Housing crisis grows

Despite a great number of houses being built in the region including Glanmire Park as pictured, the demand for housing has outstripped the supply.

Moira Shire and Federation Councils are among a growing number of communities across regional Victoria and NSW in the grips of an unprecedented housing crisis, as demand for housing outstrips supply.

The shortfall in affordable housing in the local area is largely attributed to the exodus of people from major cities during the pandemic, combined with more people choosing to stay in the regions, property prices rising, and landlords choosing to sell their rentals or convert them into Airbnb’s.

Adding to the pressure is the rock bottom vacancy rates currently sitting at around 0.7% and rising costs of renting a home.

According to the latest Domain Rental Report, house rents in Moira increased by $115 (23.4% increase) in just 12 months from March 2021 to March 2022.

For the same period in Federation, prices jumped by $130 (15.6% increase) over 12 months.

Meanwhile, according to the latest Domain House Price report, house prices across the country saw the steepest annual rate of growth on record, at 33.1 per cent creating a significant financial barrier for entry level buyers.

In Moira, house prices from December 2020 to December 2021 increased 31.7% with the median house price valued at $415,000. In Federation the median house price is $415,000 compared to $315,000 in 2020.

Seeliger Real Estate Director Mark Seeliger said Yarrawonga and Mulwala are facing an interesting time here in respect to housing and affordability and the Regional Australia institute couldn’t have timed their paper any better.

“Coming in to winter we have seen some extra stock hit the rental market however over the peak periods there are generally no more than a couple of rental properties up for grabs at any one time which in turn, puts upward pressure to rental prices,” Mr Seeliger said.

“Additional properties would be great to help ease those price rises as well as secure more people to the area that could help fill some of the job vacancies.

“Yarrawonga seems to be in a good place as far as development is progressing with Glanmire Park already exceeding its expectations of sales however the NSW side is lacking considerably with the only substantial development being pushed away at every turn and the town seeing very little population growth during what has been the nation’s largest migration period seen in our lifetime.

“Unfortunately for renters and first home buyers this means that they will inevitably be priced out of the Mulwala market with so little stock available.

“If land was released that was affordable for first home buyers, I’m positive it would sell quicker than a hot coffee on a cold winters morning.”

With rental growths now becoming a Federal issue, an article published in Sunday’s Herald Sun showed the top 10 Victorian electorates which have seen the largest rent growth since the last federal election in May 2019.

Nicholls was named at number six with a rent growth of 21 per cent with our close neighbours Indi taking out the number four position with a rent growth of 23 per cent.

A recent housing report by Rural Councils Victoria shows that regional Victoria needs more than 87,400 new dwellings over the next 15 years to tackle the housing crisis.

The report also highlights how low housing stocks creates a barrier for the workforce needed in regional and rural areas. When workers have nowhere to reside, it leads to job shortages and consequently has a negative flow-on impact on the region’s economy, preventing a strong post-COVID recovery.

“Housing supply shortfalls have a big negative impact on rural communities – including foregone jobs and lost opportunities – that range from $200 million a year to $1 billion per year in lost Gross Regional Product in rural Victoria,” Rural Councils Victoria Chair Cr Mary-Ann Brown said.

“The worst-hit sectors would be agriculture, forestry and fishing, manufacturing, construction, education and training and the rental, hiring and real estate industries. But every sector would be negatively impacted.”

Cr Mary-Ann Brown said the recent Federal Budget proved to be disappointing for rural Victorians.

“Unfortunately, the Budget has done nothing new of significance for rural Victoria,” she said.

“The latest ABS statistics show that there has been a big shift to rural and regional areas from metropolitan Melbourne.

“It is fabulous to finally see population growth in rural Victoria, but we need the federal government to help with resources to deal with the extra strain that population growth places on rural and regional infrastructure.”

Nationals Member for Ovens Valley Tim McCurdy has spoken extensively on housing shortfalls in parliament in recent months reiterating how the decreasing number of housing in our regional towns is turning potential new residents away from guaranteed jobs as they cannot find somewhere to live.

Just last week Mr McCurdy said he was delighted to hear that regional Victoria is continuing to increase its economic population but he is concerned that without adequate funding to local infrastructure this growing population is likely to reach a standstill.

Recent ABS Statistics from 2020-21 listed Melbourne as having the largest decline of population by 60,500 (1.2%), whereas regional Australia grew by 70,900 (0.9%).

“This is a win for regional Victoria because it provides us with a promising future,” Mr McCurdy said.

“However, without the support of the state government in the upcoming State Budget our regional infrastructure especially in our smaller towns will struggle to meet the demands of a growing population.

“On many occasions I have spoken about our smaller regions like Yarrawonga, Cobram, Myrtleford, Katamatite, and many others within my own electorate whose schools, hospitals, roads, railway lines and so forth have been continuously neglected.

“Regional Victoria has waited long enough.”

Recently, the Regional Australia Institute (RAI) released a suite of solutions to increase the supply of more affordable and appropriate housing across regional Australia to meet current and future demand.

Among the solutions were a proposed Regional New Home Loan Guarantee, incentives for regional tradespeople, easing restrictions on relocatable homes, building more medium-density and social housing.

“We have various drivers and quite distinct regional housing markets. Responses must be tailored to address the drivers specific to each regional housing market. Imposing the wrong policy response can make market failures worse,” RAI CEO Liz Ritchie said.

“While we welcome both the Federal Government’s Budget commitments to address housing affordability in regions as well as the Opposition’s recent plan – these measures address only one part of the puzzle.

“With more than 70,000 regional job vacancies, there’s a widespread need for units, townhouses, and apartments in regional Australia to accommodate single professionals and tradespeople, as well as long-term residents looking to downsize.

“State and local governments need to work with developers and builders to ensure a greater diversity in housing stock so that new housing remains affordable.”