By Antonia Mercorella, CEO of Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ)
It appears the hot seller’s market we’re currently experiencing is exacerbating the scarce supply of rental properties in Queensland. Vacancy rates across the state remain extremely tight, particularly in regional and lifestyle areas of Queensland, according to the REIQ’s September 2021 Quarter Residential Vacancy Report.
So why are there so few rental properties right now? What we’re likely seeing is the result of a combination of factors; investors taking advantage of high capital growth and selling their investment properties or asking for higher rents when tenancy agreements are up for renewal; first-home buyers and owner-occupiers appear to be active as ever in the market and buying up residential properties; and Queensland has had a population influx with increased migration from both international (returning ex-pats) and interstate due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All this adds up to less properties on the rental market, meaning far less choice for renters, and fierce competition to snap up a rental property.
For those who are seeking a rental property in these highly competitive conditions, it can be a really challenging – after all, we’re talking about our home, our shelter for ourself and our loved ones.
Here are a few practical tips to help you get ahead of your competition and be prepared to act fast when a desired rental property comes on the market.
Do your research
Of course, we know demand does push up prices and affects affordability, so it’s important to do your research online and understand which areas have more choice in your price range in today’s market. Ask yourself, am I prepared to pay more rent if staying in this region is a priority for me? In tight rental market conditions, you may need to be more flexible and open-minded about where you’re prepared to live, or alternatively consider the type of property you live in. For example, you may want to consider a larger apartment or townhouse if free-standing properties are not available in your suburb of preference or budget.
Get your ducks in a row
Having great supporting documentation in your rental application that showcases your rental history and your ability to meet the financial commitments under the tenancy agreement is essential. Think about what evidence you can provide upfront to make the Property Manager’s role easier when it comes to selecting the tenant for the property. Items you should include are a summary of your rental history and referees who can verify these claims, an employment history reference substantiating your continuous employment and financial information that evidences your capacity to meet the rental payments.
Make a good impression
Relationships matter – make a lasting good impression at open houses and develop a relationship with the real estate agents in the areas you’re looking to rent in. It’s important to know when an available property is coming up so you can pounce very quickly with your application. You can also ask the Property Manager questions about the property owner’s preferences so that you can ensure your application is appealing as possible.
For those currently looking for a property on their own, you may want to consider a co-tenancy arrangement and group together with others in order to expand the options for both of you and look at properties with a higher price point. You could also consider renting a granny flat, or rooms for rent within a property where you’d share an address with the property owner. This can be highly cost effective and may be a good short to medium term option.
If you’re still left looking for a place to live, it may be time to think a little out of the box. We’ve heard of people approaching owners of properties on the holiday letting market to ask whether they’d be prepared to rent their property on a more permanent basis. Others are crowdsourcing their search, by asking friends and family – whether it’s a hot tip on a new for lease sign or a friend of a friend that has a granny flat coming up, it helps to get in first through your extended network.
Whatever your method, there is one thing for sure – if you’re looking for a rental in this market, be prepared and be quick.