Business is booming across regional Victoria as the state emerges from its second lockdown, and so it seems are rental prices.
- Rental prices have soared in Port Fairy over the past 12 months according to PropTrack
- Data shows the median weekly rental price has leapt from $400 to $510 in what real estate agents say is an extremely tight market
- Moyne Shire Council hopes to receive approval for a new housing estate on the town’s eastern side to ease the market stress
According to the latest rental market information from property data company PropTrack, the median rental price across regional Victoria has gone up as much as 10 per cent in the last 12 months.
The weekly price for a rental property in the Bendigo region has jumped by 11.43 per cent, the largest jump in Victoria, while prices in the Hume and North West regions jumped by more than 8 per cent respectively.
During the same time, the average rent dropped by 3.33 per cent in Melbourne’s Inner-East and stayed relatively stable in Melbourne’s CBD.
But such figures pale in comparison to what seems to be happening in the seaside hamlet of Port Fairy in south-west Victoria.
No room at the Inn
Port Fairy is a quaint, seaside town around three-and-a-half hours’ drive west of Melbourne.
It’s long been a popular holiday town in the south-west, with the prevalence of local holiday-makers from the wool-rich western district at one time giving the town the nickname “Hamilton South”.
However those looking to edge into the local market of late have received something of a rude awakening.
Over the past 12 months, demand for rentals in Port Fairy has jumped by 77 per cent, according to PropTrack.
During the same period of time, the number of available rentals has halved in the Moyne Shire, and rental prices skyrocketed to the point where there were just five properties deemed “affordable” by the Victorian housing department.
The median weekly rent in regional Victoria is $360 per week, a figure that’s increased nearly 10 per cent over the past 12 months.
However in Port Fairy, it’s a very different story.
“Talking to my Port Fairy colleagues, they’re seeing increases go from $500 per week to $600 per week,” said real estate aged Daniel Roberts.
“We’re seeing there around that 10 to 20 per cent increase.”
Mr Roberts said the rental market in neighbouring Warrnambool is booming as well, prompting concerns for those on lower incomes in the region.
“Right now it [the market] is the worst I’ve ever seen it,” Mr Roberts said.
“There’s a lot of concerns out there for homelessness and that sort of stuff that the government needs to look at providing [for].”
That fear is echoed by the Council for Homeless Persons (CHP).
According to CHP, the end of COVID-19 disaster payments this month will force thousands of people onto JobSeeker and increase the risk of homelessness in 70 per cent of Victorian suburbs.
CHP chief executive Jenny Smith said the disparity between rental prices and income support meant some people were spending more than two-thirds of their income on rent.
“It doesn’t matter if you live in Wodonga or Williamstown, if you’re a Victorian relying on JobSeeker to be able to pay the rent, then you’re going to struggle,” she said.
The CHP is advocating for permanent supportive housing programs to be set-up for adults experiencing chronic homelessness and an increased focus on social housing.
Government approval pending
Plans are underway in Port Fairy to address its lack of social housing, with one investor taking plans to the local council to unlock a new parcel of land on the town’s eastern border.
The Moyne Shire Council has put those plans to the state government, and sought the planning amendments required to green light the project.
It is understood the new estate, if approved, will open up 75 vacant housing blocks and include 10 smaller properties for social housing.
And with demand increasing across the south-west, it is expected any new developments or land will be snapped up fast.
“People are starting to realise how beautiful Warrnambool and Port Fairy are,” Mr Roberts said.
“If you look at Geelong and Ballarat, they’ve seen substantial increases … probably six or seven years ago that Warrnambool didn’t get, and all of a sudden we’re catching up.”