First up, tenant numbers are down. That's very noticeable, so despite stories popping up about landlords being trampled down in the rush with "a hundred people" coming to their viewings, it's not my experience, I'm sorry to say. Vacancy times are up, tenant applications are fewer, and the Wellington market seems to be less than frantic.
So what does that mean for Landlords?
Truth be told, it means rents are not soaring, even though John Campbell keeps telling us they are. That's certainly happening in Christchurch and Auckland, but not here in the Capital. A recent chat I had with a friend who has many of his own rental produced the tale of his most popular and "always the first to rent" property remaining vacant for three weeks, and him having to drop the advertised rent rate by $40 per week, even though the place had been completely earthquake strengthened and refitted throughout.
Having said that, the Hutt Valley seems to be steadily rolling on with reasonably strong rent rates, and more applicants and less vacancy time than in the city. As you might expect, family homes are the better bet in the Hutt, and are much sought after. Smaller two and one bedroom units and flats remain steady, but the top end properties in the more expensive suburbs are suffering a little.
In Wellington City, we are finding that furnished flats and apartments are shifting fairly quickly with good rents, but some of the standard three and four bedroom stock I'd expect to rent quickly are sitting vacant so that may be a reflection of the changes in the employment market in Wellington. Even student flats are not shifting as quickly as could be expected, and I can't offer an explanation for that either.
Now Autumn is upon us, and winter is lining up next, so as a landlord you should be looking to sign up fixed term tenancies through to January/February 2014 to protect you from rent loss and vacancy over the Christmas period. You should also be exploring insulation and heating options for your rental, perhaps scheduling in a spare weekend for some internal painting to spruce your place up, and even dragging the chainsaw out of the back of the shed and trimming a few trees and bushes around the place.
Better still, get someone to look after the place for you. Maybe I can put you on to somebody....?
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