Housing: Rental prices blast off as availability plummets

New Zealand rents have jumped again while the availability of rental properties is also plummeting.

According to the latest data from Trade Me's rental price index, the national median rent in January hit $570 - up 6 percent year on year.

All-time high median rents were recorded in Wellington ($650), Auckland ($610), Hawke's Bay ($570), Nelson/Tasman ($550), Waikato ($510), Marlborough ($500) and Southland ($400).

The largest annual percentage increases were in Hawke's Bay and Southland (up 14 percent each) followed by Taranaki (13 percent).

Every New Zealand region also saw a decrease in the number of rentals available last month, Trade Me Property sales director Gavin Lloyd said.

"We saw a year-on-year supply decrease of 12 percent nationwide, with the largest drops seen in Nelson/Tasman (down 42 percent), Canterbury (down 33 percent) and Bay of Plenty (down 30 percent)," Lloyd said.

"With the number of rentals available seeing a significant year-on-year decline in January, demand just did not slow down enough to have an impact on prices, especially considering we have now seen the market run so hot for such an extended period."

Nationwide demand for rentals dropped 8 percent year-on-year in January, the data shows.

"Taranaki (down 27 percent), Hawke's Bay (down 26 percent) and Nelson/Tasman (down 22 percent) saw the biggest drops when compared with the same month in 2021. 

"On the other hand, Canterbury (up 26 percent), Manawatū/Whanganui (up 16 percent), Waikato (up 3 percent) and Otago (1 percent) were the only regions to buck the trend and see an annual increase in demand last month."

Taking a closer look at the regions, Wellington's most expensive regions for median rent prices were Wellington City ($675), Porirua ($655) and Kapiti Coast ($640).

Demand was down in Wellington by 17 percent while supply dipped 12 percent.

The most popular rental in Wellington last month was found in the suburb of Haitaitai on Hamilton Rd. It was a two-bedroom unit with a weekly rent of $550 and received nearly 140 expressions of interest during its first 48 hours on Trade Me.

In Auckland, median rent increased by $10 to $610 - the city's first spike since September. It rose 3 percent in Auckland City to $590.

Demand in Auckland was down 15 percent compared to January last year, while supply fell by 3 percent.

"Last month's most popular Auckland rental was a four-bedroom house on Summer St in Ponsonby," Lloyd said. "It had a weekly rent of $1100 and received 121 enquiries in its first two days onsite."

The median weekly rent for 3-4 bedroom properties across New Zealand saw the biggest annual increase of 8 percent to $650, the Trade Me data shows.