Trade Me to target rental housing and jobs markets

By Anne Gibson

Trade Me is about to attack the lucrative residential housing rental sector by downloading formatted listings from licensed property managers and posting thousands of flats and houses online. And its next frontier? Jobs.

After its $700 million sale to Fairfax was unveiled on Monday, Trade Me yesterday outlined a plan to further invade the real estate market.

Before the year's end, it will then mount a full assault on the jobs sector.

Business manager Mike O'Donnell said Trade Me had only 2000 rental property listings, most seeking flatmates. But within a fortnight, it would have developed software to allow it to automatically download thousands of fully formatted pages of rental listings from licensed property managers advertising properties to let.

The licensed agencies would "autofeed" the data, remotely supplying Trade Me with daily updates, he said, and providing massive potential for new business.

"I reckon we'll hit 5000 rentals within the first three months of launching and longer term I'd like to think we could hit 10,000," Mr O'Donnell said.

The business was still developing the technology to allow the rental data to go online but had already conquered the online house sales.

"At any one time there are about 50,000 houses for sale but by the end of this year we will have half of them. We passed 15,000 houses last week and will hit 25,000 houses by the end of this year," Mr O'Donnell said, adding the average sale was $478,000 and the sector provided Trade Me with annualised growth of 750 per cent.

Jobs would go online by the middle of this year but no data was being released on this sector's potential, Mr O'Donnell said.

Real Estate Institute president Howard Morley said he was not surprised by plans to list rental properties because the internet was already an important search tool in the sector.

"But there's nothing new about this," said Mr Morley. The institute's own web site, Realenz, and many licensed agents already had rental property data online, he said.

New Zealand has around 500,000 properties tenanted by more than 700,000 people, he said.

Mr O'Donnell also released data from ACNielsen yesterday showing Trade Me had topped the house sales business in less than a year.


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