Housing in regional Queensland scarce due to interstate migration, remote work and returning aussies

High rental demand and property prices are music to the ears of landlords and property owners, but if you are looking for a place to live in Queensland at the moment, there is a good chance you are struggling to find what you are after. The Real Estate Institute of Queensland reported that for the December quarter, 90 percent of regional Queensland dipped to a new record low of just 0.575 percent rental vacancy.

That means for every 10,000 rental properties, just 57 were available — and coastal parts of Queensland continued to report strong sales figures.

Professor Shaun Bond, from the University of Queensland Business School, said the housing pressure was driven by record interstate migration, the adoption of remote work arrangements, and the return of hundreds of thousands of Australian expatriates.

Heather Robertson moved to Cairns from Melbourne between lockdowns last year for the tropical lifestyle and reduced traffic of Far North Queensland.

"I actually visited Cairns two or three years ago on a holiday and as soon as I came here it just felt like home," she said.

"I actually wanted to move in February/March last year, and I was a few days away from leaving for my road trip to come up here and the borders shut so I had to delay my departure, so I was just waiting in Melbourne with the rest of the world, with the rest of Australia, to see what the COVID situation was going to do."Ms Robertson finally moved in June, and sought to set up a healing business from her new home, but has found securing a property of her own to work from and live has been a challenge.

"I sharehouse at the moment, I live with two other people because that's the only thing I can afford," she said.

"I would love to live on my own, have my own two-bedroom place that I can work from and live in.

"Unfortunately that's not a financial reality for me at the moment." Ms Robertson is one of many people who have decided to make the move north during the pandemic.

Research by CoreLogic suggests more than 25,000 people have moved to Queensland during the past financial year, with the rate of interstate migration last year 90 percent above the decade average.

Professor Bond said remote work arrangements had made it possible for people to move away, and that many were choosing regional Queensland.

"People started to think about where they wanted to be, and to some extent, if you aren't required to go into the office, it can be much nicer being in a coastal location, Cairns, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, rather than being stuck in inner-city Melbourne in a small apartment," he said.

"We're seeing both in terms of infrastructure and supply of available properties, that's put a lot of demand on the rental markets as well as the purchase markets.

"People are trying to buy properties, in fact, one of the things that are pushing rental prices up is that many landlords have chosen to sell because the market is so strong that they've chosen this opportunity to sell their property, that reduces the supply of rental properties available."


ABC far north   By Jemima Burt    Posted on Friday 5th February 


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