PHOTO: New Zealand real estate is a billion dollar industry. SOCIALLY BUZZ
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UPDATED: August 2, 2023. This article will be updated on a continual basis so feel free to pop back and look at additions and industry updates.
Residential real estate agents are estimated to bring in $1.3 billion in revenue from gross residential sales commissions alone in 2023. This article focuses on the residential based real estate agencies in New Zealand only.
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The below article is an opinion piece published by propertynoise.co.nz. It is our sincere intention to provide information and entertainment to our readers. At no point have we intended to offend any individuals or their respective business models, and if we have inadvertently done so, we offer our sincerest apologies.
We strive to maintain accuracy in our content; however, if you come across any incorrect or inaccurate factual information, we kindly request that you contact us so that we can promptly rectify any errors. Your feedback is highly valued as we aim to provide the most reliable and up-to-date information possible.
- Established players have little office/salespeople growth ahead, except for one making a play for the #1 spot.
- Disruptors are picking up market share based on their points of difference in being able to cater to the individual needs of aspirational salespeople.
- Catering to the needs to top salespeople to venture out on their own will be the biggest service area in the next 10 years in the real estate agency industry.
- Many Australian real estate brands that have come to New Zealand have struggled to adjust their ‘branding positioning’ to being Kiwi in nature. Being seen as just an Aussie brand that does business in New Zealand – is not a good look to New Zealander’s. Recent Australian real estate brands are still making the same mistake. The crucial factor for their achievement lies in their capacity to establish harmonious connections with ‘Kiwi’ brands that are already catering to the industry. Numerous New Zealand -based services possess extensive experience in forming successful partnerships within the industry, highlighting the critical nature of such alliances.
Introduction: The New Zealand real estate industry has been a dynamic and ever-evolving landscape, driven by a combination of market forces, economic conditions, and the tenacity of industry leaders. In this article, we delve into the world of real estate brands in New Zealand, exploring their performance and identifying the key players who have made remarkable strides in recent times.
As the demand for properties continue to be part of the ‘Kiwi Dream’, it becomes increasingly crucial to understand which brands are effectively meeting the evolving needs and aspirations of buyers and sellers. By examining the progress of different companies and their impact on the market, we aim to provide valuable insights into the movers and shakers of the New Zealand real estate scene.
Our analysis will encompass a wide range of factors, including market share, sales volume, customer satisfaction, technological advancements, and overall brand reputation. By taking a comprehensive approach, we can gain a comprehensive understanding of which brands are making significant progress and shaping the industry’s future.
Throughout this article, we will examine the performance of renowned real estate brands, from established industry giants to emerging players who are disrupting traditional norms. We will assess their strategies, innovation, and adaptability in an ever-changing market, highlighting those who have demonstrated a keen ability to stay ahead of the curve.
Moreover, our exploration will extend beyond the quantitative measures, delving into the qualitative aspects that differentiate these brands. We will consider their customer-centric approaches, ethical business practices, and their contribution to community development, as these factors play an increasingly important role in today’s discerning consumer choices.
By critically analyzing the achievements and progress of various brands in the New Zealand real estate industry, this article aims to provide readers with valuable insights into the movers and shakers who are redefining the industry landscape. Whether you are a potential homebuyer, seller, or an industry enthusiast, this exploration will equip you with a deeper understanding of the brands that are making waves and leading the charge in this vibrant sector.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are based on the author’s research and analysis. They do not represent an endorsement or promotion of any specific real estate brand mentioned in the article.
Several traditional real estate agencies seem to have reached a growth plateau, relying heavily on a large number of salespeople to sustain their ticket-clipping approach. However, net office growth and salesperson numbers are declining, and individual sales performance is also decreasing. In contrast, certain real estate disruptors have embraced diversification and innovative strategies to thrive in the market.
To ensure growth in the next 5 to 10 years, real estate brands must prioritize understanding and catering to the financial and business needs of their salespeople. This growth doesn’t necessarily have to be limited to the “Mother Brand” itself. Here’s the key: Those brands that empower salespeople to establish their own personal brands while providing administration and technological support from the “Mother Brand” are likely to experience the most substantial growth in the New Zealand market.
Ambitious salespeople desire the freedom to build their businesses in their own unique ways. If real estate brands and franchises can assist in achieving this by offering flexibility, shedding excessive “Mother Ship” ego, and providing significant support, both parties stand to thrive in a changing world where independence holds greater value than ever before.
Currently, there are a few companies leading the way in this approach, as we will discuss below. Based on conversations we have had, it appears that some traditional brands are starting to feel the pressure and are questioning their own flexibility in allowing co-branding or sub-branding. While some have experimented with such strategies, Harcourts and Ray White serve as an examples of adopting a dual approach with franchise branding, hedging their bets in the evolving landscape.
Missed out in featuring in this article or do we have something wrong?
Harcourts New Zealand is the largest real estate company in New Zealand.
Beyond achievements in New Zealand, Harcourts has also experienced remarkable growth on the international stage.
In 1997 Harcourts took it’s brand to Australia, and now they claim to be the #2 brand in Australia. They are also in South Africa, USA, Canada, Indonesia among others.
This brand has more offices and the second most salespeople (next to Ray White) than other in New Zealand and that corresponds to the largest market share of all the companies.
The question is how much growth do they have left in New Zealand? Personally we don’t think they have much office growth in front of them with 206 offices and 2570 salespeople (SOURCE: Harcourts June 2023). We may be wrong, but we believe their focus is on other international markets.
So where will their New Zealand growth come from? They will back themselves (via their training systems and culture, which is first – class) to lift the the numbers of sales per salesperson, but in reality that is hard work as you really do rely on how much volume of house sales the market is giving up. Their salespeople may well make more sales pro rata than the industry average but unless they go on and layer another net 500 salespeople I suspect their growth will be limited.
There leadership in CEO and COO is aging and whilst there is nothing wrong with an experience set of heads captaining the ship, it probably says more about their positioning and how they want to transact now and going forward. Great brand – well respected with Ray White the only brand in our opinion that has any chance to chasing them down to lead market share.
Bayleys Real Estate
Bayleys is a prominent and highly regarded player in the New Zealand real estate market.
As a full-service agency, Bayleys offers a comprehensive range of real estate services, catering to residential, commercial, rural, and industrial property markets. Our diverse portfolio allows us to serve a wide range of clients, from homeowners and investors to developers and businesses.
They are known as the #1 Commercial Sales agency in New Zealand and from that original background developed their residential and rural business. This is a ‘true’ family business. Many claim to to family businesses as if that is suppose to endear us to them. Owned and operated by the Bayley family – I see this brand as a TOP 4 brand in New Zealand in terms of recognition and sales across the spectrum of property categories. Bayleys have positioned themselves at the upper end of the residential market, and that has in our humble opinion held them back in lower socioeconomic areas and in the provinces. Where the likes of Harcourts and Ray White (as examples) have brand positioning across the spectrum. We may be wrong but I haven’t seem them organically open any new offices over the last few years. Their office growth has tended to come from off the rebrand of competitors current offices.
John and David, the second generation of the Bayley family, have successfully taken over and managed the parent company.
In 1973, John returned home from his work in the mines and drilling rigs in Australia and together with his father, Graham, and mother, Pam, they founded Bayleys Real Estate. They started their operations from their family home in Pakuranga, which served as their first registered office.
Later that year, the company relocated to its initial commercial office premises in Papatoetoe. At that time, Bayleys consisted of Graham, John, and their receptionist, Pam, forming a small team of three.
David, the second son, joined the family business the following year. Bayleys primarily focused on commercial and residential development of former farmland in the South Auckland region during its early years.
In the early 1980s, Bayleys expanded its presence by establishing an office in Auckland’s Central Business District. It quickly gained recognition as a prominent brand in the commercial and industrial real estate markets.
In the late 1980s, Graham sold his ownership stake in Bayleys to John and David.
Throughout the 1990s, John Bayley led a strategic initiative to expand Bayleys nationwide across all segments of the property markets, covering all regions of the country. This led to the establishment of a national franchise network.
Presently, the network consists of 93 offices (approx.) and approximately 2000 employees/salespeople.
From their humble beginnings, where their first sale earned them a commission of $300, Bayley Corporation has recently completed sales and lease transactions worth around $12 billion as of March 31, 2019.
Over their 50 years in the real estate industry, John and David, along with Bayley Corporation, have actively contributed to the community. In 2014, they established the Bayleys Foundation, which engages in philanthropic activities. These activities encompass support for charitable organizations, schools, universities, various sporting and cultural groups, as well as community initiatives.
Barfoot & Thompson
Barfoot & Thompson is a renowned and highly respected name in the New Zealand real estate landscape, with a legacy that spans over ten decades. Established in 1923, Barfoot & Thompson has grown to become one of the largest, independently owned real estate companies in the country and clearly #1 in Auckland. A true ‘family owned’ business that is massively impressive
With a vast network of branches and agents strategically located throughout Auckland and Northland, Barfoot & Thompson has an exceptional market reach.
Barfoot & Thompson is actively involved in the community, supporting various charitable initiatives and giving back to the neighborhoods and they has also given them massive brand awareness in.
Their growth in recent times has being buying into Lodge Real Estate in the Waikato. This is a business that could scale up and in a couple decades and be the #1 business in New Zealand. Will they? Probably not. I think they are massively content with their huge Auckland market share, and we suspect Property Brokers will try and do what Barfoot & Thompson could easily do.
Ray White Real Estate
Ray White is a well-known real estate company that originated in Australia and expanded into New Zealand with the purchase of United Realty around 1994.
Ray White Real Estate was established in 1902 in Crows Nest, Australia, by Ray White. The company started as a small family business and gradually grew over the years. This is a true family company held in private family ownership now run by Ray White’s Great – Grandson Dan White. The board consists of: Brian White AO – Chairman, Grandson Paul White – Joint Chairman, Great – Grandson Dan White – Managing Director.
Ray White experienced significant growth in the Australian market and became the country’s leading real estate agency. It expanded its operations by opening new offices across different states and territories in Australia.
After establishing a presence in New Zealand, Ray White experienced substantial growth and began acquiring other real estate agencies in the country. These acquisitions helped expand its network and market share. Kent Prior Real Estate in Canterbury and Leaders Real Estate in Wellington to name a couple.
Today, Ray White is the largest and most prominent real estate brand in Australia/New Zealand.
In our opinion this has been the #1 company for growth in New Zealand, on the back of the strong leadership of Carey Smith. In 1996, Carey was given the responsibility of spearheading Ray White’s expansion into the New Zealand market. At that time, the company was operating as United Realty and had an impressive network of 58 offices. Shortly after, in late 1998, Carey took over the leadership of the operation and played a crucial role in transforming it into Ray White United. Under his guidance, the company underwent another transition and became known as Ray White Real Estate.
In the past year Carey has moved into the role of Executive Chairman. The question remains whether the new ‘on the ground’ leadership team of Daniel Coulson (CEO) and Treena Drinan (CAO), have the same ability and drive to take Ray White further. We suspect if they do, Ray White will end up being the #1 business for offices and market share in New Zealand, taking over the top spot from Harcourts.
Currently they have 195 offices and 2622 salespeople in New Zealand compared to Harcourts 206 offices and 2570 salespeople.
In order we suspect the TOP FOUR for market share now looks like:
- Barfoot & Thompson
- Ray White
Property Brokers is a dynamic and forward-thinking real estate company that has become a trusted name in New Zealand’s property market.
Starting in provincial New Zealand they have stuck to their roots with all their growth coming from the provinces, claiming to be New Zealand’ largest provincial agency.
Property Brokers came into existence when Tim Mordaunt and Don Brown acquired Michael Gray Real Estate, situated at 236 Broadway Avenue in Palmerston North.
Early History of Property Brokers:
In November 1986, Property Brokers joined forces with United Realty, marking an important milestone in its early history.
The following year, in February 1987, Property Brokers expanded its reach by inaugurating the Feilding branch. This was swiftly followed by the opening of another branch in Dannevirke in November of the same year.
In 1988, Property Brokers extended its services to include livestock, leading to the establishment of Property Brokers Livestock in Feilding. Over time, the livestock division grew, and by 1997, Property Brokers had a team of twelve dedicated livestock agents. Eventually, the livestock business was sold to Williamson and Kettle.
During this period, in 1990, Property Brokers ventured into the insurance industry. Property Brokers Insurance was established in Feilding, employing 15 insurance brokers. Even today, the insurance division continues to operate under the name Property and Commercial Insurance Brokers.
In 1990, Property Brokers achieved a significant milestone with the construction of its Head Office at 234 Broadway in Palmerston North. The company also expanded its presence by opening two new branches on The Square and Rangitikei Street.
These developments in the early years of Property Brokers laid the foundation for its growth and success in the real estate, livestock, and insurance sectors.
In our opinion one of fastest growing real estate company in New Zealand.
First National Real Estate
First National Real Estate is a real estate co-operative network that operates in New Zealand and Australia.
It was founded in Australia in 1981 and expanded to New Zealand in 1985. The number of offices they have has gone backwards year on year on New Zealand. Their Board of Directors is a mix of office owners with prominent property commentator/investor Ashley Church as Director. 30 years ago this was a brand that had significant profile and brand awareness – now they sit with approximately 30 offices. We suspect they would still have good brand awareness with the +50 age group here in New Zealand.
There website states: ‘We have over 400 offices throughout Australia, New Zealand, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea’.
Professionals Real Estate
Professionals Real Estate is a prominent real estate brand operating in New Zealand.
They originated in 1976 in Australia when six independent real estate agents joined forces to establish a more collaborative working approach.
The organization was formed as a non-profit marketing group, prioritizing the collective benefit of its members. Unlike traditional franchises, all fees generated were reinvested into group-led marketing initiatives, training programs, and comprehensive support systems.
This unique structure allowed individual agents to maintain their competitive edge and local independence, while simultaneously benefiting from the extensive network and recognized brand of Professionals.
The concept quickly gained traction, resulting in the opening of 45 offices within the first five years. Starting in Queensland, the organization expanded its reach to New Zealand and subsequently across Australia, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea. Today, the network boasts an impressive presence of over 225 offices.
In recent years a number of their networks and offices have gone over to other brands. They still have a number of established strong players in their network that dominate their marketplaces including Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt and Palmerston North to name a few. Most recently they lost inspirational leader from their Upper Hutt office to the AND CO branding/network.
Tommys Real Estate
Tommys Real Estate is a prominent real estate agency operating in New Zealand.
Tommys Real Estate was established in 1999 and has since become one of the leading real estate agencies in New Zealand. The company was founded by Tommy Heptinstall, who has had a long-standing presence in the Wellington real estate market.
Tommys went from ‘ZERO TO HERO’ in the Wellington city market – quickly commanding the #1 spot in marketing and market share on the back of Leaders Real Estate #1 salesperson Tommy himself.
Tommys Real Estate primarily operates in the Wellington region, with offices located in various suburbs of Wellington City, including Wellington Central, Johnsonville, Karori, and Hutt Valley. They also have an office Greytown, Wairarapa.
‘A brand we have huge respect for but to be fair Tommys is not the same with it’s founder Tommy based in Melbourne. We suspect they are very content with their Wellington market share and simply wish to trade in the Wellington region rather than expand with futher office growth outside the region.’
In 2022, Tommy’s emerged victorious at the prestigious Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) Awards. They claimed the distinguished title for selling the highest number of properties from a single office among all agencies in New Zealand.
Tommys sets an impressive record in Wellington, with a remarkable achievement of selling one out of every three homes in the area. Moreover, their agents surpass all other companies in terms of the number of homes sold between Khandallah and Seatoun (June to December 2022).
We believe Tommys and Lowe & Co – are setting the pace in the Wellington City market and between them command significant market share.
Grant Elliott, the renowned former Blackcap cricketer, has recently taken up the role of Business Development/Team Culture Manager at Tommy’s. Additionally, Tommy’s newish commercial real estate division is led by General Manager Ben Castle, who is also an accomplished rugby player.
PGG Wrightson Real Estate
PGG Wrightson Real Estate is a real estate agency specializing in rural and lifestyle property sales in New Zealand. Here is some information about PGG Wrightson Real Estate:
PGG Wrightson Real Estate is a division of PGG Wrightson Limited, a leading agricultural services company in New Zealand. The real estate division focuses on the buying and selling of rural and lifestyle properties across the country. They have 57 offices in New Zealand that align with the farming services network and are an underrated network in our humble opinion – with significant rural/provincial brand loyalty and awareness.
Century 21 Real Estate
Century 21 Real Estate is a global real estate franchise network that operates in New Zealand and many other countries worldwide. In New Zealand is has always been a sub – franchise of Australia. A recent ownership change has meant a renewed interest in developing their office network. They have 13 (approx.) offices in New Zealand. Whilst this brand has good name recognition in New Zealand it really has been a ‘ sleeping giant’ in New Zealand. Whilst Tim Kearins (the new NZ Franchise Owner) is giving it a good nudge and is a personable leader we suspect dividing his time between running a national network whilst being a selling Principal in his own Palmerston North office is compromising C21’s ability to grow. Having a ‘bob each way’ is a safety position and not conducive to growth in our humble opinion.
Century 21 Real Estate New Zealand is part of the larger Century 21 franchise network, which was founded in the United States in 1971. It is one of the largest and most recognized real estate brands globally, with a presence in over 80 countries.
Brand Recognition: Century 21 is known for its strong brand recognition and reputation in the real estate industry worldwide. The distinctive gold and black logo is widely recognized, and the company is associated with professionalism, quality service, and a global network of experienced agents.
Sotheby’s International Realty is a global real estate company that specializes in the marketing and sale of luxury properties with 1075 offices in 81 countries with over 26,000 salespeople. In New Zealand they have 21 offices. A sharp brand that in our humble opinion will struggle to grow much – as it very much aligns itself with the upper end of the market. Bayleys compete in the market as well and do a better job at managing to transact across the spectrum of real estate in New Zealand in our humble. However the branding is sharp – some of the best we have ever seen in the real estate industry. The key from them going forward is to ensure they align with quality and reputable people in franchise growth. Good people attract good people and unless they (or any brand for that matter) gets that right adding a franchise to a region will only dent their credibility. Again a sharp brand headed by some sharp minds as franchisor.
Julian Brown, the founding Managing Director of New Zealand Sotheby’s International Realty, successfully obtained the Sotheby’s International Realty master franchise for New Zealand in 2005. Over the years, the company has expanded from its Queenstown headquarters to establish 21 offices across the country, serving the upscale residential real estate market.
Beyond his real estate expertise, Julian’s background is as a former National ski champion and full-time professional alpine ski racer on the Japan Pro Tour. Currently Sotheby’s International Realty NZ, has 21 offices and employs over 220 professionals and salespeople.
LJ Hooker is a prominent real estate brand that operates in New Zealand and Australia. Here is some information about LJ Hooker New Zealand:
LJ Hooker was founded in Australia in 1928 by Sir Leslie Joseph Hooker. It expanded to New Zealand in 1994 and became one of the leading real estate brands in the country. But due to a number of factors including leadership changes the other big brands have curtailed the office growth of the LJ Hooker network.
They have some ‘heavy hitter’ franchisees but they are few and far between now. Palmerston North we suspect is their #1 office and the market share leader in that market.
The brand quickly became what we consider to be a ‘LOVE BRAND’ in New Zealand after the purchase of Challenge Real Estate in the 1990’s with their branding.
Of all the brands that could grow further in NZ – it is this one. If they can get their strategy right – it could be exciting. They have a new Business Development manager whom seems astute a personable and with a big motor behind him in LJ Hooker Australia – they could go real well.
LJ Hooker Group introduced the boutique brand ATLAS in Australia in 2022 and were planning to launch into New Zealand.
They own the Harveys Real Estate brand which has 12 offices (approx.) in New Zealand
THE REAL ESTATE DISRUPTORS
Hannah and Tyson Walker, the founders of proppy.co.nz, introduced an intelligent approach to property buying and selling. In 2015, they made the bold decision to leave their successful careers in sales and banking, aiming to revolutionize the real estate industry.
Over the course of two years, they developed advanced technology and effective strategies for facilitating online property transactions.
As the disruptors in the New Zealand real estate agency industry continue to grow and evolve, it is imperative for them to maintain a strong focus on customer needs and expectations. By prioritizing transparency, personalized services, and seamless user experiences, disruptors can differentiate themselves from traditional agencies and gain the trust and loyalty of their clients.
Furthermore, disruptors must continue to invest in research and development to stay at the forefront of technological advancements. As emerging technologies like blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT), and machine learning continue to mature, disruptors have the opportunity to leverage these tools to unlock new avenues of growth, enhance security, and provide innovative solutions to their clients.
The New Zealand real estate agency industry is experiencing a significant transformation driven by disruptors who are challenging the traditional dominance of established players. These disruptors, through their innovative approaches and technological prowess, have the potential to capture substantial market share and reshape the industry landscape. By fostering collaboration among themselves, disruptors can create a formidable force that leads the industry into a new era of efficiency, transparency, and customer-centricity.
Our Final Comments:
- Some traditional real estate agencies have tapped out growth and are merely clipping the ticket via large salesperson numbers. Net office growth is down, net salespeople numbers are down and salespeople are selling less per head. Rather than diversify and take a leaf out of the notebook of a number of real estate brand disruptors – many continue to rely on their strong multi – office franchisees to keep the ship steady.
- Being able to read and service the financial and business needs of salespeople – is the key to brands growing in the next 5 to 10 years. ‘Brands Growing’ – does not necessarily mean the ‘Mother Brand’ either. Let me explain: Those real estate brands that can offer salespeople the ability to brand themselves whilst receiving the administration/technology support of the ‘Mother Brand’ in my humble opinion will have the biggest growth in the New Zealand market in the coming years.
- Aspirational salespeople want to brand their business their way. If real estate brands/franchises can help the future of the industry do this – through the flexibility of less ‘Mother Ship” ego and massive support – both those parties have a huge future in a changing world where ‘independence’ is more valued than it has ever been.
- There are a few companies doing this now. I suspect (through conversations I have had) some of the traditional brands are looking over their shoulder and asking themselves – ‘ Do we have the flexibility to allow co-branding/sub – branding?’
The above is an opinion piece published by propertynoise.co.nz. It is our sincere intention to provide information and entertainment to our readers. At no point have we intended to offend any individuals or their respective business models, and if we have inadvertently done so, we offer our sincerest apologies.
We strive to maintain accuracy in our content; however, if you come across any incorrect or inaccurate factual information, we kindly request that you contact us so that we can promptly rectify any errors. Your feedback is highly valued as we aim to provide the most reliable and up-to-date information possible.