Geraldton rental vacancy rate rises to 1.8 per cent but market still “tight”, says expert

Phoebe PinGeraldton Guardian
The Geraldton rental vacancy rate has increased to 1.8 per cent.
Camera IconThe Geraldton rental vacancy rate has increased to 1.8 per cent. Credit: Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

Geraldton has bucked the trend after becoming one of just two regional centres to see an improvement in rental vacancy rates last month.

The Mid West city recorded a 1.8 per cent vacancy rate for June, up slightly from 1.3 per cent the previous month.

Busselton’s rental vacancy rate barely budged from 1.2 per cent to 1.3 per cent in June.

Perth saw a 0.2 per cent increase in the availability of rental properties, with the vacancy rate now sitting at 1.2 per cent for the metro area. But rentals are becoming even harder to come by in Broome, Bunbury and Kalgoorlie-Boulder, with each recording a vacancy rate of 0.5 per cent, 0.6 per cent and 1.2 per cent, respectively.

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While Geraldton may still be a way off from climbing back to the 4.1 per cent vacancy rate seen in June last year, Real Estate Institute of WA Mid West branch chair Peta McKenzie said the new data indicated the tide may be turning.

“It still indicates a very tight market because you need to be looking at about 3 per cent (in the vacancy rate) before you are looking at a balance of supply and demand, but it is probably a positive sign in terms of the market returning to a little more normality,” she said.

From a sales perspective, we are still selling good volume, but it is still to owner-occupiers.

“Through April, May and June we have seen those people transfer out of those properties ... so we are seeing more supply coming into the market from that,” she said.

But encouraging investors to buy properties for the rental market continued to be a challenge, according to Ms McKenzie.

“From a sales perspective, we are still selling good volume, but it is still to owner-occupiers,” she said.

“Depending on what happens in the next 6-12 months when the new builds become available, there may still be a shortage if people are discouraged from purchasing property for investment.

“It would be great to see the government offer some sort of incentive to people to invest in property ... such as some sort of stamp duty relief or deferred stamp duty.”

Ms McKenzie said any government involvement in the rental market must be through a “measured process”.

“We don’t want the government to become too involved in the free market, because that’s when things can become too weighted one way or another,” she said.

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