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How Australia’s migration debate is playing out in property listings

By Orana Durney-Benson
23 May 2024 | 11 minute read
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Declining visa approvals have led to a decline in overseas rental searches in April, and analysts have warned that prospective residents may look to “more welcoming nations”.

PropTrack’s Overseas Search Report for May 2024 has found that overseas rental searches have declined from last year’s levels, with April 2024 seeing 2.3 per cent fewer searches than the same time last year.

While rental search volumes “remain elevated compared to the preceding four years”, April saw a notable slowdown in searches year-on-year.

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Of the seven major countries to dominate rental searches, only the UK, New Zealand and China saw annual increases.

The remaining four nations – the US, Hong Kong, Singapore and India – all saw declines in rental search volumes compared to April 2023, with the US seeing the greatest drop at -10 per cent.

According to PropTrack senior data analyst and report author, Karen Dellow, one contributor to this trend is policy chatter regarding international students.

“Recent governmental mandates concerning students and educational institutions have led to a decline in visas granted to overseas students intending to study in Australia,” said Dellow, who noted that March 2024 saw 9,060 fewer international student arrivals that the preceding year.

Looking forward, Dellow predicted that the decline in international rental interest may accelerate if current conversations do not change course.

“The government’s efforts to restore migration to a ‘sustainable level,’ particularly through stricter student requirements, have the potential to impact overseas traffic volumes,” said Dellow.

“If Australia adopts more stringent immigration policies, overseas buyers and renters may redirect their attention to more welcoming nations. The forthcoming months will provide further clarity on these trends,” she stated.

The picture was brighter for overseas buyers, with overseas property searches rising 0.8 per cent compared to 2023.

Despite this, growth was slow for most of the seven major countries, with only the UK seeing a rise in interest. Each of the six remaining countries experienced a decline since April 2023.

The most popular destination was Queensland’s Gold Coast, with Melbourne coming in second.

“Overseas property seekers predominantly favour upscale apartments in major cities,” said Dellow, who named the cities of Brisbane and Perth, and the Melbourne suburbs of Brighton and Richmond as other popular destinations for overseas buyers.

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