Rising rental listings signal ongoing softness across some rental markets

With recent record high levels of new housing construction and investor mortgage activity, the supply of housing stock available for rent is climbing and is expected to continue to increase.

Australia has a growing population and the people moving to Australia need to be housed somewhere.  Over recent years the uplift in population growth has not been met with a commensurate rise in property sales.  Rental advertisement counts suggest that the population growth is increasingly being housed via investment housing (rental accommodation) which aligns with the lift in investor housing finance commitments over recent years.

Over the 12 months to January 2017, there were 362,708 houses advertised for rent and 287,233 units advertised for rent nationally.  The number of rental advertisements over the past year was 8.7% higher for houses and 9.3% higher for units.  The rental market is currently seeing historic low rates of rental growth and with the amount of rental accommodation ramping up it is easy to see why.  Keep in mind this data is only those properties advertised for rent and not every rental property will be advertised for rent each year.

Annual number of residential properties
listed for rent, National


The two tables within this report highlight the council areas that have seen the greatest increases and decreases in rental advertisements over the past year.  Note that we have only included council areas that have had at least 1,000 rental advertisements over the 12 months to January 2017.

Council areas with the largest rise in rental
advertisement, 12 months to Jan-17


Western Australia council areas feature heavily on the list of regions that have seen the greatest increase in rental advertisements over the year, many of which are located in Perth.  Investor activity has been sluggish in WA so this may indicate that as the economy has weakened and people have migrated away from WA, perhaps home owners are looking to rent out their home rather than selling into weak market conditions.  A number of NSW regions are also featured on the list and this is probably more reflective of the ramping-up of housing supply purchased by investors.

Of those regions with at least 1,000 rental advertisements over the past year, only 17 council areas have actually seen a decline in rental advertisements over the year.  Two of the improving housing markets for value growth, Canberra and Hobart, are amongst these 17 council areas.  The areas with less rental stock advertised than a year ago also tend to be more slanted towards regional areas rather than capital cities.  This is not surprising given that housing supply has largely been increasing in capital cities rather than regional markets.  Despite the housing construction boom in Sydney at the moment, Kogarah, Warringah and Manly have recorded fewer properties advertised this year compared to last year, signaling tighter rental conditions.

Council areas with the largest decline in
rental advertisements, 12 months to Jan-17


With a record high number of new dwellings still under construction, most of which are units and many of which have been purchased by investors, it is anticipated that the number of properties advertised for rent will continue to rise.  The impact of this is that rental growth is likely to remain dampened and those in the rental market in most regions will have an increasing number of properties to choose from.  For owners of investment properties and property managers should be mindful of their local rental conditions, and set their weekly rents accordingly to maximize their occupancy as well as income.  Landlords in areas where the supply of rental properties has shown a rise may find they need to hold their rents steady or in fact, provide a discount on their rental expectations in order to keep or attract tenants.

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