Christchurch's rental property market has continued its strong growth in listings as Wellington declines and Auckland stands still, Trade Me Property's analysis of the final quarter of 2013 shows.
Nationwide, the number of rental properties listed on Trade Me's property section in the three months to December was down 2 per cent on a year ago.
The level of inquiry emails from tenants was up across the country, rising 5 per cent on the same time last year, while the average rent was up 6 per cent.
Trade Me Property acting head Jimmy McGee said Christchurch and Wellington stood out for different reasons.
Christchurch continued its "record-level growth", with the number of listings increasing 24 per cent.
The central city had the biggest jump in available properties, with listing numbers up 37 per cent. St Albans and Merivale were up 12 per cent and 9 per cent respectively.
"There were nearly 1000 more listings on Trade Me Property in Canterbury in the final quarter of 2013 than a year ago," McGee said.
"The rebuild phenomenon continues to drive listings growth and rent increases in the city.
"We're still seeing a significant proportion of short-term, high-rent listings driving the market as displaced homeowners move out for insurance repairs."
Some high-priced properties pushed Canterbury's average rent to the highest in the country at $535, underpinned by short-term rentals.
Wellington had the biggest overall decline in rental listings on Trade Me, down 17 per cent on the same period last year.
"We saw a dip in properties for rent in Wellington, primarily driven by a softer apartment rental market," McGee said.
"There were several new apartment complexes looking for tenants this time last year, but it's quieter this year."
Tenant inquiry levels were up 21 per cent across the Wellington region, with Newtown (up 41 per cent) and Karori (up 24 per cent) proving the most popular.
"With the supply side tightening, it's no surprise to see the demand from prospective tenants increase," McGee said.
"Landlords in Wellington with good properties are in the box seat at present."
He said the Auckland rental market was "steady as she goes" compared with the other major metropolitan areas.
"We've seen the number of available listings dip 3 per cent on last year. Average rent is up 3 per cent across the region and tenant inquiries were up 2 per cent," he said.
Mt Roskill saw the most growth in the Auckland region, with listings up 31 per cent.
McGee said a key driver of the rental market may be the banks' new loan-to-value lending ratios.
"As the LVR rules lock potential houseowners out of the market, more people will be forced to sit tight in their rental homes as they keep saving hard for a deposit."
He said the bigger driving force may be the improvement in the economic outlook.
"There's strong underlying demand for rental properties," he said.
"Rising consumer confidence means that asking prices may continue to rise strongly."
- Fairfax Media