EDITORIAL: Renters a measure of shuffle in the suburbs

LANDLORDS will be pleased to hear that Hunter rental properties are among the state’s top performers, according to the latest Domain data for the region. 

The region remains a strong performer in the rental space, with double-digit yields on investment for those able to offer the property for lease. The flipside of that prospect, however, is that renters are contributing more to the mortgage of their landlords than in other areas. 

The Hunter Research Foundation Centre’s study on housing affordability is a key part of the region’s property puzzle. It contends rental stress in the region rose almost a quarter between 2011 and 2016. 

With a swathe of new developments in the city centre and beyond, including suburbs like Adamstown, the region’s demand may find itself diluted by the large incoming supply of new apartments. That is perhaps the cause behind the Real Estate Institute of NSW’s figures indicating a rising vacancy rate in the first quarter of the year.

Data scientist Nicola Powell has identified suburbs including Adamstown Heights and Maryville as popular among renters compared to the suburbs further afield where they may be able to own their own homes. 

Housing affordability remains a national focus, and there is a clear disconnect between where people want to live and where they can afford to live. While desirable suburbs have never been accessible to all, the gulf between young buyers and prices is proportionally wider than it once was.

The data appears to indicate that rents have risen along with the vacancy rate, with rental stress not far behind. There will be some hope that the increasing density of the inner city, and its increasing yield of dwellings, can offer some relief in areas where rental demand is high. 

Agent Scott Walkom notes that it is an older demographic shifting into the inner city, where proximity to the harbour and amenities largely comes at a premium. “They usually don’t have kids and can afford to pay $580 a week for a high-quality apartment,” he said.

If rents continue to rise at high rates, low-income and younger renters may more often find themselves asking where they can afford rather than where suits them. 

As the city’s residential mix changes drastically and suburbs evolve, they will likely be watching the trends closely in the hope of finding a place to comfortably call home. 

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