Homes in the New England and North West region are being snapped up by flooded out Northern Rivers residents needing to escape the heartbreak of destruction.
In Tenterfield and Glen Innes on the New England Highway, agents especially have witnessed the increase in people from Lismore and surrounding suburbs inquiring about purchasing further away from the coast, and say this new wave of demand is just one reason why the current 'boom' will continue in regional areas well into the future.
Moree, Inverell and Armidale agents have also seen the continuation of the record demand seen in the last 12-18 months, and cannot see it slackening off.
With major infrastructure projects continuing across the New England North West region, coupled with exciting new developments in the works, agents predict the demand-outweighing-supply trend will continue for some time.
While ideal for sellers looking to cash in on increasing home values and short - if any - time on the market, renters are coping the brunt, with fears increasing rental prices may push some into homelessness.
Sellers market still in bloom
Ray White Moree's principal Jason Humphries said the demand in Moree was coming from investors, and also locals who were buying up because the loan repayments would be cheaper than rent prices for the same property.
"The demand is high which is resulting in higher than average prices for properties, with low days on market," Mr Humphries said.
But the biggest issue, he said, was stock availability. Ms Gleeson agreed, saying many homes and small acreages in Inverell had been selling before even being advertised.
"Sales listings and rentals are in high demand with genuine cash buyers ready to go and quality tenants and purchasers are moving to our town for employment," she said.
With builders in demand, the cost of material rising, ready-to-go homes are the hot ticket in Tenterfield. Mr Alford said there is not enough blocks of land for the buyer demand.
"Trying to find a builder, plus the costs of building materials have gone up so much, we're in a real squeeze at the moment," he said.
"That's why these existing homes... are so desirable."
The demand for Tenterfield homes is currently "rising", according to Alford and Duff's First National's Steve Alford.
"A lot of the demand now is flood-related, as people are moving out of the Northern Rivers to up here," Mr Alford explained.
"They no longer want to go through the floods - it's traumatised them severely."
That wave of flooded-out buyers is running neck-and-neck with local residents looking for a change-up in town.
Matthew Velcich from Country Wide Property said rather than investor activity in Glen Innes, the competition is split between locals and this new demographic escaping flood-prone areas.
"There are not many investors, and I'd say half (of those buying) are locals and half are from the coast," Mr Velcich explained.
"We've had a lot more phone calls from Lismore in the last few weeks. It's a sad situation."
Annabelle Gleeson from Annabelle's Inverell, said with talk of interest rate rises, war and flooding over the last few weeks the industry "has quietened a little", but interest from interstate buyers remains strong.
"[B]uyers from interstate and cities are still looking to simplify their lives and raise their families in more regional areas like ours. So, the enquiries and interest are still there at this point," she said.
Armidale will soon see an influx of new land and properties available, with Jeremy Creagan from Armidale Town and Country Real Estate saying he's personally involved in six large land estates, recently securing the sale of about 180 lots.
It's set to keep the Catherdral City in good stead for "the next three to five years" at least.
Sunrise, Coleburg, South Hill, Sanden Park and Woodlands estates have all been selling well, with another three estates "to be announced soon".
The cost of rent has gone up and will continue to rise across the region, with fears some will be priced out of the market.
In Inverell, investment home-owners who were previously renting out their properties are selling up, which is taking those properties out of the running.
"Rentals are proving harder to source with many investment homeowners taking advantage of the 'boom' and selling. This has put a lot of pressure on the current rental market," Ms Gleeson explained.
Mr Creagan has seen Armidale rent increase by about $100 across the board, and predicts it will stay strong for the next three to five years.
"Armidale rent returns are some of the highest you'll see in the country at the moment, and our vacancy rate is the lowest it's ever been," Mr Creagan stated.
"Every property we've got up for rent, we've had 10 applications within a week. It doesn't matter what it is, a small two bedroom unit or a larger property, there is multiple applications - which is why rental prices are increasing substantially, quite quickly."
Mr Alford is seeing the same in Tenterfield, and with work to begin on the new bypass in December bringing in workers for the next several years, he said the demand for rentals will sky-rocket.
While not against a steady increase in rent prices, he's worried the surging cost will outprice those already facing challenging financial circumstances.
"I'm dead against the greed of the world... I don't want to have people living on the streets or living in cars."
Despite talk of the banks tightening their lending belts and increasing interest rates, none of the agents foresee this as a severe handicap for sellers.
"If they do lift rates, it will put a bit of a dampener on the market - but it will be what always happens, like with fuel prices at the moment - people still drive their car. They make is work and find that little bit of extra a month to make it happen," Mr Creagan said.
But now is the time to buy for those seeking to avoid that inevitable increase, Mr Alford stated.
"We've got some catch up time now. You can still buy here for $400,000, but in Sydney you can't get anything under $900,000. That's a big price differential," Mr Alford noted.
In Moree, all the stock piled up from the drought has been bought and paid for, and still there is a call for more.
"Since Covid all the older stock from the drought has been sold, and as new stock comes on the market it's been selling quicker - I can't see that changing," Mr Humphries said.
"Our rural land is highly regarded in the agricultural sector for its diversity, from lifestyle to grazing to fine wool enterprises to crops, Inverell and surrounds have it all to offer," Ms Gleeson added.
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