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By Andrew Allen

What a roller-coaster three months we’ve had in Australia. At the end of March our industry was placed into virtual shutdown. Open homes and Auctions were banned and we resorted to conducting individual buyer and tenant inspections – one person at a time.

We feared the worst for the property market and the local economy. After half a decade of dismal market performance, we felt Covid-19 had come to wreak havoc on any 2020 recovery.

Nevertheless, not even a pandemic could stop the momentum of the Gladstone market. We were astonished by the level of enquiry and number of transactions that were completed during the three months just past.

Among the negative media reports and doomsday predictions, reduced supply of homes for sale, combined with increasing rental rates created a growing level of buyer demand resulting in boom-like conditions.

With the onset of Covid restrictions, some vendors withdrew properties from sale, other would-be sellers delayed coming to market. A relatively strong number of Buyer’s in the market were competing for a reduced pool of properties, with early anecdotal evidence of upward pressure on pricing.

A similar trend appeared in the rental market. Due to the restrictions, tenants found it more challenging to search for a rental property. It was easier to renew a lease than find a new home. Reduced supply of rental properties has pushed the Gladstone vacancy rate to 1.6% – one of the lowest rates since the LNG construction.

The market has dodged a bullet for now, but with the imminent reductions in Government stimulus later in the year, conditions could still stagnate or head south.

We really look forward to the next quarter’s data to see if the official figures match the trend we are seeing at the coal face.

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