Bay rents falling as demand subsides

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Bay rents have dipped following a lull in demand for rental accommodation, new figures reveal.

But a local property manager says tenants are now back in the market looking for new homes.

New Trade Me property figures show Bay rental listings for the last quarter increased 6 per cent year-on-year, while demand edged 2 per cent higher.

The average rents have fallen by 1 per cent.

However, Be Home Realty property manager Josh Fitzgibbon said he had been noticing the reverse.

"We've had massive amounts of demand for top-quality apartments at the Mount. We have had a huge increase in families looking for a change.

"We have probably annihilated our listings by 40 per cent in the last two weeks."

Mr Fitzgibbon said demand had been across the board, from families to beneficiaries.

"We have a lowered amount of listings in the Papamoa region, definitely.

"If we get a four-bedroom for say $450 in Cambridge Heights, Bethlehem, Pyes Pa, smack, it's gone like that."

The latest Trade Me Property figures show supply is outstripping demand for rentals in almost all regions, bringing rents to a standstill.

The quarterly figures - covering October to December last year - show the number of available listings rose 8 per cent year-on-year, led by double-digit growth in Manukau, North Shore, Wellington, and Hamilton.

The figures were a turnaround from the previous year, Trade Me head of property Brendon Skipper said.

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand chief executive Helen O'SullivanThe change could be the result of renters moving into home ownership amid record low interest rates and people staying put in their rentals longer, he said.

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) chief executive Helen O'Sullivan agreed and said the figures also reflected a time of year when many students left their flats and people were winding down, so less likely to move.

Christchurch, however, was an exception and remained at odds with the rest of the country, Mr Skipper said.

"The long-term impact of the earthquake on rental stock continues to bite, with listings down 18 per cent on a year ago.

"Good properties remain in hot demand with the average level of inquiry up 22 per cent compared to last year, and asking rents are up a massive 26 per cent."

Many landlords outside Christchurch were struggling in over-supplied rental markets, and may need to drop asking rents to lure tenants, he said.

The exception was for student-friendly properties in university towns, including Dunedin and Palmerston North, where the annual flat-hunting season was under way.

In spite of the figures, there was always demand for good-quality rentals in desirable suburbs, both Mr Skipper and Ms O'Sullivan said.

New sales figures from REINZ showed the national median house price reached a new record of $389,000 in December - up almost 10 per cent year-on-year.

Strong demand also drove the number of sales to the highest level since 2007 - up 21 per cent on December 2011.

"The key drivers in 2012 were the Auckland and Canterbury/Westland regions, which together make up over half the real estate activity in New Zealand," Ms O'Sullivan said.

"Supply constraints resulted in significant price gains that have not been achieved elsewhere."

A key development in 2012 was the growth of sales by auction, which grew by more than two-thirds compared to 2011.

By the numbers

$349,000 - Tauranga median sale price for December, 102 properties sold

$343,000 - Tauranga median sale price for November, 143 properties sold

$315,500 - Tauranga median sale price for December 2011, 108 properties sold

New national median house price record of $389,000, up 9.6 per cent on December 2011

74,000 houses sold during 2012, a 21 per cent increase on 2011 and the highest annual total since 2007

$33.95 billion - total value of residential sales for the 12 months ended December 2012 (excluding sections)

Source: REINZ

- Bay of Plenty Times

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