21 Feb 2019

Townsville rental prices skyrocket after flooding crisis, families struggle to find homes

Some home rentals in Townsville are going for more than double their normal asking price as locals fight it out for rapidly dwindling housing stock.

An estimated 2,000 homes have been flood-damaged after the north Queensland city copped a year's worth of rain in a week.

Matthew Griffin's family home in Annandale had 600 millimetres through it — and what wasn't damaged by the water was ruined by mould.

He, his wife and three kids are taking refuge in a friend's lounge room, sleeping on the couch and a blow-up bed, as they hunt for a place to rent.

"Pretty much of what is left are people who are wanting to really profiteer from a situation," he said.

"And unfortunately we have looked at houses where people are now asking for $1,000, up to $1,300, which is just phenomenal in this town.

"Those rents are not heard of.

"[It would normally be worth] $475 to $520 — it's just ridiculous."

The Griffin family just want to return to a normal life, but they count themselves lucky as they are insured.

Others have had to compete for housing without that backing.

"There has been a lot of tears shed, all around, and quiet ones by myself and my wife without the kids watching," Matthew Griffin said.

Fight for existing stock

Harcourts Kingsberry managing director Ben Kingsberry said of his stock, $400-a-week places are now going for $550-$600.

He said it was not so much about the homeowners trying to cash in on the disaster, but about new-found renters trying to edge out the competition.

"They've missed out on a lot of properties and are at the point where they say ... 'we're desperate'," Mr Kingsberry said.

"The need for that immediate accommodation — often with the rent being paid by the insurance company — has seen an artificial spike right now.

"People who are being most disadvantaged are people who aren't insured.

"There is an accommodation crisis right now, it will hopefully be short-term.

"I think that will level out [in the longer term], I think rents will be higher than they have been but we're not going to see the massive increases that we've got right now.

While about 250 of Mr Kingsberry's rental stock were flood-affected, about 65 unaffected properties were rented out last week.

That figure is expected to be reached this week too.

"That will pretty much see us out of rental properties," he said.

Real Estate Institute of Queensland chief executive Antonia Mercorella said some home buyers were trying to leverage off the floods to potentially grab a bargain.

And there are sellers, too, who are wanting a quick sale.

But in general Ms Mercorella expected prices to normalise.

"This is such a unique event, it's been categorised as a one-in-a-500-year event," she said.

"Whilst in the early days we would expect it does have an impact on the psyche and on property values, we think in the medium- to long-term, the market should stabilise and return to a normal level again."

SOURCE ; https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-13/townsville-flood-rental-property-spike/10806524


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