News | 16 February 2016

Feathery link to property sales in the Capital

Native birds are being used as a lure to sell property in Wellington according to a survey of auction website TradeMe.

Dr Heidy Kikillus (Postdoctoral Fellow – Cities and Urban Nature) from Victoria University’s Biological Sciences department says the study involved searching TradeMe property listings every day from June 2013 to June 2015.

“I found that wildlife and the city’s natural environment are being used as an incentive to get people to purchase property at certain locations across the Capital,” says Dr Kikillus.

Not surprisingly the majority of the properties advertised using nature, wildlife and birds in their listings were around the Zealandia wildlife sanctuary – with Karori in the lead. However close behind were properties in Ngaio, Khandallah and Tawa.

Property listings were analysed based on the incorporation of nature, birdlife or biodiversity into their sales advertisements.

Key words included in the search were native birds, birdsong, urban oasis, tui, kākā, kereru, morepork, fantail, Zealandia, nature, korimako and bellbird. The general search key words ‘bird’ and ‘sanctuary’ were not used as they generated many irrelevant listings.

A total of 666 listings were recorded during the specified time frame. This was made up of 224 sale listings, 266 rental listings and 176 flatmate-wanted listings.

Amber Bill, Wellington City Council’s Open Space and Parks Manager, says the research, jointly funded by the University and the Council, shows how urban biodiversity can provide various economic benefits to the city.

“Heidy’s research shows how nature in the city holds much more potential for the Capital beyond just tourism. Money and economics are intrinsically tied to nature and by tapping into this notion we can hopefully work to take better advantage of this selling opportunity.”

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says: “Harmony between the built and natural environments shows a good economy is highly compatible with caring for our biodiversity. Wellington is a truly biophilic city.”

Cr Helene Ritchie, the City Council’s Natural Environment Portfolio Leader, says the survey results “back up what most Wellingtonians have figured out over the past few years – that the renewed presence of tui, kereru, kākā and other native birds in our suburbs is making Wellington an even more attractive place to live.”

"But let's not forget Zealandia exists as a restoration of our natural environment , not for real estate sale prices or sales!"

Zealandia Chief Executive Paul Atkins says: “Zealandia’s impact and value is increasingly being experienced well beyond our unique predator proof fence and we are delighted that this study recognises this significant contribution to the quality of life in our city.”

TradeMe was the sole site analysed to avoid recording duplicates of properties listed on multiple sites.

The Council hopes more robust analysis of the data will be carried out in coming years. A comparison of property sales would show whether properties promoted with ‘natural’ values were associated with higher financial return, says Amber Bill.