Nearly two thirds of local government areas in Queensland have recorded their lowest or equal lowest residential vacancy rates since 2010 as the state’s rental market continues to tighten.
Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) revealed 22 local government areas out of 35 have either recorded their lowest vacancy rate in 11 years or equalled it.
Of those 35 local government areas, 20 saw their vacancy rates tighten, 10 remained static and five saw them slightly rise in the June quarter.
Brisbane’s vacancy rate dropped from 2.1 per cent to 1.7 per cent from the previous quarter, the Gold Coast’s remained static at a tight 0.6 per cent and the Sunshine Coast’s was slightly higher, from 0.5 per cent to 0.6 per cent.
Around Greater Brisbane, Ipswich stayed at 1 per cent, while Logan slightly tightened from 1.1 per cent to 1 per cent. Moreton Bay remained the same at a low 0.7 per cent. Redland was tight at 0.5 per cent, falling from 0.6 per cent, while the Scenic Rim dropped from 0.8 per cent to 0.7 per cent.
Several regional local government areas maintained very low vacancy rates.
Gympie dropped from 0.4 per cent to 0.3 per cent from the previous quarter. Southern Downs remained at 0.3 per cent, Bundaberg fell from 0.5 per cent to 0.4 per cent, Burdekin declined from 0.8 per cent to 0.4 per cent and Cook dropped from 0.6 per cent to 0.4 per cent. Tablelands remained static at 0.4 per cent.
In the north and along the coast, Townsville fell from 0.9 per cent to 0.7 per cent, Cairns dropped from 1.1 per cent to 0.7 per cent, Whitsunday fell to 1.3 per cent from 1.5 per cent and Mackay declined from one per cent to 0.8 per cent. Rockhampton’s vacancy rate was slightly higher although still tight, climbing from 0.4 per cent to 0.5 per cent. Fraser Coast was static at 0.6 per cent.
REIQ CEO Antonia Mercorella said the perfect storm of conditions thrown up by COVID-19 appeared to still have their grip on vacancy rates in the Sunshine State.
“It seems the COVID-19 phenomenon of people moving to the regions for lifestyle purposes is still having an effect on vacancy rates,” Ms Mercorella said.
“With more people taking the opportunity of working remotely and not having to commute regularly to their offices, they are succumbing to the lure of moving to a region where they can enjoy a sea or tree change lifestyle.
“This could be reflected in regions around Brisbane such as the Gold and Sunshine Coasts and even further afield, where people can work remotely and commute to the capital city when necessary.
“The lifestyle motivation is strong interstate, with people seeking an escape to Queensland from the southern states. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Queensland recorded a net gain of 9800 interstate migrants in the December quarter – the highest of any state or territory.
“Greater Brisbane also recorded the highest net internal migration rate of any capital city in the December quarter – with 4800 arrivals. By comparison, Sydney and Melbourne lost 9300 and 8500 people respectively. In terms of overseas migration, half a million Australian expats have returned since the pandemic began.
“In central and northern Queensland, a ramping up of the resources industry and a recent revival of tourism’s fortunes (at least until the current interstate lockdowns) could be attracting workers to these regions, putting pressure on vacancy rates.”
Ms Mercorella said while owner-occupiers had been dominant in the residential property sales market, investors were becoming more active.
“In May according to the ABS, the number of new housing loans taken out by investors rose 13.3 per cent to $9.1 billion – the highest amount seen since June 2015.
“A return of investors to the market will likely increase the number of rental properties available and reduce pressure on vacancy rates, potentially providing some relief for those struggling to find a rental.”