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Gladstone agency defies vacancy trend

By Emma Grant

While the city of Gladstone is experiencing an oversupply of properties in the rental market, one real estate office has managed to keep its vacancy levels down.

The latest figures from the Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) reveal the vacancy rate for Gladstone in September is 5.8 per cent. For the same month last year, the vacancy rate was 0.9 per cent.

However, Ray White Gladstone has reported it is achieving a vacancy rate of 1.9 per cent.

Director of property management and leasing at Ray White Gladstone John Fieldus attributed the result to having structure and initiative.

One initiative was employing relationships manager Sasha Ransley to address tenant enquiry and develop them into tenancies.

“I think too often tenants are treated as second-hand citizens,” Mr Fieldus said.

“Sasha’s standard is that she takes a considerable amount of enquiries and then she contacts the potential people personally, has a chat and subsequently meets them out on site. She tries to achieve that within hours rather than days, and that’s been working extremely well for us.

“Because there is an oversupply in Gladstone and there’s only a finite amount of tenants, it is absolutely critical we get as many people through our properties as possible in order to keep them full.”

Mr Fieldus said there had been a U-turn in the property market in Gladstone, which came about when the liquefied natural gas (LNG) project commenced three years ago, leading to an undersupply of accommodation.

“The construction companies appointed their own property managers and they went about sourcing their own property,” he said.

“By and large, there was a real apparent lack of preparation in terms of an accommodation plan. The companies went and sourced all their property from the private market, which at the time was running at a one per cent vacancy rate, so in the short space of time, things became very critical.

“There were a lot of local people who couldn’t afford property and they had to move to neighbouring towns.”

Mr Fieldus said by March this year, he had started to see an oversupply due to the unprecedented amount of development that occurred.

“It’s all too much too late with what’s happened, and therefore we’ve got this situation where there’s a large vacancy factor – I think it could be as high as 10 per cent by Christmas,” he warned.

According to recent figures from PRDnationwide, median weekly rents had dropped by $120 for two-bedroom townhouses, and by $70 for three-bedroom units.

Mr Fieldus’ advice to PMs dealing with tough rental situations was to be intuitive and to understand the marketplace and the dynamics.

“They should not sell hope, they should sell fact and they should be very very clear about the advice they give,” he said.

“There’s also the human element of guidance. They need to firmly put themselves in the landlord’s shoes and treat the property as if it’s their own.”

Source: – Written By: Brendan Wong

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