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Revolutionising commercial property marketing

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the launch of Bayleys’ Total Property portfolio. Despite many challenges and changes over the past quarter of a century, Total Property has retained and enhanced its enduring presence in the commercial and industrial property market.

While Total Property first appeared in the late 1990s, it had its genesis much earlier that decade when portfolio marketing was amongst a raft of pioneering innovations initiated by Bayleys to inject new life into a depressed commercial and industrial property market.

Portfolio marketing involves bundling multiple properties together in promotional publications to provide vendors with a cost-effective and impactful way of marketing and selling their properties as well as presenting buyers with a wide choice of offerings.

In what was a first for the New Zealand property market, portfolio marketing was initially used in the early 1990s by Bayleys to assist large corporate clients such as Brierley Investments, AMP, Fletcher Challenge and State Insurance reduce their exposure to the property market. However, it wasn’t long before Bayleys also opened up its portfolio publications to individual vendors wanting to be part of what was proving to be a very effective way of selling property.

National and regional commercial and industrial portfolios continued to be marketed throughout the 1990s under a variety of titles until a decision was made in 1999 to establish a single brand name –Total Property – for all future portfolios.

This title has become indelibly associated with the sale of commercial and industrial property in New Zealand. In the subsequent 25 years, over 11,000 properties have been marketed across more than 130 portfolios.

Bayleys managing director and CEO Mike Bayley says Total Property is the cornerstone of Bayleys’ commercial business.

“Total Property remains a pivotal component of our service offering to commercial and industrial vendors and has generated billions of dollars’ of sales for clients through all types of markets over the past quarter of a century,” he says.

“Total Property is an enduring legacy of the pioneering work that our principal shareholders John and David Bayley did in introducing portfolio marketing to New Zealand in the 1990s, initially in the commercial and industrial sector and then in the residential, waterfront and country markets. The high-quality publications that were produced to promote these portfolios, along with the targeted promotional and advertising collateral that was rolled out alongside them, revolutionised the approach to marketing and selling property in New Zealand,” Bayley says.

First of over 130 portfolios

The first issue of the newly branded Total Property, released in early 1999, was a fairly modest affair, comprising just 50 pages. Back then the Total Property magazine was the main means of marketing, supported by newspaper advertising and property signage. The current sophisticated, multi-channel approach to marketing each portfolio, incorporating many digital components, was still some way off.

The Internet was in the early stages of development and individual property web reference numbers had yet to be used on marketing material, with salespeople preferring that people ring them for more information. Mobile phones were still largely used for talking, and it would be a good while before portfolios could be downloaded on phones, while social media had yet to make its mark.

Property prices were also a lot lower across all market sectors. The median house price sat at around $170,000 nationally and $230,000 in Auckland, according to Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) statistics, or $310,000 and $420,000 respectively in 2024 inflation-adjusted money.

Commercial and industrial properties were being sold at much higher yields than in recent years which meant that, comparatively, prices were significantly lower. The median yield on Auckland industrial investment sales undertaken by the Bayleys Auckland industrial team in the March 1999 quarter was 11 percent and had been in double figures for over a decade.

The highest price achieved on properties featured in the inaugural 1999 Total Property issue was $7.25 million for the 13-storey Greenock House in Wellington’s CBD which sold almost fully leased at a 12.7-percent yield. It was purchased by Singapore-based Hotel Grand Central to add to its existing portfolio of $100 million worth of hotel and commercial properties in New Zealand.

The sale was negotiated by Mark Sherlock, Grant Young and Mark Hourigan who are still all with Bayleys Capital Commercial in Wellington a quarter of a century later. “There are six of us that have worked together for 25 years since I joined Bayleys in 1999 and another four that have been with us for over 15 years,” says director Mark Hourigan.

“It’s very unusual in a commission-only, competitive industry like real estate to have a core group of agents that have been together for that long but we’re all great mates and are big supporters of Bayleys’ Altogether Better team approach to selling clients’ properties. A lot of our business is done through the Total Property portfolios because they work for vendors – reflected in our overall clearance rate of more than 80 percent from Total Property auctions held in Wellington.”

It didn’t take long for the Total Property brand to gain traction with the third and final issue for 1999 comprising over 100 pages and 128 properties. Continuing the theme of high yields, a modern nine-level office building in Hamilton’s CBD, anchored by Westpac, was sold for $9.2 million from that portfolio at a 12.3-percent yield.

Total Property continued to gather momentum in the new millennium growing from three to eight portfolios a year over the next two decades and navigating many different market conditions.

The number of Total Property issues was increased to four a year in 2005 in response to the increased activity in the market which remained on full throttle until well into 2007 before the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) struck. By this stage, many property owners were sensing tougher times ahead and deciding to sell.

The final Total Property for 2007 was a whopper containing over 170 properties – the largest portfolio ever produced. As it turned out this was a good time to sell, with the December nationwide Total Property auctions generating more than $35 million worth of sales.

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