Below explains the differences between the two sources of rental data: what they refer to, and how they should be interpreted.

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and Trade Me data

MBIE publishes rental price data which is used to calculate market rent. Its data is also used for regional housing reports and other analytical publications.

The website Trade Me Property (“Trade Me”) produces median rent statistics.

The two data sources measure different things

Both series of rental data are valid, but they measure different things. Neither of these series measures rent paid by all tenants. Rather, they only capture the weekly rent for new rentals on the market.

Tenancy bond data

Tenancy bond data measures the average rent of actual bonds lodged by private landlords with MBIE. This series presents a measure of the actual price of newly acquired rentals. Under the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA), every landlord that receives a bond is required to lodge it with MBIE, unless it’s a tenancy specifically excluded under the RTA (e.g. holiday homes). There is no distinction between furnished and unfurnished properties in bond data which can influence the price of rentals.

Trade Me listing data

Trade Me publishes the median asking price of rentals as advertised on Trade Me Property. This is a record of the price of rentals listed on New Zealand’s biggest property website. Their Rental Price Index presents a picture of price changes of advertised rentals for people who rely on publically advertised rentals. Trade Me’s data refers to properties ‘asking’ price rather than the agreed price, meaning Trade Me data includes rentals with asking rents that have not yet been rented out.

Why MBIE’s average weekly rental from bonds is lower than Trade Me listings

The key difference between the two sources is that Tenancy bond collects more rentals less than $500pw while Trade Me has more listings in the $600pw bands as highlighted in the below graphs.

Comparison charts.

Reasons for the differences include:

  • A significant volume of rental turnover in the lower price range of $200-$500pw which are not listed on Trade Me (i.e. advertised on other media, through word-of-mouth, etc).
  • The price of bonds lodged not being the same as the asking rent on Trade Me.
  • Rental properties included in the Trade Me “asking rents” that are not let, for example rent too high, location undesirable, glut of supply, etc.

The difference is accentuated in Christchurch due to the earthquake and subsequent rebuild programme which has reduced supply and increased demand. For instance, there has been an increase in supply and demand of short-term rentals for those displaced by earthquake repairs or rebuilds. Although these rentals are listed on Trade Me, typically they do not appear on the Tenancy bond data as the landlord does not ask for a bond. In Christchurch therefore, the Tenancy bond data is more accurate in measuring changes in the longer-term rental market. 

Tenancy bond data is publically available in these places

MBIE: NZ Housing and Construction Quarterly (NZHCQ)

The NZHCQ is a monthly publication for stakeholders and people interested in the building and construction and housing sectors. It includes trends for average private rent within Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch regions from Tenancy bond data.

NZHCQ (external link)

Rental bond open data

MBIE provides monthly data on the number of bonds lodged, active bonds, mean bonds, geometric mean, synthetic upper and lower quartile rents for New Zealand as well as a Territorial Authority level.

Rental bond open data (external link)

QV: Rental analysis

QV provides a free tool which provides the number of bonds lodged, median rent, annual rent change by suburb, property type and the number of bedrooms.

QV: Rental Analysis (external link)

REINZ: Rental review

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) publishes a monthly series for a subscription of rental prices by area for selected areas around New Zealand which is sourced from MBIE’s Tenancy bond data.

REINZ: Rental Review (external link)

The difference in average rent between the two sources

Median rent from new bonds lodged and the annual change resulting from it is typically lower than Trade Me data as noted in the tables below:

 

Published 'Median Weekly Rent' October 2014 quarter
RegionMedian Rent from Trade Me Listings1Geometric Mean2 Rent from BondsAverage Rent from Bonds
New Zealand $399 $344 $377
Auckland $460 $441 $480
Wellington $397 $389 $426
Canterbury $510 $397 $425

 

Published Annual Change from October 2014 compared to October 2013
RegionMedian Rent from Trade Me Listings1Geometric Mean2 Rent from BondsAverage Rent from Bonds
New Zealand 6.4% 3.2% 3.6%
Auckland 2.2% 6.5% 5.9%
Wellington 9.5% 3.4% 4.6%
Christchurch 20.0% 4.9% 3.1%

1. Trade Me rental price index (external link)

2. MBIE: Open Data (external link)
Because the median value for rents from bonds tend to fluctuate around clusters of $50, interpreting changes in median rentals can be difficult with bond data. The ‘geometric mean’ is calculated by multiplying rents together and raising the result to the power of 1/x where x is the number of rents. Internal research conducted by MBIE suggests that this measure closely tracks median rents and therefore is the best comparison with Trade Me published medians.

In October 2014, median rent from Trade Me listings typically sits in between geometric mean (median) rent and average rent from bonds lodged. Between the regions the percentage changes can vary between the two sources with Trade Me listings showing a lower percentage change in Auckland while Wellington and Christchurch has significantly higher annual changes than bond data.