Property watchers have attacked the real estate industry for 'hyping up' a rental crisis to lure people into buying at the top of the market.

The Real Estate Institute of Victoria said a survey of its members showed that rental vacancies in December were about 1%.

Chief executive Enzo Raimondo said that, despite a painfully tight market, falling interest rates and slower price growth 'should make conditions easier for renters who are contemplating the move to buying a home'.

But property researcher SQM said its figures showed Melbourne's vacancy rate was 3.9%.

'I do not believe for a moment that vacancy rates have ever reached 1 per cent in Melbourne,' said SQM's Louis Christopher.

The Age