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Regional renters struggle as listings plummet

Country renters are facing an uphill battle to put a roof over their heads with the number of regional listings on realestate.com.au 40 per cent below their pre-pandemic levels.

Renters in South Australia, the Northern Territory, NSW and Western Australia have been particularly hard hit with the number of new listings in regional areas falling significantly in September.

The number of new regional rental listings dropped 25.6 per cent in the Northern Territory, 11.7 per cent in South Australia, 8.5 per cent in Western Australia and 4.9 per cent in NSW.

The latest REA Group PropTrack Rental Listings report also showed the total number of rental listings in regional areas fell in every state, except for Tasmania, in September.

PropTrack Economist and report author Angus Moore said total listings across regional Australia fell 2.9 per cent in September, and dropped 13.4 per cent year-on-year.

New listings in regional Australia dropped 1.7 per cent in September, and fell 5.8 per cent year-on-year.

“The COVID-driven migration to the regions has already absorbed a lot of the available rental stock,” Mr Moore said.

“As a result, renters searching in regional areas face particularly tight conditions and a low level of available stock to choose from.

“Total listings in regional areas are more than 40 per cent below their pre-pandemic level.

“The decline in available supply has been widespread across the states and territories.”

Stean Nicholls Business Development and Leasing Manager Emma Clements said her agency’s vacancy rate in Albury, in southern NSW, was zero and some tenants were applying for 30 or more properties without success.

“It is really tight and all of the properties have gone up anywhere from $30 to $100 a week compared to what they were 12 months ago,” she said.

Ms Clements said people moving from Sydney and Melbourne had certainly absorbed some of the rental stock but she said there were multiple other factors at play, including owner-occupiers who had sold to make use of the buoyant selling market who now needed to rent before purchasing again.

“If we have a landlord or a vendor who has sold their home with us and needs to move into a rental then they usually go to the top of our list purely because we know what they will be like as a tenant,” she said.

Ms Clements said Stean Nicholls had a waiting list for rental properties and of the 42 homes leased last quarter, she only had to advertise five of them.

But there was better news in the cities, particularly in Melbourne and Canberra, where lockdown restrictions easing triggered a wave of new listings, after sharp declines in August when restrictions were in place.

New rental listings increased 16.7 per cent in September in Melbourne, while in Canberra new rental listings jumped 22 per cent month-on-month.

“Eased restrictions on inspections in September were a welcome change for renters,” Mr Moore said.

“Given they were only introduced mid-month, the impact of restrictions on inspections has only been partially felt in September.

“We expect to see ongoing strength in new listings in October in Melbourne and Canberra as the full effect of these changes flows through.

“However, with some COVID-19 restrictions continuing until at least November, total supply is likely to remain limited in the short term.”

Sydney

New rental listings in Sydney increased a modest 1.8 per cent in September, while total listings rose 1.9 per cent.

The biggest increase was in Glenwood, where new listings climbed 79 per cent in September, while Homebush recorded the biggest reduction with new listings down 69 per cent.

New listings increased in Ryde by 12.4 per cent in September and 12.2 per cent in the Inner West, but were 16.6 per cent down in Sutherland.

Melbourne 

Melbourne’s rental market emerged from hibernation as changed restrictions brought a surge of new listings, which were up 16.7 per cent month-on-month. 

Renters in all parts of Melbourne enjoyed increased supply with all regions across the city seeing an increase in new listings in September. 

New listings increased 25.9 per cent in inner Melbourne, while in the Northeast they jumped 25.8 per cent.

Renters searching in the Mornington Peninsula may struggle to find rentals, with just 1.9 per cent of rental listings in Melbourne in that area.

In regional Victoria the number of new rental listings rose 2.1 per cent in September. 

Brisbane

New listings fell 2.3 per cent in Brisbane in September, with competition tight across the whole city.

Only Brisbane’s East and the Inner City saw an increase in new listings at 8.1 per cent and 2.4 per cent respectively.

Total listings all fell 0.6 per cent in Brisbane in September.

Adelaide

Rental supply tightened in Adelaide in September with the number of new listings down 4.5 per cent. 

This decline in new listings brought total listings down 6.6 per cent in September. 

The only region to record an increase in new listings was in Adelaide’s North, where they rose 4.4 per cent month-on-month.

Perth

New listings fell 7.9 per cent in Perth in September, with all areas experiencing a drop.

The sharpest decline was in Perth’s Northwest, where new listings fell 12.6 per cent month-on-month.

Renters searching in regional WA also faced tighter competition with new rental listings down 8.5 per cent in September.

Only WA Outback (North), which encompasses Broome, Port Hedland and Karratha, saw an increase in new rental listings, which jumped 7.8 per cent for the month.

Hobart

September saw a sharp reduction in the number of new rental listings in Hobart, down 16.8 per cent month-on-month. 

In contrast, renters in regional Tasmania enjoyed a strong increase in new listings, with growth of 19.4 per cent.

Darwin

New rental listings rose marginally (0.2 per cent) in September, which resulted in total listings climbing 2.4 per cent.

Renters searching in regional NT saw conditions tighten drastically, with the number of new listings plummeting 25.6 per cent in September compared to August.

But it’s worth noting that listing volumes in regional NT are low and growth rates can be volatile.

Canberra

New listings increased 22 per cent month-on-month in September, which helped boost total rental listings by 5.5 per cent. 

In the city new listings rose 20 per cent, while in Dickson they climbed 14 per cent.

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Deputy Editor at Elite Agent.