Bargains for rent

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It’s a tenants’ market for first time since late 90s, say letting agents.

More accommodation available for rent, fewer people coming through – add those together and you get a tenants’ market.

Queenstown letting agents confirm rents are coming down, just as property prices are.

“Landlords are offering some sweeteners, there’s no question about that,” says Resort Property Rentals boss Doug MacGillivray.

“They’re reducing the rent – one or two are offering a 10 or 20 per cent reduction for the first two months.”

Many two-bedroom flats have come back about $20 to $30 a week in recent months, he says.

And a three-bedroom house at Lake Hayes Estate that was $480-$500 a week “is probably down to $450-ish”, a three-bedroom Fernhill property that fetched $400-$450 would now be about $380.

“We’re talking to our landlords – do you want to keep [your tenants], are you prepared to offer them a bit of a sweetener?”

It’s a tenants’ market for the first time since the late 90s, MacGillivray suggests.

“Certain pockets are still very [strong] though – good central furnished two or three-bedroom apartments are still reasonably sought after.

“A really good two-bedroom one, close into town, well-furnished, is still around the $350-$370 [mark] because people do like to be close into town, especially if they’re working late shifts.”

However, the two-bedroom Pounamu Apartments on Frankton Road have dropped hugely, from $550-$600 a week to about $400-$450.

“We’ve had tenants who have changed properties and got something a little bit better for the same money.”

Rental demand dropped about 15 per cent over summer, says Queenstown Accommodation Centre boss Hayley Stevenson.

“When you look at some of the big employers that didn’t take on extra summer staff – those were our clients.

“With tourism being slower, there is fewer staff coming in so there’s less pressure on the houses.

“I think it’s good for the market – some of the locals that are in houses, we’ve managed to get their rents [lowered] if they were above [market value].

“It’s made those unrealistic landlords have to be realistic.

“Gone are the days where people were getting $700, $800, $900 a week – you can be living in a $600,000-$700,000 house for $500-$600, and that’s top-end.”

She adds: “For renters, it’s a good time to be moving now because there’s plenty of selection and they can make these owners an offer – some of them won’t take it, some of them will.”

Hardest to rent out are houses that are also being marketed for sale – “If people can get a fixed term lease on those that are on the market, they’re getting them at not too bad a price.”

Both MacGillivray and Stevenson expect the market will tighten again as winter staff arrives in town.

Already, QAC let out 36 houses last month compared with 26 for March last year, Stevenson says.

She’s also getting enquiries ahead of this year’s Winter Games.

Executive Accommodation boss Keith Hibbs confirms rents are dropping but insists his seven-member team are letting out as many properties as ever.

Good, well-presented property is still shifting, he says.