For Rent sign in front of new house
For Rent sign in front of new house KentWeakley

Rocky rental market improves as vacancy rate drops

A YEAR ago, Pat O'Driscoll Real Estate's rental vacancies were sitting at 6.8 per cent and homes were empty for up to six weeks.

Vacancy rates have almost halved in that time, according to the company's business development manager Rebecca Trott.

It's a trend other agents in Rockhampton are also seeing, with McGrath Rockhampton and Capricorn Coast saying their vacancy rate has dropped to below 2 per cent.

The last REIQ market report for the December 2017 quarter showed vacancy rates tightening for the third consecutive quarter from 8.6 per cent in March 2017 to 5 per cent in December 2017.

Beverly Smith, Director of Property Management at McGrath Rockhampton and Capricorn Coast, said that "it has been a long time since the vacancy rates in the local area have been this close to 1 per cent.

"We first noticed a shift in the market back in 2014 and it's been correcting itself ever since. It looks as though the equilibrium had been found and we are starting to see green shoots in rental growth.

"With less supply and rising demand, we have started to see an increase in the asking prices for many of the better properties on our books."

However, Ms Trott said renters still had an advantage.

Rebecca Trott from Pat O'Driscoll realestate. Photo Austin King / The Morning Bulletin
Rebecca Trott from Pat O'Driscoll realestate. Photo Austin King / The Morning Bulletin Austin King ROK210612odriscoll1

"We are still finding at the moment that even though the market is holding its own, we are still finding that prospective tenants seem to have the upper hand," she said.

"We're ensuring the properties are priced right to meet the market and presented well to ensure they stand out."

Ms Trott said increasingly pets were part of the family and properties were more marketable with good fencing and a pet-friendly environment.

She said this was also driving the trend towards house enquiries rather than units, with mid-range three bed homes on the market for around $300/week the most in-demand.

Some properties were being rented before being advertised, but Ms Trott said the average vacancy time was about three weeks.

Both McGrath and Pat O'Driscoll agencies have seen a positive influx of new renters based on employment opportunities in the region.

Ms Smith said healthcare professionals had been a big focus of rentals in previous months.

"Looking back to 2013 when the local rental market was incredibly tight, I can remember managing 900 plus properties with our team with only three being vacant," she said.

"That was not a healthy or sustainable marketplace for tenants.

"Now we are looking after close to 1200 homes for our landlords with about 15 vacant.

"On average our dedicated leasing team take 21 days to replace an outgoing tenant.

"With the vacancy rate at 1.5 per cent, it is now a more balanced market while still providing some opportunity for growth from the investors perspective."

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