Rental vacancy rates in Ballarat and region have continued to tighten, creating an extremely tough market for prospective tenants.
Ballarat Property Group director and specialist property manager, Jamie Stephens said his agency currently has a 0.26 per cent rental vacancy and this had been the case for the past six months.
“We manage 1500 rental properties in Ballarat and within a 30km radius of the city and we currently only have 25 properties available,” he said.
“There was a sharp upturn in inquiry at the beginning of the year and we’ve experienced strong demand for rental properties over the past six months, even through winter, with no more than 40 properties available at any one time.”
Mr Stephens said the strong rental demand was a phenomenon he had not previously seen in his 23 years of property management.
Ballarat Real Estate general manager, Allister Morrison said his agency had recorded rental vacancy rates of one per cent for August 2018, compared with 2.3 per cent for the same time last year.
Mr Morrison said the scarcity was due to a number of factors, including out of area investors buying up available property and the influx of people moving to Ballarat.
He said with interest rates continuing to remain low, many people were choosing to buy and live in, rather than rent homes and this meant the traditional rental property supply was not generating as much supply.
Long-term rental was also a factor with tenants historically staying put for long periods.
“People don’t tend to move, so they might rent for a long time and then properties don’t become available.”
Mr Stephens agreed, saying there was also a strong demand for executive homes for professionals and families moving from Melbourne, who wanted to rent for a while and ‘test” the area.
He said he had just leased an executive property at $595 per week that had only been on the books a fortnight, which was significant because “for a long time it has been capped at $500”.
He said there was continual demand for new, 3-4 bedroom family homes in areas such as Alfredton and Lucas.
The Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV) figures for August 2018 show the official rental vacancy rate for Ballarat as 1.0 per cent, compared with Bendigo at 1.2 per cent and the regional Victoria total at 1.4 per cent.
Mr Morrison said supply was not keeping up with demand and rental prices were increasing accordingly.
“For every available property we get multiple applications, which is great for the landlord because they not only have more choice, but they also have a higher quality of potential tenants.”