September was a busy month for Australia's housing market, reflected by the robust home sales and tight rental vacancy rates.

The Housing Industry Association (HIA)'s latest New Home Sales report showed a 2.3% monthly increase in the sale of new detached homes in September.

HIA economist Tom Devitt said home sales have remained resilient since the end of the HomeBuilder in March and are stronger compared to 2018 and 2019, which pre-date both the pandemic and the scheme.

"In the six months from April to September, new home sales were 9.3% above the same period in 2019 and 0.8% above the same period in 2018," Mr Devitt said.

“On a quarterly basis too, the last three months were up by 7.4% and 0.6% on the same quarters in 2019 and 2018, respectively."

Western Australia reported the strongest sales growth compared to 2019 at 46.3%, followed by New South Wales (34.6%).

Mr Devitt expects sales to maintain its strength over the next few months.

"These relatively strong sales will ensure that the boost in home building flows through to the second half of 2022," he said.

"When combined with the ongoing strength in renovation activity the home building sector will continue to pull the economy forward for at least the next year."

Tight vacancy rates

A separate report from SQM Research showed that Australia's rental vacancy rate hit 1.7% in September, a slight gain from 1.6% in August.

Smaller capital cities have reported vacancy rates below 1%, with Hobart striking the lowest share of available homes for lease at 0.5%.

On the other hand, vacancy rates in Melbourne and Sydney remained high at 3.5% and 2.7%, respectively.

Brisbane also reported an elevated vacancy rate at 1.4%.

Vacancy rates for September 2021

SQM Research managing director Louis Christopher said the slight change in overall vacancy rates over the month indicates that the market is still favourable to landlords, except in Melbourne and Sydney.

"As NSW and Victoria come out of lockdown and back to some sense of normality we expect some movement in the rental market," Mr Christopher said.

"CBD locations may well improve for property owners as overseas students return to our shores."

Given the stable vacancy rates, asking rents increased by 0.6% for houses to $536 weekly and by 1.7% to $409 weekly.

On an annual basis, weekly rents rose across capital cities, except in Melbourne’s unit segment which posted a 4.1% decline.

Canberra still took the spot as the most expensive rental market, reporting weekly rents of $723 for houses and 514 for units.

Meanwhile, Adelaide had the lowest weekly rents for both houses ($455) and units ($338).

Weekly rents for the year ending October 2021

Photo by Alejandro Alfaro on Unsplash.