Are we losing access to vital property data?
I feel like the lifeblood for the analysis
of the property market is being drained from me. I have in the past commented
as to how fortunate we are in NZ to have such rich property data, how timely it
is and how openly accessible it is.
Sadly I now have to report that the core custodians of property information are heading down a path – either collectively or independently to close off access to such valuable data.
First we had the proposal by Property IQ to acquire Terralink. This is now in the hands of the Commerce Commission who I am confident will find that this acquisition would seriously remove competition in respect to consumer property information – for a start it would be the death of Zoodle as Property IQ would strengthen the dominance and profitability of QV as the only place where you could get as a member of the public, historical sales data and estimated property valuations. The decision is due from the Commerce Commission on the 11th October so I will await that notice with great interest. Out of interest the original date for the decision was the 13th September, this has been extended - could be that the CC team is looking closer into the issue or maybe their overall workload is holding them up?
Following that potential blow I now see that the Real Estate Institute (REINZ) is quietly closing off more and more data that was at one time publicly available for free.
Firstly they removed the downloadable spreadsheet for the Stratified House Price Index which provided historical monthly median and stratified median prices for Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Other North Island, Other South Island as well as National data month-by-month back to 1992.
The offering now is purely a pdf chart.
The raw data allowed me to produce the analysis charts I have regularly done to highlight the % variance to market peaks and troughs as per the example here.
Thankfully as I collated the data from 1992 though legal access to these spreadsheets in the past I can now update the data set with the monthly figures REINZ publishes.
The other database that REINZ has turned off is the Market Facts Graph capability. This provided the public with the opportunity to access core data by month back to 1992 by aggregated suburb showing median price, number of property sales, median days on the market and total sales value.
Below is an example of this report when it was available showing the wider Wellington region for a 12 month period.
All that is now provided by REINZ in regard to this data is the press release together with the regional data pdf. The other valuable report the Residential Market Statistics which provides the regional monthly data for recent months down to aggregated suburb level is also no longer published after July; so my advice is to go and grab the archived residential reports before they too are removed.
In my opinion restricting access to data that was once available for free is a backwards step. This is both in terms of the general principle of making data accessible, so that people can be allowed to analyse and provide perspective and insights; and in the specific sense of an industry that I am sure wants to help people be better informed about buying property rather than what could be perceived as a revenue generating decision as highlighted by the newly appearing references to paying for access to data from REINZ by the general public.