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October 12, 2022 by ash

Property boom means more than 100 applicants on some rentals in Hervey Bay


Thinking of moving to regional Queensland for work? Good luck finding a place to live.

Key points:

  • Some Bundaberg rentals are receiving 100 applicants
  • Tourism workers are needed but accommodation is hard to find
  • More investment in housing is needed in regional Queensland

The Queensland government has announced a $7.5 million package to lure workers to take up tourism jobs in regional Queensland and “work in paradise” but the problem with “paradise” is there are no places left to live.

The Wide Bay Burnett is home to the state’s lowest vacancy rate — the Fraser Coast town of Maryborough is at 0.2 per cent — followed closely by Bundaberg (0.5 per cent) and Hervey Bay (0.9 per cent).

Third-generation Bundaberg real estate agent Kurt Dempsey said he had never seen such a huge demand for rentals and homes to buy in the region, with record numbers of applicants lining up to find a place to live.

“The market is phenomenal at the moment,” he said.

“The demand we are seeing across sales and rentals is amazing.

“If it’s a four-bedroom home, some properties are getting more than 100 applicants.”

And while six months ago the demand was having little impact on the cost of rent and house prices in the region, Mr Dempsey said prices were now being pushed higher.

“Rents are going up and house values are going up, your repayments are cheaper if you buy a house than if you rent a house,” he said.

“We had one lady just buy three houses, they are seeing our vacancy rate and they are taking advantage of the market.”

Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett believed regional Queensland had experienced “decades of neglect” and the private sector had to be encouraged to build more accommodation to allow for workers to move to the area.

“The people of Bundaberg can’t rent a house now,” he said.

“We have a record problem with homelessness and a 0.1 per cent rental vacancy so where are these people going to live?”

Tourism workers needed but where to live?

Mr Bennett also believed the state government should invest more in training the high number of unemployed locals to help with the worker shortage.

Bundaberg Tourism chief executive Katherine Reid welcomed any positive solution to the tourism industry worker shortage but also believed it was important staff were comfortable and have a place to live.

“Finding accommodation locally is a huge challenge — there’s such a shortage at the moment,” she said.

“That issue is the next big conversation.”

Some tourism operators are going “out on a limb” to source staff houses for share accommodation for workers.

Lady Musgrave Experience founder Brett Lakey runs Great Barrier Reef day tours from Bundaberg and said it was their only option.

“We have anywhere between three and five staff sharing homes so we can keep them here,” he said.