The latest REINSW Residential Vacancy Rate Report, released on 22 February 2018, reveals a 0.5 per cent increase in rental vacancies across Sydney, as well as increases in key NSW areas such as the Illawarra region (1.4 per cent increase) and the Hunter region (0.1 per cent increase).
The REINSW Residential Vacancy Rate Report is based on the proportion of unlet residential dwellings to the total rent roll of REINSW member agents on the 15th of each month. Carried out monthly, the research – a survey of REINSW member agents conducted by Survey Matters – collects the total properties on agency rent rolls, the number of properties that were vacant on the 15th of the month, and in which postcode the majority of agents’ rental properties are located. The suburb-level rates reported by agents are weighted based on the ABS 2016 Census Selected Dwelling Characteristics . The latest report – taken on 15 January – is based on survey responses covering 132,493 residential rental properties.
Overall, Sydney experienced a 3.7 per cent vacancy rate in January, compared with 3.2 per cent in December. Inner Sydney  and Outer Sydney  saw modest increases from December, while Middle Sydney  saw a 0.9 per cent drop in vacancies from the previous month – down to 4.2 per cent.
REINSW President Leanne Pilkington says: “Feedback from real estate agencies in Sydney’s middle ring – such as in Parramatta, Auburn and Bankstown – has been that the higher vacancy rates are due to new apartment developments, which have led to a market surplus. Landlords are finding it difficult to adjust by reducing rent.
“At the same time, real estate agencies in Sydney’s inner ring who report to us regularly – for example in Campsie, Gladesville and Artarmon – have shown a decrease in their vacancy rates this month.”
The Hunter region
While vacancies in the Hunter region overall remained fairly steady, Newcastle saw an increase of 0.6 per cent from December, to 2.5 per cent this month.
Leanne says, “Agent feedback in Newcastle suggests that it is getting harder to find tenants, with a slower market and a surplus of properties up for lease.”
The Illawarra region
Wollongong saw a significant jump in rental vacancies, from 2.7 per cent on 15 January, to 2.9 per cent on 15 January.
“Agents have let us know there are a lot of new developments in the area – mainly for student housing – boosting Wollongong’s vacancy rate,” Leanne says. “Demand for student housing has also led to established residents in the area renting out their granny flats and rooms, which is also a contributing factor.”
Other regional NSW areas
The rest of NSW saw mild increases in five key areas: the Central Coast (to 2.3 per cent), Mid-North Coast (2.1 per cent), Murrumbidgee (1.0 per cent), New England (to 2.1 per cent) and Riverina (which saw an increase of 0.9 per cent, to 3.1 per cent this month).
The Central West (2.2 per cent vacancy rate), Coffs Harbour (1.2 per cent) and the South Eastern regions (1.3 per cent) saw the largest decreases, of between 0.5 and 0.7 per cent.
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 Survey Matters uses the ABS proportions to weight the vacancy rate data to ensure that monthly suburb level data does not affect the overall regional vacancy rate more than its proportional representation, irrespective of the size of the agencies reporting the data
 ‘Inner’ includes suburbs in the following LGAs: Ashfield, Botany Bay, Lane Cove, Leichhardt, Marrickville, Mosman, North Sydney, Randwick, Sydney, Waverley and Woollahra
 'Outer’ includes suburbs in the following LGAs: Baulkham Hills, Blacktown, Blue Mountains, Camden, Campbelltown, Fairfield, Gosford, Hawkesbury, Holroyd, Hornsby, Liverpool, Penrith, Pittwater, Sutherland, Warringah, Wollondilly and Wyong
 ‘Middle’ includes suburbs in the following LGAs: Auburn, Bankstown, Burwood, Canterbury, Canada Bay, Hunters Hill, Hurstville, Kogarah, Ku-ring-gai, Manly, Parramatta, Rockdale, Ryde, Strathfield and Willoughby