A LACK of international students, less travellers in Airbnb-style accommodation and a growing first home-buyers market due to available government grants, has seen a dramatic change in rental vacancy rates across Victoria.
And while inner city Melbourne has bore the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic with its vacancy rate soaring above three per cent for the first time in many years, the majority of regional centres have managed to maintain the status quo.
But university towns like Ballarat and Geelong are seeing vacancy rates above two per cent due to a lack of international students arriving and the disappearance of casual working populations in restaurants and bars.
Officially, Ballarat is now the easiest major city in regional Victoria to find a rental, with a vacancy rate of 2.6 per cent for the month of June. Just one year ago, in June 2019, the city's vacancy rate was dangerously low at just 1.2 per cent.
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Geelong at 2.3 per cent and Shepparton at 2.1 per cent are the only regional centres with a greater than two per cent availability in the state.
That increased rate has also seen a marginal drop off in average prices. Right now, Ballarat's median rental price for a three bedroom house is $330, down $10 from May and $20 a week less than its peak in December last year.
Unit prices have remained relatively steady, coming in at $280 a week
As of Wednesday, the Domain.com.au website was listing 374 rental properties available in Ballarat and its nearby regions.
Speaking to The Courier, Real Estate Institute of Victoria president Leah Calnan said Ballarat's higher rate was a reflection on the amount of short term rental properties the market previous was operating.
"If you think about Ballarat and surrounding areas like Daylesford, short term has been taken off Airbnb market," Ms Calnan said.
"We heard feedback in April on the ground, all of a sudden there was an increase on the number of properties being made available.
"But speaking with agents just last week, they are saying properties are leasing really well and there's not the vacancy period that we were expecting."
'We'd expect most of those short term furnished accommodations will stay on the market for six to 12 months."
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