Photo by Fábio Hanashiro on Unsplash

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

  • Not one metro area saw an increase in rent in March – with falls across most states and territories. The most significant change was seen in Darwin apartments, where rents fell 8.3% to $330/week.
  • Perth is still the cheapest place in Australia to rent an individual room in a house at $120/week, despite a 2.8% increase year-on-year.
  • Considering the average time to lease a property, apartments in Hobart slowed most significantly of all state and territory capitals, taking 15 days, a 15% slowdown month-on-month.
  • Darwin (-8.3%), Perth (-2.9%) and Canberra (-2.6%) were key contributors to the national fall in apartment median rent in March.
Table 1: Median rent (apartments v houses) and price per room
Metro areaApartments% changeHouses% changePrice per room% change
SYDNEY$520-1.90%$5000%$2750%
MELBOURNE$420-2.30%$4300%$180-4%
BRISBANE$4000%$435-1.10%$1622.50%
PERTH$3300$3800%$133-2.40%
ADELAIDE$3200%$380-1.30%$136-4.90%
HOBART$410-1.80%$480-4%$180-1.80%
DARWIN$330-8.30%$450-2.20%$1532.20%
CANBERRA$460-2.60%$565-1.30%$220-4.30%
National median$450-2.20%$445-1.10%$196-1.60%
Source: rent.com.au

Price trends in March 2020

Median rents.

Looking at the change in median rents in March, there are some early indicators of the effect the ongoing COVID-19 crisis is likely to have on the country’s rental market.

For properties leased on rent.com.au, not one state or territory saw an increase its median rent – with falls across every metro area, bar one. The most significant change was seen in Darwin apartments, where rents fell 8.3% to $330/week.

Perth was the only metro area where rents did not fall in March, keeping house rents static at $380/week.

Australian Capital Territory’s capital Canberra has overtaken Sydney as the most expensive metro area for houses. Despite a 1.3% fall in house prices, Canberra’s median rent jumped to $565/week in March, passing Sydney’s $500/week price tag.

Canberra’s current asking rents are comparable to the country’s most affordable cities for apartments in March, Perth and Adelaide at $380/week.

Price per room

Considering rent.com.au’s room price metric, Perth remained the cheapest place in Australia to rent an individual room in a house at $120/week, despite an 2.8% increase year-on-year.

The 12-month change in price per room showed Adelaide to have the biggest jump in apartment room prices, up 10.5% to $170/week.

Rent.com.au chief executive officer, Greg Bader said with most reported property data developed for the property owner (i.e. dwelling price), it was important 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 MAR 2019Houses% change from Mar-19
SYDNEY$3254.00%$2033%
MELBOURNE$2654%$1400.00%
BRISBANE$2200$1404%
PERTH$2000%$1202.80%
ADELAIDE$17010.50%$1300%
HOBART$205-3.50%$1661.00%
DARWIN$1656.10%$143-0.70%
CANBERRA$3220.70%$1835.30%
National median$2803.70%$1461.10%
Source: rent.com.au

Regional rents.

Regional Northern Territory was the most unaffordable across the country for the average renter in March – prices for rentals in the territory’s outlying regions were $425/week, following a 1.1% price jump.

Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory recorded an increase in their respective median rents month-on-month, up 2.6% (SA), 1.3% (QLD) and 1.1% in the NT.

Median rents remained relatively healthy across the rest of the country, with no change for New South Wales or Victoria.

Table 3: Regional rents in March 2020
State/TerritoryMar-20% change from Feb-20
NSW$4000.00%
VIC$3300%
QLD$3750
WA$340-3%
SA$2872.60%
TAS$325-1.50%
NT$4251.10%
ACTn/an/a
National median$3750.00%
Source: rent.com.au

Time on market.

Sydney houses saw the most significant improvement in time on market in March; taking 25 days to shift on average (8% faster, month-on-month).

Apartments in the NSW capital were also off market 5% faster in March – now also 25 days. For houses, the most noticeable shift month-on-month was in Hobart – this property type came off market 15% faster in March, an average of 15 days to move.

Rent.com.au’s latest report recorded a general decrease in the time apartments and houses stayed on market in March. The market moved far quicker for houses overall (quickest in Sydney, Brisbane and Darwin), with properties leasing faster in all states and territories except Perth, which remained unchanged.

Table 4: Days on market in March 2020
Metro areaAPARTMENT days on market MAR 2020% change from FEB 2020% change from MAR 2019HOUSES days on market MAR 2020% change from FEB 2020% change from MAR 2019
SYDNEY25 days5% faster3% slower25 days8% faster9% faster
MELBOURNE22 days4% slower17% slower23 days3% faster1% faster
BRISBANE19 days4% slower9% faster20 days7% faster4% faster
PERTH25 days7% faster13% faster23 daysNo change18% faster
ADELAIDE19 days2% faster6% faster20 days1% faster6% faster
HOBART15 days15% slower1% faster18 days4% faster27% slower
DARWIN21 days10% slower16% slower21 days5% faster9% slower
CANBERRA36 days3% slower5% slower33 days4% faster17% slower
Source: rent.com.au