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Vacancy rate falls as rental market recovers

By Tim Neary
13 February 2019 | 9 minute read
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The national vacancy rate fell in January, as the country’s rental market recovers from its traditional December slowdown, new data is showing.

The latest data released by SQM Research has revealed that the national residential vacancy rate declined to 2.2 per cent in January 2019, from 2.5 per cent in December 2018.

This means the total number of vacancies in Australia has declined to 72,574, which means there are 9,984 fewer properties available for rent now than there were in December 2018.


Managing director of SQM Research Louis Christopher said that all capital cities, except Hobart, experienced a decline in January.

He said that Darwin currently has the highest capital city vacancy rate at 3.8 per cent, down by 0.5 of a percentage point from December. Hobart has the lowest at 0.5 of a percentage point, in spite of it lifting by 0.1 of a percentage point. Sydney, although declining, is the second highest at 3.2 per cent, with 22,426 properties available for rent.

“The decline in vacancies is expected in January, as December usually has a higher seasonal listing,” Mr Christopher said.

“It still appears to be a tenant’s market in Darwin and Sydney where vacancy rates are high. Going forward, we expect another seasonal decline in vacancies for the month of February. However, for the year, our expectation is national vacancy rates will rise at the national level, driven by rises in Sydney.”

Mr Christopher said that the decline in vacancies saw asking rents for houses in capital cities increase by 0.2 of a percentage point to $560 a week. Unit asking rents also increased by 0.7 of a percentage point to $442 a week. Asking rents for houses declined by 0.4 of a percentage point, while unit asking rents remained steady.

“Hobart recorded the highest weekly rental increase of 4.8 per cent for units, but house weekly rents declined by 0.6 [of a percentage point],” he said.

“Sydney, Melbourne and Perth recorded marginal increases in both house and unit asking rents, whilst Darwin, Brisbane and Adelaide recorded declines for both houses and units. Canberra’s house rentals increased, but unit asking rents declined.”

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