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Toolbox: offers quantity of listings, but not quality of usability or other information says Diana Clement, in our continuing series on software and technology aids for property investors.

Thursday, August 9th 2007, 12:00AM

by The Landlord

Price: Free
Overall rating: 2.5 out of 5 offers more listings than any other real estate website in New Zealand. If it’s for sale, there’s a 90% chance has it listed.

The site has, says chief executive Alistair Helm, 52,000 residential property listings, which eclipses that of the nearest competitors; Trade Me and, which are both in the thirties.

Never one to take things at face value, I phoned anonymously a couple of independent real estate agents chosen at random and was assured in both cases that each and every listing of theirs was showing on

It’s interesting to note that although Trade Me has fewer properties listed than, it is still the destination of choice of the buying, selling and renting public. According toe Nielsen Netratings, Trade Me property was visited by 591,776 unique browsers (individual computers) in May compared with 245,875 for

Unfortunately because this is a joint venture between the Real Estate Institute and five of the country’s largest real estate companies, alternative providers such as Green Door, Go Gecko and Homesell properties are not included. isn’t just residential properties. It also has sections for rentals, lifestyle, rural, commercial, and business sales.

One of the nice touches about was that it has an “RSS feed”, which allows users to see when has added new properties that match a chosen criteria without actually having to visit the website itself. It’s also possible to have new listings emailed to you.

As well as property listings, has a resources section. The resources themselves are a bit thin on the ground and hit and miss. There are some useful resources such as a glossary and links to the REINZ’s market facts graphs. There were also helpful articles ranging from how to get rid of cockroaches to a rental checklist.

I compared with a another site that it recommends: and found the latter packed with practical features such as sale prices from homes within a radius of the area a user may be interested in. Another similar UK site had all sorts of other valuable resources for home buyers and sellers such as an estate agent directory, and directories of removals firms, solicitors, insurance companies, utilities quotes and more. is crying out for a links page at the very least to direct users to practical information, such as the latest mortgage offers, books about investing in property, the NZ Mortgage Brokers’ Association website, utilities companies, ERO reports on schools, Government data such as crime statistics, and neighbourhood profiles. Even some more links to the REINZ’s own data would be a good idea. Before you think I’m living in a dream world, take a look at to see what is possible.

Helm says wants to be a destination for property buyers and sellers, not be a portal directing users to outside websites. But I do think this is a slightly shortsighted approach for any website, which doesn’t take the user into account.

If I had a ‘big complaint’, it would be that the residential search facility isn’t as well thought out from a usability point of view as it could be. It’s not possible, as it is with some sites, to highlight more than one suburb in the simple residential search by holding the control key down and clicking.

It could be done using the advanced search, but even then, it’s by way of fiddly check boxes, which are cumbersome.

Another frustration for me was the drop down boxes for bedrooms in the search facility. It was only possible to choose “any” number of bedrooms, or search for a property with a certain number of bedrooms. When, for example, I searched for a rental property in Porirua within a certain price bracket I had to choose between three or four bedrooms, and couldn’t search on both. To do this I would have to run two searches.

On the positive side, the search allows users to search on number of bathrooms as well as floor and land area – something which Trade Me property doesn’t have.

The rentals section of is a bit thin on the ground. That’s because it only includes rental properties listed with licensed real estate agents, whereas many properties are either advertised by property management companies or directly by landlords.

I would also like to be able to customise my view of so that I could have my saved searches appear on the home page.

Finally, I wasn’t impressed that one section about 100% home loans was a thinly veiled advertisement for one lender, rather than independent content.

When it comes to rating this site, what’s there is very useful to investors indeed. But what’s not there is what drags it down. I’m told that there are major improvements on the way, including integration of Google mapping technology. It’s also fair to say that many New Zealand websites are light-years behind their US and UK counterparts, not just

System requirements: Internet access
Verdict: Comprehensive listings website in need of some tweaking and bells and whistles
Pros: Vast database of property in New Zealand
Cons: It’s a bit thin on useful resources and tools


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China Construction Bank Special - 2.65 2.65 2.80
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First Credit Union Special 5.85 2.95 3.45 -
Heartland Bank - Online 2.50 1.99 2.35 2.45
Heretaunga Building Society 4.99 3.50 3.40 -
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HSBC Premier LVR > 80% - - - -
HSBC Special - 1.99 - -
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ICBC 3.69 2.25 2.35 2.65
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Kainga Ora - First Home Buyer Special - 2.25 - -
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Kiwibank - Offset 3.40 - - -
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Nelson Building Society 4.95 3.20 3.24 -
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SBS Bank Special - 2.29 2.29 2.65
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The Co-operative Bank - Owner Occ 4.40 2.29 2.59 2.79
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Wairarapa Building Society 4.99 3.55 3.49 -
Westpac 4.59 3.09 3.29 3.39
Westpac - Offset 4.59 - - -
Westpac Special - 2.29 2.69 2.79
Median 4.55 2.73 2.99 2.80

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