It's all change at Trade Me Property
Trade Me Property is the most important component of property marketing in NZ. As I have written before, without Trade Me Property, a house on the market for sale or rent is effectively not being marketed as the vast majority of buyers (and sellers) rely on Trade Me Property to provide the definitive picture of the property market. No other medium has as comprehensive a selection, nor an audience of its scale.
This pedestal though is being tested effective the 1st November by the implementation of a new pricing structure applicable to real estate offices detailed in an earlier article I wrote. The news has certainly been a wake-up call to real estate offices who have up until now absorbed the costs of subscription based listings on Trade Me.
In the article I wrote, I included a quick poll asking readers to let me know if these new charges should be passed on by real estate agents to vendors as an advertising cost of around $200 or if the cost should be absorbed by the real estate agents.
Over the past month I have been collating these responses. Now the survey is hardly statistically valid as in total I have had 53 responses but the results have been to my mind surprising.
An overriding majority of readers who have contributed with their vote (for which I appreciate the response) have proposed that the industry should recharge the costs of Trade Me advertising, just as with other advertising costs!
I would interpret this response more as a demonstration of the value and criticality of Trade Me as the advertising platform of choice for all sellers than as a reflection of the principle of vendor-paid-marketing on top of the commission fees. This would somewhat seem to somewhat fly in the face of the comment made by the CEO of the Real Estate Institute who commenting on the Trade Me fee increase described the outcome as likely to result in Trade Me becoming "an 'added extra' for vendors, rather than automatic when signing up with an agent"
Change of leadership at Realestate.co.nz
The other big news from Trade Me Property last week was the very surprising announcement that Brendon Skipper, the Head of Trade Me Property since 2006 was leaving to become the General Manager of Realestate.co.nz.
The board of Realestate.co.nz made the announcement ending a period of more than a year since I left the company as CEO in September of 2012. During this period the leadership of the company had been undertaken initially by the Chairman and then by Philip Dunn who assumed the role as acting CEO from his role of COO.
I must admit I am very surprised by this decision and have fielded a number of calls from within the industry also expressing surprise. Brendon is a very capable person who I have known over the years and he has overseen the significant growth in Trade Me's role and relevance within the real estate industry from being a little trusted challenger to the industry to being a much trusted and highly valued part of the marketing portfolio for the industry.
Why then with this success would he leave the No.1 online business in NZ - a company valued at over $1.7billion, with a property business which commands an audience 5 times that of its competitor, to take up the role running a much smaller business. A business which is not a listed company and in many ways not a true commercial entity given its shareholding securely locked between the Real Estate Institute and 5 of the large real estate companies. A company which from all reports is solidly focused on cost control and tighter integration with the Institute as a member benefit rather than an ambitious consumer focused property service business.
I wish Brendon well and hope we may see more innovation from Realestate.co.nz as a result of his new position. Realestate.co.nz is in my judgement a true specialist property portal rather than a horizontal retail marketing portal with a property section, however being defined as something does not make it that way or prove its value to its target audience, that has to be earned through the value judgment of its customers and consumers.