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Rental market dynamics shift as unit rents approach house levels in Australia’s key cities


MCG Quantity Surveyors has recently published a pivotal report indicating a significant shift in Australia’s rental market over the last year, especially in the capital cities of Greater Sydney, Greater Melbourne, and Greater Brisbane. Titled ‘Rising Tide of Unit Rents Closes Gap with Houses in Major Capitals,’ the report uncovers the narrowing affordability gap between house and unit rents, a trend with broad implications for renters and investors.

Mike Mortlock, the Managing Director of MCG Quantity Surveyors, pointed out the remarkable trends emerging from their analysis. “The findings of our report reflect a remarkable shift in the rental market dynamics, with unit rents experiencing a surge that is narrowing the affordability gap with houses in 3 of our major capitals,” Mortlock stated. He attributed this shift to changing preferences and conditions within the housing market.

In Greater Sydney, the report cataloged a notable increase in house rents from $650 in February 2023 to $700 by February 2024, while unit rents leaped from $540 to $650 within the same timeframe. Mortlock elaborated on the potential factors driving this trend, suggesting, “The accelerated growth in unit rents compared to houses suggests a strong demand for more affordable, centrally located living options.”

Similarly, in Greater Melbourne and Greater Brisbane, unit rents saw substantial hikes, bringing them closer to house rent levels. Melbourne’s unit rents ascended from $430 to $520, and Brisbane’s from $470 to $550, reflecting the attractiveness of urban living and the burgeoning demand for unit accommodations. “These trends are not just numbers; they tell the story of Australians’ shifting lifestyle aspirations, with a clear tilt towards higher density living options,” Mortlock added.

The convergence of house and unit rents holds various implications, chiefly for renters who are witnessing the diminishing price difference between houses and units, and for investors who now view units as a more appealing investment choice. Mortlock advised, “For investors, the rising unit rents in inner-city areas point to a potentially higher yield in the short to medium term. However, this opportunity comes with considerations such as strata fees and the ongoing supply of new developments.”

By offering a detailed breakdown of current market trends, the report from MCG Quantity Surveyors aims to guide stakeholders throughout the real estate sector in making informed decisions regarding property investment, urban planning, and housing policy. “For those navigating the complexities of the Australian rental market, our report offers not just insights but a roadmap for understanding the evolving landscape of housing affordability,” Mortlock concluded, stressing the importance of staying abreast of these trends for renters and investors planning for the future.

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