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Rents rise as vacancy rates fall, except for Sydney

By Tim Neary
18 September 2018 | 9 minute read
forrent house reb 1

The national residential vacancy rate dipped to 2.1 per cent in August 2018, while Sydney’s vacancy rate remained at its highest level in 13 years amid a rental oversupply there keeping asking rents down, new data released by SQM Research has revealed.

The data showed that the number of vacancies Australia-wide was at 70,447 properties.

Sydney’s vacancy rate was unchanged at 2.8 per cent from July, with 19,114 properties available for rent. It remains at the highest level since SQM started recording the data in 2005, and well up from 1.9 per cent a year ago.

In contrast, Melbourne’s vacancy rate was much lower at 1.6 per cent in August, though unchanged from July.

Hobart’s vacancy rate dropped to 0.5 of a percentage point from 0.7 of a percentage point in July.

Canberra’s vacancy rate slipped to 0.7 of a percentage point in August, down from 0.8 of a percentage point.

Brisbane has seen a sustained reduction in its vacancy rate, which fell to 2.8 per cent in August, down from 2.9 per cent in July and 3.4 per cent a year ago.


Perth’s vacancy rate dropped to 3.7 per cent and was well down from 4.9 per cent a year earlier as the oversupply of rental properties eases there.

Darwin’s vacancy rate bucked the trend and rose to 3.5 per cent from 3.4 per cent in July.

Managing director of SQM Research Louis Christopher said that asking rents had eased in Sydney given the greater supply of rental accommodation, which is now verging on oversupply.

“The trend for the vacancy rate is definitely up and, as a result, Sydney is increasingly becoming a tenant’s market.

“Over the year to 12 September, asking rents for houses in Sydney dropped by 3.4 per cent and we expect to see further falls. In contrast, the tight rental markets in Hobart and Canberra are continuing to push asking rents higher.”

Rents on the rise

Capital city asking rents for houses rose over the month to 12 September 2018 by 0.7 of a percentage point to $552 a week. Unit asking rents were steady at $440 a week. Over the year, asking rents for houses and units rose just 0.5 of a percentage point.

The asking rent for a three-bedroom house in Sydney remains the highest nationwide at $708 a week, and for units, the asking rent is at $515 a week. Canberra asking house rents follow at $636 a week for houses and $439 for units.

Like Sydney, asking rents have fallen for units in Melbourne, down by 0.5 of a percentage point over the month to 12 September to $409 a week. Asking rents for houses were up by 0.8 of a percentage point to $527.

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