INVESTMENT: Richardson and Wrench Bargara's Le-Anne Allan and Kirralea French at a property that is now up for lease.
INVESTMENT: Richardson and Wrench Bargara's Le-Anne Allan and Kirralea French at a property that is now up for lease. Eliza Goetze

Bundaberg close to ideal rental vacancy rate

AFTER rental vacancies hit a seven-year high last year, the Bundaberg region's real estate market is regaining its mojo.

Rental vacancies for the quarter to December 2016 have dropped to 3.8% according to figures from the Real Estate Institute of Queensland.

That is down from 4.5% in the previous quarter, and 6.3% in the quarter to June 2016 - the highest since September 2008.

It's also just outside the "healthy" range of 2.5-3.5% according to REIQ spokeswoman Felicity Moore.

"That's the sweet spot where landlords know there are good quality tenants in reasonable supply, and tenants know there is reasonably priced rentals in good supply," she said.

"It's the best balance between supply and demand.

"Bundaberg is almost in that sweet spot.

"Once you hit that, it encourages investors... and the market grows."

While there are fewer vacancies, renters should not find it difficult to find a place, she added.

The last quarter has also been good for the local construction industry, according to Bundy Homes director Michael Randall - just not for rentals yet.

"Because the market has been quiet for so long there haven't been many rentals being built for a while," the builder said.

"But things are going the right way.

"I can certainly say the building industry has picked up markedly in the last few months."

While his customers haven't necessarily been choosing to rent out their properties straight away, he said many first home buyers "build with us as a stepping stone.

"And we get a lot of people we haven't seen before saying we'll build this, but we're not going to die here, and three years down the track we might (rent it out)."

The First Home Owners grant of $20,000 expires this financial year.

Meanwhile, Le-Anne Allan said  "things are getting back to normal" on the Bundaberg property market after the 2013 flood devastated the region.

"We certainly in the last couple of months have been very busy with rentals - there are some good things happening in the area," the Richardson and Wrench Bargara principal and REIQ Bundaberg Zone chair said.

"The rental vacancy rate is good and investors' returns are looking good too.

"There had been a bit of a softening of the rental market with returns but now they're coming back up."

The downside could mean fewer bargains for renters.

Last year's rocketing vacancy rate of 6.5% in the quarter to June 2016 - the highest since 2008 - was largely due to a flood-affected rentals coming back on the market, Ms Allan said.

"A lot of them had refurbishments and came back on the market at the same time, and suddenly there was a wide range of properties.

"After the floods we also had a lot of contractors in the area and they took up a lot of vacancies, then their contracts finished towards the end of last year and they left town."

Now the market has stabilised and is back where it should be, she said, and investors can afford to be more choosy.

"We are now getting multiple applications on properties, two or three at the same time."

Ms Moore said if you were struggling with applications, "a good property manager should sit down with you and help you put your best case forward".

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