Sydney vacancy rate hits 5-year low

The vacancy rate across Sydney has plummeted to a five-year low, putting the city on the verge of a rental crisis, according to the Real Estate Institute of New South Wales (REINSW).

The REINSW Vacancy Rate Survey results for May 2022 show the vacancy rate for Sydney fell 0.4 per cent for the month to be just 1.8 per cent.

REINSW Chief Executive Officer Tim McKibbin said pressure on renters hasn’t been this high in many years.

“This five-year low in Sydney vacancies is proof that the rental crisis is real,” Mr McKibbin said.

“To say this is concerning is certainly an understatement.”

Mr McKibbin said middle to outer suburbs in Sydney continue to be the tightest markets across the city.

“The drop is primarily attributable to vacancies in the middle ring plummeting to 1.6 per cent (-1.7 per cent),” he said.

“The outer ring decreased slightly to 1.6 per cent (-0.1 per cent), while the inner ring increased to 2.3 per cent (+0.2 per cent).

Outside Greater Sydney, vacancy rates in the regional areas also dropped over the month of May.

“In the Hunter region, the vacancy rate dropped by 0.4 per cent to be 1.3 per cent,” Mr McKibbin said.

“The Illawarra region also dropped, with vacancies now at 1 per cent (-0.3 per cent).”

“Vacancy rates for the Albury, Coffs Harbour, Mid-North Coast, Murrumbidgee, South Coast, and South East areas all recorded increases.

“However, the Central Coast, New England, Northern Rivers, Orana and Riverina areas all dropped. Only the Central West remained stable.”

Mr McKibbin said falling vacancy rates are continuing to put upward pressure on rents for households that are already stretched financially.

“REINSW members in many areas are telling us that the rental crisis is really starting to take hold,” he said.

“Demand for rental accommodation is causing a shortage in properties, resulting in an uptick in rent. 

“This is making it more difficult for families to find affordable housing amid growing cost of living pressures.”

Mr McKibbin said agents are receiving more than 20 applications for a single property in some cases. 

“Faced with the prospect of being unable to secure a home, renters are offering above the advertised price or multiple months up-front,” he said.

“But, unfortunately, many simply can’t afford to do this. 

“It’s a very stressful time for renters.”

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Rowan Crosby

Rowan Crosby is a freelance journalist specialising in finance and real estate.