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Rental Price Index | March 2024

Record-breaking rents hit all-time high in March

30 April 2024

New Zealand's national rental prices have hit an all-time high, according to Trade Me's latest Rental Price Index.

The data reveals that the national median rent had jumped to a record-breaking $650 in the month of March, up 8.3 per cent compared to March 2023.

Trade Me’s Property Sales Director Gavin Lloyd said that this was well above average.

"On average rents have increased by about 6 per cent annually. While it's not the biggest annual increase we've ever seen, it is unusual to see it this high in March. We'd normally expect to see the market cool slightly as we exit summer and start heading into the colder months," he said.

"Renters are now having to fork out $50 a week more on average than they were in March 2023. That's an extra $2,600 a year which will no doubt be putting pressure on Kiwi who are already doing it tough," said Lloyd.

The sharpest increase was seen in the Manawatū/Whanganui region which was up 10 per cent on March 2023 at $550, while the Wellington region saw no change remaining at $650.

Green shoots in rental market with relief for tenants on the horizon

Demand is down and supply is up in the rental market for the second month in a row.

Compared with the same time in 2023, there were 22 per cent fewer enquiries and 3 per cent more properties available in March.

Mr Lloyd says that although this has happened from time to time over the past few years, things are looking different now. "What we're seeing now is that compared to a year ago, demand has been trending down since November."

"And on the supply side it's a similar story. It's become normal to see supply contracting but those drops in supply have been shrinking and now we're seeing a 3 per cent increase in the number of properties available compared to last year," he added.

Lloyd pointed out that although supply is catching up with demand, there's still a mismatch. "There's likely still a way to go before supply catches up with demand, but this is a really encouraging sign. If this continues, with fewer people competing for more properties we'd expect to see prices stabilise or even fall which of course will be welcome news for renters looking for a new home."

Kiwi embracing urban living

Apartments, townhouses and units are in hot demand across the motu, together jumping to a record-breaking average of $580 per week in March, 8.4 per cent more than the same time last year.

Surprisingly, prices are growing faster outside of the main city centres with 10 per cent growth to a record $550 when Auckland is excluded.

Mr Lloyd says this shows that more Kiwi in more places are beginning to embrace urban lifestyles and are happy to trade a bit of space for a great location.

He added that the rising cost of living has changed the way many people think about moving around our cities. Despite townhouse rents generally being slightly higher, Lloyd said that their convenience can sometimes offset the extra rent.

"Apartments and townhouses tend to be near good quality public transport, if not within walking distance of places people want to get to. If that means you can leave your car at home a few days a week, it can make a big difference to the wallet," he said.

In Pōneke, average rent for townhouses jumped 9 per cent compared with March last year - despite the capital seeing no change in overall rents across the same period.

Further south, Ōtautahi was seeing a notable jump in price for units reaching a record $460, up 9.5 per cent. Apartments were up too, also a record high at $525. "Throughout the rebuild of Christchruch, the city has really embraced more compact urban living," said Lloyd.

About the Trade Me Property Rental Price Index:

  • This report provides a comprehensive monthly insight into the rental market covering price trends by type and size of property across New Zealand. The index is produced from Trade Me Property data of properties that have been listed for rent onsite in the month by property managers and private landlords. On average, over 18,000 rental properties are listed onsite each month and this report provides a comprehensive insight into this part of the property market for tenants, landlords and investors. The index is calculated using the rounded median rent in the month, this being an accurate statistical assessment of the current advertised rent being charged by landlords and property managers.
  • More info: For information about the differences between the Trade Me Property data and bond data collected by Tenancy Services, please read this post by Dr Lucy Telfar-Barnard from the University of Otago: