Christmas spells ‘record’ rental squeeze for Gold Coast with fewer options than ever

Property analysts warn that Gold Coast rental supply could hit “new record lows” as home-seekers bear the brunt of higher rents and fewer options than ever.

The total number of rental listings on the Gold Coast is the lowest it has ever been, according to new data from CoreLogic.

That supply could shrink to record levels in the run-up to Christmas as rents continue to rise and supply dwindles.

Real estate investigators fear there is no end in sight.

Some tenants reported being asked to make an “offer” in front of other applicants, as the real estate market skews heavily in favor of landlords.

‘Pretty annoying’

Joel Ceh and his partner Ash Knight have been looking for a rental on the Gold Coast since May.

They have been applying for up to three places a week and often have difficulty doing home inspections during work hours.

“It’s really quite annoying,” Ceh said.

“The number of people at inspections is increasing and we’ve realized, when we apply for rentals, they just open for one inspection and that’s it.

“We don’t get any emails or calls other than ‘you didn’t get the place,’ really.”

Joel Ceh says that he and his partner Ash Knight fear they won’t have a place to live for Christmas.(Supplied: Joel Ceh)

Meanwhile, the couple has been living in a single room at a friend’s house.

“It would be nice to have our own place for Christmas and be well settled, but it seems more and more unlikely,” Ceh said.

“We still have all our things packed under the house for when we find a place.

“We only have access to half of our clothes at a time hoping to move soon.”

The highest rents in history

Ceh said they had been trapped in bidding wars, once being asked to increase their rental offer.

“Another couple put in a higher rate than what we had, and they asked us to increase the rate from the asking price,” he said.

On the Gold Coast, median rents are higher than pre-COVID and growing.

The median weekly rent for a home is $868, which is $248 per week more than in 2019.

For one unit, it costs $662 per week, an increase of $173.

“Over the last 12 months, for example, we’ve seen coastal home rentals rise 15 percent and unit rentals rise more than 16.5 percent, reflecting that lower vacancy rate.” said CoreLogic’s head of research, Tim Lawless.

Gray scaffolding in the foreground framing the existing skyscrapers
Skyscrapers are being built on the Gold Coast as the population approaches one million people.(ABC Gold Coast: Kimberley Bernard)

PropTrack’s director of economic research, Cameron Kusher, said the rental auction “reflected the desperation and competition that was in the market.”

“Obviously, from a landlord’s perspective, their costs have also gone up, so they want to get as much rent as possible,” he said.

“These conditions are really hurting people, particularly people who rent and have relatively low incomes.

“There’s just this ongoing decline in the pool of rental stock available to them and there’s no real sign that’s going to change any time soon.”

Lowest rentals in history

There were just 1,993 rental listings for the city last month, the lowest on record according to Lawless.

“The flow of prices compared to the five-year average is remarkably low. It’s down about a third,” he said.

A graph showing the decline in the number of places available to rent on the Gold Coast
The number of rentals listed in Gold Coast is falling.(Supplied: CoreLogic)

Rentals listed on a popular real estate website are only advertised for 15 days on average, according to Kusher.

“Realistically, when you think about it, that’s just enough time to post the ad, have the open house, work on all the applications, then find someone and pick someone,” he said.

“Nationally, he’s sitting at 19 days.

“If we go back to before COVID-19, it was usually 24-25 days, so it really highlights how tight this rental market is right now.”

‘Challenging’ Christmas ahead

According to CoreLogic, December tends to have the fewest total rental listings compared to the rest of the year.

Lawless said new rental listings typically fell nearly 30 percent between November and December, a “marked number.”

“Most likely, considering that rental listing trends were already low…we will likely see the number of new rental listings entering the market through December trending down and even to new record lows.” “, said.

A big white sign that says
There are fewer rental properties on the market on the Gold Coast than ever before.(ABC Gold Coast: Kimberley Bernard)

Lawless attributed the drop to agents going on vacation and landlords converting their long-term rentals to short-term vacation stays.

Kusher said the season was lucrative for the owners.

“December is seasonally the slowest time,” he said.

“If someone has a lease that expires in November or December, they may consider putting their property on the short-term rental market because of the very good returns they can get.

“Unfortunately, I don’t see things getting better for rentals in the next few months. I think it will be more difficult for people looking for rental accommodation.”

Ceh said he and his partner were now considering buying to escape the high rent tide.

“It has become almost more feasible to buy a place for the rates they want to rent,” he said.

“It was always our plan [to buy] eventually, but the decision has sped up a bit.”

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