Principal at Yass Real Estate, Edwina Brown, says there are several concerning and pertinent issues for the region’s real estate market.

“The biggest thing is we’re still really tight on listings.”

“I think our biggest issue that’s driving it is simply the lack of stock. We’ve got a situation where there’s just not enough stock going onto the market to absorb that demand,” she said.

Whilst the media are pushing the idea of people seeking a “tree change” as the reason for the housing shortage, Edwina doesn’t think that this is the case here in the Yass Valley.

“Yes we’re getting the odd Sydney person but more of our buyers are coming out of Canberra where they’ve been priced out.”

“It’s becoming self perpetuating because now people aren’t putting their homes on the market because there is nothing for them to then buy and purchase.”

“You’ve got people who are wanting to sell, but with nothing to buy,” she said.

Another issue that Edwina believes is contributing to the housing shortage is the lack of rental stock.

“What we used to be able to do with a vendor that was looking to sell and maybe had a particular type of property they were looking to go to or buy a block of land and build. We used to be able to sell their home and they could then rent for 12 months while they looked around,” she said.

Affordability in the rental market has become a byproduct of the lack of rental stock. It’s this affordability that puts property managers in a challenging position.

“We’re now seeing an issue where the lack of affordable housing stock is causing an issue at the lower end of the market as well.”

“Homes that four or five years ago were probably $280 a week, are now $350-380 a week.”

“We then have this issue where we are trying to put people into properties but they’re essentially unaffordable for them. But then where do you put them?” said Edwina.

As for advice for those within the community who have been failing to be accepted for rental properties, Edwina says putting in as much information as possible and following the application’s instructions is the best way to give yourself every opportunity to succeed.

“We’re routinely seeing 15, 20, 25 applications for properties.”

“Try to put as much of your actual information as you can and get it in with all the information that the agent needs. If it’s asking for copies of identification put it with it (the application) because obviously while the agents chasing you for that, they’re going to be processing other applications as well.”

“It is hard because obviously a lot of the people coming over from Canberra and renting over here have pretty strong incomes and that pushes the rents up again,” said Edwina.

Whilst Edwina believes the market will steady eventually, she thinks the community will be responsible for whether this growth can be sustainable over time.

“I think the market will have to plateau a little bit. I think the price increases will hit a point where they’ll just flatten out and that will be as a little bit more stock begins to come on the market and we’ll begin to see that supply and demand even out a bit more.”

“I think Yass is in a position to remain very, very strong for a long time to come simply because of our proximity to Canberra. We are becoming ever closer to Canberra and the Canberra market has increased to the level that it has too, and even if there’s a little bit of a plateau, there’s always those people where it’s certainly out of reach for them as a first or second home.”

“If the community makes it a nice experience then people will generally stay. If we’ve got education, medical and retail to support that you’ll find most people won’t pack up and go,” she said.

Many people within the community have raised concerns about the number of land estates in the development process. However, Edwina believes it’s a lack of zoned land, which will be a more significant issue for the region moving forward.

“Our biggest challenge in years to come will be with the land estates coming on and we’ve got a couple that we will filter on as well over the next 12-18 months.”

“The situation you’ve got after that is that there’s actually very little land left zoned for residential, and there’s even less zoned for rural residential. We are going to have a situation where we will be very similar to where Canberra’s at, at the moment where they’re against the border.”

“By the same token the infrastructure needs to catch up with that and you almost have to overservice infrastructure to take that demand,” said Edwina.

As for the smaller villages in the Yass Valley and surrounds, Edwina believes they are the ones to see the most significant benefit from the pandemic.

“Small villages like Gunning have probably seen a revival since Covid. They’ve been the big ones to benefit and I think even more in the retiree market in those places because they haven’t been able to go overseas and they’ve been travelling around and perhaps found a place where they’d like to buy a home, or a holiday home,” she said.

Despite acknowledging the excellent aged care facilities of the area, Edwina says a new retirement village is very much in demand, as retirees seek a bit more freedom and space than the traditional aged care setting.

“There’s also certainly a big issue when you’re talking about retirees.”

“We’re actually seeing a net loss of people who are moving out of the area in order to go into retirement village living and the days are gone where people want to move into a tiny one bedroom retirement villa. They want to be able to downsize at an age where they’re still active but perhaps go into a village system knowing they’re going to have ongoing care and be able to move into higher care as they need.”

There have been some horror stories online of people waiting months upon months to be accepted for rental properties or to find a suitable purchase. Unfortunately, Edwina’s analysis suggests these issues will remain for some time to come.

Max O’Driscoll