Predictions about the future of the real estate market are as changeable as the statistics, but recent figures from the leading real estate group Ray White show that the Auckland market is tightening in favour of the seller. Figures for June and July 2009 for Ray White in the greater Auckland area show that the average number of days on market has dropped to 37.5 from 53 in January and February – a reflection of the reduced stock over winter and a growing pool of buyers.
The pressure is forcing would-be buyers to up the stakes: at the height of the property boom, in mid-2007, properties were selling for an average of just 2.1% below the listing price. As the slump began, buyers started to pick up relative bargains, with sales at an average of 8.3% below the listing price in August 2008. As the market has tightened, so too has the gap between sellers’ expectations and buyers’ hopes, with an average sale price of just 3.9% below the listed figure in July 2009.
The speed of turnover is reflected in the number of sales: the second quarter has seen a 25% rise in the number of properties sold in the up-to-$1 million range (4,781), compared with 3,815 in the first quarter.All this is happening, says Ray White New Zealand CEO Carey Smith, against a backdrop of ‘self-cleansing’ in the real estate industry. “The recession has prompted a significant decline in both agents and offices, with a turnover of agents in the market of 52% in the year to February 2009.
Times like these demand a rise in the quality of service and results for vendors and buyers.”Ray White has responded to this demand with a new service, Ray White Concierge. The service, free to Ray White clients, takes care of all connections and disconnections of services, including telephone, internet, gas, electricity and pay TV. The service also offers helps with home loans through Loan Market, and insurance with Sovereign.
The progressiveness of Ray White in the area of IT and customer usability has been in evidence for several years; the company was the first real-estate agency to list on TradeMe, in 2005, and each office has its own web presence.
“It remains an intensely competitive industry, and the quality of service and access to information is what sets agencies apart from one another,” Mr Smith says. “We have developed Ray White Concierge as part of our response to that competitiveness – after-sale service is extremely important and is an area where some agents fall down.”