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The city where house rents are growing fastest in Australia

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Rental prices for Brisbane houses have again skyrocketed to record heights, with new data revealing the Queensland hot spot outpaced every other capital in the country for annual growth last year, with experts warning there’s more to come.

Released today, Domain’s December 2021 Rental Report shows house rents rose on average by $20, or 4.3 per cent, over the quarter to $480, and by 12.9 per cent over the year to cement what is now the longest period of continuous house rent growth in the city’s history.

The second-best performing city was Canberra, where house rents rose by 12.5 per cent over the year to $675 per week.

For the Queensland capital, it’s also the biggest quarterly price jump in 15 years, with unit rents also rising by $10 over the past three months to reach a record high of $420 per week.

Brisbane is more expensive than Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth for house rents, with Canberra remaining the nation’s most expensive hub for tenants.

The report sums up a bumper year for Brisbane, with unprecedented rates of interstate migration fuelling record property price hikes that led to several suburbs across the city joining the million-dollar-median house price club.

Domain chief of research and economics Nicola Powell said the rate of migration, particularly from working families, placed pressure on the house rental market, and suggested the March 2022 quarter would likely mark yet another price milestone.

“Tenants could be staring down the barrel of weekly house rents of $490 or $500 over the next quarter,” Dr Powell said.

“We’re now in the busiest change period of the year and landlords can re-negotiate and they will be moving their rents to market rate.

“And with the international border re-opening hanging over our property markets, and with it the volume of overseas migrants moving into Australia … it’s going to place further demand on our rental and sales market.”

Dr Powell said all regions across Greater Brisbane climbed to record high house and unit rents over the December quarter, with a record rent price gap also clocked between house and unit asking prices.

“Families in their prime working years are the biggest demographic in terms of positive net influx into Brisbane and they want a family home,” she said.

“But I think this report really shows that Brisbane is in the spotlight. It’s got the highest rate of growth compared to any capital and it just pips Canberra. When you look at the other growth cycles like Perth, they’ve come off their peak.”

The report further revealed that house rents in the Queensland capital’s inner-city east region are now the most expensive, after prices climbed 3.2 per cent to $640 per week.

Houses featuring a pool and a big backyard with space to work at home are particularly hot property, Place Estate Agents Bulimba joint managing director Paul Curtain said, with tight vacancy rates pushing prices up by as much as 10 per cent in the past three months.

“At this time of year, you usually have tenants moving out leading up to Christmas, so maybe per 500 properties you’d have two or three per cent available for re-let but that’s now basically zero,” Mr Curtain said.

“So there’s the domino effect … but also there’s the need for people to have accommodation that has greater flexibility than normal … somewhere they can work, live and entertain from.

“And with the explosion of the current COVID variant, we’ve seen even greater numbers of inspections for both sales and rentals [for spacious family homes].”

Despite the pandemic sparking a lifestyle shift towards bigger homes with a backyard, Domain data released last week showed Brisbane’s inner-city region claimed the nation’s largest monthly decline in vacancy rates over December.

“For inner-city apartments it’s been a much better last three months. Vacancy rates have come down and rents have risen and we’re starting to see more investors come into the market place,” Ray White Inner City Brisbane principal Dean Yesberg said.

“There are a lot of Sydney investors and a lot of people from the Sunshine Coast. Their property prices have increased dramatically, so they are looking to invest here.

“The fact that development has been put on hold means I think we’re going to definitely see a supply issue and a shortage of new properties being built which will increase if we get international students back in soon.”

The Domain December Rental Report revealed houses in Greater Brisbane’s Moreton Bay North region collected the largest quarterly rent rise of 12.5 per cent (or $50) to $450 per week.

At the other end of the spectrum, units in Logan’s Springwood/Kingston region topped the list for affordability, after prices remained stagnant at $285 over the quarter.


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Record auction figures in December as Australia’s property market plays catch up


A surge in post lockdown supply coupled with buoyant market conditions, led to unprecedented levels of auction activity across Australia in the final three months of 2021.

CoreLogic’s Quarterly Auction Market Review shows 42,918 properties were taken to auction across the combined capital cities in the three months to December 2021, an 85.1% increase from the previous quarter and more than double (109.5%) the December 2020 figures.

CoreLogic’s Research Director Tim Lawless says several factors resulted in the surge in auctions, including some catch-up from the September quarter when the largest auctions markets were weighted down by lockdowns as well as a pickup in activity following the seasonally slower conditions of winter.

“The large number of auctions held through the December quarter also reflects the strong selling conditions that were present, which motivated vendors to capitalise on strong buyer demand and the significant rise in values seen through the pandemic,” he says.

“Auctions as a way of selling tend to be more popular during a sellers’ market; in this situation buyers are highly competitive and incentivised to outbid rival purchasers in order to secure a property. During cooler market conditions an auction may not attract as many registered bidders or as much competitive bidding.”

In Australia’s two biggest auction markets, Melbourne had 19,788 auctions and a clearance rate of 69.7% for the December quarter compared to Sydney, where 14,906 auctions were held at a clearance rate of 69.9%.

Across the combined capitals, the quarterly clearance rate of 71.3% was only slightly down on the previous quarter results of 71.7%.

However, as the quarter progressed and the volume of auctions held increased, the clearance rate progressively trended lower to 61.1% in the week ending 19 December, 2021.

Mr Lawless says higher auction volumes will often correspond with lower clearance rates as demand becomes more thinly stretched.

“The surge in the number of auctions through the final quarter of 2021 was accompanied by a consistent trend towards lower clearance rates, with this trend evident across each of the capital cities,” he says.

“The drop in clearance rates implies demand didn’t quite keep pace with the level of auction supply during the quarter.”

In the smaller capitals Brisbane (3027 auctions, clearance rate of 74.9%), Adelaide (2902 auctions, 80.5%) and Canberra (1949 auctions, 82.4%) also recorded significant increases in volumes compared to Q3 2021, and the corresponding quarter in 2020.

auction At a granular level, the suburb of Wishart, 12km south-east of Brisbane’s CBD, recorded a 100% clearance rate, the highest in the country, with all 28 properties scheduled for auction in the December quarter selling under the hammer.

The heightened auction volumes in Brisbane and Adelaide echoed the cities respective housing strength, where values continued to rise at cyclical highs through December, prompting a higher proportion of properties being taken to auction.

Auctions in Australia’s regional areas also increased substantially over the quarter. Larger centres such as Newcastle, the Illawarra, Geelong and the Gold and Sunshine coasts in Queensland, each saw a surge in auction volumes, reflective of the tight housing market conditions that currently exist in the country’s popular coastal areas and lifestyle-oriented markets.

In the week ending January 23, 2022, close to 460 auctions are scheduled across the capital cities, almost 40% higher when compared to the same period a year ago. However, Mr Lawless says it’s too early to forecast the auction market trend likely to prevail in 2022.

“Overall advertised supply levels generally remain below average across most of the capitals suggesting sellers are still benefitting from strong selling conditions,” Mr Lawless says.

“Auction volumes tend to ramp up through early February and move through a seasonal peak in the weeks prior to Easter. Over the medium term we are expecting listing numbers to gradually normalise which should see buyers regaining some leverage in the market over time.  If this is the case, we could see more vendors reverting to private treaty sales rather than auctions as competitive tension amongst buyers eases.”

A full city-by-city suburb analysis, where at least 20 auction results were reported over the December quarter, can be found in the report.


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High Rollers Spending Big in South-East Queensland’s Premium Market


The Gold Coast continues to rise above the pandemic, providing bang for buck for many ultra high-net worth individuals who bought into the unyielding prime residential market.

The region recorded a 156 per cent increase in annual sales turnover for prime residential property, the biggest in the country, according to Knight Frank’s Australian Prime Residential Review report.

Knight Frank head of residential research Michelle Ciesielski, who authored the report, said Gold Coast property had chalked up a 10.5 per cent increase in prime prices, the second-highest behind Sydney at 10.7 per cent.

“The Gold Coast saw the biggest rise in prime annual sales turnover at 156 per cent, followed by Brisbane at 135 per cent,” Ciesielski said.

“Gold Coast prime properties were on the market 19 days less on average [than the previous quarter], the biggest reduction across Australia.”

The Gold Coast also offered more for your money.

According to Knight Frank data, US$1 million would buy you 124sq m of luxury floor space in the Gold Coast, while in Melbourne it could buy about 88sq m and a paltry 44sq m in Sydney.

Prime residential performance, third quarter 2021

Region Capital Growth YoY Sales Volume YoY Gross rental yield
Sydney 10.7% 119% 2.07%
Melbourne 6.5% 85% 2.69%
Brisbane 8.4% 135% 2.41%
Perth 10.4% 120% 1.78%
Gold Coast 10.5% 156% 3.48%

^Source: Knight Frank Australian Prime Residential Review

Sherpa Property Group chief executive Christie Leet told The Urban Developer late last year that beachfront prices at nearly $20,000 per square metre were “towards the top end, well and truly”.

“There’s a fair argument that we might have hit a peak,” Leet said.

“But there’s still plenty of people out there buying tower sites that are going to take three or four years to develop.”

Towards the end of 2021 there were more than 50 residential projects with an estimated investment value of $4.8 billion under construction on the Gold Coast.

Nationally, the third quarter of 2021 was the second highest on record for prime sales, recording 1971 properties sold, while the volume of prime sales was up 119 per cent across the year ending September 2021.

Knight Frank forecast prime prices would increase 11 per cent across 2021, and a further 8 per cent in 2022.

Luxury rental prices on the Gold Coast have risen 10 per cent with yields the strongest in the Australian prime residential market at 3.48 per cent.

The pace of development of prime apartments and townhouses across Australia has slowed. About 26,700 new high-end apartments and townhouses were built in 2020, while the pipeline was 42 per cent less for 2021 with just 15,500 under construction.

Almost half of these new apartments are for the Melbourne market (7450), while Sydney and the Gold Coast were slated for more than 2000 properties each.

Globally the strongest prime residential capital growth was recorded in Miami, followed by Seoul, Shanghai, Moscow and Toronto.

Sydney was ranked 14th, followed by the Gold Coast (15th) and Perth (16th). Brisbane was at 21, while Melbourne came in with a middling performance at 24.


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How home loan mortgages rose in 2021 to record levels

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Lender records were broken in every state and territory except WA, according to the ABS data

Purchases by NSW owner occupiers came with mortgages sat at around $770,000, according to the latest lending data.

The national average mortgage size for owner-occupiers has reached a record high of $595,568 according to ABS data.

Records were broken in every state and territory except WA.

The national mortgage was up $92,404, an 18% hike over the year.

The November ABS Lending Indicators, released 14 January, advised the loans were for the purchase of new and existing dwellings.

The national average mortgage size for owner-occupiers has reached a record high of $595,568 according to new ABS data out today.

Records were broken in every state and territory except WA, according to the ABS data in original terms.

Victorian home buyers saw the biggest jump in their mortgages, up 24% or $120,000 to $618,602.

Average new owner-occupier mortgage size, November 2021

Amount Year-on-year change
$595,568 $92,404 18.4%
$769,459 $125,112 19.4%
$618,602 $120,032 24.1%
$513,649 $73,604 16.7%
$439,578 $22,868 5.5%
$421,801 $38,016 9.9%
$585,859 $58,434 11.1%
$445,915 $73,175 19.6%
$433,333 $53,271 14%

“Demand for Aussie housing remains firm, but affordability has decreased because home prices have surged more than wages,” Ryan Felsman, senior economist at CommSec noted.

“In November housing stock was high and the country’s two largest states were freshly out of lockdown, so it’s no surprise to see a rise in new lending,” research director, Sally Tindall, said.

“Growth in property prices is starting to slow on the back of fixed rate rises and a crackdown by the regulator, but the opening up of borders this year will increase demand, keeping prices moving north,” she forecast.

The data did not include refinancing, nor renovation loans.

Renovation loans surged by 18 per cent in November to a record $569 million. The value of lending for renovations is up by a massive 115 per cent on a year ago.

Canstar analysis showed Australian mortgage holders refinanced $15.72 billion worth of loans to a new lender in November 2021, down 2.3% from October.


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