Strong first-homebuyer activity and falling migration levels have caused a dramatic turnaround in Perth's rental market.

Preliminary data from the Real Estate Institute of WA has revealed rental listings have risen 43 per cent during the year ended last month, with 5824 properties available for rent.

At the peak of Perth's rental crisis in September 2012, the vacancy rate had tightened to just 1.8 per cent with listings falling 15 per cent from 2700 properties in early July to 2300 by the end of August that year.

The vacancy rate is now 4.2 per cent, which REIWA president David Airey said was the highest since late 2009.

"It's a combination of factors but the main cause seems to be the fall in population growth that has been slowing since 2012 with less migration," he said.

"Another factor has been strong first-homebuyer activity over the last 18 months or so, which has seen many tenants leave the rental system. This in turn frees up more stock back into the rental market. Clearly it has shifted from an owners' market to a tenants' market over the last year and rents probably peaked in the June quarter 2013."

Raine & Horne WA state manager Mark Grisdale said prospective tenants understood the current rental climate with many knowing they had the upper hand when it came to negotiating rents, which differed significantly from previous years where there was a rush to find good rental properties.

"Today's rental landscape is quite different to that of a few years ago, which may have been considered a boom time by many landlords," he said.

"Now there is a greater attraction to buy a home and, combined with a drop in Perth's population growth, this has seen a spike in the number of rental listings."

Other preliminary data for the June quarter revealed Perth's median house price fell one per cent to $545,000 and overall sales were down 6 per cent with 11,900 dwellings changing hands.

The West Australian

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