Spike in rental activity signals early start to shifting season

Barfoot & Thompson is reporting a rapid increase in online rental property activity, signalling an early start to the traditionally busy spring and summer periods

The Auckland real estate company, which lets a portfolio of more than 13,000 properties, saw rental applications* rise 28% in August compared to July, and 61% when compared to the early winter month of May.

Rental property searches online also increased by 26% between July and August.

"This signals an early start to the 'shifting season', when tenants begin to look elsewhere for properties that might better suit their needs,” says Kiri Barfoot, who oversees the company’s property management services.

"It's a typical spring trend, but we are seeing it take hold earlier each year as people try and get in ahead of the crowds.

"It’s likely activity will also peak earlier this year – prior to, rather than after, the Christmas holidays."

Ms Barfoot says feedback from property managers revealed many tenants were thinking ahead to next winter and seeking homes that were warm and dry.

"Homes with insulation and efficient heating, such as heat pumps, are highly sought after and we encourage our landlords to upgrade their properties in this way."

To help manage the growing numbers the company has continued to invest in online services, including a ‘Book a Viewing’ app and the ability to apply to rent a property through online forms.

"This makes for a streamlined experience for the potential tenant, and provides landlords with measurable insights around the number of bookings, viewings and applications for their home, as well as feedback on how they might maximise their rental returns."

*Online submissions, representing the bulk of applications received.

Rental prices steady

While activity has increased, Ms Barfoot says rental prices are steady.

The average weekly rent** across Auckland in August increased just $4 to $496, up less than 1% on July and just 6% year-on-year (from $467 in August 2014).

This compares to a 15% increase in residential property sale prices Auckland wide.

"This indicates that landlords are not pushing to recover the full current purchase price, presenting Auckland renters with reasonable value for money."

Growth in the number of large central city apartments and sizable family homes in the Eastern suburbs were strong drivers behind the overall, albeit minor increase.

"These large and luxurious apartments in the city and substantial homes to the east are attracting top dollar."

August's weekly average for a 3+ bedroom apartment in the city was $806, while a 5+ bedroom home in the Eastern suburbs attracted $1051 on average.

Meanwhile, the more rural areas of Manukau and Franklin were the cheapest areas to rent, offering three bedroom homes for under $400 average, at $395 per week.

"These areas continue to provide renters with great value options," says Ms Barfoot.

**Reflects current weekly rents paid across Barfoot & Thompson’s full portfolio of more than 13,000 properties.

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