Larry Schlesinger | 19 February 2013

Rental market tightens in January to national vacancy rate of 1.9% mainly due to seasonality: SQM

There was a noticeable drop in the number of houses and units available to rent in January, but this is mainly attributable to seasonal factors, says SQM Research director Louis Christopher. 

The national vacancy rate tightened by 0.4 percentage points from 2.3% to 1.9% over January with just over 54,000 properties available for rent across the eight capital city markets compared with 63,000 in December. 

All capital cities recorded tightening rental markets led by Melbourne where the vacancy rate tightened from 3.6% in December to 3% in January with 2,600 fewer rental properties available for lease. 

Perth remains the tightest capital city rental market with its vacancy rate tightening from 0.9% to 0.8% - a distressing sign for Perth renters. 

Other capital city vacancy rates are: Adelaide (1.4%), Brisbane (1.9%), Canberra (1.5%), Sydney (1.6%), Darwin (1.4%) and Hobart (1.9%). 

SQM Research points out that the January decline in vacancies is similar to that of the month’s preceding the Christmas period, “strengthening the assumption that December’s elevated figures were due predominantly to seasonality”.  

Year on year, SQM Research has record a modest national increase of 0.1% with many of the capital cities’ vacancy rates remaining relatively the same. 

Canberra and Darwin however, have recorded the most dramatic yearly differences with Canberra increasing by 0.8% in vacancies and Darwin by 0.4%. 

“Thus as it currently stands, the rental market although loosening somewhat since the corresponding period of the previous year (January 2012) remains for the most part - tight, with the majority of capital cities excluding Melbourne, continuing to record vacancy rates of under 3%,” says Christopher. 

“Having said this, SQM Research believes with a housing recovery commencing in many parts of the country, the rental crisis that many localities have been experiencing over the past 12 months, may slowly begin to be alleviated, with potential first home buyers who have been sitting tight, now beginning exit the rental market to purchase their own homes. 

“Taking into account seasonality, vacancy rates have proven to be very steady over the past two years now for the major capital cities. We note that in Hobart, there appears to be a tightening in vacancies once again, which may help existing real estate investors in what has been a severe downturn for that city.

“When considering more micro localities, there are some clear pockets of oversupply and under supply such as Melbourne’s Southbank, which is recording a very high vacancy rate of 10.9% right now.  This goes to show it is important to consider the local factors as well as the greater macro tides.”

Vacancy rates for individual postcodes are available on the SQM Research.

SQM’s calculations of vacancies are based on online rental listings that have been advertised for three weeks or more compared to the total number of established rental properties.

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