Gladstone hits top in state for vacancies

SINCE June last year Gladstone's rental market has been dragged kicking and screaming to this point --- Gladstone has the highest residential rental vacancy rate in the state.

The most recent data from the Real Estate Institute of Queensland shows vacancy rates have jumped from 10% in December to 11.3% at the end of March.

According to Elders Real Estate Gladstone principle Colin Burke, as of Wednesday last week there were 1088 vacant homes in the 4680 postcode, and that was down from 1130 in March.

"Our (Elders) vacancy rate is 8.4% which is on the high side but that doesn't surprise me," Mr Burke said.

"The problem is the oversupply and as soon as we fill up that oversupply rents will probably stabilise at a bottom level price.

"I would have thought in three months there will be a slight improvement," he said.

But with the rental vacancy rate more than doubling since June last year, there may still be room to move at the bottom of the market.

It’s a prime location with water views from every unit, yet only 30% of the 1 Pacific Avenue rooms are occupied. For 12 months the newly built residential block of 20 units have been available to rent, but they have never been filled.
It’s a prime location with water views from every unit, yet only 30% of the 1 Pacific Avenue rooms are occupied. For 12 months the newly built residential block of 20 units have been available to rent, but they have never been filled. Contributed

Interestingly, while Gladstone's vacancy rate continues on its upward trend, other areas in a similar economical position to Gladstone, like Mackay and Townsville, have seen vacancy rates drop over the last quarter.

Vacancy rates in Mackay have dropped from 9.3% in December to 8.1% in March. Townsville dipped slightly from 6.4% to 6%.

It's commonly thought among realtors that Gladstone is about 12 months behind Mackay on the property cycle.

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In the report REIQ CEO Antonia Mercorella said outside the south east corner, vacancy rates were weak due to the mining downturn.

"Gladstone has pushed out to 11.3%, the highest in the state, and this is concerning," Ms Mercorella said.

"The closure of the LNG project continues to have an impact as workers leave in search of jobs elsewhere."

Imogen Lisson has rented a Toolooa residency at 36 Tuna St with two other friends for the past six months. Ms Lisson said the trio couldn’t be happier with the bargain they snapped up, paying $250 a week for a three bedroom, two bathroom, carport, fully air-conditioned and pet friendly home. Ms Lisson said it’s not very likely she would be able buy a home in Gladstone.
Imogen Lisson has rented a Toolooa residency at 36 Tuna St with two other friends for the past six months. Ms Lisson said the trio couldn’t be happier with the bargain they snapped up, paying $250 a week for a three bedroom, two bathroom, carport, fully air-conditioned and pet friendly home. Ms Lisson said it’s not very likely she would be able buy a home in Gladstone. RP DATA

However Gladstone Ray White owner John Fieldus believes the time has passed for blaming the dour rental market on the exodus of LNG workers.

"The exit of LNG hasn't got any effect on the rental market now…we manage 1000 rental properties and lease 15 for LNG," Mr Fieldus said.

"There is a bit of fragmentation around the refinery and there are people leaving town to find work but it's the redundancies and small businesses who are playing it calmly."

Regional rental vacancy rates

March:

  • Gladstone 11.3% - up from 10%
  • Mackay 8.1% - down from 9.3%
  • Rockhampton 6.9% - up from 6.1%
  • Townsville 6% - down from 6.4%
  • Bundaberg 5.2% - up from 3.9%
  • Toowoomba 3% - down from 3.2%

And how does government housing fit in?

Nineteen years of improvements would have to be taken down off Ian and Cynthia Ramsay's housing commission home if they were asked to leave but they don't plan on going anywhere (pictured).

Ian Ramsay has lived in this housing commission home with his wife Cynthia for 19 years and considers it his own.
Ian Ramsay has lived in this housing commission home with his wife Cynthia for 19 years and considers it his own. Paul Braven

They are two of 962 residents who live in housing commission homes in Gladstone (and there are only 61 vacancies on the government department's books).

Ian and Cynthia have always treated their home like their own despite the fact they could be told to move at any stage.

Over their time, Ian has planted Brazilian Cherry hedges, added blinds and cement work and thrown more than nine tonne of soil into the backyard to stop it flooding. He also has roses growing which he gives to the girls at the nearby chemist for looking after Cynthia.



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