The current lockdown continues to affect housing in the Blue Mountains, with new statistics revealing the weekly asking price for rental houses in the region has risen by 6.7 per cent for the month until September 12.
The report, from SQM Research, gave a national snapshot of residential rental vacancy trends. The increase for the Blue Mountains contrasts with the national increase in rental asking prices for houses, of 1.3 per cent.
Rents rose in most regional areas; in Toowoomba, Queensland, asking prices for rental houses rose by 8.2 per cent, which the report described as "stunning".
The figures for weekly asking prices for rental units in the Mountains, as opposed to houses, might be described in similar terms, with an increase of 16.2 per cent.
The average weekly asking rent for a house in the Blue Mountains is now $510, with units at $379. The vacancy rate is at a worryingly low 0.6 per cent.
"There are strong signs the current lockdowns are creating another wave of interest in regional property," said SQM managing director Louis Christopher.
Erin Turner of Springwood-based Chapman Real Estate confirmed that the rental market in the Blue Mountains is reaching another point of fever pitch.
"We have noticed a strong increase in the demand for rental properties in the Blue Mountains over the past year," she said.
"We are finding with the changing times, especially with many people now having the flexibility to work from home, there has been a fair bit of movement from tenants in city areas to the Blue Mountains. This has created a higher demand for rental properties, with strong applicants and low vacancy rates.
"Currently, properties are being secured with a holding deposit by an accepted applicant within the first week of advertising, the supply of properties being low compared to demand."
Link Wentworth provides social and affordable housing to vulnerable community members, with a reach that covers the Blue Mountains. They have found that the new renting climate has made it especially difficult to serve their clients.
CEO Andrew McAnulty said: "Link Wentworth has two homelessness services in the Blue Mountains. Currently, we're finding it next to impossible for our clients to obtain appropriate and affordable rental accommodation in the area.
"As a result of the pandemic, more people have seemingly started moving to the Mountains to work from home in an idyllic location, causing vacancy rates to go down while prices sky-rocketed."
"Many of our clients receive JobSeeker income, ruling them out of finding an affordable property in the Mountains. We're not even able to help clients move out to Lithgow, an option in the past, because the situation is similar there.
"Our clients have roots in the Mountains - many have lived there for the majority of their lives. For them, it's not about wanting to live in an idyllic location but to live where their support systems and community are. The Mountains is their home and it's a shame to see them priced out."
Blue Mountains MP Trish Doyle said: "Given the lack of supply coupled with the huge demand for rental properties in areas like the Blue Mountains, it is not surprising but also unfortunate that some real estate agents and landlords seek to financially benefit from that, increasing rental prices.
"The ramifications see more vulnerable people pushed to the edge of homelessness; lack of affordable rental properties has seen a huge wave of disadvantage increase across NSW."
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