Westpac and Trade Me to launch website

RICHARD MEADOWS
Last updated 05:00 30/08/2012

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Westpac is hoping its mortgage lending book will get a boost from a hook-up with Trade Me property listings, which will funnel potential home buyers through to the bank.

Yesterday the bank launched the HomeClub website, designed as a central hub for house-hunting Kiwis and formed through a strategic partnership with the online auctioneer.

The free site pulls together some of the key elements of home-buying, including valuations, street views and mortgage servicing calculators.

A button linking HomeClub to 72,000 residential property listings will let Trade Me users “favourite” the houses they are interested in, or directly export their watchlist.

From the bank's site they can access several free QV valuations, which typically cost $30-$50, and see detailed comparable sales data on nearby houses.

With 90 per cent of real estate agents listing on Trade Me and more than 1.5 million unique monthly property views, the partnership may give Westpac an edge in the fiercely competitive mortgage market.

As of March 31 its slice of the pie was almost 21 per cent, with $35.5 billion of housing loans on its books.

While the banks have fought it out this year by slashing interest rates and offering incentives to lure across customers, Westpac was taking a slightly different tack, general manager retail bank Gai McGrath said.

“You have a tactical approach to pricing, which every bank has. But what is your underlying strategy . . . that makes you stand out from your competitors?”

The broad added-value of HomeClub made it more than just a gimmick, McGrath said, and would help in forming deeper customer relationships.

“It's easy to play the price game and try and win market share doing that, and we know some of our competitors are doing that right now,” she said.

“[But] people will pay for value, actually.”

The holistic approach would smooth the stressful home-buying process, which often became “a test of stamina”, she said.

The exclusive deal with Trade Me has been in the pipeline for roughly 18 months.

Trade Me head of property Brendon Skipper said home hunters were “hungry for information” and spent significantly longer browsing property than they did other listings.

“It can be daunting, so you need to be informed.” Fairfax NZ

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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