Choosing the right marketing plan to sell your home? Two words: Trade Me

Alistair Helm

This may well be the shortest article I write.

There is actually only one very simple, yet highly effective marketing plan to sell a home in NZ.

It is two words:

Trade Me.

That’s it.

Let me say it again incase you missed it:

Trade Me.

It doesn’t matter if you decide to list with Ray White or Barfoot & Thompson or Harcourts or LJ Hooker or Professionals or Bayleys or any other brand. The fact is that every real estate agent in this country will feature your house on Trade Me’s Property section in the same way. They all have a subscription to upload all their listings as part of a standard monthly subscription.

In addition to every property being marketed by a licensed agent, every property being sold by its owner privately will be on Trade Me. Futher more every property buyer, be they an investor, first-time buyer or traditional buyer will be using Trade Me, setting up favourites, receiving email alerts and using the mobile app. The old argument that there are property buyers who don't use the internet is just that an old and outdated argument!

Trade Me receives over 150,000 unique visitors a day to property listings – that’s far more than there are genuine buyers in NZ on a daily basis. You can be safe in the knowledge that within that total are the prospective buyers of the house you are looking to sell.

That’s it – done. The fact is at $399 it is the only marketing budget you need to spend.

There are in addition to Trade Me a host of other options for advertising property for sale; many of which real estate agents will try and convince you are critical to the sale of your property for this reason or that reason. The fact is you don’t need them. Let me be clear they are not irrelevant, however every one of them will be viewed by people who also use Trade Me and will see your property in all its glory on Trade Me.

My advice is to think of Trade Me as the main meal, everything else is simply fancy trimmings. This analogy does though highlight the other core part of marketing your home, for the main meal is not a main meal unless the ingredients are the most appetising - appetising ingredients like great photography is eye- - catching and mouth-watering.

So there you are just two / four words that are the core to the marketing plan to sell your home - Professional Photography + Trade Me.

Disclosure: Just in case you think this is in some way a piece of paid for advertorial by Trade Me, I can categorically say it is not. I spent 6 years competing with Trade Me when I ran, which is a great site and hugely supported by the industry and loved by consumers, however in the online marketing world of property Trade Me is the King.  I should also point out that I have no financial interest in Trade Me as I do not own shares in the company.

Alistair Helm is founder of

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14 Comments & Questions

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Not quite every buyer. As an investor with more than a passing interest in commercial property, I would rate trade me as useless for that particular sector. Scroll through and you will see what a time waster it is, as so many vendors ignore the business for sale catergory and list businesses in the commercial sector. After viewing dozens of listings showing attractive premises, it is frustrating to follow through and find it is actually a restaurant or some other half-baked business for sale. so often nothing to do with commercial property. It applies to a very large percentage, which makes it useless. .


A "restaurant or some other half baked" business for sale would interesting. What about half-cooked? Or twice baked?


I can see why this man lost out to trademe as he didnt understand the selling process because if he thinks that putting an add on trademe is all you need to do in terms of advertising he doesnt have a clue about the selling business and he completel;y overlooks the power of individual company websites and thats just the start .But why dissolution him from his conviction he alone knows everything as noone listens to him and property continues to sell.I feel sorry for all the unwitting vendors who might listen to him and be robbed of getting maximum realiseable price from his warped advice.If he can do it better then why doesnt he? ...simple answers really.


But, then again, the price realised via Trade Me may well exceed the "maximum realisable (note the spelling) price" achieved by a land shark once said shark has deducted his usurious commission. Funny how land agents (aka sharks) are so quick to shriek at every perceived threat to their iniquitous commission system.


I believe that a extremely high proportion of genuine residential home buyers look on Trademe.

Why wouldn't they? It doesn't make sense not to.

The power of the individual company websites? What power?

( bear in mind all my remarks refer to residential agents not commercial and business sales agents. They are like chalk and cheese in my view)

So many residential agents sites are full of puffery and crap to be honest.

I have been looking to purchase recently and looked at virtually every residential site on the internet. Some of the statements on their sites makes me want to spew to be quite frank.

And then is it any wonder real estate agents rank so near the bottom in any of the public survey/polls?

So Anonymous while I suspect you are a agent and I have not trouble with that, there are some extremely good residential agents out in the public domain, not many ,but there are a few,

I would like to see you expand on the contents you mention in your posting and in particular the one where you refer to " the power of individual company websites... and give us your typical marketing campaign .

For my money Trademe is a must for marketing residential real estate.

No I agree, not just on it's own but still the absolute one essential marketing site.

I have heard on radio the recent advert from Bayleys real estate stating why sellers should list with them? Answer ." We have more buyers'.

Anonymous this is typical of the crap advertising statements in my view that I refer to in my above content.

I ask 'more buyers than who'? Prove it to me. Are you Bayleys trying to tell me you have sole agency on buyers?

And then they go on about their marketing machine,insinuating only they have such a powerful and special " machine."

Now Bayleys are very very good at marketing I agree. But please cut the bulls..t.
When I worked for you 20 something years ago yes I think you were almost world leaders in marketing in your field, but the world has changed since then, so please treat us public as if we do have some intelligence.


A Eureka moment reverberating around inside the vast empty void which is Al's head.
Not so much simplistic, as it is the musings of a simpleton.


I have sold my last 2 homes privately on Trade Me and received what agents said I should list it for in both cases. New Zealand has a unique situation where almost everyone uses a single site (Trade Me) for property, so agents as a result become largely redundant. People like anonymous65 (I assume anonymous to hide the fact that he is an agent) can scream all they want but at the end of the day, they add very little value - just an outdated middleman that picks up a commission for no real good reason. Take a few professional pictures, put an add on Trade Me (total cost so far about $500), then get your solicitor to do the paperwork once you have a buyer at your price (another $1,000). So a little work can save you an easy $20,000.


Naive thinking. A good agent may get you many thousands more, fully justifyin their commission. (I am not a real estate agent)


I have seen some incredible prices being achieved in our neighbourhood recently through company auctions. Also I bet you many overseas buyers wouldn't have even heard of trademe - plus it's not in Chinese.
I personally would be wary of someone selling privately on trademe, what might they be hiding by side stepping the rigorous disclosure the real estate profession now has?


Yeah right. I just sold a property on Trade Me after agents tried at Auction. We got a fresh buyer, a higher price by 15k and no fees. That puts me 45,000 ahead.
An owner in the Auckland market can do as well as any agent, probably better.
So I certainly agree with the article.


Absolutely true!
You will find however strong opposition from the
Real Agents group who want to keep 4-5% fees
going on to "reward" a simple job.


I just happen to know that Mr Helm recently sold his house, paying copious $'s for marketing. This is a common trait of people who think their houses are 'the most expensive" on the planet and don't mind paying to prove it. After 25 years in the real estate business I can categorically say "a good agent" is worth their weight in GOLD. And will add way more value than their fee. The problem is, like in any industry, picking the right person for job. I've seen people spend more time picking the color of new curtains than their agent. Seller beware!
Oh and Mr Helm ended up getting exactly what the market would pay!


If all you need to do is plonk an ad on TradeMe, why do the majority of home owners eventually employ an Agent? As to some of the comments above, I'm sorry you had a disappointing agent. I got a seller from trade me who couldn't get $585000 privately, I got $640,000 which covered the fee and way more in their pocket..... A good agent can substantiate the value they bring to the table so that the property will not be undersold.


in every case a private seller gets what they are "happy with" whereas if every last dollar as result of competition is obtained it very often surprises a seller and exceeds their wildest dreams.
Private sellers live in their own world oblivious to just what the market can produce for them and they never ever know if they have sold at the best possible price and private buyers love the advantage they gain from that.The advantage a private seller thinks is gained from saved fees is more often than not a gift of value to the buyer of more than the fees saved.
Take it from one who has seen more money made from buying private sales than buying through an agent and long may it reign from that point of view.Private buying gains work even better if the seller can flash around a Valuation as valuers dont understand the marketplace either and even better if a seller relies on their QV.


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