Rental property website Rent.com.au has released its report for December 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:

  • December saw rises in median rent for apartments in Darwin, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Hobart.
  • While the national price per room remained unchanged in December 2020, Brisbane also recorded the most notable change, affected by growth in median rents for both property types.
  • For the first time in 12 months, Sydney’s apartment and house median rents were down, dropping 2.1% and 3.2% respectively month-on-month.

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

Metro area Apartments % change Houses % change Price per room % change
SYDNEY $460 -2.10% $600 -3.20% $260 0%
MELBOURNE $380 0% $435 1.10% $187 -1.50%
BRISBANE $407 1.70% $470 2.10% $180 2.80%
PERTH $370 1.30% $420 0% $150 -0.60%
ADELAIDE $320 1.50% $400 0% $150 0%
HOBART $375 1.30% $460 -1% $183 1.60%
DARWIN $400 11.10% $560 -3.40% $166 -2.30%
CANBERRA $480 0% $597 2.90% $237 -1.20%
National median $415 -1.10% $465 0% $200 0%
Source: Rent.com.au 2020
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Price trends in December 2020

Median rents.

As 2020 ends, it will likely go down as one of the toughest, and more interesting years that the Australian property market has navigated. In a way no one could have predicted – from a global pandemic to large-scale economic downturn, Australia’s rental market has still managed to prove fairly resilient.

While the initial shock of COVID-19 led to a decline in rental values in some areas particularly between April and September, Australian rental values were largely higher by December 2020, according to Rent.com.au’s latest market report.

In spite of this, COVID-19 had a severe impact on select rental markets across the country in 2020. Inner-city markets in Sydney, Melbourne and to a lesser extent, Brisbane, were heavily impacted by international border closures. Notably, the vast majority of overseas arrivals tend to be renters.

Over in places like Perth and Darwin, however, there’s been a very different dynamic. Several years of low new supply additions has seen both those rentals markets tighten. This is reflected well in the NT, where rents have significantly increased month-on-month for apartments.

A demand for lifestyle areas is a trend that could have been amplified (but not necessarily triggered) by COVID-19 – we’ve certainly seen a strong narrative of Australians fleeing metro areas in search of a sea (or tree) change in housing media this year.

Rent.com.au chief executive officer Greg Bader said some rental demand is being driven by renters who are keeping a close eye on property availability and what prices are doing, and landlords who are scoping their competition and pricing accordingly. “Many renters view the beginning of the new year as the ideal time to find a home, and with high rental demand comes an influx of new rental listings and vacant properties for rent,” he said. “Many leases will also expire in early 2021, as well as moratoriums on evictions ending in TAS and ACT, so I expect we’ll see some heightened rental demand in the coming months.”

Price per room.

Rent.com.au’s price per room metric offers another way to look at the cost of renting in Australia. Looking at the annual change from the December data, all metro capitals bar one (Adelaide) saw an upward trend in price per room for houses, with the most significant change in Perth, up 13.9% to $136/week. The cost of a room in an apartment in Perth was also up year-on-year, rising 4% to $208/week. Areas with consistent upward changes for both apartments and houses included BrisbanePerth, and Hobart.

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

Metro area Apartments % change from DEC 2019 Houses % change from Dec-19
SYDNEY $300 0% $200 3.40%
MELBOURNE $230 -8% $142 1.20%
BRISBANE $225 2.30% $155 6.90%
PERTH $208 4% $136 13.90%
ADELAIDE $160 -8.60% $133 0%
HOBART $210 5% $172 3.50%
DARWIN $157 -3.60% $156 7.10%
CANBERRA $312 -8.10% $200 13.20%
National median $250 -3.80% $156 4%
Source: Rent.com.au 2020
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Regional rents.

Table 3: Regional rents in December 2020

State/Territory Dec-20 % change from Nov ’20
NSW $420 0%
VIC $395 -1%
QLD $350 0.00%
WA $380 1%
SA $300 7.10%
TAS $350 9%
NT $515 9.50%
ACT n/a n/a
National median $400 1.20%
Source: Rent.com.au 2020

December 2020 marked the continuation of some positive change in prices for the regions, as apartments and houses in the outer suburbs and regions benefited from being an escape from the city in COVID times. This new internal migration will create a unique growth opportunity. In December, the Northern Territory recorded the most significant price spike in regional rents, climbing 9.5% to $515/week.

The NT was one of four states to record an upward change in its regional median rent. Tasmania climbed 9.3% to $350/week, followed by South Australia (7.1% to $300/week) and finally in Western Australia, up 1.3% to $380/week. Victoria recorded the only price drop, down 1.2% to $395/week.

The highest regional rents in December were in the Northern Territory at $515/week, followed by New South Wales at $420/week.

Time on market.

Table 4: Time on market in December 2020

Metro area APARTMENT days on market DEC 2020 % change from NOV 2020 % change from DEC 2019 HOUSES days on market DEC 2020 % change from NOV 2020 % change from DEC 2019
SYDNEY 30 days 3% faster 7% slower 21 days 2% faster 18% faster
MELBOURNE 42 days 4% slower 86% slower 22 days 10% faster 3% faster
BRISBANE 24 days 11% faster 16% slower 15 days 1% faster 33% faster
PERTH 20 days 8% slower 33% faster 16 days 0% change 36% faster
ADELAIDE 23 days 9% slower 22% slower 15 days 2% faster 25% faster
HOBART 19 days 7% slower 36% slower 15 days 1% faster 1% faster
DARWIN 19 days 2% slower 55% faster 15 days 6% slower 53% faster
CANBERRA 16 days 5% faster 11% faster 14 days 5% faster 27% faster
Source: Rent.com.au 2020

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

Of all metro areas, Brisbane was the one to record the most significant change to time on market, month-on-month. Apartments leased quickest in the QLD capital in December, coming off the market in 24 days (11% faster). Year-on-year, the metro capital to record the greatest change was Melbourne, today taking 86% longer (now 42 days) to move an apartment than it did in Nov 2019


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