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Website: Monitoring growth hotspots

Get your timing right when buying and selling property, Diana Clement checks out www.suburbwatch.co.nz. For property investors in the market to buy, this website allows you to find out which suburbs of a city offer the highest yields or highest capital growth

Monday, July 2nd 2007, 12:00AM

by The Landlord


Product: Suburb Watch
Price: Subscriptions ranging from $29.95 for one suburb for a quarter to $1499.95 for the entire shebang
Overall rating: two out of five
Website: www.suburbwatch.co.nz
Suburb Watch, the new “trend analysis” website from property market commentator Kieran Trass of Hybrid Group bills itself as “The most accurate localised property price index available in New Zealand”.


The site takes Quotable Value statistics and adds value to them by using a scoring system to determine Buy, Buy-Hold, Hold, Sell-Hold or Sell signals.

The site’s scoring system uses a “secret recipe, based on tried and true technical analysis methodology used by share traders for decades”. The analysis is based on trends coming from three main datasets, the Suburb Watch index, sales volumes, and yields.

The information is served up in map format and also graphing and charting designed to:
· indicate the optimum times to buy, hold or sell property before these optimum times occur;
· minimise the risk of buying in a falling market;
· increase your odds of buying in a rising market.
For property investors in the market to buy this website allows you to find out which suburbs of a city offer the highest yields or highest capital growth by subscribing to Highest Yield Suburbs or Fast Mover Suburbs subscriptions.

On the selling side investors can find out whether further capital growth or negative capital growth is likely in the short term. Or they can compare cumulative capital growth rates in each suburb since the year 2000 to assist in reviewing an entire property portfolio.

How it works is that users “create a subscription”, which they will have to pay for. They then get quarterly or annual updates.

Once “subscribed” the data is returned as a colour-coded map or by way of graphs.
The colour coding relates to whether the analysts at Suburb Watch recommend the suburb as Buy, Buy-Hold, Hold, Sell-Hold, or Sell.

The second option is to view graphs of your selected region based on:
· percentage change in the Suburb Watch index (SWI)
· cumulative percentage in SWI
· sales volume
· median price
· median rent.
There is also a short commentary at the bottom and buttons to enable users to look at short and medium term moving averages.

It’s possible to use the graphing tool to compare suburbs within a region, such as Linwood and New Brighton in East Christchurch. It is however currently not possible to compare two suburbs in different “regions” even within the same city. So it would be impossible to compare Henderson, Mangere, and Glenfield, which are in west, south and north Auckland, but all of interest to property investors who focus on lower socioeconomic areas of the country’s biggest city.

Like many of the websites providing data to property investors such as www.qv.co.nz and www.Infometricsproperty.co.nz, the prices of Suburb Watch aren’t that expensive unless you want the entire caboodle. The Fast Movers subscription and Highest Yield subscriptions, for example, cost $99.95 a quarter or $199.95 annually. Individual suburbs are $29.95 quarterly or $59.95 annually. Individual regions range in price, but the most expensive is $399.95 annually. The annual subscription for a city is $999.95 for Auckland, $449.95 for Wellington and $399.95 for Christchurch. You would need to be more than a wannabe property investor to pay these.

On the downside, like many new websites Suburb Watch had technical glitches. When I tried to open a new account I got the message: “We were unable to create your account because of an internal error. If this error persists please contact us so that the problem can be fixed”. When I went to the “contact us” page, there was no phone number or email addresses. I used the online form to send my feedback, and as is the case all too often with online forms, my message wasn’t sent and I got a page that informed me helpfully: “Server Error in '/' Application”. Checkmate. I couldn’t get the site to work, I had no phone number to call, and the feedback form didn’t work. It has to be said that all of these glitches I found were fixed successfully within 24 hours of them being pointed out.

The site could do with some “how to” tutorials. I didn’t, for example instantly realise that once I’d selected a subscription that I needed to open my shopping cart, click “edit” and set the quarterly or yearly option.

It needs to be said that the data is limited to the three main centres and the best data appears to be on Auckland and Christchurch. In Wellington the lowest I could drill down was “Wellington Satellites” rather than Porirua, for example, where there are plenty of rental opportunities. Other regional centres such as Hamilton, Tauranga and Dunedin with good rental markets aren’t covered. The reason for this, according to the people at Suburb Watch is that only the three main centres have sufficient sales to make the trend analysis worthwhile.

Although there’s a short paragraph at the bottom of each page of data, Suburb Watch could do with some more written commentary interpreting the results. This is something that Hybrid, the company behind Suburb Watch does very well with its Hotspots Reports and Property Clock Cycle Commentary.

Ultimately Suburb Watch could be a very useful tool for investors who have particular interest in certain regions and want technical analysis of where prices and yields might be heading in the future. Other websites worth checking for useful data include: www.Landlords.co.nz, www.Infometricsproperty.co.nz and www.qv.co.nz

System requirements: Internet access
Verdict: A new twist on old data
Pros: Analysis from a well-respected property commentary team
Cons: Site needs to be developed to enable comparisons between more suburbs and it needs to be made slightly easier to use.





« Book: Property Law - A NZ Investors GuideSeptember issue - available now »

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Median 4.55 2.79 2.99 2.80

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