Commerce Commission gives Trade Me clearance to buy homes.co.nz

The Commerce Commission dismissed concerns about competition in the online real estate field in granting clearance for Trade Me to buy website homes.co.nz.

The competition watchdog recalled questions it had about the purchase and cited OneRoof, owned by the same entity which publishes the New Zealand Herald.

“We are satisfied that any benefits that Trade Me may obtain from combining its listings offering with Homes’ information/data offering would not substantially affect the ability of rival platforms to compete in the market. These rivals include industry-owned Realestate.co.nz and OneRoof, which is owned by NZME,” chair Anna Rawlings said.

“In our June statement of unresolved issues, the commission raised potential concerns that the acquisition might prevent Homes from developing into a significant competitor to Trade Me for property listings,” she said.

“The commission also had potential concerns that the acquisition could make it harder for other property platforms to set up or grow by combining the respective strengths of Trade Me and Homes, i.e. listings and property data/information, into a single entity.”

But in the end, it decided on the deal.

Trade Me Property is New Zealand’s largest online residential listings platform. It sought to buy PropertyNZ which owns and operates the homes.co.nz website.

While Homes also displays listings on its website, its primary focus is providing property data/information to consumers, such as estimated house values, the commission said.

The acquisition was unlikely to substantially lessen competition here.

“We are aware of the harm to competition that can arise when a larger firm buys a growing competitor, and we thoroughly tested whether Homes would develop into a significant competitor. However, evidence received since we issued our Statement of Unresolved Issues has satisfied us Homes is unlikely to become a significant competitor for real estate listings,” Rawlings said.

Trade Me’s head of property Alan Clark welcomed the decision.

“We’re always looking for ways that we can be more helpful for New Zealanders interested in property. Homes.co.nz has an awesome suite of tools for buyers, sellers and homeowners, as well as agents looking to market themselves,” Clark said.

“Kiwis interested in property can expect to see a range of Homes.co.nz’s services come through on to Trade Me, including property histories, valuations, and home expense estimates.

“We will also be working with the Homes.co.nz team on some other exciting developments that we will reveal down the track.”

He said Trade Me was now working through the final steps of the acquisition and would take full
ownership of Homes.co.nz by the end of August.

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