Residential vacancies witness slight rise

People in search of houses for rent across Australia's capitals should have found their task a little easier last month, as there was a slight rise in residential listings. Data from SQM Research shows a national vacancy rate of 2.2 per cent in November, which is up marginally from the 2.1 per cent recorded in October.

The group revealed a number of factors are likely to have influenced the trend, such as university students finishing for the summer and therefore giving up their rental properties.

Areas exposed to the resources boom have also seen their vacancy rates increase over recent months, particularly as workers move away from the regions in search of employment. Darwin, for example, recorded a rate of 2.8 per cent in November, while Perth's stood at 2.5 per cent.

One of the biggest surprises in November was the increase in available rental properties in Melbourne. The Victorian capital saw 2.7 per cent of its stock without tenants over the course of the month, up from 2.5 per cent in October. Over the course of the past year, vacancies have witnessed a slight decline from 3 per cent.

Managing director of SQM Research Louis Christopher indicated that this trend has been particularly difficult to assess, but suggested it could be a result of declining construction activity in the city. Another explanation is that a sudden increase in the population has taken its toll on the rental market.

The latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed that Victoria has seen some of the strongest net overseas migration, with 2,300 people added to its population in the year to June. At the end of the June quarter, the state's population had increased 1.9 per cent compared to the previous year.

Economist at the Housing Industry Association Geordan Murray commented on the ABS results, suggesting that Australia is standing out from the crowd when it comes to population growth.

Mr Murray commented: "With shortages of skilled labour evident in many industries and a relatively strong looking economy, Australia has proved to be a very attractive destination for overseas migrants and was equally attractive for Australians who would have otherwise considered opportunities overseas."

Melbourne and the rest of Victoria have witnessed a rise in overseas migration, while the likes of the Northern Territory, ACT, Queensland and Western Australia have seen the opposite effect.