The REIV April vacancy rates report reveals little improvement in the state of the rental market during the past 12 months.
In April the vacancy rate for Melbourne was 1.7 per cent and 1.2 for regional Victoria. The vacancy rate has remained basically the same during the last 12 months, when it was 1.6 per cent in Melbourne and 1.3 per cent in regional Victoria.
A lower number of vacancies in regional Victoria explains why, according to the Victorian Government, rents rose by 7.9 per cent in the year to December 2010 (most recent data) compared with 4.9 per cent in Melbourne.
Within Melbourne the highest level of vacancies was in the middle suburbs, where the rate was two per cent. This was higher than the inner-city vacancy rate of 1.4 per cent and that of the outer suburbs, where it was 1.5 per cent.
In regional Victoria, vacancies in the three main centres remain scarce. In the Geelong region the vacancy rate was 1.6 per cent compared to 1.4 per cent 12 months ago. In the Ballarat region the vacancy rate was 0.9 per cent compared to 0.5 per cent a year ago and in Bendigo one per cent of rental homes were vacant compared to 0.2 per cent a year ago.
According to the most recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the level of lending across Australia for investment in housing has decreased in seasonally adjusted terms by 1.7 per cent since February and 13 per cent since March 2010. Given that the majority of rental accommodation is provided by the private sector, a decrease of this magnitude in lending provides an indication that the low level of vacanices is unlikely to improve in the short term.