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Think you’re paying a lot in rent? If you’re in Brisbane, chances are you’re paying less than those living on the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and even Redland.
New figures from the Domain Group’s March quarter Rental Report show Brisbane is one of the cheapest capital cities to rent in the entire country, beaten only by Adelaide and Perth, while rising rents in other parts of south-east Queensland have well and truly outstripped Brisbane’s lacklustre rental market.
In the Brisbane LGA, rents have remained flat the entire past 12 months. The median asking rent for houses is still $450 a week, with no yearly or quarterly change. Units have also remained flat over the March quarter, at $390 a week, dropping only slightly by $5 a week since the same time last year.
Meanwhile, on the Gold Coast, the median asking price for a rental house has risen by 6.5 per cent over the past year to hit $490 a week – that’s $30 a week more than this time last year.
Unit rentals have also gone up on the glitter strip by nearly 5 per cent to $430 a week, making the Gold Coast the most expensive region to rent a property in south-east Queensland.
Houses on the Sunshine Coast have a median asking rent of $490 a week, while units in Redland are asking $400 a week. In Ipswich, house rents have increased by 2.9 per cent and units by 3.7 per cent over the past year.
But the news isn’t all bad for Brisbane. Stagnated rents were a welcome relief from the ever-increasing cost of living, according to national research manager at PRDnationwide, Dr Diaswati Mardiasmo.
“While these figures may not look particularly exciting, the thing that stands out for me is how affordable Brisbane is,” Dr Mardiasmo said.
“The cost of living is continually going up – rises in electricity, rises in rates, rises in water bills and private health – so to hear that your rent is staying the same will be a relief to so many tenants.”
And tenants who are not stretched financially are far more stable, which benefits landlords too, she said.
“I’m looking at it from the perspective of the renter who can have that stability and affordability but you know, this lack of price increase also benefits landlords,” she said.
“When rents don’t go up, tenants stay where they are. When rents go up, often they’re forced to move out because they can’t afford to pay more. When that happens, often the landlord is left with a vacant property before they can find a new tenant, which is a lot worse.”
Amid the widely publicised unit oversupply and falling unit prices, rental yields have held strong.
Brisbane unit yields sit at 5.06 per cent after strengthening by 2.8 per cent over the March quarter. Yields are also up 1.3 per cent year-on-year.
“When you consider the fear of oversupply and the vacancy rate, these figures are actually quite heartening,” Dr Mardiasmo said.
“There’s been a lot of negative commentary surrounding the unit market in particular, so from an investors point of view, the fact that yields are holding well is comforting.
REIQ zone chairman Andrew Henderson conceded the Gold Coast was fast becoming a difficult market to break into, for tenants and buyers alike.
“What’s changed recently is the buyers. We used to have 50-50 owner-occupiers and investors but these days 80 per cent of our buyers are owner-occupiers,” he said.
“What that means is that properties that used to be rentals are now being bought by owner-occupiers; the pool of rentals is shrinking.
“At the same time, you’ve got strong migration, so the demand for rentals is increasing. It’s super competitive for applications. And of course, as the cost of renting increases, it’s harder to save to buy a property.”
Dr Mardiasmo said that overall, the Brisbane rental market was “where it should be”.
“I would say to people in Brisbane: look around you. There are other capital cities where people have to commute for an hour-and-a-half just to get to their workplace.
“In Brisbane you only need to live 15 to 20 minutes out to be able to afford a place and still be able to live. We don’t need to wish for figures that make headlines, our situation right now is quite nice.”