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Toolbox: QV Insider

Continuing our series on software and technology aids for property investors, Diana Clement reviews QV Insider.

Tuesday, June 10th 2008, 12:00AM

by The Landlord

 


Product: QV Insider
Price: $95 for 30 days to %540 per annum
Overall rating: 3 out of 5
Website: www.qvinsider.co.nz


Here at the NZ Property Investor we love websites that slice and dice figures and help make sense of the vast amounts of data that serious investors must plough through.

 

 

QV Insider is the latest in a line of useful computer and Internet-based tools for Kiwi property investors. It takes sales and rental data and adds value by making sense of it.

The site is designed to help investors assess the fair price of a property, understand if the likely rental income is high enough to make an investment property viable and health check their portfolio for up-to-date market rents and likely capital gain

Once signed up, there are four main sections to QV Insider: Area Analysis, Watch List, My Portfolio and Valuations.

The Area Analysis Tab is perhaps the most useful. It helps subscribers identify the best suburbs to invest in matching target criteria for yield, rent and sales values.

It allows users to search regions, districts or suburbs and report on gross yield, gross yield growth, median sales prices, median sales growth, median rent and rent growth. Specifying the number of bedrooms, type of property, and price and rent ranges can customise this.

Also within this section are the top 20s for the six main reports, which show, for example, that the top suburb for gross yield when we looked was Whakatane rural followed by Gisborne rural, for top rent growth it was Wellington Mt Cook followed by Dunedin rural, and for sales price growth it was Auckland central/east followed by Wairoa. The data is updated monthly.

Whether a user chooses one of the pre-programmed top 20 searches or their own specific search criteria it’s possible to re-sort the results to see, for example, if the same suburb that is in first place for one factor also figures as a leader in another. Wellington Mt Cook, for example, which leads the country in rent growth, came only 11th in gross yield.

QV Insider staff says the vast amount of “grazing” time by users has been in this Area Analysis section and it has found most favour with property traders so far.

In some ways this is where the value proposition of QV Insider is most obvious. Users can get QV estimated values for as many properties as they want as part of their subscription. Whereas e-valuer reports through QV’s main website qv.co.nz cost $34.99 for each property. It doesn’t take many of them to pay off the subscription.

The Watch List and Portfolio are quite similar to each other. They allow users to save any properties they may be interested in, or even own, and also to search for details of specific properties or groups of properties.

When updated information is loaded on the site, such as monthly data about rents and prices, this is automatically flagged against each property users have saved in their Watch List or Portfolio. For those users closely watching a certain suburb, town or city, this can keep them up-to-date. Data in both sections can be viewed as graphs.

One thing I like personally is a simple pricing structure. If you want to use the site for 30 days, you pay $95. For 90 days it’s $195, 180 days $330 and 360 days $540.

Even if you pay only for periodic access, your portfolio is held online for up to two years and if you rejoin within this time you can simply log in with your previous user name and access your existing information.

On the downside, some of the links jump the user to QV’s main site, which comes up in a separate window. It would have been nice to have seen all of this information appear within the QV Insider website, so that it wasn’t necessary to have two tabs or windows open at the same time, which can be confusing for users. For example, I was adding a property to my watchlist and clicked on a link for a sample historical property value and it jumped me to another window without telling me what was happening. The only message was “click to see a sample report”. A warning that it would open in an outside window may have been helpful.

Also, it is not entirely clear throughout which services are inclusive. For example from within my Watch List of properties I clicked on Valuations and came to a window in which I could order a single valuation of a property but it didn’t tell me how much this was going to cost. QV Insider staff say they’re working to solve this confusion.

The portfolio service offered within QV Insider isn’t as powerful as those offered by portfolio analysis tools such as RevIQ, PIA (Property Investment Analysis), or RentalAnalyst. But for some people this will be sufficient.

Occasionally, using QV Insider is a bit of a guessing game. For example, I’d noticed a button to move a property from the Watch List to My Portfolio when it’s bought. Yet when I clicked on the Watch List tab it wasn’t there as an option. I was supposed to guess, it appears, that I needed to click further in, to Full Details, where the option to move a property was at the bottom of the page.

The tools link was a bit frustrating because instead of taking me to a page where I could use the gross yield, capital gain and equity calculators it took me instead to a page that explained how they worked and told me to log in, even though I was logged in, and didn’t actually tell me where to find these tools. I found, by contacting QV Insider that the tools worked automatically in the Watch List and My Portfolio sections.

As with many of the websites I review, this one is brand new and it often takes time and user feedback to perfect such sites. Having said that, QV Insider had the most positive response to my feedback of any website I’ve reviewed in the past few years.

Manager Julian Grander said: “We are new and still learning how to communicate a complex set of services to a client base with varying degrees of understanding and skills. I doubt we’ll ever get it completely right but we will be aggressive in trying to achieve that goal.”

There is an 0800 number and email address for help. When I phoned the 0800 number, which is open from 7am until 8pm weekdays, it was answered within two rings.

Contact: 0800 651 133
System requirements: Internet access


Verdict: A more user-friendly way to use QV’s data.
Pros: Various sources of data sliced and diced for investors.
Cons: Sometimes insufficient explanation and also not always clear what is included in the monthly fee.


 

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