Rental property website Rent.com.au has released its report for August 2020, based on property leasing data. The report illustrates the shift in Australian median rental property prices (both metro and regional), rental affordability (the median room price metric) and days on market.

Rent.com.au Rental Snapshot Highlights:

  • As restrictions begin to ease across the country, rents in some metro areas have begun to slowly improve – but Melbourne recorded consistent falls in August for both apartments and houses.
  • Perth remains the only metro capital where house rents are under $400/week, now a median $390/week.
  • Adelaide, Hobart and Darwin were the only three metro capitals to record an increase in the national rental price per room (apartments and houses combined).

Table 1: Median rent (apartments v houses) and price per room

Metro areaApartments% changeHouses% changePrice per room% change
National median$4400%$4500%$2000%
SYDNEY$495-1%$6000%$265-0.70%
MELBOURNE$390-2.50%$420-4.50%$183-3.60%
BRISBANE$4000%$4402.30%$1700%
PERTH$3500%$3901.20%$140-2.10%
ADELAIDE$3300%$4000%$1504.80%
HOBART$3754.10%$4600%$1751.10%
DARWIN$3509.30%$4500%$1532%
CANBERRA$4651%$550-1.20%$2200%

Price trends in August 2020

Median rents.

In a blink, August is over and added to the growing list of months we were sure haven’t happened in 2020.  Despite a world pandemic, the country slipping into a recession and so much world social and political unrest, our property markets have shown considerable resilience.

We’ve come to accept that the pandemic and the associated economic shock will have a long-lasting economic impact on renting (and the wider housing market at large). But just as the market began to show some signs of early recovery, Melbourne entered Stage 3 and then Stage 4 Lockdown. It’s too early to tell, but the lockdown will certainly place Melbourne’s rental market on hold for the next few weeks.

If you had already arranged to move or end up having to move during the lockdown period, that’s ok. But both property investors and renters will be feeling the impact as lockdown regulations forbid the personal inspection of properties, meaning prospective tenants will not be as active in the market as they were, certainly pre-lockdown.

State and territory capital median rents held up relatively well in August, considering the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, with no overall change to the national median, but Melbourne did record a fall across both property types month-on-month. Darwin recorded the most significant change to median rents (up 9.3% to $350/week) and Perth remains the only metro capital where house rents are under $400/week, now a median $390/week.

Price per room.

Rent.com.au’s price per room metric offers another way to look at the cost of renting in Australia for people looking to share a home and save money. Looking at the August 2020 data, Melbourne and Hobart were the only two metro capitals to see a fall in house room prices, year-on-year. Room prices in Melbourne fell by 3.7% to $130/week against Hobart’s 1.3% fall to $160/week.

Despite a 7.1% increase in room price, Perth held the August title for the cheapest metro area to rent an individual room in a huse at just $125/week. Adelaide had the cheapest apartment rooms at $165/week.

The areas where there was consistent change across all property types included Perth, Adelaide and Darwin, where both apartment and house room prices increased. Darwin also recorded the most significant price change year-on-year with apartments, up 10.4% to $176/week. Rent.com.au chief executive officer, Greg Bader said that given most reported property data has been developed for the property owner (i.e. dwelling price), it was essential to have an individual measurement that looked at a room price breakdown. “Our price per room metric is a different way to look at the cost of renting,” he said. “It’s a more accurate representation for people wanting to share a home with others.”

Table 2: 12-month change in price per room (Apartments versus Houses)

Metro areaApartments% change from AUG 2019Houses% change from Aug-19
Source: Rent.com.au 2020
SYDNEY$3000.00%$2001.30%
MELBOURNE$225-10%$130-3.70%
BRISBANE$217-3%$1370.60%
PERTH$2003%$1257%
ADELAIDE$1656.50%$1333%
HOBART$2106.30%$160-1%
DARWIN$17610%$1465.40%
CANBERRA$285-12%$1856%
National median$2660.60%$1462.20%

Regional rents.

Table 3: Regional rents in August 2020

State/TerritoryAug-20% change from July ‘20
Source: Rent.com.au 2020
NSW$4000.00%
VIC$3300%
QLD$3850%
WA$3603%
SA$2753.70%
TAS$3300.00%
NT$4205%
ACTn/an/a
National median$3800.00%

Rentals in the Northern Territory’s regions recorded the most significant price spike in August, jumping 5% to $420/week. The NT was just one of three areas to see an increase: South Australia’s regional rents also rose 3.7% to $275/week, as did regional rents in Western Australia (up 2.8% to $360/week). All remaining states and territories remained unchanged month-on-month.

The highest regional rents in August 2020 were claimed by the Northern Territory once again ($420/week), closely followed by New South Wales at $400/week.

Time on market.

Table 4: Time on market in August 2020

Metro areaAPARTMENT days on market AUG 2020% change from JUL 2020% change from AUG 2019HOUSES days on market AUG 2020% change from JUL 2020% change from AUG 2019
Source: Rent.com.au 2020
SYDNEY30 days3% faster7% slower23 days7% faster20% faster
MELBOURNE34 days9% slower46% slower24 days7% slower9% faster
BRISBANE27 days3% slower23% slower16 days9% faster29% faster
PERTH23 days5% faster29% faster18 days10% faster42% faster
ADELAIDE24 days6% slower21% slower17 days8% faster22% faster
HOBART22 days29% slower62% slower19 days9% faster26% slower
DARWIN29 days23% faster9% faster23 days4% faster24% faster
CANBERRA20 days10% faster4% slower20 days12% slower2% faster

Rent.com.au’s average time on market measure is designed to provide some context to the movement in median rents across Australia.

Hobart apartments saw the most change in August, leasing 29% slower, now 22 days. For houses, only rentals in Melbourne and Canberra slowed month-on-month, with a 7% and 12% increase in time on market, respectively. All other metro capitals saw improvements for houses.

The most significant change in property leasing time (year-on-year) from August 2019 was also in Hobart, with a 62% increase in time on market.


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