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No easing of property pressure

PERTH’S rental vacancy rate plunged to an all time low of 0.8 per cent while Perth’s land prices surged ahead in the March quarter, according to the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia and the Urban Development Institute of Australia WA. REIWA President Rob Druitt attributed the vacancy rate to a combination of a rapidly growing population and the big drop in first-home buyers in recent months. Median metropolitan rents have risen by almost 4 per cent in the quarter to $270 per week, while there has been a 25 per cent reduction in new leases, which Mr Druitt said illustrated that existing tenants were unlikely to move out in the face of a rent increase. “Interestingly, the median rent for units alone has stabilised at $250 per week, and did not grow in the March quarter. This is the first time in several years that unit rentals have not increased in price, perhaps suggesting that an affordability cap has been reached for many people at the more accessible end of the rental market,” Mr Druitt said. While preliminary figures for the March quarter indicated the overall metropolitan median house price had fallen by 1 per cent, or $4,500 to a median of $452,500, REIWA expected the final median to settle somewhere around the $460,000 mark as further sales data came to hand. Prices for metropolitan units and apartments had dipped in price by 0.7 per cent, or around $2,500, to $352,500, but this was also expected to bounce back. There was no such slump in the land price, however, with the metropolitan price increasing by 1.9 per cent to a new median of $265,000, according to REIWA. This was reflected in statistics released from UDIA, which put the average price of lots sold at $311,346 – an 8 per cent increase on the previous quarter – which UDIA executive director Debra Goostrey attributed to an increase in the number of middle and inner city developments. However, the most solid gains were in the rural and regional property markets, with regional house prices rising 5.1 per cent to a new median of $360,000, and regional land rising 20.6 per cent to a new median of $205,000, according to REIWA. Regional units had fallen by 5.2 per cent to a median of $280,000 state-wide. - Andrew Hobbs

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