The south-west's housing market dominates daily discussions.
Warrnambool's median house price has jumped to $558,000, according to the latest CoreLogic data, more than $150,000 up than at the start of last year. Port Fairy's market has leapt to new highs with two properties fetching more than $5 million each and in smaller towns like Mortlake prices in some cases have doubled in 12 months. Even the price of townhouses are dizzying, fetching $500,000 or more in Warrnambool.
Bush blocks are as scarce as hen's teeth.
While all this makes good reading for those in the market, it's fast becoming a disaster for those not owning property.
There's a shortage of rental properties and any that are up for grabs are going for a premium. Rental prices have climbed to a point in Warrnambool that 74 per cent of properties are classed as unaffordable for those receiving welfare payments. There are real fears homeless rates are increasing.
But the downside of a surging property market doesn't end there, this week we revealed the region's shortage of workers has worsened. Some businesses have been forced to cut back their trading hours and even reduce the number of days they open because of a lack of workers.
One Port Fairy trader has even offered to pay travel expenses for workers to drive from Warrnambool all to no avail.
The lack of housing is impacting our workforce, which is alarming given predictions of a bumper tourist season. We might be open for business but who's going to serve us?
Warrnambool and other south-west centres need more affordable housing. The city council recognises the issue and is looking to influence what it can but many of the factors impacting housing are driven by the market or higher levels of government.
The state government committed $25 million for public housing in Warrnambool more than 12 months ago but nothing has yet happened on the ground. Based on today's prices plus the rising costs of materials, $25 million won't go far. The city's public housing waiting list has 900 people. Do we need to discourage so many investment properties being used as holiday rentals? More needs to be done. And fast.
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