Brisbane’s inner-city rental market has made a comeback with a 3.3 per cent vacancy rate, solidifying an upward trend for the Queensland market.
The Real Estate Institute of Queensland’s (REIQ) latest vacancy data for the December 2020 quarter showed that Brisbane vacancies have gone down to a healthy 3.3. per cent after skyrocketing to almost 5 per cent in the June quarter.
According to the institute, this makes Brisbane CBD currently “the only healthy rental market in Queensland”.
While the improvement of vacancy levels within the CBD is ultimately pleasing, the market has yet to fully rebound after being severely hit by COVID-19 lockdowns, REIQ CEO Antonia Mercorella said.
Still, even with the tapering of federal government support such as JobKeeper, Brisbane CBD has seen around 5 per cent rental share reclaimed off the back of the pandemic, she added.
Beyond Brisbane’s CBD, rental vacancies around the city’s middle ring remain tight, with a quarterly rate of 1.6 per cent, including Hawthorne (1.4 per cent), New Farm (1.9 per cent), Paddington (2.1 per cent) and St Lucia (1.7 per cent).
In Brisbane’s outer ring, vacancies recorded an even tighter quarterly rate of 1.3 per cent. In fact, every area within the outer region is currently presenting less than 2 per cent stock availability, including Ashgrove (1.6 per cent), Camp Hill (1.3 per cent), Cannon Hill (1.4 per cent), Hamilton (1.9 per cent), Holland Park (1.2 per cent) and Moorooka (1.3 per cent).
“In the last six months, we’ve witnessed some record lows across capital city suburbs, figures we’ve certainly not seen for well over a decade,” Ms Mercorella stated.
“It’s a similar scenario as you travel around the wider regions of Brisbane, including Ipswich, Logan, Morton Bay and Redlands, which all have uncomfortably low stock levels around 1 per cent.”
Across regional Queensland, several areas saw vacancies rise above 1 per cent, including Cairns (1.2 per cent), Cassowary Coast (1.1 per cent), Isaac (1.2 per cent), Mareeba (1.5 per cent) and the Whitsundays (1.4 per cent).
However, for the remaining 90 per cent of regional Queensland, rental vacancies have dropped to an all-time median low of 0.575 of a percentage point.
This includes areas such as Bundaberg (0.4 of a percentage point), Fraser Coast (0.6 of a percentage point), Hervey Bay (0.9 of a percentage point), Mackay (0.7 of a percentage point), Toowoomba (0.7 of a percentage point) and Townsville (0.7 of a percentage point). Rockhampton recorded the lowest rental vacancies for the December 2020 quarter at 0.2 of a percentage point.
Ms Mercorella believes government measures and interstate migration have been the biggest contributors to the plunging of the vacancy rate across Queensland.
She said that “during the pandemic, the Palaszczuk government introduced a range of measures keeping tenants in place for longer which is part of the reason we have incredibly low rental availability across Queensland”.
“We have also seen a significant amount of interstate migration, with renters also moving to Queensland, so all of these factors have contributed to our current tight vacancy rates,” she added.
The Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast stood as the two most popular destinations for interstate migration, with liveability, affordability and lifestyle, along with economic opportunities, education and an inclusive society, drawing in big crowds.
Over the past quarter, the Sunshine Coast’s vacancy rate has remained low at 0.3 of a percentage point, while the Gold Coast recorded a 0.7 of a percentage point stock availability — a rebound “beyond pre-COVID levels… [that has been] never before recorded”, according to the REIQ.
With rental availabilities at unprecedented low levels, it’s placed significantly more pressure on the Queensland housing sector, making it ultimately unsustainable, according to the president.
She argued: “Urgent action is required to better support both increased and ongoing property investor activity in the Queensland property market and the contributions they make to the state economy.”
“Every Queenslander should have access to a safe, secure and affordable home that meets their needs and supports them.” She cited this belief as an argument as to why the Palaszczuk government should consider abolishing stamp duty.
“It’s the most significant barrier to home ownership, discouraging housing turnover, restricting mobility and property investment — something we desperately require,” she concluded.