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NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
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This update covers the changing mix of housing tenure across Sydney and what this means for planning more generally. We also share information on the movement of people in NSW.

Tenure types in Sydney’s housing markets

By Andrew Tice, Senior Demographer

Tenure captures whether someone owns a property or rents. It can show us how properties are used. From tenure, we can see whether homes have been lived in for a long time, if they’re recent purchases or whether they are rented. Monitoring how tenure patterns change over time helps us understand the changing structure of Sydney's housing markets and better plan for the future.



2001 Tenure Types map

Two maps were created using small area Census data on private properties for 2001 and 2011.


For each small area, the percentage of each tenure type (owned outright, mortgaged or renting from a landlord) is represented by different colours. An area with a high mix of colours means a greater tenure mix. Blended colours indicate specific combinations of tenure types. For example, magenta highlights a mix of owners and purchasers.


Click map to enlarge.




2011 Tenure Types map

A higher mix of colours in 2011 shows Sydney’s mix of tenure types has increased over the last decade. 


From 2001 to 2011, a strong rise in green indicates an increase in the concentration of mortgaged properties. The new land release areas of the North West and South stand out in this category. 


Private rental is much less concentrated than in 2001, especially along transportation corridors and around centres in western Sydney. Despite being more spread, private rental has remained a constant part of Sydney's tenure offer. In 2001, a third of properties were rented privately. This proportion was the same in 2011.


Click map to enlarge.


What this means

The spread of private rentals marks an important change to the way local housing markets may work. Buyers are less likely to move as often as renters. Twenty eight per cent of purchasers had a different address a year before the 2011 Census compared to 57 per cent of renters (ABS, 2011). More properties being bought rather than rented in an area could lead to greater stability in parts of Sydney’s housing market that previously experience high rental turnover.


The transformation of Sydney’s housing markets over the last decade is clear when comparing local tenure mixes. Understanding tenure shows us how local communities are changing. Together with information about where people tend to move in Sydney, this information helps planners think about the types of households expected in different parts of the city, future housing needs and demands for infrastructure and services.


Sydney's tenure overview

Sydney’s tenure mix from 2001 to 2011

  • Increase in mix of tenure types
  • Increase in mortgaged properties
  • Private rental stable

Each map contains more than 30,000 pieces of information, the mix of the three different tenure types across 10,000 local areas. The mix of colours is one way to analyse this complex information.

In 2001, the picture presented shows large numbers of purchasers on the fringes of Sydney. Locations such as Parklea and Kellyville (in the north west) and Prestons and Hoxton Park (in the west) appear strongly. This is a feature of the historical development of Sydney, with new supply occurring in greenfield locations. Pockets of private rental are concentrated around city centres, such as Parramatta, Liverpool, Bankstown and Sydney. Private rental is also present along train lines and main roads. This is also a feature of the historical development of Sydney, with many older apartment blocks built in these locations. The key feature is that owning outright dominates vast amounts of the city. One area of difference is around the Inner West suburbs of Newtown, Glebe and Balmain. A high tenure mix can be seen in these areas, with equal numbers of owning, purchasing and renting. 

In 2011 many of the same features from 2001 remain present. Purchasing is dominant on the fringe and key concentrations of private rental remain in city centres. However, over the rest of Sydney there has been a marked increase in the proportion of purchasers. Many of the older suburbs in Sydney’s north and central west now have equal numbers of people owning outright and purchasing. This mix is partly due to older households selling and newer households moving in. The high tenure mix in the Inner West has expanded outwards to take in Dulwich Hill and out to Kingsgrove. Similar high degrees of tenure mix can also be seen throughout most of the eastern suburbs, running from Bondi south to Maroubra. 

Who’s moving?

The movement of people within Australia is called internal migration. Internal migration is a key factor that causes populations to change over time, in relation to the number of people who live in a place and the age profile of the population. More than two million people living in NSW moved at least once in the five years to 2011 resulting in one of the highest levels of internal mobility in the world.


People moving within Australia has declined

People living in NSW are now less likely to move than they were 20 years ago. In 1996, 40 per cent of residents had moved in the preceding five years. By 2011, this proportion had declined to 35 per cent. Despite NSW’s population growing in size, the number of people moving has declined from a peak of 2.23 million people in 1996-2001, to 2.03 million in 2006-2011.




Most did not move far

Almost half of internal migrants moved within the same local government area; 46 per cent of movers in 2006-2011, up from 42 per cent in 1991-1996.  In total, nearly nine out of every ten (or 89 per cent) people moving between 2006 and 2011 moved within NSW. Only 8 per cent moved interstate.


Most movers were in their late 20s

The likelihood of moving is at its peak between the ages of 25 to 40. As you get older you are less likely to move. Half of all people who moved in the five years to 2011 were aged between 20 and 44 years.




Movers were a minority

The number of people not moving has steadily increased over the past 20 years. By 2011, 65 per cent of NSW residents more than five years old had not moved in the preceding five years. The number of people moving to NSW from interstate also declined over the past 20 years.