Housing: Rental prices flat-line after 'red hot summer'

New data shows rental prices have flat-lined over the last month, a potential sign the market is beginning to cool off after a "red hot summer".

Trade Me's latest Rental Price Index, released on Tuesday morning, shows the national median weekly rent figure remained at $540 in April, unchanged from March. There has, however, been a 4 percent year-on-year increase while prices are up 23 percent since April 2016. 

Canterbury ($450), Taranaki ($460) and Waikato ($494) bucked the nationwide trend with rents in those regions reaching new records in April. 

Nationwide, demand for rentals has fallen 17 percent since March, while the number of rental properties on the market was down 9 percent. 

While Trade Me Property sales director Gavin Lloyd notes growth has slowed since the Government announced new housing measures meant to stymie skyrocketing house prices, the cooling-off may also be seasonal. 

"We expect that one reason we're seeing less rentals come on to the market is because renters are staying put. It's a highly competitive market and many tenants will be happy to stay where they are rather than enter the hot rental market," Lloyd said. 

"The winter months are typically much quieter with everyone hunkering down in the cold, and that coupled with the new string of Government initiatives designed to take the heat out of the market, may mean we see prices head south."

Housing: Rental prices flat-line after 'red hot summer'
Photo credit: Trade Me.

In Auckland, the median weekly rental figure remained at $590 for the fourth month in a row while demand fell by 17 percent and supply dropped by 7 percent on March. The most expensive areas to rent in the region in April were Papakura ($630), North Shore City ($625) and Waiheke ($625). 

Trade Me says its most popular rental listing in April was found on Puhinui Rd in Papatoetoe, Manukau City. The two-bedroom house was listed for $500 a week and received 76 enquiries within its first two days on the website. 

Further down the country in Wellington, the median rental price jumped by $5 to $595. That's $20 behind Wellington's all-time high of $615, which it reached in January. Demand was down 25 percent, while supply dropped by 14 percent month-on-month. 

Wellington City was the region's most expensive district with a median weekly rent of $610.

Every region other than Gisborne and the West Coast saw demand fall in April, while supply decreased across the board, other than in Hawke's Bay.