Overview of occupied and unoccupied dwellings, and house sales.

The 2010/2011 earthquakes had a significant impact on the city’s housing market. It was estimated that as many as 91% of existing dwellings in Greater Christchurch were damaged and in need of repair. Around 7,600 properties were located in the red zone and have nearly all been demolished, and a further 4,700 properties (outside of the red zone) were estimated to be damaged beyond economic repair. This has led to a pressured housing market, where demand for housing (particularly affordable housing) has at times exceeded supply.

For detailed measures about housing in Christchurch, visit the ‘Christchurch has a range and choice of housing’ pages of ‘Liveable City(external link)’ in our Community Outcomes Monitoring(external link).

Tenure and Landlord

The majority of dwellings in Christchurch are owner-occupied, although the proportion has been decreasing since 1991.


In 2013, around two thirds (65%) of private occupied dwellings in Christchurch City were either owned by the usual resident(s) or held in a family trust by one of the residents, equating to 79,100 dwellings being owner-occupied. The remaining 35% of dwellings were not owned by the usual resident(s). The rate of ownership has steadily declined since 1991.

chart of dwelling tenure

Tenure type, 1991-2013

Landlord Type

As home ownership rates have decreased over the last two decades, the number of Christchurch households paying rent to a private landlord has more than doubled between 1991 and 2013 (increasing from 14,800 to 30,800). Because the majority of rented dwellings are owned by private landlords, this has resulted in the proportion of renters who pay rent to a private landlord increasing from 63% to 83%.

In 1991, one quarter of all households renting their dwelling were making rent payments to Housing New Zealand. By 2013 this had decreased to 12%. Similarly, Christchurch City Council social housing captured a lower proportion of renter households in 2013 than at any time since 1991.

chart of landlord type

Sector of landlord for rented dwellings, 1991-2013


Dwellings: Occupied and Unoccupied

In 2013 there were 149,000 dwellings in the city. Between the 2006 and 2013 censuses, the number of unoccupied dwellings nearly doubled from 9,400 to 17,800.

The number of occupied dwellings decreased from 135,300 to 131,000 between 2006 and 2013. The number of occupied dwellings had been trending upwards until the earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, which led to wide scale property damage as well as the red zoning of large areas of land, resulting in an increase in vacant and unoccupied dwellings at the time of the 2013 census. Many were awaiting repair or demolition. A dwelling may be classed as unoccupied for three reasons: residents away, empty, or under construction. 

chart of occupied and unoccupied dwellings

Occupied Dwelling Status, 2001-2013

Occupied private dwellings

In 2013 there were 130,500 occupied private dwellings in Christchurch. The dominant type of occupied private dwelling in the city is 'separate house', comprising 72 per cent. This is followed by 'two or more flats/houses joined together', comprising 22 per cent. There was a numeric decrease for both between 2006 and 2013. 

Chart of Dwelling Type

Occupied Private Dwelling Type, 1996-2013

Occupied non-private dwellings

The number of occupied non-private dwellings increased from 540 to 582 between 2006 and 2013. There were 8,200 people living in non-private dwellings in 2013, and almost half (46%) were living in dwellings classified as 'residential care for older people'. Around 20% of were in 'educational institutions', 11% were in 'residential and community care facilities', 8% in 'hotel, motel or guest accommodation', 4% in a 'boarding house', and 4% in 'prison or penal institution'.

Christchurch Housing Accord

The Christchurch Housing Accord (2014) aims to increase the immediate and longer term supply and affordability of homes in Christchurch.

The Christchurch Housing Accord(external link) was signed and ratified by the Christchurch City Council and New Zealand Government in 2014. It acknowledges the impact of the 2010/2011 earthquakes on the city's housing stock, and takes the Land Use Recovery Plan(external link) (LURP) into account.

A quarterly monitoring programme(external link) has been established which provides an overview of the Christchurch housing market and an update on priority Accord actions. The report includes the following data and information:

  • the number of households considered to be in 'housing stress'
  • the number of residential resource consents granted (including key developments)
  • the number of residential housing consents issued, passed first inspection, and issued with code of compliance
  • the number and proportion of new build consents valued at less than $250,000
  • the number of new social housing units, and waiting list for units.
  • greenfield sections and zoning status
  • average house values
  • housing affordability index
  • rental supply
  • average rent prices
  • homelessness

 Further information and reports on regional housing affordability:

House Sales

Rapidly increasing house sale prices have had a significant impact on housing affordability, particularly for first time home buyers.

At June 2017, the city’s median house price (six-monthly running average) reached $455,000. This is the highest ever June figure for Christchurch City, but was still lower than the national figure of $523,000.

Between June 2002 and June 2007, the city’s median house price (six-monthly running average) more than doubled, increasing from $155,000 to $325,000. During this five yearly period the number of house sales was strong, with at least 600 sales per month.

Chart of monthly house sales

Monthly house sales and prices

In 2007/2008, the global financial crisis affected the property market in Christchurch, with falling house sales and a period of fluctuating median sale prices that were lower than the 2007 peak. Sale prices had started to stabilise and there was a general decline in the number of house sales.

The earthquakes of 2010/2011 had a significant impact on the housing market, as demand for housing exceeded supply, and sale prices increased rapidly to record levels. By October 2014, the city's median sale price ($425,000) matched the national median sale price.

Information about data used

Tenure and households

The 2006 and 2013 data is only broadly comparable with earlier data because there were no family trust categories prior to 2006. Dwellings in a family trust were treated as not owned in 2001. The 2001 help notes instructed respondents to mark 'no' to the ownership of dwelling question if their dwelling was in a family trust. However, respondents who did not read the help notes may have answered 'yes' to the ownership of dwelling question. So it is likely that for 2001 some households whose dwelling was in a family trust were included in the 'dwelling owned or partly owned...' categories rather than the 'dwelling not owned...' categories. 

Note: This time series is irregular. Because the 2011 Census was cancelled after the Canterbury earthquake on 22 February 2011, the gap between this census and the last one is seven years. The change in the data between 2006 and 2013 may be greater than in the usual five-year gap between censuses. Be careful when comparing trends.

Source: Statistics New Zealand, 2013 Census of Population and Dwellings(external link)


All vacant private dwellings that were damaged by the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 have been classified as 'Unoccupied, empty'. This included dwellings where the occupants had moved out while their home was being repaired, and dwellings that were to be demolished but were still standing at the time of the 2013 Census. 

Note: This time series is irregular. Because the 2011 Census was cancelled after the Canterbury earthquake on 22 February 2011, the gap between this census and the last one is seven years. The change in the data between 2006 and 2013 may be greater than in the usual five-year gap between censuses. Be careful when comparing trends.

Source: Statistics New Zealand, 2013 Census of Population and Dwellings(external link)

House Sales:

Due to variations between months, a six month running average has been used to show price trends without monthly fluctuations (i.e. the actual monthly median house sale price). As a result, visible changes in the price trend will be delayed. Prices are unadjusted for inflation and reflect the actual sale price. Figures include Lyttelton Harbour but exclude the rest of Banks Peninsula.

Source: REINZ(external link), Monthly Housing Facts