New boundary view - a step forward down a narrow lane! (Updated)

by Alistair Helm in ,

Trade Me Property has announced the introduction of a new feature for property listings, the boundary details of properties. This service complements the existing map view and street view. It is not universal across all listings as it needs an accurate address detail. Scanning the site randomly checking listings from different parts of the country showed that it is somewhat 'pot luck' as to its availability.


This new feature is sadly long overdue, firstly as it a core layer of content that has been available through both Terralink's 'Property Guru' service and Property IQ service for many years - these two competing services are only available to real estate agents and other property related companies as a subscription service, although it has been on the Zoodle and QV sites.

Secondly it is the first innovation we have seen from either or Trade Me for a very long time - we have seen both of these companies prepared to spend millions of dollars recently on advertising campaigns trying to prove who is biggest! - yet sadly the consumer as a buyer of property has not seen any innovation. This is in marked contrast to overseas property portals where innovations flow on a weekly basis and provides the competitive tension between players in other countries - the consumer being the winner whereas here the TV companies are likely to to be the winners.

Speaking of competitive tension, it will be very interesting to see if and how responds to this innovation. In the past there was a degree of a partnering of the two major property websites with the two property data companies - Trade Me with Property IQ and with Terralink. However effective 1 January 2014, PropertyIQ NZ Limited and Terralink International limited officially came together as CoreLogic NZ Limited. This came after the Commerce Commission cleared the merger between the two businesses in November.

So now there is effectively only one player in town when it comes to detailed property mapping and if Trade Me has secured CoreLogic as a partner as this latest innovation suggests then it leave out in the cold. Far from the principle of how the Commerce Commission saw this situation.

In the documents relating to the merger and in the findings in favour of the merger the Commerce Commission stated that:

“The Commission considered that PropertyIQ will continue to face competition from existing and emerging competitors in these markets. Furthermore, we consider that new competitors entering these markets are able to access the key datasets through negotiations with local Councils and other sources and will also constrain the merged entity,” said Commerce Commission Chairman Dr Mark Berry.

Certainly when it comes to general mapping there are numerous suppliers - Google being the main service used by both property websites, however when it comes to boundary details this is a very local mapping service here in NZ and 'drawing' this detail on maps will continue to be done by one company (as it was in the past) the main difference is that in the past 2 competing companies could sell this service - now there is only one player to offer this service, in my view lessening competition and denying the consumer a valuable service across their property website of choice. 

Updated - Friday 28th Feb 10am

I tweeted this post and received this reply from Trade Me Property

Now I think I understand the tweet - if I am right what they are saying is that the code integration to create these boundary link images takes about 4hrs and at tis time the system is busy doing open home data load.

If this is right then the question is why not do all this code loading on a beta site before releasing it publicly. The images being shown under boundary views are images (as a picture file) and therefore all it requires is a database look up on an address and then bring into the website the weblink from the CoreLogic image server - if no file then don't show.

If I have this wrong then I have asked Trade Me Property to comment below to clarify.

Surge in forced sales of property is not as alarming as reported

by Alistair Helm in


The latest data released by Terralink International shows that the hangover of the GFC continues to impact the property market in the form of mortgagee sales.

TTheir report paints a very dark and ‘bear-like’ perspective with the commentary of Mike Donald (MD of Terralink) stating that “there’s no sign of economic recovery for ordinary New Zealanders”. Certainly the data shows 605 mortgagee sales in the second quarter of 2012 up on the first quarter and nearly identical to the second quarter result for 2011.

As I previously reported on Unconditional at the time of the last set of quarterly data on mortgagee sales, the interpretation of the data of mortgagee sales and listings, whilst both valid measures can be seen at the same time to tell a contrarian view.

The tracking of mortgagee listings as published on in one of their excellent interactive charts (shown below) clearly shows that active listings have fallen a long way since the peak of the financial crisis.

Now there is no doubt as was reinforced by Helen O’Sullivan CEO of the Real Estate Institute, commenting in the NZ Herald article, that part of the reason for sales remaining active whilst listings are falling is a function of the more active property market which is allowing banks to more confidently offload liability assets in the form of mortgagee properties.

However I think the Terralink data and commentary should be examined more closely. The headline in the Herald read “Mortgagee sales near 2009 levels”. Well the chart below which tracks the sales data for each quarter since 2008 clearly shows that despite the first quarter of 2012 being a very active time for the sale of mortgagee property the increase between Q1 and Q2 of this year bears no relations to the trend witnessed in 2009. It is far more likely that 2012 will end up looking more like 2011 than 2009.

The other comment I found interesting in the Terralink report was the statement that “There’s no good news here for so called ‘mum and dad’ property owners.  With properties that are likely to be family homes making up almost a quarter of sales, there’s no sign of economic recovery for ordinary New Zealanders

That statement and situation is actually nothing like as grim as the statement that followed the release of mortgagee sales data for June 2009 which stated that when it came to "mum and dad" type homes. "In June, that proportion doubled jumping to 39 percent of all forced sales”. I would judge 25% of the 2012 Q2 data is a lot less than 39% of the same period in 2009!

Whilst none of this is light reading for anyone burdened by such debt; the fact is come recessions or boom times people suffer from overleverage either on investment property or the family home. They may unwittingly become the victim of external factors – all such circumstances contribute to the background fact that mortgagee sales are not exclusively the domain of a recession; they are part of modern life just as are bankruptcy and other outcomes of capitalism at work.