Cost to rent in most regions heats up ahead of summer

October rental listings indicate that rents are rising and enquiries are up ahead of Christmas.
October rental listings indicate that rents are rising and enquiries are up ahead of Christmas. Photo credit: Getty

Rents are on the rise and prospective tenants looking to secure a property before Christmas should be prepared to pay more.

Compared to October 2018, last month saw double-digit rises in median weekly rents, coupled with a high number of enquiries, indicating that demand for quality rentals is already hot.

Based on median weekly rents of Trade Me Property rental listings in the month of October, the cost to rent a property in New Zealand's three largest cities rose between $20 and $40 per week, compared to October 2018.

Compared to the cities of Auckland and Christchurch, Wellington city commanded the highest median weekly rent of $580, coupled with the highest annual median rent rise of 7.4 percent, compared to October 2018.

The median weekly rent in Christchurch city rose by 5 percent, to $420, while in Auckland city, it rose by 3.6 percent, to $570.

Aaron Clancy, head of rentals at Trade Me, said that landlords are fielding a high number of tenant enquiries, indicating that many renters are trying to get ahead of the game and secure a property before Christmas.

"October saw a growing demand for rentals in our three main metros, with the number of enquiries on rentals in Christchurch city rising a staggering 28 percent on October 2018," Clancy said.

Enquiries on rental properties within Auckland city during October were up 14 percent compared with October last year, while in Wellington city, enquiries were up by 7 percent.

The most popular rental property in New Zealand

Rental enquiries are up in the three main cities, but the property fielding the highest amount of interest across the country last month is located in Fairfield Avenue in Fairfield, Lower Hutt.

"The two-bedroom house was listed for $340 per week in October and saw an incredible 117 enquiries in the first two days onsite," Clancy confirmed.

Outside of Fairfield, other Wellington-based properties that attracted a similar level of interest in October were located in Mortimer Terrace in Aro Valley and Randwick Crescent in Woburn, attracting 101 and 93 enquiries respectively over the first two days they were listed on Trade Me's web site.

How much are Kiwi renters paying?

Trade Me Property results for October show that the median cost for Kiwis renting a home across all property types is $500 per week, up 4.2 percent compared to October last year.

The rental market appears to be more active than a year ago, with the number of enquiries on rental listings up 17 percent last month, compared to October 2018.

Aside from Northland, almost every region saw a year-on-year increase in median rent last month, with double-digit growth in the Hawkes Bay, Manawatu/Wanganui, the West Coast and Wellington regions.

Which region had the highest percentage rent increase?

Outside of the three largest cities, renters are facing are similar situation of rising rents.

In the Hawkes Bay region, the median weekly rent (October 2019 compared to October 2018), rose by 18.4 percent to $450, while rents in the Waikato and Manawatu/Wanganui regions reached new records.

In the West Coast, the median weekly rent rose by 15.4 percent to $300, while in the Manawatu/Wanganui region, the median weekly rent rose by 14.7 percent, to $390.  

Median weekly rents in the Waikato region rose by a more modest 6 percent year-on-year, to $445.

Median rent by region.
Median rent by region. Photo credit: TradeMe

Wellington or Auckland: where do renters pay more?

Rental properties within the Wellington region generated the highest increase in rental enquiries year-on-year, up 13 percent compared to October 2018.

'The median weekly rent in the Wellington region increased by 11.1 percent compared to October last year, to $550.

"Taking a closer look at the region, rents in Wellington city rose by 7.4 percent to $580, rents in Porirua were up 10 percent to $550 and Lower Hutt saw the median weekly rent rise [by] 15.6 percent, to $520," Clancy confirmed.

Additionally, the number of rental properties available in Wellington jumped 12 percent last month, compared to the previous month of September. 

"We've seen an increasing number of Wellington tenants looking for rentals outside the city centre, in the traditionally quieter areas, like Lower Hutt and Porirua, opting for a longer commute and more affordable rents," Clancy said.

The number of enquiries on rentals in the Auckland region rose by 21 percent in October, compared to the same period last year, coupled with a small drop in the number of listings.

While a rental property located in Lower Hutt fetched the highest number of enquiries in October (117), in the Auckland region, the most popular rental was a three-bedroom house located in Oreil Ave, West Harbour, generating 75 enquiries in the first two days onsite.

Similarly, an Auckland-based property in Vine Street, Mangere East generated 55 enquiries in the first two days.

"After a quiet couple of months, the median weekly rent in [the] Auckland [region] rose [by] 1.8 percent year-on-year, to $560," Clancy confirmed.

The Auckland districts with the highest increase in median weekly for October were Waiheke Island and Waitakere City: Waiheke Island jumped by 18 percent to $580, while Waitakere City had a more modest 5 percent boost, to $530.

October's median weekly rent of $560 in the Auckland region just pips $550 for the Wellington region, indicating that the cost to rent in the two largest cities is almost neck-on-neck.

Tips for renters wanting to get in ahead of the game

February and March are typically the busiest time of the year for people looking to rent.  For those wanting to get ahead of the game and secure a property before Christmas,  Samantha Arnold, property management at Barfoot & Thompson provides the following tips:

  • Pre-planning gives you the most agility: if you're seriously looking versus browsing for interest, make sure you have your paperwork in place before you click your mouse or open a browser 
  • Make sure you have funds for a deposit - and your first rental payment - ready to transfer. Once you see the ideal property, you can apply immediately, edging out those who are keen but are not as prepared, placing you at the front of the queue
  • Act fast! If you wait until the weekend to schedule a viewing, [the property] may slip away from you
  • Dress smartly and be on time for viewings with owners and property managers 
  • Sign-up for alerts on properties of interest to [be notified of] new listings as soon as they become available
  • Be diligent with follow-up. After leaving your meeting or open home with a landlord or property manager, make contact [and] ask follow-up questions
  • Be flexible on the move-in date.  Other than [paying] the upfront rent [renters aren't] required to pay rent until they move in.  

"Rental properties tend to come up before Christmas and again [in] February and March.  Property managers [generally] try to avoid the Christmas period as a move date, as people are less available to view properties and we like to ensure [there's] not too large a gap between tenancies," Arnold said.

With rents on the rise and the level of demand from renters looking strong ahead of Christmas, renters are well-advised to do their homework and consider starting their search now to avoid the summer rush.