SEARCH GORILLAS

heavyweight property search engines

All of the major real estate agency groups have their own searchable websites with their own listings and many of them are very good, however some are stronger in certain regions and have different resources available than others. 

The agency groups may all beat their chests about their own websites but Trade Me and Realestate.co.nz are without doubt the 900-lb gorillas in the home search business with over 50,000 listings each, but both have their unique quirks.

Here's a summary and review of the main search websites so you can find your way through the property jungle.

TradeMe Property

There are lots of websites you can use to search for homes for sale in New Zealand but Trade Me Property is the big daddy of them all - certainly in terms of traffic - and should occupy pride of place on every buyer's bookmarks bar.

With an estimated 51,000 properties listed for sale and 15,000 homes to rent nationwide at any one time, it attracts over 585,000 unique visits each month - 350,000 more than any other property website. It sends 1.7m property email alerts to users each month.

It costs between $349 - $399 (less for agents) to list a home until it is sold, with up to 20 pictures and no additional commission charges, so it's a natural choice for both agents and thrifty private sellers.

It is, arguably, "the marketplace" for buying and selling property in New Zealand and it would be a brave agent that left it off any media schedule to present to their vendor.

It has an excellent user-interface and shows the dates of the original listings - so you can spot those homes that have been on the market for six months or more and ask yourself why.

Searches can be filtered by; open homes, lifestyle, rural and retirement properties. Useful features include; multiple or nearby suburb selection, saved searches, email alerts and My Favourites.  

If there is one tiny niggle from a buyer's perspective it is that the "$349 until sold" proposition, sometimes attracts listings from private sellers who are perhaps not really genuinely trying to sell. This is typified by unrealistic price expectations or listings that are many months old, in other words they appear to be fishing for buyers who are naive and might pay well over-the-odds. 

Mobile app available here.

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Realestate.co.nz

Realestate.co.nz is jointly owned by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand and Property Page (NZ) Ltd and only real estate agents can advertise on it, consequently there are no private sales listings.

The numbers are pretty impressive; 50,000+ residential listings, covering 93% of all listings from 1,140 real estate offices across the country.

Search filters include; home and income, lifestyle property and lifestyle section. Resources include; buyers' guide, renovation advice and finance tips, as well as a monthly report on market conditions. 

Realestate.co.nz has a blog (Unconditional) that can be interesting but sometimes feels like a dialogue platform for agents to communicate between themselves.

It has a good mobile app and many buyers like the overall user interface, however knowing that you are missing out entirely from viewing private sales will understandably not suit all buyers.

Mobile app available here. iPhone. Android.

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Harcourts

Harcourts claims to be the market leading agency group in New Zealand with 180 offices and almost 1,900 agents. Their website currently contains over 11,000 residential listings from all over New Zealand. 

Very good user interface and layout. We especially like the uniform property bullet points covering everything from tenure to type of water heating at a glance.

All of the usual search filters plus; coastal/beach, home and income and lake/river properties. Handy "Commute" tool that instantly provides commuting times to your work address from  any listing.  

Mobile app available. iPhone.

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Barfoot & Thompson

Barfoot & Thompson is a long established, privately run (non-franchised) agency group with 65+ offices throughout Auckland and Northland with more than 1,400 salespeople.

Although they do not have listings throughout the country, they have a very strong presence in the Auckland market, where they claim to account for one in every three properties sold.

Their website is very user friendly and easy to use. Search filters include; mortgagee sales,open homes, this week's auctions and upcoming tenders. Resources include; saved searches, email alerts, in-zone and non-zoned local schools, as well as a variety of buyer guides and overseas buyers' FAQs. Each month they publish an Auckland Market Update analysing market activity by price, rent and yield across each of the main suburbs. 

Mobile app available. iPad.

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Bayleys

Bayleys is a national agency group who describe themselves as the country's largest full-service real estate company.

Their website currently has total listings of 3,900 properties across New Zealand.

Search filters include; mortgagee sales, open homes, lifestyle and home and income properties. The site has a variety of resources for buyers including My Bayleys watchlist, saved searches, email alerts and PropertyLive, a real estate news gathering facility.

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Open2View

Open2View is an independent listing site that offers high quality photography, floor plans, video and other services to the real estate industry, therefore listings are from a variety of agency groups.

Initial search selection is via a map which feels slightly clunky, but it soon leads to dropdown suburbs which are easy to choose. The photography is of a very high standard.

Search filters are very comprehensive and include; the usual categories as well as items like sub-division, investment and holiday homes. Resources include; saved searches and Open Notice property alerts.

A limited number of listings but all very attractively presented.

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Ray White

Ray White is a nationwide real estate agency group with 135 offices and 1,700+ salespeople.

Clean, well laid out site with listings throughout New Zealand. Very comprehensive search filters include all the usual categories as well as; alpine, duplex, terrace, investment, serviced apartment, studio and villa. Resources include; watchlist and walk scores for individual listings. 

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LJ Hooker

Nationwide agency group with a strong Australian accent. 

Website interface could benefit from dropdown boxes to select regions, suburbs, etc, rather than requiring visitors to type themselves. We had trouble navigating the site easily compared to most others.

Search filters include; the usual categories. Resources include; A variety of buyers' tips and My LJ Hooker, described as New Zealand's most comprehensive one-stop online property hub, enabling users to set up customised searches, set up short-lists, connect with prefered agents and benefit from exclusive member only offers.

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Professionals

New Zealand wide agency group with listings of 4,200 residential properties online.

Easy to use website. Search filters include; the usual categories, as well as development, lifestyle village, etc. Resources include: saved searches, similar properties and property comparison function, as well as some buyers' tips and advice.

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