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Why NSW’s vacancy rise might be short-lived

By Juliet Helmke
13 February 2024 | 12 minute read
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The latest vacancy data shows that residential rental vacancies increased across many areas of NSW in January 2024.

But according to the Real Estate Institute of NSW (REINSW), which published the data in its latest Vacancy Rate Survey, a seasonal uptick in vacancy rates is common during these months, before generally contracting as the year gets underway.

In light of the recent data, REINSW CEO Tim McKibbin has warned that that the data should not be interpreted to mean that the rental crisis is abating, with much more work still to be done to return the market to healthy levels.


“Yes, there are some increases for the month, but nothing too unusual for this time of year when seasonal fluctuations inevitably play a role in the residential rental market,” Mr McKibbin said.

“It happens every year and this month’s survey results reflect this fact,” he noted.

Over the course of January 2024, the vacancy rate for Sydney overall rose by 0.2 per cent to 1.7 per cent. In the city’s inner and outer rings, the vacancy rate edged closer to what is normally considered healthy territory, with both averaging 2 per cent over the month – a 0.2 per cent increase closer to the city and a 0.5 per cent increase in the farther reaches.

Vacancies in the Illawarra region hit 2.4 per cent, and rates across the regions of Coffs Harbour, Far West, Mid-North Coast, Murrumbidgee, Northern Rivers, Orana and Riverina areas all increased in January 2024.

The Central Coast recorded no change at 1.6 per cent vacancies, while the Hunter region, Central West, New England, South Coast and South East areas all decreased.

With a high rate of accommodation turnover during the last and first month of the year, it’s common to see rental vacancies rise, but Mr McKibbin said a contraction, as with normal years, is expected in 2024.

“Demand for rental accommodation certainly isn’t slowing, but the number of properties in the supply pipeline is. The inevitable knock-on impact is fewer properties available in the rental pool,” he said.

“There’s no doubt that this rental crisis is still far from over.”


Juliet Helmke

Based in Sydney, Juliet Helmke has a broad range of reporting and editorial experience across the areas of business, technology, entertainment and the arts. She was formerly Senior Editor at The New York Observer.

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