INDUSTRY NEWSQLD Real Estate NewsReal Estate News

Only one area in QLD with a ‘healthy’ supply of rentals

The number of available rentals across Queensland is critically low, with only one area in the state considered to have a “healthy” vacancy rate.  

The Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) Residential Vacancy Report for the March 2024 Quarter found that of the 50 local government areas and sub-regions, vacancy rates fell in 22, were stable in 10 and climbed in 18, compared to the previous quarter.

Only one area, Mount Isa (3.4 per cent), had a vacancy rate within the range that the REIQ classifies as “healthy” (2.6 to 3.5 per cent).

More than half of the areas reported on were in extremely tight territory, hovering at 1 per cent or below, and the overall state vacancy rate sits at an astonishingly tight 0.9 per cent. 

Rock bottom rates remained in Goondiwindi (0 per cent), Charters Towers (0.1 per cent), and Cook (0.1 per cent).

REIQ Chief Executive Officer Antonia Mercorella said while the data suggests that vacancy rates are relatively stable, the rental market is in “no healthy state” and it would be a long road to recovery.

“Another quarter and it’s sadly the same old story of seriously scant rental availability right across Queensland,” Ms Mercorella said.

“This is not a pattern that any of us want to be seeing, report after report, but it is the reality for so many renters looking for rental housing in our state.

“In this highly competitive market, most renters are aware that they will need to start looking promptly as possible to grant themselves enough time to secure their next rental.

Ms Mercorella said property managers were still overwhelmed by the volume of applications and the inability to give every applicant a property, no matter how perfect a tenant they would make.

“For prospective tenants, completing applications and viewing rental properties can be very time consuming and a difficult juggle around work and other commitments, but are necessary steps for the best chance of success,” she said.

“However, when rental supply is at crisis levels, especially at the affordable end of the market, inevitably it means some rental applicants aren’t ever making it to the top of the pile, are left feeling exhausted, and could be running out of options.

“This is where we need to see government support step up in the form of social housing and rental assistance to keep the most vulnerable people in our communities housed.”

Across the state, there were virtually no rentals to be found in Goondiwindi (0 per cent), while very few rental options lasted for long in Charters Towers (0.1 per cent), Cook (0.1 per cent), Banana (0.2 per cent), Tablelands (0.3 per cent), Maranoa (0.4 per cent), Southern Downs (0.4 per cent), Maryborough (0.5 per cent), Mareeba (0.6 per cent) and Central Highlands (0.7 per cent). 

These regional markets represent the state’s tightest vacancy rates and sadly none are new to the list, as incredibly tough conditions persist.

In the regional centres: Mackay (0.6 per cent) remained one of the tightest rental markets to break into, followed closely by Rockhampton (0.7 per cent), Toowoomba (0.8 per cent) and Bundaberg (0.9). Gladstone (1.2 per cent) and Townsville (1 per cent) offered renters ever-so-slightly more options.

The greatest choice in regional rental listings was seen in Mount Isa (3.4 per cent), Isaac (1.7 per cent), Lockyer Valley (1.4 per cent), Cassowary Coast and Whitsundays (both 1.3 per cent), and Burdekin and Gympie (both 1.1 per cent).

Not far behind was Scenic Rim (0.9 per cent) and South Burnett (which relaxed to 0.9 per cent).

Greater Brisbane was consistent with the state vacancy rate at 0.9 per cent. Brisbane LGA (1.1 per cent), inner city (1.3 per cent), and middle-ring (1 per cent) remained steady, while the outer-ring tightened slightly to 0.8 per cent. 

Logan (1 per cent), Caboolture (0.9 per cent), Pine Rivers (0.9 per cent), Redland (0.9 per cent), Ipswich (0.8 per cent), Moreton Bay (0.7 per cent), and Redland’s Mainland (0.6 per cent) all experienced slight dips over the quarter, while Redcliffe saw a tiny uplift to 0.6 per cent.

Redland’s Bay Islands took a dive down to 5.1 per cent, but this market has remained well within the “weak” category for some time now, which is typical of a remote community.

Noosa rose by 0.5 to 1.9 per cent this quarter – a market which remains turbulent rather than trending up or down.

Queensland’s other tourism markets remained virtually unchanged this quarter, including Gold Coast (1 per cent), Sunshine Coast (0.7 per cent), Maroochy Coast (0.8 per cent), Fraser Coast (0.8 per cent), Hervey Bay (0.8 per cent), Cairns (0.7 per cent), and Caloundra Coast (0.6 per cent).

Ms Mercorella said the longer-term solutions, including a concerted effort towards improving productivity and affordability of the construction of new dwellings, were essential to fixing the supply issue.

“While we agree that build-to-rent initiatives could also be an important piece of the puzzle to boosting supply, we don’t see it being the ‘silver bullet’, and the rental market will still heavily rely on everyday citizen investors choosing to rent out their properties,” she said.

“Our view is the incentives given to institutional investors should be extended to private investors, acknowledging the crucial role they play in housing Queenslanders and encouraging them to continue to do so.”

Show More

Rowan Crosby

Rowan Crosby is a senior journalist at Elite Agent specialising in finance and real estate.