Housing crisis shows signs of slowing down

Amy JohnstonBunbury Herald
People sleeping rough at the Graham Bricknell Memorial Music Shell in Bunbury.
Camera IconPeople sleeping rough at the Graham Bricknell Memorial Music Shell in Bunbury.

South West real estate experts say an end to the housing crisis is on the horizon as soon as properties from the construction boom are completed.

It comes after a particularly rough period in the region where many families have been forced into homelessness, some even pitching tents in Bunbury’s CBD in an effort to create consistent housing.

Data collected by the Real Estate Institute of WA shows vacancy rates in Bunbury are continuing to fall, with July recording 0.5 per cent vacancy compared to 0.6 per cent in June.

REIWA data also suggests only 37.9 per cent of housing in the Greater Bunbury area is under lease, while the rest is privately owned or mortgaged.

However, deputy president Joe White said the vacancy rates were actually improving against what data suggests.

“Whilst the vacancy rates look like they’ve come down, it’s actually not as bad as it looks, not all the data is being recorded as a public sphere,” he said.

“A lot of the rental stock is not hitting the public market, the property managers are just dealing with it behind the scenes with tenants who have come looking for help.”

Last year, pandemic-induced State and Federal building grants were on offer to WA households, which saw the beginning of an unprecedented construction boom.

Mr White said WA’s HomeBuilder and Building Bonus grants were a leading factor in the limited supply in houses.

“The incentives have meant that a lot of people have elected to build sooner than they would have,” he said. “We are probably drawing out of a housing demand that would have been satisfied in the next few years, but we’ve pulled it all into this year.”

Mr White said people could expect a rise in supply once newly constructed properties become occupied.

“When the houses that are the subject of the construction boom become completed, it’s either an owner-occupied or leased as a rental property, and it takes someone out of the demand,” he said.

“I don’t think any of these houses are going take more than two years to be built, while most of them are going to be completed in 18 months.”

Mr White says border restrictions would also contribute to the timeline.

“If borders open, population goes up, wage pressure goes down, and demand in the market becomes more liquid, then things could ease up a little earlier,” he said.

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