New Zealand real estate agencies estimated to have earned $390.7 million in residential sales commissions in the second quarter this year, down $77.9 million from $468.6 million in the second quarter of 2016

New Zealand real estate agencies estimated to have earned $390.7 million in residential sales commissions in the second quarter this year, down $77.9 million from $468.6 million in the second quarter of 2016

By Greg Ninness

The real estate industry's revenue from residential property sales fell about 3% compared to a year ago, but in Auckland the decline is more than 12%. estimates the industry earned $390.7 million in gross residential sales commissions in the second quarter (Q2) of this year, down 2.8% compared to the estimate for Q2 2018.

However the decline was mainly driven by weakness in the Auckland market, where estimated commissions were $142 million in the second quarter of this year, down 12.3% compared to the same period of last year.

For the rest of the country excluding Auckland, estimated commission revenue was $248.7 million in the second quarter of this year, up 3.6% compared to a year ago.

Other areas where estimated commissions were down compared to a year earlier were the Bay of Plenty -7.7%, Hawke's Bay -1.5%, Taranaki -3.8%, Nelson -2.0% West Coast -9.1% and Canterbury -2.2%, with commission levels flat in Marlborough and Northland and up compared to last year in all other regions.

The areas with the biggest growth in estimated commission revenue compared to Q2 2018 were Gisborne +20%, Southland +10.3% Waikato +6.8% and Otago +5.2% (see the table below for the full regional figures).

Overall commissions have slumped substantially over the last three years, following restrictions the Chinese government put in place to restrict capital outflows from that country. In the second quarter of 2016, when the Chinese buying frenzy was at its peak, the real estate industry earned an estimated $468.6 million in commissions from New Zealand residential property sales.

But sales slumped dramatically in the second half of 2016 as Chinese capital restrictions began to bite. By the second quarter of 2017 total estimated commission revenue had declined to $367.8 million.

That decline has been particularly severe in Auckland, where estimated second quarter commission revenue has declined in each of the last three years driven mainly by declining sales numbers, and in the second quarter of this year was down 36% compared to Q2 2016.

Around the rest of the country (excluding Auckland) there was a sharp drop from $245.3 million in 2016 to 214.9 million in 2017, but since then it has steadily increased and in the second quarter of this year was $248.7 million, marginally ahead of where it was in Q2 2016.

However the news wasn't all good for regions outside of Auckland.

Although total commission revenue for the regions outside of Auckland was up 1.3% between Q2 2016 and Q2 2019, the number of sales was actually down 18% over the same period, with the increase in commission revenue entirely attributable to rising prices. 

So although the industry had about the same amount of revenue in both of those quarters it was more thinly spread, which would have made life more difficult for many agents.

But whichever way you cut the numbers, the market is looking increasingly tough in Auckland.

The comment stream on this story is now closed.

Estimated Gross Real Estate Commissions from Residential Property Sales
  Q2 2019 $m Change from Q2 2018
Northland 11.2 0.0%
Auckland 142.0 -12.3%
Waikato 39.5 6.8%
Bay of Plenty 27.7 -7.7%
Gisborne 3.0 20.0%
Hawke's Bay 13.0 -1.5%
Manawatu-Whanganui 17.5 1.2%
Taranaki 7.7 -3.8%
Wellington 44.2 1.6%
Tasman 4.1 5.1%
Nelson 4.9 -2.0%
Marlborough 4.4 0.0%
West Coast 1.0 -9.1%
Canterbury 43.8 -2.2%
Otago 20.1 5.2%
Southland 6.4 10.3%
All NZ excl. Auckland 248.7 3.6%
Total NZ 390.7 -2.8%

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That's 390M of wasted money, just because the ponzi scheme is still alive

@dgm the property market is not a ponzi scheme .

I am astonished you are so uninformed as to even suggest it is !


See Wolf report today on Chinese buying abroad collapse since November. Chinese driven land ponzi I Auckland since 2012 as I have written on LinkedIn a few times

Yes looks like there's been a general sales retreat with the Chinese government keeping very strong controls over their capitol flight. Wonder if Mr Trumps US real estate buddies are feeling the pinch due to his trade war?
Better Dwelling article: Foreign Buyers of US Real Estate Drops Over 31%, Fewest Chinese Buyers In 10 Years

San Francisco also feeling the effects of a change in the wind.

House sales volumes dropping, value of real estate commissions dropping, number of active agents dropping.......


House prices remain remarkably resilient.


On average. Asking prices down 7% last time I heard from RE NZ
Medians in Hibiscus Coast down over 10% and 22% in Red Beach
Medians fall faster than average because median more affected by disproportionate drop in sales over $1.4m in Auckland.
As in, greater proportion of sales now occurring lower down price scale.

But for how Long as the process has started.

Are you trying to convince others or your self that all is well by wishing/hoping aloud.

For three years now and counting

Agreed that it is 390 million of wasted money. It adds absolutely nothing to the Value of the property,but only to the Price.


Interesting article on Chinese buying drop off in US. Which fits in with this story quite nicely


Shhhhh, careful Joe, you sound like a xenophobe! We aren't supposed to talk about Chinese money here.

The three wise monkeys approach to journalism.

Here’s Mr Ninness discussing it on the BBC - amazing what we hear about New Zealand from the external media. I enjoyed this so it’s worth a share.

I had to laugh at Mr Thompson's comments regarding the Foreign Buyer Ban.

"But certainly the Government has "bought" in new legislation for all foreigners that sadly i'm not sure if it's the right direction we should be going or not. We have to be encouraging investors to buy properties to invest because so many people are having to rent you know if we take those investors out of the market we're going to have a shortage of investment properties for people to rent".

Riiight, so how did people manage to put a roof over their heads prior to mass foreign investment into our real estate market?

It seems to mirror New Zealand Market. But hey no NZ market is "Different"

Yes Joe, as others have said you have to say 'Foreign buyers' not 'Chinese buyers', because otherwise you are a gun toting red neck racist.

We were told over and over again by the Key government that Chinese buyers were a fraction of the 3% of sales to foreign buyers... utter nonsense of course.

Firstly the sales percentage to overseas buyers was later found to be over 20% in some Auckland suburbs, and secondly, Chinese have been shown (around the world) to be the main drivers of this.

There is a strange detachment between what is said about our housing market abroad and what is allowed to be said here. This BBC article is a very interesting case in point.

And I'll take a bet right now commissions will fall further now that the tax treatment of losses on investment properties has changed.

No investor in his right mind will enter this investment catagory , and least of all when they will effectively have to subsidize their tenants.

Now that private capital, renowned for being fickle , has left the stage , I hope the Government has a plan to house everyone who cant afford to buy a home, or raise a mortgage

Boatman, don’t agree with you that property investors won’t be buying!
There are many places around NZ that still provides great investment opportunities.
We are positively geared on everything and still able to make improvements.
Seeing opportunities all the time.
ChCh market is going to take off again in the next year so makes sense for
investors to be buying

... it's already happening , from what I've heard on the radio this morning property in Christchurch is booming ....


They will re-enter the market Boatman. All investors like a return for doing nothing. They’ll return when there is value in the market again.

Joe, you are dreaming if you think that property investors do nothing but collect rent.
Most investors that are fulltime deserve every cent of capital gain.
Wish it was that easy that you just sit there and watch the dollars,
come in.
We are always doing bits and pieces to properties whether it be repairs, maintenance etc. but it gives us a great lifestyle.
The ringfencing Of losses is what will stop many investors that are negatively geared from spending money


The land does by far the majority of the work in rent seeking, and that requires no maintenance. We are overdue for bringing back land tax. Landholders have been our biggest beneficiaries by far for too long now.

... absolutely ... the massive increase in land / section prices across the country is a tax free windfall for property owners ...

We need a land tax !

Why do you want to tax everything?
Just because something gets more expensive doesn’t mean you tax it!!!!!

. . I believe that a nation's natural resources ought to belong to the state . .. the land , air , water..

Anyone who occupies or uses these resources should pay a small annual levy .... and those levies should be utilized to cut company and wages taxes by the same amount .. .

. . our current taxation system punishes workers and business owners ... but gives land owners and Chinese water bottlers a free ride ...

Gummy, that is just silly.
People pay for the land, pay rates on the land, pay for improvements for the land, and you think the country should receive more payments from the owner?
We give land away to one culture and they pay nothing for it!!!

Really we all need a means of demarcating an investor and a landlord. Aggregating then in all public discourse is not just unhelpful to meaningful debate but is deliberate obfuscation esp between domestic and foreign money

My wife has just re-entered the property market as a reluctant landlord.
As a retiree looking for a return on capital, the alternatives were not flash - a volatile equities market with global economies slowing and trade wars, and outlook for interest rates on term deposits to be heading very far of south - were the deciding factors.
So despite low yields, more ex-property investors who exited the market over the past three or four years may be returning with a lack of alternatives.
Oh, and Joe - don't ever believe that landlords like a return for doing nothing. You are confusing property investors with those who hold term deposits. You are displaying a naive and anti-landlord bitterness rather than rationale thinking.

Note: As for the doom and gloom merchants who claim that the property market sky is going to fall in a big crash, the performance of the market post-peak and views of recognised property commentators including the RB Governor, isn't giving much weight to such predictions. I do note that these dgm flippant keyboard warriors - even those who are Auckland based - are becoming a little less vocal. As for my wife, it isn't just a flippant view as she is prepared to put her money on it.
I expect some continuing correction certainly over this winter as likely, but as a buy and hold - as for FHB - she is there for the longer term of more than five years due to the bright line test implications. Over the intended period, some capital gain is expected albeit not similar to the 2012-17 wild west land grab days. Currently it is a buyers market and buying at a right price over this winter, rather than what could be minor short term decline for the remainder of the winter is likely to less significant.

"Oh and Joe, don't ever believe that landlords like a return for doing nothing. You are confusing property investors with those who hold term deposits"


People with brains do not forecast price crashes, which occur on stock market, not in housing market.
My forecast remains a 25-35% drop, peak to trough, with peak being 3rd quarter of 2016 or March 2017, and trough being about end of 2021.
That will take Auckland median from $900k to about $670k.
Lots of reasons but major ones are: over-supply (yes, you read that right) and forced sales (coming) plus world recession (just starting)

Mike, you say:
"People with brains do not forecast price crashes"
Then you forecast a crash of 25-35%...

No need to imagine what mike tells keen buyers .... and then they're not so keen


Just been to Whanganui this morning. What a place... had a look at some of the rental housing stock out there.. to be fair the general housing stock is somewhat questionable anyway. But if you ever wanted a case study of a market where landlords have done nothing Printer8, that would be a good place to start. Buildings falling apart, rotting windows, roofs in disrepair, and in a very poor housing stock form a healthy homes perspective. To be fair the whole place could do with a lick of paint and that includes the commercial landlords that own the empty units popping up all over the town centre. Spoke to a lady at the easy finance shop and she said that there had been a big rise in people wanting finance over the last 12 months. May hang around to get some more hard data to share with people. Does it look better when the sun comes out?

Don’t knock Whanganui and its housing. Great character houses to be found on Durie Hill with what in Auckland would be $500k views for less than that house and all. Across the river St Johns Hill is got a touch of Remmers - only difference is that four bedroom home will only cost about the same as a garage in Remmers.
Take care if you get out of Whanganui alive. :) :)
Have a good weekend Joe.

I think your penultimate sentence possibly highlights the reason for cheaper houses than Auckland. I’ll be sure to keep my head down. Question is how many Auckland homes have been leveraged up to buy property in the regions for those glorious bubbly capital gains. No one told them at the seminar that these things become unsellable when the main centres start getting cheaper. Have I ever told you what happened to the North of England and midlands after 2007? Perhaps that’s why Ashley Church, (I wonder if his Dad was a Clergyman) is back on a road trip preaching to everyone in the periphery that everything is A-okay.

So where do you buy property JW?

Well I wouldn’t be leveraging up in Remuera to buy in the Hawke’s Bay bubble!

So where do you buy property JW?

I wonder if I could create a boom in either Beirut or Ohakune? Just let me go and buy a few places in both first and then you, me, Ashley and Tony can start running some Seminars around the country, we’ll talk about how Beirut has been massively oversold and is due a huge recovery (or maybe we could recycle the bricks) and Ohakune is going to kick off because of global warming. (We’ll make something up). - we could be rich beyond your wildest dreams!

Why you keep avoiding he question JW, where do you or have you bought property?

Hi Joe
Property here in Hawke’s Bay looking great and price rises well supported by a growing influx of Aucklanders who appreciate all what is important in life and better here in the Bay; tremendous lifestyle, great wine and vineyard restaurants, tremendous people, no traffic jams and two hour daily crawls, fabulous weather . . .
Not only that, one can sell up in Auckland, trade up the quality of home, and have enough to buy that rental and enough to set up for life.
And you think that HB houses are over-priced. How do you figure that??

Because it’s only a tempting option if you can actually cash out of Auckland for big bucks.. and fewer and fewer seem to able to do that now.

But you don't need big bucks to buy in Hawkes Bay if you're moving from Auckland. If you sold even a 2-bedroom unit in Auckland you'd get something substantially bigger / nicer / more central / with more land in Napier than you would in Auckland.

JW, so from a morning trip to Whanganui you conclude that the whole housing stock is in disrepair… Do you apply the same thorough rigour to all your "expert" analyses?

Joe, Whanganui has been going backwards for some time.

Just all part of the regions losing all their jobs - it's happening all over the world.

Jobs gone, money gone, social problems come in.

And yet prices have been going up. Just shows how bizarre the credit allocation has been over the last couple of decades and how speculative the borrowing has been.


Well in Hibiscus Coast sales in June were 50% below 2016. So god knows what commission drop is up here!

Mike, do you know what is driving the slow down on the HC ?

Orewa had massive early 2018 section sale mania. This year none. So massive contrast. Bear in mind REINZ quotes residential sales which exclude land and sections. So last year mania not shown and neither is it’s disappearance this year. That is why REINZ say Auckland sales are 17% down when total sales are 30% down on last year in first 6m. Auckland 2012-18 was a land ponzi and now a hell of a lot of that money is gone. So 2012 sales level should be regarded as normal. Problem is current sales levels are 35% below 2012 even!

Thanks Mike. I had a quick look at June 2019 sales over 2mm in the main suburbs in Auckland. Here's the numbers ...

HERNE BAY ... none since 1 in May
PONSONBY ... none since 3 in May
REMUERA ... 7 in June. (26 in June 2018)
BAYS ... 3 in June (21 in June 2018)

Nice to see the huge number of stories following this immense slow down at the top end. Oops sorry, nobody is reporting on this.

We have different data, Ray White had 2 sales in Ponsonby over $2 Mill

Thanks Yvil, could you kindly confirm the two sale you are seeing and I will double check my data. I'm using CoreLogic and it can have a lag vs the REINZ data. Appreciate the help.

Remeura, this morning, on REINZ (for those who do not quote source (not you): sales over $5m down 68% in first 6m of 2019 compared to 2018.
Overall sales down 14%
$2m plus down 27%

Indeed, number of sales is significantly down, as we all know and as this article states


But sales slumped dramatically in the second half of 2016 as Chinese capital restrictions began to bite. By the second quarter of 2017 total estimated commission revenue had declined to $367.8 million.

That decline has been particularly severe in Auckland

This cannot be correct.

I cannot believe that John Key and co would have lied to us. He seemed like such a good bloke to have a beer with.

Bloody good bloke. Unless you happen to have a ponytail.


Nah, he's the chairman for ANZ.. He'd never lie, trust me ask their former CEO...

Nice fella. But just don't mention house price spike is due to Chinese buying frenzy which as we were told was a miniscule 3%. Otherwise Jong Kee goes into a frenzy. Foreign buyer is a nice term.

Whether it was Kpnuts claim that his 21 year old was setting up home with 3/4 million mortgage and a couple of strangers, the front page of yesterdays NZ herald fully adorned with a real estate add or Westpac's claim of a impending 150,000 home shortage, the bulk of which will be in Auckland, It dawned on me, with all these stories , that maybe the bottom of the Auckland housing market was in. Related to this article and the above is that on a six month rolling basis, it now takes 47 days on average to sell( at least the ones that do sell ) an Auckland home. You have to go past the GFC , all the way back to 2001 , to find a period where Auckland homes took longer to sell. At the same point in 2001 , the Australian banks went on a lending frenzy, in 5 years , mortgage debt on a flow basis went up 156 percent, from 50 to 128 Billion. Prices followed. If the same is to repeat, outstanding mortgage debt should rise to 550 Billion somewhere in 2024.

About a 33% share of rise in sales after 2022 was down to injection of foreign money I would aver. This is what sales fell by between 2016 and 2016 when China first stood on hosepipe. Then trade wars and OBB mean another 36% plus drop this year. When was highest Auckland sales? 2003-4 at 57000. Just after China money got going post joining WTO. All very plain

The commissions are a rip off. 13 years ago I challenged a Real Estate agent over his fees, he responded - "tough, don't care". Last week I was talking to another chap I know who said that after only 5 years in the real estate industry he was able to retire comfortably with more money than he had ever had in the rest of his life, and strongly recommended it to me. He said he was astounded by how much money he made. Another young chap who went straight into the industry straight from school and two years ago got his ticket, and has just gone off on his first overseas holiday.

So I assume you followed advice to easy money and you are now a RE agent?

Indirectly linked... farm sales in NZ for June 2019 are 44% less, compared to June 2018.

Tough times ahead for the real estate industry over the next few years I'd say, and they've had a VERY good run in NZ. By the way, check out what's happened to the McGrath share price on the ASX since Australia's market started tanking. My estimation is the banks will take some major share prices hits on both sides of the Tasman as it all comes out in the wash. That'll be a buying opportunity (unless one actually goes under or close to it), just like it was for US financials going through the GFC. US financials are still quite out of favour of course (some PE ratios around 10 in an inflated market), especially Bank of America and Wells Fargo, but have still made big gains since the depths of the crisis. Deutsche Bank in Europe looking really shaky though, and could the the catalyst for another crisis really.

When I was in Auckland early this year, my RE agent sold her Mercedes coupe and got a new Nissan SUV. Perhaps she saw the light and downgraded to lessen the impact of monthly leasing cost!

Surprising. Surely with a bit of cutting down on smashed avocado, flat whites and Sky telly she would have been fine.

Sarcasm and schadenfreude won't make your own life better

Oh that's interesting. Hadn't realised castigations of younger Kiwis' consumption of avocado had been driven by sarcasm and schadenfreude. Quite the concession.

I wouldn't put avocado, more like North Face puff jackets, iPhone XS and VW Golf are the culprits

Ouch, nothing worse than a Golf outside its service plan eh. I think in fairness even iPhone toting millennials have learned to stear clear of those money pits.

"sales slumped dramatically in the second half of 2016 as Chinese capital restrictions began to bite"

That is also the year when National forced foreign buyers to have a NZ bank account and IRD number, this would have significantly stemmed money laundering


sure Mr. key.. I thought you said that foreign buyers had only 3% influence

When I came to NZ 4 years ago, it took me about two weeks to get both an IRD number and a bank account number. Doing everything legally. Why are you still denying the fact that it's China's capital lockdown that's causing the downturn?

Where am I "denying the fact that it's China's capital lockdown that's causing the downturn?"


Crikey, they even finger the culprit:

Foreign capital inflow into an advanced economy usually either causes more debt or more unemployment:

Our silly house prices are the result of more debt. Not that any politician, and only about 3 senior bureaucrats seems able to understand a double entry maths based argument.

Yes it's total false economy lunacy.


Why do they always mention the word China or Chinese in any article relating to housing Boom or Doom.

I thought they have no role at all in the housing Sector in NZ.

So it is offical now. Chinese were one of the major reason for the housing crisis / speculation in Auckland otherwise why would all analysis / article relating to housing have them as the main character (Hero for Vendors/speculators/National party and Villian for FHB and Local Kiwi)


According to our former PM, foreign buyers only contributed to 3% of total sales.. Hang on that could be a Tui's billboard...

Yep the Asian elephant has certainly left the global property auction rooms leaving behind lots of local debt poo.
It's everywhere: Bloomberg article: Chinese Buyers Helped Boost Australian Home Prices. Now They're Leaving!
"As real-estate agent Adam Wong works through Australia’s worst property downturn in decades, he’s also found himself at the mercy of China’s slowing economy".
Canada: Dirty money: it’s a Canadian thing; Canada’s housing markets are rife with shadowy buyers and greasy cash. B.C. was just the beginning.
USA; Better Dwelling article: Foreign Buyers of US Real Estate Drops Over 31%, Fewest Chinese Buyers In 10 Years


So now everyone agrees that Chinese are and were reason for turning housing stock into casino and was used to speculate and money laundering across the world to park unofficial money in NZ (supported by government of the day).

Is their anyone who does not agree except National party, who will still be in denial.

Forget about the Chinese, the point of origin of speculative capital is mostly irrelevant. Prior to late 2016 Auckland City Council were drastically short supplying land to the Auckland housing market. The speculative bubble of Auckland land price was created by Auckland City Council. It attracted speculative money from everywhere.

Then in late 2016 the Auckland City Council released a large amount of additional land supply. The bubble stopped and Auckland price has been declining ever since.

I think you're forgetting that Mr Key shoved out all the local Kiwi speculative Investors/Landlords in mid 2015 when he got the banks to impose a 40% LVR deposit for local resident investors in Auckland. That pushed them out in to the areas such as; Hamilton, Queenstowsn and Tauranga sending their property prices up. That left the property market free and clear for Foreign buyers to asset strip in Auckland. Did Auckland's prices drop, nope they continued on rocketing up until ironically it was the Chinese Government pulled the plug in 2017. So I think you will find with any doubt what so ever that yes it was the Chinese buying.

Ironically, agents have to cut their commissions further to remain competitive in a dead cat market, so you can count on their earnings being even lower than the volume levels suggest.

Yep they need to drop their sales commissions to 1% and include everything else such as marketing costs. REA's have been selling at that rate in London for the past ten years.

I suspect there will be no change, just the wheat will separate from the chaff. I.e. the rubbish agents may drop their prospective commissions but will fail to sell at all, whilst the good ones will be making all the sales and will justify their commissions accordingly.

Selling into a tough market is real work and requires skill that just hasn't been required when the money was flowing freely.

As prices fall there will be a reduction in the number of people who are able to trade. As a result the pool of sellers shrinks and agents will start to get very competitive for the business that has to do something. UK saw massive undercutting of fees for sellers motivated by debt, death and divorce. Unless we have a cartel running in the Real estate sector here, as volumes drop someone will lead the way with lower fees.

Agreed, if Sellers need to take a hair cut on price then so do the Real Estate Agents on their over inflated sales commissions. This will become more apparent in to next year as sales continue to decline.

Less agents and commission when compared to the frenzy of recent time is no surprise. The smart will have kept and not over leveraged their crazy levels of income. The not smart will have blown or leveraged it on their on PI dreamland to try and minimize tax via the Blue-chip loss stacking ponzi model. God lime to launch a low commission model, or if you want to sell negotiate a pretty sharp deal.

Anyone happy to share any sharp sale negotiation tips/deals...?

460 million in Chinese sales commission in 2016. So if the commission is say 20% then that equates to 2.3 billion of sales to the Chinese. That must have been practically every single upper quartile sale in Auckland.

.. yup ... it's easy in a global economy for a little jurisdiction to be swamped by overseas interests... if the local governance is lax or incompetent...

fat pat, RE commission is definitely not 20%, try $500 base fee + 5% on first $200k then 2.5% above. So for your calculation let's say 3% for the average Auckland house. So your figure of "460 million in Chinese sales commission" means $15.3 billion… do you think your figure of "460 million in Chinese sales commission in 2016" is accurate?

Yes you're right. I think the Auckland market was completely dominated by Chinese capital form 2013-2016, so 15 billion in 2016 is probably right

Real estate agents are greedy big commissions and now you pay for marketing , in past decades we didn't have to.
There are ups and downs , one day the market will come right

Look at the inverted tiered commission structure of RE agents.Weighted towards the lower bracket.Not much incentive for the agent to get the highest possible for the vendor.Just zoom in on the quickest possible sale.

You can offer a higher % commission at the top end to incentivise the agent, I do. Example: You hope to sell a place for $1 Mill, any $ above that pay 20% commission to the agent

Hey Greg,
What assumptions did you use when coming up with the commission figures?

so how much of price increase of poor stock is due to WINZ topping up landlords "market rent" - in addition to the foreign buyer boom, it seems to me that much of the speculation/price rises started after the change to market rent policies for state houses and the philosophy that a tenant should be getting the same help from the State regardless of whether they live in a private or state rental (including it seems a garage) thus a top up with accommodation allowance - nice thought but for every action there is a reaction - so money from the State, great let's put up the rent??

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