Up to 15 per cent of CBD apartments could be empty, according to a report released in December.
According to Prosper Australia’s Speculative Vacancies 2015 report, some 2478 CBD apartments are likely vacant if water usage data is to be relied on.
And local real estate agent Scott McElroy says he’s not surprised by the figure.
Director of CBD agency Hocking Stuart, Mr McElroy said while the rental vacancy rate was as low as 1.5 per cent, there was a percentage of owners who bought properties with long-term plans, leaving them vacant in the meantime.
“It’s often overseas buyers who purchase apartments and then let them sit there until they are ready to use them,” Mr McElroy said.
“While 15 per cent is a big number, it probably doesn’t surprise me in a lot of respects.”
Using data supplied by City West Water, Yarra Valley Water and South East Water, Prosper Australia’s annual speculative vacancies report assesses Greater Melbourne’s property vacancies via water usage over a 12-month period.
Properties using zero litres of water per day are deemed definitely vacant, whereas properties using less than 50 litres of water per day (lpd) are considered most likely vacant or “speculative vacancies”.
According to the report, average water usage in Melbourne per person per day is currently 182lpd.
The current report uses data from 2014, which shows that of the CBD’s 16,632 apartments some 1109, or 6.7 per cent, used 0lpd, up from 2.7 per cent in 2013.
This figure puts the CBD just behind Carlton, which had the highest 0lpd vacancy rate at 7.6 per cent.
When including residences using less than 50lpd, the CBD’s speculative vacancy rate increases to 14.9 per cent or 2478 properties, according to the report. This was up from 9 per cent in 2013.
However the report also considers variables that could negatively affect water usage including properties for sale, properties for rent, serviced apartments and sole person households.
More broadly, the 2015 report found that around 4.8 per cent of Greater Melbourne’s housing stock appears to be vacant, with some 82,724 residences recording less than 50lpd. This represented a 28 per cent rise in speculative vacancies.
In addition, the report found that 24,872 dwellings recorded no water use at all in 2014, representing a 70 per cent increase in properties using no water from the previous year.