Trade Me Property's surprise new boss

Nigel Jeffries
Alistair Helm

Trade Me has named Nigel Jeffries head of its property division.

This appointment comes after the decision by the previous head Brendon Skipper to take up the position of General Manager at rival property portal Realestate.co.nz.

Nigel Jeffries was previously Chief Executive of Property IQ, a role he has held for over 5 years. Prior to that he has been involved in the intersecting industries of technology and property data for more than 15 years.

This appointment may well come as somewhat of a surprise to many in the real estate industry as Nigel comes to the role from a very different level from that of Brendon.

I would firstly dispel any thoughts that this appointment portends to a move by Trade Me to migrate into the property data business. That is far from their desired strategy.

In my opinion this appointment is a very clear indication that Trade Me are serious about making the property division a powerhouse for the future. Clearly the executive team at Trade Me have an eye to the significant international property portals in the UK, US and Australia as benchmarks of the scale of the business opportunity.

The role they have been seeking to fill is not that of an account manager or purely a General Manager; what they have been seeking is an executive who can lead and develop the business to become many times its current size. The objective is clearly to become the most effective means of supporting the real estate industry in its requirement for marketing. Additionally a strategic partner in the process of the industry's turnaround from its reliance on print media as its platform for brand and client property based marketing to online and specifically the Trade Me platform. Whilst at the same time offering private sellers a platform that levels the playing field for the marketing of property. 

The potential for Trade Me Property is to become as effective a property portal as arguably the most successful operator in the world - the REA Group in Australia. To do so will be a challenge to Trade Me as a company.  REA operates as a dedicated, specialist property portal covering residential and commercial property. It thinks and acts entirely with the licensed industry in its focus. For Trade Me Property it will in my opinion want to continue to act within the brand experience that is Trade Me - that uniquely kiwi experience that ensures the action of auctioning a power tool, a car or advertising a house is a seamless experience to its vast audience; mucking around with this interface to suits the unique needs of property buyers will be a strategic challenge that the new head of property will have to bring to the executive table and fight for with conviction and intellect. Nigel is the best man for this job.

As to the reaction of the real estate industry? - I suspect they will naturally sit back and await the first indications of what this new role brings and how they will learn to adapt to a very different partner from the relationship they have previously had with the powerhouse property portal that is Trade Me Property.

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

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2 Comments & Questions

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Alistair, I think it would be hard to disagree with you in regards to your opinion on where TradeMe is intending to go in the future and its development.

I have followed and observed for a very long time now the emerging trends in the USA and in particular dedicated auction portals.

The potential for growth within TradeMe is enormous.

Without a doubt in my mind, your prediction of levelling the playing field for private property sellers to match that of agents is a no brainer.

Here is something to ponder about.

How long do you think it might be before a majority of property auctions are not held in auction rooms but in the main over the internet?

For those readers that may ridicule my suggestion let me share a story with you before you think I am entirely nuts.

Many years ago just prior to TradeMe really making inroads into selling property and had only been up and running for a few months, I was on the committee of the NZ Auctioneers Assn and made the prediction that in a very short time TradeMe will be the main vehicle for selling general items by auction and that we should prepare for the exit of the traditional auction rooms.

I was laughed out of the room and suffered some personal attacks on the state of my mental health at the time.

The rest is history.

Like wise when as far as I know I was the first general auctioneer in NZ to introduce a " buyers premium" I received the same treatment.

I am not stating the above to skite or blow my own trumpet but to illustrate that all agents regardless of their size, brand or history need to be constantly looking at likely future trends and not be too quick in knocking those that have a different perspective on the changes within the industry to that of the majority.

No longer being in the industry I have the time to look and study new and innovative emerging trends both via the net and physically when travelling.

Alastair in my humble opinion your last paragraph is right on the money.

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In real estate auctions, ask yourself what do real estate agents add other than just a fee.

In my opinion, having spent some 25 years plus in the property industry, auction guarantee very little for the seller, but give significant exposure to the real estate company that are trying to sell the property.

In essence, real estate auctions in their present form are largely brand marketing exercises. Most people attending auctions are firstly real estate agents (to give the illusion of wide interest), followed by nosy parkers, followed by bargain hunters, followed by the 1% of genuine purchasers.

Online auctioning could do a much better job for the vendor, with a potentially much larger audience, slick audio visual display running through the auction (if vendors wanted to pay), more convenience for prospective purchasers, and at a fair lesser cost to the vendor.

Bring it on trade me. You are well enough capitalized to burn these thieving real estate companies off.

Notwithstanding this, good agents will prey upon peoples emotions
and can add value; but not necessarily to the seller. This is done by extracting key information from vendors and purchasers.

Like alot of businesses, real estate agents have preferential clients; and they are normally purchasers (that can take advantage of naïve sellers and/or employees that (not necessarily naïve) are selling on behalf).

My advice to buyers and sellers of real estate is to tell them as little as possible. Otherwise, this could compromise your negotiation position.

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