Resort rentals defy reported trend

A Queenstown property specialist says the town's residential rental property market has improved by 50% year on year, despite a nationwide downhill trend.

Property management director Hayley Stevenson, of Housemart Queenstown and Wanaka, said an announcement by First National Group of a doubling in residential rental vacancy across the country compared to 2010 was not consistent with Queenstown figures.

"I'm looking at our board stats for January year on year and Queenstown is pretty much on a par - we may be seeing slightly more vacancies than last year, but certainly not double," Ms Stevenson said.

Housemart had also let 50% more properties this month compared with 2010, she said.

First National Group general manager John Stewart said their quarterly survey of property managers across the country showed an overall vacancy rate of 6%, twice the 3% of January 2010.

Mr Stewart said it was a reflection of low house sales and restricted migration levels in New Zealand.

Ms Stevenson, who is also the REINZ Central Otago property management spokeswoman, said it was difficult to explain why the figures contradicted the national decline.

"You would hope it's because property managers are meeting the rental market demands. We know rental prices have come down in Queenstown, which would have an obvious effect."

REINZ Queenstown spokesman Adrien Snow agreed the 50% increase was high.

"Speaking from a slightly less informed approach, yes, there is an increase in vacancy, but nowhere near the level First National are reporting. The figures are not outside the normal flux for Queenstown and a slight decline is normal at this time of year," he said.

Asked about First National Group's tentative plans to open a Queenstown office, Mr Snow said they would be entering a "very challenging market".

"It's certainly a tight market at the moment, but Queenstown is no different from anywhere else for the right people. It's just difficult for most to operate in a recessive environment."

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