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Are Listings Increasing?

Hamilton rental listings suddenly lifted WE Mon 18th Nov, after following below the trend last year with a minor upward lift starting in September, there was a 14% increase in listings this last 2 weeks. No other region is showing significant change. My research into population vs consents below, suggests it may.

Looking through listings, there are a number of new apartment blocks on the market and that would seem to be the driver, but no detail is obvious.

Notice that 2018 line (thick black) suddenly rises from 600 last week, having risen a little the week before. Inventory is now equal to 2015/16 and rising. The market has delivered plenty of rental housing quickly - is this to be repeated in other centres (Wellington and Tauranga) in the next few months?


Taking a look at New Building Consents, the NZ market is at a peak compared to any previous time, and in fact looks well over any average over the last 28 years. Each line is indexed to the average for that region, where 1000 represents the average. This provides a fair comparison, showing:

  • The national average - the most reliable population measure, this supports the remaining data since it is close to every region.
  • The Govt sponsored boom in Christchurch
  • The earlier boom in Auckland & Wellington 2002-04, followed by a building bust that lasted until 2013
  • The boom in Hamilton that lasted until 2007 and has started again, in 2017 exceeding all other regions.


The problem with indexing consents is that we do not know what year to index against, if I change the year the conclusion changes, hence why I used average consents, but this is still limited. Consents data on its own is not enough.

Our other data suggests that Wellington is very short of properties, but there is not such a large a boom as other regions, so does that mean the market will remain short of properties for quite a while?

Population increases have been estimated by the Stats Department since the last census in 2013, so is the population estimate by Stats correct? Internal migration away from Auckland is high, yet most of the new people are attached to Auckland as shown below.


Thinking about how to present consents in a meaningful way I tried to compare consents to the increase in population. ie if there are normally about 2 people per household, then new buildings should be about 2 per new member of the population.

So I have plotted the population increase (from Stats Dept estimates) divided by new building consents (Stats Department measure). I included national totals to provide the best comparison. Note that results in new people per consent as the measure of buildings growth.

I do not have a strong conclusion on this chart, but leave it here for comment. I have added some comment below

In Auckland the population growth (including births, deaths and net immigration) is often four times the rate of consents, ie if the population per household was to stay at 2.5, then this is way too many new people per new house. That would have created a massive bow-wave of empty houses, and maybe that is why my charts of rental vacancies were high prior to 2014 and fell sharply in 2014-2015, ie many new houses started being built. That also explains why there are more than enough private rentals in Auckland, we have already been overbuilding, but that has slowed last year to replacement levels.

Note that Auckland’s so-called housing crisis is a crisis of subsidised housing, not private dwellings. Prices are high most likely due to speculative impact.

The levels of “new people per consent” could be high due to more people or fewer consents, so conclusions need to be careful about which is the cause or effect, they are inter-related. However over 2 means too many people or too few houses, under 2 means too many houses or too few people to fill them (I suspect too many houses)

My pick is that the Government pushed building beyond what the market would bear and the market is now contracting, not growing.

Jonette 2011