But Ms. Pilkington argued that the exit of investors was a factor driving the shortage of rental stock and surging rents.
“Not everyone can buy a property, but everyone needs a place to live,” she said.
Real estate data house CoreLogic has also noticed the trend, with the listing of investment properties – defined as houses or apartments put up for lease in the past eight years – spiking through spring last year.
The listing of residential investments averaged 16,500 a month last spring, which is up 54 percent on the decade average, compared with a rise of 8.7 percent for the total market.
And because private residential investment is so big in Australia, the number of investors quitting dwarfs the number of new affordable homes so far pledged by governments or private build-to-rent investors.
In an analysis of Queensland housing, CoreLogic argued that the exit of investors was a factor in rental inflation.
A further investor exodus can be expected to follow the Queensland government’s decision to raise land tax by calculating the base including all investments and holiday homes south of the Tweed, a move described by the Property Council chief executive Ken Morrison as “dumb”.
The decline in investor activity coincided with curbs on investor lending last decade and the initiation of higher taxes on foreign investors.
Ms Pilkington said the high cost of stamp duty – particularly compared with the upfront costs of other investments – was one factor slowing down investor buying.
She said the increased selling reflected the spike in values during the boom.
Property Council national president David Harrison told the summit that the real cash figure was no more than 2.5 percent.