Vacancy rates falling, but so are rents in some areas

Figures released by SQM Research this week have revealed that the number of residential vacancies nationally has fallen during February, recording a vacancy rate of 2.3%, and 70,161 vacancies.

Year-on-year results demonstrate that national vacancies appear to be slightly above the common seasonal trends expected at this time of year.


Melbourne recorded the largest monthly fall, with vacancies falling 0.5 percentage points over the month of February.

Brisbane, Canberra, Sydney and Darwin also experience monthly falls, with percentage points down 0.2% over the month of February.

Despite this, both Darwin and Perth continue to record an alarming number of vacancies, particularly when you consider the number of vacancies recorded this time last year (February 2015).

February results for Hobart reveal the tightest rental market recording a vacancy rate of just 0.9% based on just 239 vacancies.

Asking rents

Notably, according to SQM Research, Perth has recorded ongoing falls in asking rents of 10.5% for houses and 9.1% for units over the past 12 months.Discussion with a real estate agent

Yearly falls have also been recorded in Darwin, with asking rents down 10.3% for houses and a considerable 11.2% for units.

Hobart continues to record the most affordable rental accommodation with rents for houses at just $337 a week, while units on average rent for $286 aweek.

Overall, there was a noticeable fall in vacancies for the month driven by Melbourne and Sydney.

However, year on year vacancies are still edging up for the country and we think this will still be the trend going forward.

The cities and townships most exposed to the commodities downturn are causing this yearly rise.

On the flip side Melbourne, Hobart and Canberra are all recording downward trends in vacancies now and this is resulting in upward pressure in rents for these three cities.



SQM’s calculations of vacancies are based on online rental listings that have been advertised for three weeks or more compared to the total number of established rental properties.

SQM considers this to be a superior methodology compared to using a potentially incomplete sample of agency surveys or merely relying on raw online listings advertised.

Please go to our methodology page below for more information on how SQM’s vacancies are compiled.

Key Points

• Nationally, vacancies fell during February 2016, recording a vacancy rate of 2.3%, based on 70,161 vacancies.
• Perth recorded the highest vacancy rate in February 2016 of 3.9% based on 7,819 vacancies.
• Vacancy rates in Sydney have fallen 0.1 percentage points over the last year.
• Year-on-year, vacancy rates dropped in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Hobart.
• Hobart recorded the lowest vacancy rate during February 2016, with a rate of 0.9% based on 239 vacancies.
• Over the past 12 months, Perth asking rents have also experienced excessive yearly falls with houses down 10.5% and a 9.1% fall for units.

Want more of this type of information?

Louis Christopher


Louis is recognised as one of Australia’s most respected and impartial research property analyst. He has extensive knowledge and experience of property and is regularly quoted in the media on his insights and is director of SQM Research.

'Vacancy rates falling, but so are rents in some areas' have 2 comments

  1. March 18, 2016 @ 10:49 am David

    Michael I guess the numbers show that people are moving Back from the West to the East>

    Also would you say that the uptick in rentals is from Australians selling out to Chinese and renting and/or moving to regions and cheaper Australian Cities like Hobart?

    David Hunt


    • March 18, 2016 @ 2:16 pm Michael Yardney

      Those selling to the developers are not owners moving to regional towns – it’s developers selling new stock


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