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Winter Slows the Rental Listings

Prices have risen, but listings are down across the country

By: Sally Lindsay

23 August 2023

The rental market has cooled with rents stagnant, demand down and supply falling.

Trade Me’s latest Rental Price Index shows the national median weekly rent held at $620 for the second consecutive month in July.

Compared to July last year, tenants are still paying $40 more per week in rent, and Auckland tenants have faced the biggest increase at $70 more per week.

Nationwide, supply and demand for rental properties was down last month, with 3 per cent fewer listings, and 2 per cent fewer enquiries compared to June.

“Fewer rentals on the market are not entirely surprising, given the cold snap has well and truly hit and people don’t tend to want to move in the winter months,” says Gavin Lloyd, Trade Me’s property sales director.

He says even though winter is a traditionally slow time for the rental market, it is even quieter than usual. He expects the market will start picking up again in spring. “It will be interesting to see if landlords respond to the lack of demand with lower rents.”

Bucking the trend

A few regions bucked the nationwide trend, including Canterbury, which had a 7 per cent lift in listings and 13 per cent more enquiries.

Prices in Canterbury also remained stable with a median rent of $550 per week – the same since May.

“Canterbury has been fairly steady, but renters are still paying $50 a week more than this time last year,” Lloyd says.

In Christchurch rents reached a new record in July of $550 per week, up 10 per cent on the year prior. “This will be hurting the pockets of renters as they face cost of living increases across the board.”

Regions impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle continue to suffer dropping supply and demand in Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay.

Gisborne listings were down 26 per cent year-on-year, while enquiries were down 16 per cent. Hawke’s Bay is faring slightly better, with listings down 15 per cent and enquiries down 7 per cent compared with July last year.

Marlborough, a popular region for rentals, had 29 per cent more listings last month and 20 per cent more compared to last year.

Wellington rents stable

Wellington rents have been sitting stagnant at $650 per week since March this year.

Following the region’s record-high median weekly rent recorded in January at $660 per week, rents in the capital have dropped $10 per week, and have remained at $650 for the last four months.

Compared to last year, Wellington tenants are now paying $40 a week more. The most expensive Wellington areas are Porirua at $680, Lower Hutt at $650, and Wellington city, $650.

The most popular rental listing in the Wellington region last month was a two-bedroom Pipitea home for $600 a week, which generated 3,500 views and 128 enquiries in its first seven days onsite.

Driving demand

While prices might be staying stable for renters, urban options in city centres remain popular – with apartments, townhouses and units in strong demand.

For the second month in a row, Auckland and Christchurch urban properties have set record highs.

The median weekly rent for an Auckland apartment is $580 – up 16 per cent. Likewise, units are $540 – up 8 per cent.

Townhouses in Christchurch hit a record high of $540 per week, up 9 per cent.

Auckland and Wellington urban properties (apartments, townhouses and units) are creeping towards the $600 mark, with Auckland city at $595 and Wellington $590.

“Apartments are popular options in central cities – especially post-pandemic,” Lloyd says. There has been a strong rebound of people wanting to be closer to the action that a city centre has to offer.

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