With a vacancy rate at just 2 per cent in the Cairns region, good luck if you are on the hunt right now.Despite concerns the most recent CairnsWatch report indicates that the vacancy rate has stopped falling in the last 6 months or so and been edging up again despite still weak building activity:
Vacancy rates in the Cairns rental market have been creeping up over the last six months, albeit they remain at tight levels still indicative of a limited rental supply. The trend vacancy rate for houses stood at 2.3% in December 2013, while units recorded a trend vacancy rate of 2.5%. The market vacancy trend overall stood at 2.4%.
At least the Post is taking an interest, as they should. The rental sector in Cairns is a larger share of housing than our regional coastal neighbour cities, based on both census and rental data. However the supply response to low vacancy rates has so far been limited going by the building approvals?
Cairns also has a higher proportion of unit accommodation with the current split based on rental bonds at 31st December:
Down in Townsville the number of rental bonds for flats are less than two thirds the number of houses. Within Cairns the proportion of flats are overwhelmingly in the 4870 postcode:
The quarterly data of rental bonds held is available on the RTA website from March 2011. Total growth in rental bonds within Cairns LGA has been 11%. An interesting aspect is that the fastest growth in that period has been in the 4877 postcode around Port Douglas. That applies to both flats and houses. This is the change in rental bonds for flats by postcode with March 2011 indexed to 100 for comparison:
Albeit from a lower base total than other postcodes I'm not sure why there would have been such higher growth rates in Port Douglas over this period? Possibly it relates to outstanding developer / receiver stock coming onto the market following the construction crash and / or a significantly higher vacancy rate than other areas back in 2011.
The other suggestion has been holiday accommodation transferring to longer term rentals. Both those could also apply to 4879 at the beaches which has also had higher growth.