Monday 19 May 2014

Things I wish TradeMe Property could do

For reasons soon to be made clear, we've been perusing TradeMe Property's Wellington offerings. TradeMe is the country's best overall aggregator of available property listings. [Update: see here].

Here are the things that you can currently do on TradeMe Property:
  • Restrict your property search by:
    • Bedrooms (we want 4+);
    • Number of bathrooms (we want 2+);
    • Neighbourhood (we're flexible);
    • Price range (likely <$800k; Wellington's way more expensive than Christchurch);
    • Property type (house, apartment, section, townhouse, unit)
  • You can find out, for any property:
    • Zoned schools, out-of-zone schools, unzoned schools;
    • Maps, property boundaries, great links through to Google Maps.
Here are some things that could easily be done, but aren't currently done:
  • Chorus maintains a great map of network capability. For any property, you can see if they're on the fibre network, whether VDSL2 is available, whether ADSL2 is available, or whether you're stuck on standard ADSL. Our house at New Brighton is on VDSL2 and gets 40MB/s to the cabinet downstream, 10 MB upstream. I'd like to be able to restrict property searches to those getting at least ADSL2 and strongly prefer VDSL or fibre; a decent internet connection is worth a lot to me. Scraping that detail into TradeMe Property would be pretty easy, once Chorus's website is back up.
  • Update: Vodafone has it too. Somewhere in TradeMe's back-end it should be able to just pull address details for both of these to see what's available. 
  • Update: Mashblock! I'd been going through the Census's front-end, but that's cumbersome. Mashblock goes straight from address to Census meshblock and tells you the neighbourhood's demographics. There's still important Census stuff available that isn't yet on mashblock, like household composition and education, but Mashblock's a good start. And especially since the StatsNZ version is really cumbersome if you want quick stats on an address. 
Here are some things that could be done, but might be harder, and might only matter to me.
  • Wellington District Council has great maps showing hazard risks. There's a combined hazard map providing all-source risk of earthquake shaking, liquifaction, tsunami, and landslide. And, you can also get it by each of those risks individually. I would like to be able to restrict my search as follows:
"Return only houses showing low all-source risk, but add to that any weatherboard or wooden house where risk is only due to earthquake shaking, because old weatherboard places fare well in shakes so long as other risks are low."
  • Wellington is all valleys and hills; it's hard to tell which get any sun unless you live there. SunCalc provides sun positions at different times of day; you can also change the date to get seasonal effects. As it's overlaid onto Google Maps, you can pretty quickly see if you're going to be badly shaded by surrounding hills. It should be possible to turn that into a sun score. 
I emailed a Wellington realtor explaining what we're looking for; he laughed at me as he'd never had anybody put first priority on where the house sits on the WDC earthquake risk map. While this makes me worry about how seriously Wellingtonians take earthquake risks, it does mean that there shouldn't be particularistic price premiums on safer houses. And that's good for me. 

We started out looking at Karori, Khandallah, Johnsonville and Aro Valley; we've started looking more at Island Bay as you seem to get rather more house for the money there, and the commute in to downtown doesn't seem at all unreasonable. But I'd happily accept advice from those with better local knowledge. I will look forward to meeting far more of my Wellington readers.


  1. TradeMe is the country's best overall aggregator of available property listings

    does that make Vic the best overall aggregator of available academic jobs - or are you going to the big end of time.

  2. You should check Vodafone's fibe links too - pretty comprehensive in Wellington and a good second until UFB is available.

    Island Bay is a good spot - travel into town can be a bit slow but it's close to the sea too. I grew up in Karori and it can be a few degrees colder due to its elevation, and peak hour traffic can also be a hassle. But they all have pros and cons - have a good drive around them all.

  3. I've lived in Wellington for many years - still do (in Miramar). Coming in from Johnsonville or further up North is getting hard because the traffic delays are getting worse, especially on the weekends. Staff at AirNZ (where I work) are often coming in extra early to avoid nasty traffic surprises which happen all the time now, and can throw another 30-45 mins on your commute.

    Island bay is my favourite. It has a nice feel and it's nice being near the sea. I would love to live there and might later on. Brooklyn is nice too, and the traffic is not a real problem. And public transport to the CBD is good from these places.

    Karori is nice (lived there when I was 19 years old) and has a peaceful feel, but it's a bit boring, has no ocean, and traffic congestion is becoming more of an issue.

    Don't worry about earthquakes - single and double story structures won't kill you, not even in the really big one. They're just fun. Worry about all those 20-story buildings in the CBD that will resonate to a big quake and smash themselves (and you) to bits. I'm glad not be working in the CBD...hehe.

    Also, most importantly of all, buy a house that is NOT DRAFTY and reasonably well insulated. Absolutely you need the sun (target the western face of the hill). Wellington houses are notoriously under-build for the conditions. The wind chill is brutal. You will not be happy in a cold house not matter how glam it looks on other dimensions.

    That's all I can say :)

    Andrew Atkin

  4. Island Bay as you seem to get rather more house for the money there

    Hmm, I don't think many people living in Island bay would say you get more house for your money there than Karori! Karori is large and very diverse - ranging from Bill English's "City End" mansion to "Darkest Karori" with state and council housing blocks and at least one tract housing development.

  5. Welcome to Wellington!
    The city side of Karori mall is nice, below that and it gets cold and damp. I second the suggestion on Northland above - it is relatively underpriced. The Eastern side of Ngaio is also nice. Aro valley is a cold dark hovel - Brooklyn is a better option in that area if you can find a sunny spot.

  6. might want to rent for a bit in wellington frst. Very easy to make a regrettable decision here.

  7. Agree, but there's a paucity of reasonable family rental houses, and I really don't want to have Ira flip schools more than necessary.

  8. Karori has some great properties, but they all look to be going for $850+ for anything big enough to accommodate family from overseas.

  9. 4+ bedroom character homes look to run $850+; there's good stuff in Island Bay around the $700 mark.

  10. Island Bay is pretty expensive on the flat, but rather more attractive on the hills. And it is has the sea, and isn't often swathed in cloud the way Karori too often seems to be. State schools are reasonable.

  11. Yup. Island Bay seems to be about a half-hour bus-ride in, and not more than an hour's walk from the CBD in case the roads and buses are all munted in a big quake.

    I asked Oliver about the earthquake status of the NZI building. He told me he's gone through the engineers' reports and all's there fine. But yes, Lambton Quay is terrifying. I've read the general "what happens when Wellington gets the big one" reports. I will be keeping running shoes in the office, cell phone completely charged all the time, emergency supplies...

  12. I hadn't thought to check Vodafone's map. That's exceptionally helpful. Thanks.

  13. Yeah, probably, because the dark end of Karori doesn't have 4+ bedroom charter homes; small older cottages or new horrible sub-McMansions...