Regional WA rents remain steady in March quarter

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Median rents in regional Western Australia have remained relatively stable during the quarter to March 2010, with the exception of a few sizzling spots, according to the Real Estate Institute of WA.

While areas such as Geraldton-Greenough, Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Greater Bunbury and Broome recorded no change over the three months, the centres of Karratha, Busselton and Margaret River showed strong increases of 14.3%, 7.1% and 4.9% respectively.

Karratha and Port Hedland recorded median weekly rents of $1,600 and $1,200, with Karratha achieving an astronomical rise of $200 per week. According to the REIWA, the median weekly rent in Pilbara stands at three times that of metropolitan Perth.

Several regional areas did, however, experience fluctuations in the vacancy rate. Mandurah-Murray, for example, tightened from 2.5% in December to 2.3% in March, while the vacancy rate in both Kalgoorlie-Boulder and Albany tightened by 1.2% over the three months.

REIWA president Alan Bourke said vacancies in Kalgoorlie-Boulder dropped from 5.8% to 4.6% over the March 2010 quarter. "If this trend continues, it may have the effect of putting pressure on rent increases in the medium term," he added.

"The vacancy rate in the Mandurah region has tightened considerably from the 3.7% it was showing in the September quarter last year. It may be that part of the reason for this is that the more affordable rents available in Mandurah have been attractive to some Perth residents who are moving to the seaside town and are able to commute by train to the city if necessary."

Bourke explained that the rental system in the regions was more sensitive to employment conditions and seasonal work opportunities.

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