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Wide Bay Property Market

Wide Bay Property Market
August 11, 2022 Propertyology Head of Research and REIA Hall of Famer, Simon Pressley

This understated region has arguably the best year-round climate in the country, idyllic natural surroundings, relatively affordable housing and a rebounding economy. These characteristics have been the catalyst for well above-average rates of internal migration and super impressive homeownership rates.

The Wide Bay region has a population that is much the same size as Geelong and Hobart, the 10th and 11th largest cities in Australia.

Within this region, Bundaberg, Hervey Bay, Gympie and Maryborough are cities of substance in their own right.

Some of the other townships include Childers, Kingaroy, Nanango and Tin Can Bay.

Across the 3-decades to 2020, the value of real estate in Wide Bay broadly increased 5-fold, from circa $70,000 in 1990 to $350,000 in 2020.

Today a standard house in the region costs around $500,000.

The 30-year modern history of Wide Bay’s property market shows that it is capable of producing significant property booms while the cost of housing is still very affordable relative the rest of Australia.

The population has already grown by 14 percent over the 12-years since 2010 and at a higher growth rate than the state average over the last 20-years.

The region’s population is forecast to exceed 430,000 by 2031.

And it’s easy to see why.

Attractions to the region include national parks, great beaches, whale and turtle watching and a relaxed lifestyle.

While health, education and retail are staples of the local economy, its specialisations include a rich heritage in manufacturing and a major producer of a wide variety of food and timber products.

Research conducted by Propertyology confirms the region consistently attracts very high internal migration.

While 5 of 8 capital cities (including Sydney and Melbourne) produced a net population decline from internal migration over the 12-years to 2021, Bundaberg (2.8 percent), Gympie (11.3 percent) and Fraser Coast (13.7 percent) proved to be strong migration magnets, collectively contributing 21,045 to the total population growth.

Closer examination of demographics suggests that Gympie and Fraser Coast are particularly popular for middle aged Australians who elect to relocate in search of improved lifestyles.

Analysis of the last three Census periods confirms Gympie (was 40 and is now 48) and Fraser Coast (from 44 to 51) have seen significant increases in their median household age.

This region’s homeownership rates are also among the best in Australia.

Gympie (82 percent), Fraser Coast and South Burnett (both 80 percent) are well above the national average of 74 percent.

For perspective, 68 percent of dwellings in Sydney and Brisbane are owner-occupied. It is 74 percent in Melbourne, while Bundaberg’s is an impressive 77 percent.

On the flip side, very low levels of activity by property investors in this region over the last decade means that insufficient supply of rental accommodation has placed significant upward pressure on household rents.

Over the 12-years since 2010, the combined populations of Bundaberg, Gympie, Hervey Bay and Maryborough has increased by 30,600 yet the combined volume of properties advertised for rent declined from 473 in 2010 to 168 currently. Extraordinary stuff.

The state’s inability to attract enough property investors year after year after year culminated in the price of asking rents accelerating from 2017. The pressure now is seriously intense.

Someone looking to find a 3-bedroom house to rent right now should expect to pay mid $400 to $500 per week. That’s as much as $150 per week more than 2-years ago.

Joining the dots of future rental supply-demand metrics leaves Propertyology anticipating that asking rents could increase by an additional $100 per week over the next 12-months.

The strong local economy and migration patterns will keep adding to rental demand at a time when the rates of rental supply are likely to reduce.

Within the last few months, the Queensland government has further discouraged property investors through the introduction of yet another layer of rental reforms along with a new land tax.

This has potential to cause thousands of existing investors in Queensland to sell up, thereby further depleting the size of the rental pool. It is not going to be pretty.

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