How to read the numbers! Real Estate.


4:00AM Saturday Jul 04, 2009
By Anne Gibson

This guide to the data-issuers in the housing, farming and construction sectors gives a spread of the range of facts and associated opinions being issued.


Government or state-owned business which issues national house sales data on a monthly basis and breaks its data down regionally. It has an index which measures price fluctuations.

This organisation is the most bearish about the market right now, noting an 8 per cent annual house price fall. Data is compiled for the previous three months and the sale price is expressed as a pure average or mean price.

Real Estate Institute

Licensed agencies supply figures to the Parnell-headquartered national organisation which both represents and disciplines its members. This information’s strength lies in numbers – thousands of agents supplying sales about to settle – until deregulation later this year when agents no long have to be REINZ members.

Then, the data set could be under considerable threat if agents abandon their lobby group. REINZ issues monthly statistics for rural and urban property sales and does this by calculating median figures. Unconditional sales from members are presented. The organisation tends to be eternally optimistic, like many real estate agents.

Barfoot & Thompson

Auckland’s largest real estate agency which issues figures based on deals every month. It calculates sales based on average sale prices. Because it sells a third of the houses in the country’s biggest city, experts are keen on these figures.


NZ’s largest real estate agency with 180 offices issues monthly statistics in its MarketWatch and breaks these down into five regions with Auckland lumped into the northern region and no conclusive national figure. Records average written sales and claims moral high ground for deals achieved – rather than REINZ unconditional sales contracts.

Calls itself “the official website of the real estate industry”, jointly owned by REINZ and a powerful band of agents: Barfoot & Thompson, Bayleys, Harcourts, Harveys, Ray White and L.J. Hooker.

This website-based business claims to have 94 per cent of all licensed real estate offices subscribing and posting listings. Chief executive Alistair Helm also has a regular blog.


This North Shore arm of the valuation business issues individual house price figures on settled transactions sporadically. These are not widely reported on but the valuers claim the moral high ground because they are the only organisation which measure like-for-like sales.

All other data sets are invalid, they say. They take about 20 houses in their area which sold a short time ago, perhaps in 2007 or last year, and then show the new price after they have re-sold recently.

Statistics New Zealand

No house sales but building consent data on a monthly basis shows the number of residential and non-residential consent applications, an indication of the health of the $12 billion construction sector. Also issues quarterly figures on building work put in place including additions and alterations, giving a bigger picture of actual building work done.

First National

One of the larger real estate chains has been sending out monthly data lately but mainly promotional rather than factual. The 75-agency chain this week noted strong interest from investors and first-home buyers but gave away no raw price data.