While rental vacancy rates have eased somewhat in Sydney, conditions are still very tight for renters – which means that if you are in a position to buy your first home, now might be the time to start looking.

New Sydney rental vacancy rate figures released by the Real Estate Institute of New South Wales (REINSW) that cover the period up until the end of May 2013 suggest that while there has been a slight ease in the number of available properties, the overall figure is still very tight.

According to the latest figures, the Sydney metropolitan vacancy rate has risen to 2.1 per cent, but REINSW president Christian Payne says the situation is still "dire" for renters.

In some other NSW communities, the vacancy rate for rental properties is even lower than in Sydney – for example in the Illawarra, the rate stands at 1.8 per cent, while in Newcastle, the rate is 1.9 per cent.

Mr Payne says rental vacancy rates are comparable to January levels – and even though they have eased in the past three months, the market is very tight.

If you are keen to escape the rental rut and are looking to purchase your first home, it's important to carefully research your options and choose a first home buyer loan that suits you.

The amount of money you can borrow will depend on a variety of factors, from how much you have saved as a deposit to your current salary and credit rating. In some cases, borrowers find that their mortgage payment can be lower than rental rates – but it is also important to bear in mind other costs, including fees, stamp duty and even the expenses associated with the move itself.

If you're a new buyer, don't be afraid to ask your mortgage broker lots of questions so you can make an informed decision about your new property purchase.

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