Gympie rental market among Qld’s worst for past 4 years
BRINGING back investors and building new homes have been tagged as the best way to loosen up Gympie's extraordinarily tight rental market, which has been among the state's worst for several years.
Figures from the Real Estate Institute of Queensland reveal the region's rental vacancy rate has not been healthy (at 2.5 per cent or higher) since September 2016.
It has steadily sunk since then, registering as Queensland's worst in September last year (0.3 per cent) and loosening only a meagre 0.1 per cent in the year since.
New Gympie Times journalist Kristen Camp is looking for somewhere to live in Gympie, and said yesterday her search had been "very hard" and so far unsuccessful.
Miss Camp, who started work in the region last week and wants to live nearby instead of commuting from the Sunshine Coast, said she had submitted about a dozen applications in the past fortnight.
"They've all been unsuccessful," she said.
"I've even tried contacting the rental agents to make sure I've got everything (in my applications) … and get my name out there.
"That hasn't really worked yet."
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Gympie's market was in stark contrast to Gayndah, where she had come from, and where it had been relatively easy to secure somewhere to live.
"I really wasn't expecting it to be this hard," Miss Camp said.
REIQ corporate affairs manager Olivier Bjorksater-Bleylock said there were multiple reasons for the region's ongoing low vacancy rate.
Aside from less stock available, he said COVID's anti-eviction laws were keeping tenants in longer than normal and the financial pressures from the pandemic may have caused landlords to "buckle under the pressure", leaving "slim pickings" on the market.
Mr Bjorksater-Bleylock said the ability for first home buyers to enter the property market thanks to near parity between rental and mortgage prices was a big part, too.
Loosening the market up would need the return of investors to the region, a problem not exclusive to Gympie.
He said about 90 per cent of rental properties in Queensland were owned by "mum and dad" investors, "everyday people struggling to meet the associated costs with managing a rental".
"COVID will have pushed a lot of people over," he said.
If the tight market continued people were more likely to simply forego that market and build their own home, he said.
But for this to happen people still needed access to established housing while they built.
Mr Bjorksater-Bleylock said the REIQ wanted the Federal Government's first homebuyer grant to be expanded to include established housing given the skyrocketing cost of building new homes, up 230 per cent over the past 15 years.
"It's not exactly affordable for everyone," he said.
And the interest in Queensland, already a popular destination for internal migration, was unlikely to abate soon.
"People in New South Wales and Victoria are beginning to question the level of debt they're taking on," Mr Bjorksater-Bleylock said.
"What you can buy in Gympie is a lot more spacious and affordable than what you can get in cities."