Australian Property News

Rental vacancies tighten in January

Posted on Wednesday, February 20 2013 at 12:50 PM

Last year’s squeeze on rental accommodation has returned following a higher vacancy figure for December 2012, according to property analyst SQM Research.

Its report indicates the January 2013 vacancy rate fell nationally by 0.4 per cent to 1.9 per cent.

A balanced rental market is generally accepted as having a vacancy rate of three per cent.

Vacancies have remained relatively flat for the past two years and a spike in December 2012 in available accommodation appears to have been a seasonal effect, according to Louis Christopher, managing director of SQM Research.

“Taking into account seasonality, vacancy rates have proven to be very steady over the past two years now for the major capital cities.”

SQM Research shows Melbourne as having the highest vacancy rate of all the capitals at three per cent, with Perth having the tightest rate at 0.8 per cent.

Although the January 2013 vacancy figure indicates rental availability is slightly better compared to the same time last year, SQM still categorises the rental situation as tight with all capital cities, except Melbourne, recording a vacancy rate of less than three per cent.

SQM Research believes potential first homebuyers may now choose to leave the rental market and begin looking to purchase given the start of a general recovery in housing prices across many markets.

Matthew Gross, managing director of The National Property Research Company, is less confident in the first homebuyer sector picking up.

“We still see a significant gap between mortgage repayments and rental when comparing like for like property.”

Gross believes the rental market is reasonably balanced and that first homebuyer reaction will be a function of other factors.

“Some government policies in particular have not been as effective in stimulating that market as would have been hoped.” 



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