Real estate agency Barfoot & Thompson said yesterday the vacancy rate on its portfolio of 14,000 rental properties had been steady at 1-2% for at least a year. That means properties are empty for only 5 days between tenants.
Director Kiri Barfoot said average rent increased by 4.6% in the first quarter of 2017 compared to that quarter last year, and the average weekly rent for a 3-bedroom home rose from $509 to $531.
For new tenancies, the average rent had increased by 7%.
Barfoots’ data showed that for every rental property that became available, on average there were 44 prospective tenants. The agency’s property management division received 107,268 enquiries during the first quarter.
Ms Barfoot said the agency introduced online booking for rental property viewings in 2015: “Tenants are able to enquire about a property anytime and questions can be responded to around the clock. It has streamlined the entire process for renting by opening up communication, giving automatic reminders for viewings and providing an easy link for people to apply for a property with no paper forms required.
“The system has also given us data on rental property demand. On average around 20 people register online to view a property, but we’ve seen incredibly high demand in some instances. A record 105 people registered online to view a single rental property in Epsom recently.”
Ms Barfoot said that, as of Monday, the agency had just 209 homes available for rent in the central & eastern suburbs of the isthmus: “Most central suburbs have 3 or fewer properties for renters to choose from. The situation is replicated across the rest of Auckland. On the North Shore there are 77 properties, in Waitakere 71, and in Manukau 133.
“We are Auckland’s largest private property management provider. The number of properties we manage has been increasing 9% year-on-year, so it’s not a matter of fewer listings; rather, there are simply not enough rental properties to go around.”
Average rent rising faster for new tenancies
She said average Auckland rent continued to rise at a relatively reasonable pace despite the high demand for rentals, increasing property sale prices and more restrictions on finance for buying properties.
Around the region, renters paid about 4.6% more on average in the January-March quarter of 2017, compared with the same quarter the year before. Average weekly rent across all property types and locations was $531, up from $508.
Average rent rose more in South Auckland (6.4%), and slightly less in Central Auckland (2.8%), Franklin/Manukau (3.2%) & Pakuranga/Howick (3.4%).
For new tenancies only, average weekly rent rose 7%, from $533 in the first quarter of 2016 to $571. Annual increases later in 2016 were 6.1% in the second quarter, 2.4% in the third & 4.6% in the fourth.
“There are fluctuations in rent for new tenancies; however, rent for new tenancies is rising. Landlords are having to face the reality of needing cashflow to maintain & improve their property, cover increasing insurance & rates, and to prepare for increasing interest & compliance costs.
“Landlords typically own one, maybe 2 properties. Residential property is a conservative investment and landlords don’t like increasing rent. They prefer a trustworthy long-term tenant who pays the rent on time and looks after the property. When a property is vacated, this is a far better time to balance costs versus incoming rent.”
One- & 2-bedroom rents continue to lead increases
Ms Barfoot said the largest rent increases in terms of property size were for one- & 2-bedroom homes for the last 2 quarters. For the first quarter of 2017, one-bedroom properties averaged $348/week (up 5.5% from $330 in the first quarter of 2016), and 2 bedrooms $437 (up 5.1% from $421).
A 3-bedroom home averaged $531, rising less than 1% on the previous quarter ($525) and 4.3% on the same quarter in 2016 ($509), while 4-bedroom homes brought in $666 (up 3.8% from $641) and 5+-bedroom homes averaged $826 (up 3.7% from $796).
Attribution: Agency release.