Rental vacancies rose in all mainland capital cities over December with Melbourne recording the highest vacancy rate of 3.6% - up 0.4 percentage points - with over 15,000 properties available for rent, according to the latest SQM Research figures.
The only capital city to buck the trend or rising rental vacancies was Hobart, where the vacancy rate eased marginally from 2.1% to 2% with 549 properties available for rent.
Perth remains the tightest capital city rental market with a vacancy rate of 0.9%, up from 0.7% in November, but unchanged on a year ago with 1,710 properties available for rent.
Sydney still favouring landlords with a vacancy rate of 2.1%, up from 1.8% in November, well below what is considered a balanced rental vacancy rate of 3%.
Melbourne, with a vacancy rate of 3.6% favours tenants and is described by Australian Property Monitors as the most “tenant friendly” capital city market in Australia.
Nationally, the vacancy rate increased by 0.4 percentage points to 2.3% with to a total of 63,089 rental listings following a rise in November – the first rise seen months “after periods of modest declines and stagnation in the months preceding” - but in line with SQM expectations.
“However, when comparing this figure to that of the corresponding period of the previous year (December 2011), there is very little to no change in vacancies,” says Louis Christopher, managing director of SQM Research.
“Thus, this surge is seen predominantly by SQM Research as a seasonal increase, with many rental properties becoming vacant during this period due to possible reasons such as university students vacating student accommodation or rental properties situated near their respective campuses, due to the end of year break,” he says.
Christopher says that at this time of the year “seasonality really can have an impact upon vacancy rates and overall property listings, and this year has proven to be no exception”.
“SQM Research does not seasonally adjust its numbers because we are of the opinion that the user of the data actually receives more value from observing the seasonal change that occurs in the property market,” he adds.
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 rather than what it considers an inferior methodology of using a "potentially incomplete sample of agency surveys or merely relying on raw online listings advertised".