APPD Market Report Article


May 26, 2024

Leigh Warner, Senior Director - Residential Research, Australia


AUD 560


Demand steadily improving

  • Pre-sales demand for Melbourne apartments generally remained muted but is expected to improve with residual unsold stock from previous construction cycles now largely gone. Demand remained mostly focused towards downsizers looking for high-end boutique developments.
  • Despite current demand headwinds, underlying demand for apartments is experiencing a considerable boost due to an enormous rebound in both overseas migration and international student numbers. While population inflow is likely to ease somewhat, it is expected to remain above pre-COVID-19 levels over at least the next few years.

Supply continues to moderate

  • Inner Melbourne apartment completions are expected to reach particularly low levels in 2024. Amid difficult development conditions, the commencement of new build-to-sell (BTS) or build-to-rent (BTR) projects has been limited in recent quarters. As a result, the supply of apartments is projected to remain moderate for at least several years, falling short of the underlying demand.
  • Following a peak of 5.5% in late 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, Melbourne’s rental vacancy rate has experienced a significant recovery, reaching 1.1% in March 2024 (SQM Research). This recovery can be attributed to the rebound in migrants and foreign students.

Prices recover

  • After falling early in COVID-19, Melbourne rents have not grown as much as other markets in the past three years, but have gained momentum in 2024 while other cities slow.
  • Existing apartment price growth has also lagged other markets in this cycle. Melbourne’s median unit price has been relatively stable over recent months, but is still 2.5% higher over the year to April 2024.

Outlook: Record levels of migration must be housed

  • The strength of underlying demand growth from strong population inflow and continued low levels of new supply will see the market balance continue to swing towards under-supply over the new few years.
  • There is little supply relief in an already tight rental market, with the upward pressure on rents likely to continue over the medium term. Similarly, supply imbalances and cost-push pressures from construction costs of new apartments should see unit price growth re-emerge over the next few years.

Note: Melbourne Residential refers to Inner Melbourne apartments. Inner Melbourne data: Supply from JLL, rents from JLL Valorem and vacancy from REIV. Greater Melbourne data: Price, sales volume and yields from CoreLogic.

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