Marlborough Property Investors' Association

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Quake helps property managers and vacancy levels

The earthquake in Canterbury has been good for vacancy levels in the Christchurch rental market.

"Vacancies are as low as they have ever been," Harcourts chief executive Hayden Duncan says.

He is well placed to comment on levels as Harcourts claims around 60% market share of the city's property management market.

He also says there has been an increase in the number of people who are now putting their rental properties under a manager.

Landlords, both locally and from out of town, "are throwing their hands in the air" and deciding to hand the property over to a manager to deal with.

Canterbury Property Investors Association Kim Willems says the property managers she has been talking to have had every single available vacant property snapped up as soon as tenants walk in the door.

But, she says this is probably coming about because tenants are walking into property management offices rather than going to private landlords or looking for themselves on Trade Me.

"An actual office is more visual," she says.

"People are saying they'll take properties as soon as they walk in because it's security."

But Willems believes the main push is still to come, as many people still don't know what will happen with their own homes and whether it will need to be repaired, knocked down and rebuilt, or if they'll need to move or build somewhere else.

Duncan says the real estate sales market has slowed down since the quakes started, largely due to insurance issues, however things are still happening. For instance Harcourts are still running auctions and doing deals - albeit at a lower level than previously.

He says while there has been a lot of damage in Christchurch the large majority of buildings have not sustained major damage.

There has been a lot of talk over what the quake will do for house prices in the region and Duncan is of the view that prices may change in some areas.

Some area will have been stigmatised by the damage and will see prices come down, other areas which have survived the quakes relative in tact may command some sort of premium.

One area which has been in the news recently is Bexley, and people are now questioning whether the residential subdivision should have ever gained consent from the Christchurch City Council.