January is usually the month that sees the highest volume of rentals posted online, but new figures show the year is off to an unusually slow start.
Data from PropTrack indicates that while supply levels in January did increase after the traditional December lull, new rental listings were still lower than they were pre-COVID and lower than volumes over recent January periods.
New rental listings increased 38.9 per cent month-on-month across the capital cities and were 23.2 per cent higher in regional areas.
But that’s 13.8 per cent lower than in January last year and 16.9 per cent lower than in January 2020.
Angus Moore, an economist with PropTrack, noted that renters across capital cities had been hardest hit by this lack of supply.
“In Sydney, 15.7 per cent fewer rentals hit the market this January than did two years ago, while in Brisbane it’s 24.6 per cent fewer. Melbourne has seen the mildest declines of the major capitals, but even then, the number of new rentals on the market is 4.7 per cent lower this January than in January 2020,” he said.
He said that COVID had appeared to slow the churn across the rental market and credited a number of pandemic-related factors for this change in condition.
“New rental listings come to market when existing tenants move out. If fewer people are moving because of lockdowns and social distancing, we’ll see fewer rentals coming to market,” he explained.
And with the international borders slow to reopen, a lack of foreign students landing in Australia in January to start the academic year has disrupted the normal seasonal flow.
“Typically, these students would have leases expiring at the start of the year, bringing those listings back onto market,” Mr Moore said.
Finally, Mr Moore posits that with the supply of rentals low and demand remaining strong, he believes some property managers have been able to find tenants for vacant rentals without having to list.
The good news for renters, according to Mr Moore, is that many of these factors are temporary.
“With international and interstate borders reopening, and the risk of COVID lockdowns fading, we’ll likely start to see people moving again throughout 2022, and churn return to the nation’s rental markets.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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.