we come to sell we should try a private sales, after all everybody is doing it and it only costs around $400 which compares to 4% commission which based on the median price in the Hawkes Bay at $279,000 means a cost to me of $12,834 inc GST".

This is the second time in the past 12 months where I perceive that the real estate industry is maybe shooting itself in the foot - earlier it was their fondness of auctions that may be their downfall now it is their challenge to fees from Trade Me - chinks in their armour they may be; but sometimes death by a thousand cuts can be fatal!