Ditching cities for regional areas is predicted to continue with fewer people tethered to offices, and there’s likely to be unintended consequences.
The popularity of regional Australia is predicted to increase in 2021, putting strain on housing supply and increasing prices in the most desirable locations.
The trend began before the coronavirus pandemic, but with fewer people tied to a physical office, it’s a viable option for an increasing cohort.
“I think this is going to be exactly what we’re going to see this year, people getting out of the larger cities and moving to the regions,” Real Estate Institute of Australia president Adrian Kelly said. “It’s probably going to have some unintended consequences too, which have already started.”
Chief among them is cost of living in regions where current housing stock doesn’t support newfound popularity.
“Where someone might have been renting a house for $250 a week, you’re probably all of a sudden going to find that’s now worth $400 a week, simply because of supply and demand,” Kelly said.
There has been a “staggering increase” in property demand in greater Brisbane, Solutions Property Management Managing Director Laura Valenti said.
“We manage over 1000 properties in the greater Brisbane area and since the beginning of November 2020 our vacancy rate has been zero,” she said.
About 35 minutes outside of Brisbane, the township of Samford has become a drawcard for people wanting the country life without forsaking nearby services.
The demand for country properties has “grown exponentially”, according to Craig Doyle Real Estate agent Ronni Grevell.
“There were a couple of weeks where obviously when COVID hit I think everyone didn’t know what was going to be happening, however a bit of property that we had had sitting on the market for quite a while then became in high demand,” she said. “Throughout the pandemic every single property, even properties that were sitting for quite a long time, all sold.”
Interstate parties were happy to buy sight unseen with inspections done via FaceTime.
Grevell said people from Brisbane were selling in the city to relocate, and Samford locals were moving between large acre properties and blocks closer to the village.
“Samford is really made up of country people and what we call townies, so people that are coming in from the city, and it’s a beautiful mix,” she said.
She said online listings for the greater Samford region typically took up between 15 and 20 pages.
“At the moment if you click on the link and take out properties that are already under offer or contract you’ve probably got one page,” she said. “They’re getting snapped up really, really quickly.”
While the strength of the established housing market in major cities is unlikely to drop, Kelly expected inner-city apartments to be impacted.
“The people that I have met that I’ve been selling properties to personally, they’re getting out of apartments.
“That’s part of the reason why the vacancy rate for apartments in inner city Melbourne and Sydney is reasonably high at the moment,” he said.
He said while builders generally follow demand, there was typically a lag for more housing as well as other important services such as schools and healthcare.
By Nick Gibbs