Landlords now have access to a clearer picture of what's happening regarding the vacancy rate in Queensland, thanks to the REIQ's quarterly report for June.
For the first time, the REIQ was able to provide a breakdown between houses and apartments in most markets, and the data revealed that the apartment vacancy rate in the 0-5km ring of Brisbane is weak, at 3.7%, but the middle ring, 5-20km ring, is healthy at 2.7%.
The vacancy rate for houses in the 0-5km ring is 3.4% and in the middle ring is tight at 1.8%.
REIQ CEO Antonia Mercorella said the new data provided greater clarity around the house and apartment markets.
“One of the most commonly asked questions around the inner city property market is regarding a perceived oversupply in the apartment market and now we have a more detailed survey in order to provide more information and more data to help us answer this question,” she said.
“Brisbane’s inner city vacancy rate for the June quarter for apartments in 3.7% and while the REIQ classes this as just outside the healthy range of 2.5% to 3.5%, it’s important to remember that recent projects coming online have not yet been absorbed by the inner city population growth.
"With major projects, such as Queens Wharf and Howard Smith Wharves, creating thousands of jobs over the next few years in Brisbane's inner city, we are confident demand for housing will continue to grow.
“We are seeing steady levels of supply and equally steady levels of demand for inner-city apartments and we expect vacancy rates will hover around these levels for some time to come."
There's good news in the regional centres, too, with the traditionally 'weak' centres of Gladstone, Rockhampton, Mackay and Townsville all showing improvement. Gladstone has tightened from 11.3% to 10.2%, proving to be relatively consistent for the past three quarters.
“While the vacancy rate is high, the good news is that it has not worsened in three quarters so we’re optimistic that the bottom of the Gladstone market has been met and this market is now stabilising,” Ms Mercorella said.
The Rockhampton vacancy rate continues to hover around 6%, falling from 6.9% in the March quarter to 6.5% in the June quarter. However, Ms Mercorella has warned against overanalysing these changes, saying the market was essentially holding steady.
“Mackay has fallen slightly from 8.1% to 7.7% and this represents a steadily tightening trend over the past seven quarters, which we’re cautiously optimistic will continue,” Ms Mercorella said.
“Local agents tell us that this market is showing good signs of improvement and we’re hopeful this market is looking at a brighter prognosis for the rest of the year.”
The Townsville market vacancy rate fell from 6% to 5.7% - its second consecutive fall - but is still described as performing reasonably well and soon to stabilise.
The only unexpected result was Bundaberg’s lift from 5.2% to 6.3%, with the selling market holding steady and the median house price at $276,000. Strong interest from pre-retirees in southern states is being reported, with the intention of renting for another few years until they are ready to retire to the property themselves.
In the tourism centres, Cairns' rental market has tightened, putting pressure on weekly rents as stock levels become scarce. The REIQ described it as a "very exciting time to be in Cairns", with the sales market for houses and apartments "going ahead in leaps and bounds".
Whitsunday has dropped from 10% to 6%, which is a significant improvement. Construction projects and improved tourism numbers are creating jobs and attracting new residents who are taking up rental accommodation.
The Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast continue to be tight rental markets, both slightly tightening since last quarter, from 1.5% to 1.4%.
The tightest rental markets are Caloundra and Maroochy, with just 1% vacancy rate, and the highest is Livingstone Shire (Yeppoon) with 12.3%.