The Sydney property market has become a renter’s paradise as rent prices have dipped to unprecedented levels and vacancies have soared amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Key points:

  • Inner Sydney rental prices have dropped by $100-a-week compared to 2019
  • Rental vacancies have increased as people return home amid the pandemic
  • Renters say they can aim for larger homes in the flooded market

Inner Sydney currently has a 13.8 per cent rental vacancy rate, compared with 6.5 per cent last year, the latest data from SQM Research shows.

Weekly rental prices in the CBD have also fallen by more than $100-a-week, compared with the same time last year.

“We’ve never seen anything like it,” said Grant Ashby, the director of Sydney Cove Property.

“In our time, it’s always been a corporate market. This is the first time we’ve seen such a drop in rents.”

Property experts say as well as a drop in weekly prices across the city — known worldwide for its high cost of living — vacancies have skyrocketed.

“There’s more scope now in terms of vacancies for tenants to negotiate a lower rent than there has been in any time that I can remember,” said Chris Martin from the City Futures Research Centre at UNSW.

For the first time in years, the market has given renters the confidence to shop around and aim big in a market that has in past years locked many people out of their ideal home.

“It’s definitely a renter’s market,” Sydneysider Tim Walker said at a Surry Hills inspection.

“We’re looking to get something a bit bigger and also I guess to take advantage of the savings,” he said.

“We’ve just been pretty lucky that we’ve found a few places that are probably a bit cheaper by, say, $100 or more, than what they’d normally be,” said rental inspector Matthew Baker.

“Well, what I’m paying for now, I could get a place here for the same price but so much better,” Riley Ellem said after seeing a unit on York Street in the City.

The changes within the market are being caused by a number of factors related to the coronavirus pandemic, including renters returning home and relationships taking the next step.

“People are moving in with other people, people are flying back overseas, if they’re students, they’re leaving,” said Parramatta property manager Bernie Mitchell.

Living closer to the city is now an option for many who thought it would never be possible and experts say that if you are thinking of making the change, now is the time to do it.

“It went quickly down, it will go quickly back up again,” Grant Ashby said.

For those whose income or living arrangements have been unaffected by the pandemic, one expert said cheaper rent is not off the table.

“Even people who aren’t technically affected by COVID can talk to their real estate agent or talk to their land

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