People keen to make the most of the Western Bay's stellar outdoors are facing hot competition for coastal and rural rental properties, a local property manager says.
This is despite a reported drop in local rental property demand.
Latest figures from Trade Me's quarterly rent analysis reveals the number of emails regarding Tauranga rental properties between January and March dropped nine per cent since a year ago.
The number of rental properties listed on the website increased slightly, up one per cent for the year. Average weekly rent remained unchanged, at $365.
Bay single mother Karen McMahon, 22, and her 6-month-old son Axle, this year moved into a small two-bedroom cottage in rural Pyes Pa after searching for weeks for something suitable.
Ms McMahon, a part-time early childcare teacher, said she finally found the $250-a-week property advertised on Trade Me after trawling through the website's on-line listings and local newspapers every day for two to three months.
"I did look into renting at the Mount but it was far too pricey," she said. "Some of the other properties I enquired about were already gone, and other landlords were reluctant to rent to a solo parent.
"So when this cottage was available I jumped at the chance," she told the Bay of Plenty Times.
"I feel so lucky as this property ticks all the boxes. I absolutely love living here because of the lifestyle, especially having our own large section area. I couldn't ask for better landlords."
Be Home Realty Ltd property manager Merv Fitzgibbon said the local rental market remained strong.
"At this point in time, we've got more applicants than we do properties.
"We normally sit on 30 to 40 properties and we're down to about 12 at the moment."
Areas such as Pyes Pa had become increasingly popular, he said.
"It's semi-rural and people think that if they're living over there, they're getting out of the city."
As of last night, 551 Tauranga rental properties were listed on the Trade Me website.
Mr Fitzgibbon said an influx of new Western Bay residents had also contributed to high rental demand.
"People from Napier and Gisborne way, they're all coming here with jobs lined up [and looking for homes]."
Nationally, the average asking rent in the three months to March was three per cent higher than the same period last year, despite weaker market interest and higher numbers of available rentals.
Brendon Skipper, head of Property at Trade Me, said investors returning to the property market had contributed to the overall increase in rental properties, which was up five per cent compared to last year, figures showed.
Low interest rates and a buoyant sales market helped lure investor buyers back, he said.
"Tenants have more choice, but landlords with well-presented and realistically-priced rentals won't have problems tenanting their properties.
"While we have seen a drop in demand, there is plenty of movement and plenty of tenants wanting to find a good property."
Interest dipped sightly, with two per cent less emails from prospective tenants during the three-month period, compared to a year ago.
Simon Martin, managing director of Harcourts Advantage Realty, said there would always be demand for homes in coastal areas such as Mount Maunganui and Papamoa, particularly three-bedroom homes with a garage, but at the end of the day the rent will often drive the renter's decisions.