Trade Me vs. Real Estate Agents : 5 months on, could the boycott be growing?

Back in November last year when the news of an agent boycott over proposed fee increase by Trade Me hit the mainstream media, I was pretty sure that sanity would prevail and more importantly vendors would not be used as 'Pawns' in this issue of internal costs of marketing.

It's now 5 months later and the issue is still not resolved and as each week passes I would judge that the balance of power is tipping significantly in favour of the agents.

Back in February I reported that the then two highlighted areas of the country where the initial boycott had begun - the Hawkes Bay and Hamilton still had a situation where Trade Me listings were significantly reduced and in some cases dominated by private sale listings. Revisiting the situation today shows a continuing gulf of listing stock stock between Realestate.co.nz and Trade Me Property in these areas.

Taking the Hawkes Bay region - as at this week Trade Me Property is displaying less than half of the property listings for sale than Realestate.co.nz (based on all house types as well as lifestyle property).

The data analysis of the Hawkes Bay I have undertaken this time has broken down the listings by real estate company.

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As reported at the time, the regional players of Property Brokers and Tremains who between them represent close to 40% of all listings in the region continue to boycott Trade Me Property; they currently feature less than 1 in 20 of their active listings on Trade Me Property (most of which are listings added by the vendor with the agent details). This means that from amongst the 1,594 active property listings on the market at this time in Hawkes Bay, Tremains and Property Brokers between them are not displaying 583 of them on Trade Me - that is significant over 500 properties for sale from the two big players in the market not being displayed on Trade Me Property!

Given the extent of this boycott it is clear that these companies are not facing any adverse reaction from sellers - properties are being listed and sold in the Hawkes Bay without the exposure on Trade Me Property.

Widening boycott?

What is also significant from the Hawkes Bay data is the extent to which Harcourts are boycotting Trade Me Property, with less than half of their listings in the region displayed on Trade Me, that amounts to another 181, adding to the 583 from Property Brokers and Tremains not featured on Trade Me.

The extent of this boycott by Harcourts is dramatically seen when doing a search on Trade Me Property for Harcourts listings by listed date - there have only been 3 new listings across the whole of the Hawkes Bay region in April from Harcourts whereas in fact from data on Realestate.co.nz shows the total number of new properties listed by Harcourts in the region in the month was 227.

The National Picture

Applying this analysis to the national picture, Trade Me Property is displaying 8% less listings of property than Realestate.co.nz (this total includes private sale listings).

The analysis below details the extent of the support or boycott by real estate company. Clearly Barfoot & Thompson and Ray White are at this time supporting the use of Trade Me (or as an alternative conclusion these companies agreements with Trade Me have yet to reflect the new charging rate).

Whereas Harcourts are only featuring 7 out of 10 of their active listings on Trade Me Property. Harcourts are the largest real estate company in the country with over 190 offices and currently 8,315 listings of properties for sale.

Equally as significant is the analysis of listings from Bayleys and LJ Hooker who also appear to be boycotting Trade Me Property which in the case of LJ Hooker with 2,664 active listings on the market results in only 1,755 of them displayed on Trade Me Property.

 

Boycotts in Other Regions

Further investigation of the listings data shows that in addition to the Hawkes Bay, the Manawatu / Wanganui region is also witnessing a boycott of some significance.

From amongst the 3,223 active listings of properties for sale across the Manawatu / Wanganui region (using the boundary definition of Trade Me) as showcased on Realestate.co.nz, just 2,567 of them are shown on Trade Me Property (actually somewhat less as this number includes private sale listings). The breakdown by company, shows that it is only Ray White that has almost full support for Trade Me Property whilst Harcourts display less than a third of their listings on Trade Me Property. Equally other key players in the market such as Professionals and LJ Hooker display less than 70%. 

The anomaly though is Property Brokers. This region is their heartland where they hold close to a 30% share of all listings on the market, yet they are displaying over 60% of their listings on Trade Me Property - a very different situation than that in the Hawkes Bay.

So in conclusion it looks like the boycott of Trade Me remains and if anything is growing, given the extent of the Harcourts representation (or rather lack of it!) on Trade Me Property. In my view as each week passes without some action or decision or negotiation (which clearly will be going on behind closed doors) the market position of Trade Me Property weakens and the muscle flexing by agents appears to be working.