Renters hard-pressed to move south | Ralph Lauren

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Known for its pristine beaches and relaxed lifestyle, Busselton encapsulates the ideal coastal community for many.

So much so, that according to data from REIWA, the seaside town is now the fastest leasing regional centre in Western Australia, with properties taking an average of 10 days to rent over the three months to March 2021.

But can the increased demand for rentals keep up with property supply?

REIWA Deputy President Joe White said more needed to be done to accommodate tenants.

“REIWA data indicates extreme competition amongst tenants,” he said. “We have a short-term rental crisis within Busselton.”

Mr White said there were 600 homes currently under construction in the town, though material and labour shortages due to the current building boom were drawing out build times.

“The building industry is grappling with demand outstripping supply, creating a frustrating time for builders with projects put on a backlog,” he said. “At least there is a solution, it’s just growing pains.”

Along with addressing supply, Mr White said the answer lay within investment, where changes needed to be made to stamp duty and property tax framework to make homebuilding and buying more affordable.

“Our property tax framework fines the most enterprising people in our community for moving to areas of high opportunity,” he said.

Among these buyers are those seeking a quieter work-from-home lifestyle in smaller towns like Busselton, according to Mr White.

“COVID-19 has encouraged people to relocate and work from home more – there’s now a twist in attitude,” he said. “The whole working from home pattern has encouraged a completely new paradigm of where you can work from.

“If the whole property transfer system became more efficient, I think young people would take on more opportunities to take advantage of moving to the Great Southern for a few years to pursue a career. But by the time homeowners want to relocate back to the city they’ll be hit with more stamp duty.”

Century 21 Property Manager Clare Tattersall moved to Busselton over 13 years ago and attributed its popularity to its picturesque nature.

“Busselton has such lovely beaches, wineries and restaurants, with something always going on in the community,” she said.

“I feel most people are wanting to relocate to Busselton as it is a safe and attractive place that still has the small community feel with all the city amenities.”

According to Ms Tattersall, increased competition amongst tenants has led to skyrocketing rental prices.

“People are desperate to move here, are willing to pay more rent than the asking price and are also wanting long-term leases,” she said. “Rentals are sparse and it is a great time to now buy an investment with a good return.”

According to Mr White, the Busselton rental market is attracting leasees under the age of 40.

“The market features a lot of young families, with the rental shortage also impacting the education sector in Busselton,” he said.

“I’ve been in contact with school principals who have said parents would enrol their kids in school tomorrow, but they can’t due to a lack of rentals.”

Mr White said agents needed to adapt to the changing market to ensure efficiency of the transfer process.

“If you can’t see yourself as part of a problem, you won’t be part of the solution,” he said. “Agents, planners, developers, local governments – everyone has a part to play.”

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