Renters have been sheltered from the otherwise volatile housing market with rental prices remaining steady over the past months and up just over 5 per cent on a year ago, Trade Me Property says.
For the fifth consecutive month the stable rental market saw national median rent remained unchanged at $400 per week, head of Trade Me Property Nigel Jefferies said.
"We saw the national median weekly rental land at $385 in January, then it gradually eased up to $400 in the middle of the year. It stayed there for the rest of 2014."
The situation for rentals was "chalk and cheese" when compared to the property for sale market, he said.
"Around residential property for sale we've seen continuous price pressure and an inflation rate of over 12 per cent throughout 2014. Clearly many landlords are more focused on capital appreciation rather than yield."
The focus on long-term focus on capital growth was even more evident with the five-year trend in rents showing a rise of just $50 per week from a median weekly rent of $350 in December 2009, to $400 per week in December last year - up 14.3 per cent, Mr Jefferies said.
Trends in rents across many regions were equally moderate.
Auckland has ended the year at the same weekly level as a year ago, with a median asking rent of $450 per week.
Of the major metro areas, only Wellington and Christchurch saw increases through last year, with median weekly rents up 3.9 per cent and 4.8 per cent respectively.
Only two of the fifteen regions showed double-digit growth for the year with the Bay of Plenty median asking rents up 13 per cent to $340 per week, and Taranaki up just under 13 per cent to $350 per week.
In contrast, only two regions showed falls in rents with Manawatu/Wanganui median asking rents down 4 per cent to $230 per week and the West Coast down nearly 6 per cent to $250 per week.
Mr Jefferies said "the heart of the rental market" was medium-sized homes of three or four bedrooms.
"These are the most sought after by tenants and continue to be the driver of rental prices across the country's three major metro markets."
Regional median rental price percentage comparison in the year to December 2014:
Northland: +5.3 per cent
Auckland: no change
Waikato: +6.3 per cent
Bay of Plenty: +13.3 per cent
Gisborne: no change
Taranaki: +12.9 per cent
Hawkes Bay: +0.8 per cent
Manawatu/Wanganui: -4.2 per cent
Wellington: +3.9 per cent
Nelson/Tasman: +2.9 per cent
Marlborough: +6.0 per cent
West Coast: -5.7 per cent
Canterbury: +4.8 per cent
Otago: +6.7 per cent
Southland: +6.8 per cent