The ABS doesn't actually collect data on why houses are empty, and while there probably are some investors doing this, I just want to provide some possible alternatives to why there was 1,000,000 empty homes on the census:
- The ABS considers any dwelling that didn't return their census form unoccupied by default, so there's some residents who just didn't do it lol
- Holiday homes - this would explain why unoccupied units are concentrated in places like Lorne and the Blue Mountains (probably a barrier to affordability in these areas but not really relevant to urban areas or the country as a whole)
- Airbnb - There's 137,000 active listings on airbnb
- Students - Some students may record their parent's address as their primary dwelling, which would explain the concentration around university campuses and student accommodation (also covid, but this applies to earlier census data also)
- This figure includes dwellings which are currently on the market but has not been sold/rented yet, and dwellings which have been sold/rented but the new tenant just hasn't moved in yet. (This is likely why there's a large proportion of unoccupied dwellings in developments recently completed in the runup to the census) American data suggests this may account for up to half of their vacant homes, of which many cities have similar or greater vacancy rates to Australia.
All of these seem more plausible to me than an investor just leaving their home empty, right? I mean it would just be a pretty dumb thing to do if you have a house that you could be renting out for extra income, right?