Residents on the state’s south coast have become increasingly exposed to rental stress amid an increasingly inflated market. A new affordable housing development hopes to help change that.
CoreLogic founder Tim Lawless says higher interest rates “tend to have a negative impact on housing demand and activity”. “It was quite clear from the beginning of May as we started seeing interest rates rising … that was a very clear inflection point for the housing market,” he told Sky News Australia. “Chances are, with higher interest rates, we’ll continue to see housing prices falling.”
Plans for the 26-unit housing project on Beach Rd, south of Batemans Bay, were submitted by developer Hampshire Property Group to Eurobodalla Shire Council in September.
If approved, the project will see a vacant plot of land behind the Batemans Bay Marina Resort filled with prefabricated two-bedroom homes, which will be available for rent.
Planning documents lodged with council state the homes would be similar to those used in caravan parks and manufactured home estates to provide for downsizing households, primarily those aged over 50.
“While the site will share some services and access with the adjoining caravan park, it will not be part of it and will operate as a medium density residential development,” documents state.
“The proposal does not include any subdivision and the land and homes will remain in company ownership and rented under the Residential Tenancies Act.”
According to Hampshire, the existing Batemans Bay community is made up almost entirely (94 per cent) of working age or elderly residents, who are considered to be in the top seven per cent of socio-economic disadvantage.
“As such, the local population can generally be characterised as low-income and ageing, leaving them exposed to increasing mortgage and rental stress in an inflated market,” planning documents state.
“Many of those who are working age have a secondary education and trade qualifications, with the majority employed in blue-collar jobs and the retail sector.
“Resilience to changes in the area is consequently low due to resident’s comparative disadvantage, as many lack the financial resources to adjust to undue pressures and new interest in markets.”
In wake of the Black Summer bushfires and an influx of workers on major projects, Raine and Horne Batemans Bay operations and investment manager Rick Walker said the regional market had become tight.
“At the current stage, it is a very strange market,” he said. “But, we are finding its on a bit of a turn. There has not been the same kind of inquiry in homes as there has been over the past 18 months.”
Mr Walker said the number of homes available for purchase had gone up since Covid, with as many as 20 to 30 homes available at any one time, compared to just 10 during the height of the pandemic.
But, he added prices remained high and the influx in immigration over Covid had not resulted in any exodus with the recent reopening of international travel.
“There hasn’t been much change in people moving back to the city,” he said. “Renters are still not able to move around as much.”
For now, novel affordable projects continue to be explored.
In the Bega Valley, approval was recently given to a “tiny home” project in Cobargo.
According to Hampshire Property Group, modular housing is only becoming a more popular.
“Modular homes offer with faster construction time, a variety of designs, flexibility in design and ability to provide housing for those on a modest income,” planning documents state.
“The Batemans Bay project is expected to have a positive social impact on multiple facets of people’s livelihoods in the wider Batemans Bay area during operation.
“It will provides more affordable housing for those on a modest income and enhances economic mobility by being situated in proximity to public transport options.”
Plans are currently on public exhibition with Eurobodalla Shire Council.