TAMWORTH’S rental market is experiencing an unprecedented squeeze, with properties being snapped up by desperate tenants and vacancy rates sitting at near-historically low levels.
Some agents are boasting vacancy rates below the magic 1 per cent mark, while others are reporting surging demand for properties, particularly at the lower end of the market.
Tamworth agent Meers and Shelton, which has traditionally had a large rent roll, has only three properties available for rent – a vacancy rate of just 0.78 per cent.
“Over the past two years the rental market has been consistently tighter than any time I’ve ever seen it here,” principal Liz Shelton said.
“There’s been an influx of people coming into town to work at Baiada and the abattoirs and I think Tamworth is just generally growing.
“We’ve had investors come from as far away as Western Australia to buy rental properties; when they see the yields, they often come back and buy more.”
While the residential rental market was surging, the commercial rental market remained stagnant, she said.
LJ Hooker Tamworth principal Richie Thornton, whose business boasts one of the biggest rent rolls in the city, said a resurgent building industry and a sluggish high-end residential sales market were driving rental demand.
“It’s been very tight for a few years now and the major contributor that people don’t realise is the building industry,” Mr Thornton said.
“Every time someone builds, they have to sell their existing house before they start and they have to rent in the interim.
“With the building industry moving at the moment, we’re getting a lot of short-term renters.
“Also, over the past few years 69 per cent of all sales in Tamworth have been for homes less than $300,000.
“People coming into the market above that range are feeling out the market and renting instead of buying.”
The lure of Tamworth as a place to live is also a major contributor to rental demand, according to Ross Bruce from Kelly’s Real Estate.
“What’s driving it is the strength of the town itself,” Mr Bruce said.
“A lot of people are attracted to a centre like Tamworth for its lifestyle, education, medical and employment opportunities.
“We’re running over 600 rental properties and we’d be lucky to have 15 vacancies on our books.”