Trade Me's new boundary view – a step forward down a narrow lane

Alistair Helm

Trade Me Property has announced the introduction of a new feature for property listings, the boundary details of properties.

This service complements the existing map view and street view. It is not universal across all listings as it needs an accurate address detail.

Scanning the site randomly checking listings from different parts of the country showed that it is somewhat 'pot luck' as to its availability:

A_Home_That_Welcomes_You___Trade_Me_Property-2.png

This new feature is sadly long overdue, firstly as it a core layer of content that has been available through both Terralink's 'Property Guru' service and Property IQ service for many years - these two competing services are only available to real estate agents and other property-related companies as a subscription service, although it has been on the Zoodle and QV sites.

Secondly it is the first innovation we have seen from either Realestate.co.nz or Trade Me for a very long time - we have seen both of these companies prepared to spend millions of dollars recently on advertising campaigns trying to prove who is biggest! - yet sadly the consumer as a buyer of property has not seen any innovation. This is in marked contrast to overseas property portals where innovations flow on a weekly basis and provide the competitive tension between players in other countries - the consumer being the winner whereas here the TV companies are likely to to be the winners.

Speaking of competitive tension, it will be very interesting to see if and how Realestate.co.nz responds to this innovation. In the past there was a degree of a partnering of the two major property websites with the two property data companies - Trade Me with Property IQ and Realestate.co.nz with Terralink. However, effective 1 January 2014, PropertyIQ NZ and Terralink International officially came together as CoreLogic NZ Limited. This came after the Commerce Commission cleared the merger between the two businesses in November.

So now there is effectively only one player in town when it comes to detailed property mapping and if Trade Me has secured CoreLogic as a partner as this latest innovation suggests, then it leaves Realestate.co.nz out in the cold. Far from the principle of how the Commerce Commission saw this situation.

In the documents relating to the merger and in the findings in favour of the merger the Commerce Commission stated that: “The commission considered that PropertyIQ will continue to face competition from existing and emerging competitors in these markets. Furthermore, we consider that new competitors entering these markets are able to access the key datasets through negotiations with local Councils and other sources and will also constrain the merged entity,” said Commerce Commission Chairman Dr Mark Berry.

Certainly when it comes to general mapping there are numerous suppliers - Google being the main service used by both property websites. However, when it comes to boundary details, this is a very local mapping service here in New Zealand and 'drawing' this detail on maps will continue to be done by one company (as it was in the past). The main difference is that in the past two competing companies could sell this service - now there is only one player to offer this service, in my view lessening competition and denying the consumer a valuable service across their property website of choice. 

Updated - Friday 28th Feb 10am

I tweeted this post and received this reply from Trade Me Property

@alistairnz Hi Alistair. There's about a 4 hour call to receive the info which includes when a listing has been updated which is why 1/2

— Trade Me Property (@TradeMeProperty) February 27, 2014

@alistairnz it seems 'pot luck' and some don't show boundary view. So today some might not show for a while while open homes are loaded 2/2

— Trade Me Property (@TradeMeProperty) February 27, 2014

Now I think I understand the tweet - if I am right what they are saying is that the code integration to create these boundary link images takes about 4hrs and at tis time the system is busy doing open home data load.

If this is right, then the question is why not do all this code loading on a beta site before releasing it publicly. The images being shown under boundary views are images (as a picture file) and therefore all it requires is a database look up on an address and then bring into the website the weblink from the CoreLogic image server - if no file then don't show.

If I have this wrong, I have asked Trade Me Property to comment below to clarify.

Former Realestate.co.nz CEO Alistair Helm is founder of Properazzi.

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