Enquiries on rentals spiked 17 percent last month compared with November 2018 as continued flat supply raises the question: will the rental market ever be able to keep up?
Based on median weekly rents of Trade Me Property rental listings for the month of November, the cost to rent in New Zealand rose by 4.2 percent compared with last November, to $500.
While there was no change to the nationwide median weekly rent between October and November this year, a jump in enquiries, together with continued flat supply continues to put pressure on the market.
Already more costly than renting in New Zealand's largest city, the median weekly rent in Wellington city rose to $585 in November - an extra $5 compared to October - well clear of Auckland city at $560 and Christchurch city at $415.
Also home to the month's most popular rental across the country, Wellington's two-bedroom house in Mitchell Street, Brooklyn was advertised at $395 per week and had 81 enquiries in the first two days it was listed online.
Properties in the Wellington suburbs of Hataitai and Naenae were also popular, each generating 75 enquiries from eager renters looking to lock in a property before Christmas.
Aaron Clancy, head of rentals at Trade Me, said that the number of properties available to rent was fairly flat compared to last year, while demand was up 17 percent.
"The trend we're seeing now suggests the peak season in summer is going to deliver some new price records.
"Demand for rentals has increased enormously year-on-year and until there's a spike in supply, high rents will be the new normal," Clancy said.
Outside of the three main cities, regional rents continue to reflect rising property prices, indicating that renters are likely to be staying put in the market for longer.
"Rents in the Manawatu/Wanganui region and Nelson/Tasman are up by 15.2 and 9.8 percent year-on-year respectively, which is a close reflection of the average asking price results [which are up] 16.7 and 7 percent for the same period," Clancy said.
While Auckland as a whole continues to take the top spot as the most expensive region to rent ($560 per week), the median weekly rent in the Wellington region rose by 10 percent ($50 per week) to $550, indicating demand in the capital is closing in.
"There is still decent demand in the Auckland market: the number of enquiries on rental properties in the region rose 21 percent [last month, compared to] November 2018," Clancy added.
While most areas around Auckland had small increases in weekly median rent compared to November 2018, Waiheke Island broke the mould (again) with a 14.3 percent jump on last November, with a weekly median rent of $600.
November's most popular rentals in Auckland were based in Hillcrest Road and Cottrell Place in Manukau City, generating 58 and 53 enquiries in the first two days respectively. Similarly, a property in Arthur Street, Auckland city generated 58 enquiries.
Compared to urban rentals, weekly median rents for apartments, townhouses and units also rose in November, with Wellington townhouses rising by 16 percent compared to November 2018, with a weekly median rent of $580.
With demand continuing to outstrip supply, renters looking to jump the queue ahead of the festive season are wise to provide the necessary information upfront to enable landlords and agents to make an informed decision.