Rental property website has released its report for May 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. Rental Snapshot Highlights:

  • Increases in property supply and changes to the Australian rental market are causing a gradual drop in prices. 
  • In May, Adelaide became the cheapest place in the country to rent an individual room in an apartment at $160/week, despite a 3.2% price increase year-on-year.
  • Perth was the only metro capital where apartment rents did not fall in May, rising 1.5% to $340/week.
Table 1: Median rent (apartments v houses) and price per room
Metro areaApartments% changeHouses% changePrice per room% change
National median$4502.30%$435-2.70%$190-2.60%
Source: 2020
Read more: How long before my application is approved?

Price trends in May 2020

Median rents.

Both Australia’s economy and property markets have felt the weight of restrictions, lockdowns and job losses under the challenges of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. There are emerging signs of higher vacancies in capitals like Sydney and Melbourne, which is causing rents to fall in some areas. Tenants who are fortunate to still be in a secure financial position may find there’s now room to negotiate a small reduction in their rent.

Of course, uncertainty surrounding the job market across the country, together with substantial job losses have presented a new challenge for the residential property market, as well as being the motivation for some tenants to move in with others (while others will move back in with family).

As the flow of international student numbers is paused by travel bans and border closures, vacancies have been created. Sydney’s rental market is likely to see conditions weaken as student demand drops off and migration rates reduce. The short-term rental stock that has slowly been transitioning into the permanent rental pool (mentioned in previous reports) will also have some effect. Sydney apartment rents were down 3.8% over the month, dropping the median rent to $500/week.

Melbourne, similarly, is another capital that has relatively high exposure to overseas migration and will likely see some continued change in the rental market. Against a higher supply of rental properties and less demand, Melbourne apartment median rents were also down over the month, dropping by 4.8% for apartments. Over in Western Australia, median rents edged higher for apartments, rising 1.5% in May. Perth was the only capital to avoid a drop in apartment rents over the month. But considering the negative market sentiment, lockdowns and new challenges with rental viewings, state and territory capital median rents held up relatively well in May, despite slight falls in most metro areas.

Read more: How to write a rent reduction letter

Price per room’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. Considering this metric, Adelaide room prices remained stable in May, holding the title as the cheapest metro area to rent an individual room in a house, at $116/week.

The 12-month change in price per room showed Canberra had the most notable jump in apartment room prices, down 20.6% to $250/week. 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 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 MAY 2019Houses% change from MAY 2019
National median$2751.90%$140-2.30%
Source: 2020

Regional rents.

Regional Northern Territory was the most unaffordable across the country for the average renter in May. Rental prices in the territory’s outlying regions were $435/week, despite a 3.3% fall in prices.

Queensland, Victoria and South Australia were the only three states to record an increase in their respective regional median rent, up 1.3%, 3% and 3.7% respectively. Prices remained stable in New South Wales, Western Australia and Tasmania in May.

Table 3: Regional rents in May 2020
State/TerritoryMay-20% change from April ‘20
National median$3751.30%
Source: 2020
Read more: Rental applications: How long before I’m approved for a property? 

Time on market.

Australia’s property market slowed down across the board in May, with apartments and houses in all metro areas left on market for longer.

Considering the overall slowdown, Hobart apartments were least affected, taking just 1% longer to shift from April, now 19 days.

For all property types, the most noticeable slowdown month-on-month was in Darwin, where apartments and houses took 43% longer to lease, averaging 33 and 42 days each.

Table 4: Time on market in May 2020
Metro areaAPARTMENT days on market MAY 2020% change from APR 2020% change from MAY 2019HOUSES days on market MAY 2020% change from APR 2020% change from MAY 2019
SYDNEY30 days18% slower7% slower28 days10% slower1% faster
MELBOURNE30 days18% slower41% slower28 days8% slower3.4% slower
BRISBANE28 days19% slower25% slower25 days14% slower3.9% slower
PERTH32 days27% slower6% slower27 days18% slower13% faster
ADELAIDE24 days29% slower10% slower22 days16% slower1% faster
HOBART19 days1% slower39% slower24 days16% slower44% slower
DARWIN33 days43% slower16% faster42 days43% slower21% slower
CANBERRA22 days24% slower4% faster23 days10% slower1% slower
Source: 2020