Potential for growth of Bunbury market seen in low vacancy rates

Stuart McGuckinSouth Western Times
A high demand for rentals in the Bunbury area has led to low vacancy rates.
Camera IconA high demand for rentals in the Bunbury area has led to low vacancy rates. Credit: WA News

Real estate agents have reported the rental market in Bunbury is tightening after vacancy rates have fallen significantly as demand has increased.

Hancock Real Estate principal Mal Hancock said between 7 per cent and 8 per cent of his agency’s rental properties were vacant 12-18 months ago.

Now the figure sits between one per cent and 2 per cent.

“There has been a big adjustment and the rental market has had to drop back,” he said.

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“People had been leaving town and shopping around, but now that things are tightening back up, there are people coming to town again.”

LJ Hooker Bunbury principal Brent Spooner said his agency’s vacancy rates were also below 2 per cent.

“Things are very thin and we can’t get enough properties to rent out,” he said.

“There are a lot of people looking at the moment, but not enough properties.”

He said rental prices would not likely be affected in the short term but that it could happen over the next six months.

“Our vacancy rate has always remained under that 3 per cent mark but we are certainly noticing there is more demand for each property we put on at the moment,” he said.

Neither agency had noticed an increase in demand in particular areas.

“Generally it has been across the board,” Mr Hancock said.

“A lot of people go to where the services are, and historically that would have been the central suburbs like South Bunbury and East Bunbury. New shopping centres mean areas such as Treendale and Millbridge are just as popular, especially given their proximity to the lithium plant, which is also creating demand for rentals.”

Mr Hancock said recent suggestions there was a decline in the real estate market did not apply to Bunbury.

“Every market is its own market and we’ve got industry that is going to bring people to town,” he said.

“We’re coming from a very low base where a lot of properties are well below replacement cost but in the near future they should better reflect the cost of rebuilding them.

“The economy has been terrible here but I think there is some light at the end of the tunnel.”

He said there had been no capital growth in the Bunbury market since 2006.

“We had a once-in-100-year boom from 2003-2006 where everything went up 120 per cent in three years and it has come back 40 per cent since then,” he said.

“So from 2003 to now we’ve just had 80 per cent capital growth and usually every 10 years properties double in price.”

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