Real estate website data debunks Chinese buyer claims

New data from realestate.co.nz shows only 5 per cent of traffic comes from speakers of an Asian language.

New data from realestate.co.nz shows only 5 per cent of traffic comes from speakers of an Asian language.

Claims foreign buyers are increasingly snapping up Auckland houses have been further debunked, with data indicating only a fraction of visitors to a popular real estate website are Asian.

Figures released by website realestate.co.nz reveal about five per cent of all online traffic viewing Auckland property between January and April were primary speakers of an East Asian language.

Of that five per cent, only 2.8 per cent originated from outside New Zealand meaning almost half were viewing from within the country.

Data from realestate.co.nz shows only five per cent of visitors use an Asian language as their default.
Chris Skelton/Fairfax NZ

Data from realestate.co.nz shows only five per cent of visitors use an Asian language as their default.

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The data is made up of traffic from the ten largest East Asian countries and territories: China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand.

Realestate.co.nz automatically detects the default language setting in the device of each visitor, allowing a linguistic map of total traffic to be created.

The release comes after the Labour Party compiled its own data leaked to it from an Auckland real estate company. It suggesting Chinese buyers were increasingly purchasing Auckland property.

Comprised of details from 3922 property sales, Labour grouped the buyers into ethnicities based on surnames using electoral roll data.

Following the surname analysis, Labour found buyers of Chinese descent accounted for 39.5 per cent of sales in Auckland during the period.

The party refused to divulge where it got the information, but following an investigation agency Barfoot & Thomson confirmed it had come from them and sacked the employee who had leaked the data.

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After Labour released the information there was an outcry, with claims of racism and NZIER principal economist Shamubeel Eaqub calling the data "half-baked". Prime Minister John Key labelled the move as desperate and stated most buyers with Chinese-sounding names had a connection to New Zealand.

Realestate.co.nz chief executive Brendon Skipper said for the same period in 2014, 2.98 per cent of the East Asian traffic had come from outside the country, meaning the number had remained static.

"However, with around five per cent of our visitors indicating fluency in an East Asian language, while only 2.8 per cent of offshore traffic originates from East Asian countries, it is clear that a large number of these Asian language speakers are actually located in New Zealand."

Labour Party housing spokesman Phil Twyford dismissed the figures, stating most overseas buyers were not looking at New Zealand real estate websites to find properties.

"I wouldn't expect realestate.co.nz to get many offshore buyer views when there's a whole industry directly marketing New Zealand homes to overseas buyers.

"This includes real estate company sending agents overseas to promote New Zealand houses directly and websites like hougarden.com...and Juwai.com who report massive interest in New Zealand real estate."

When asked if he still thought Labour's release of the Barfoot & Thompson data was a good move, Twyford said the party had done so because the Government refused to release its own.

"We think it's a matter of vital public interest that there is a discussion in public and with the public about foreign investment in New Zealand housing...I don't think there are many New Zealanders that are happy that our land and our housing are being sold out from underneath us."

PROPERTY PRICES STABILISE

Nationwide housing prices have slowed, increasing a mere 0.1 per cent in July.

Figures from realestate.co.nz show Waikato as the only major reason to increase, while asking prices in Auckland, Canterbury, Wellington and Hawke's Bay dipped.

The average asking price in Auckland fell by 1.4 per cent, the largest drop since October 2014.

But Skipper said this was unlikely to continue.

"We've seen occasional minor decreases in Auckland property prices over the last few years, so we must assume this is a temporary blip. The overall price graph in Auckland is still trending strongly upwards."

Inventory rates, a measure that estimates how long it would take to sell all properties on the market at the average rate of sales, was at its lowest level since January 2007. The rate for July was 18 weeks, almost half the long-term average of 35 weeks.

 - Stuff

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