Bendigo rental market stretched for affordable family homes

FAMILIES seeking affordable, large rental properties in Bendigo are facing tough competition and few options, real estate agents have said.

PRDnationwide Bendigo managing director Tom Isaacs said demand for four bedroom, two bathroom family homes was strong.

But demand outstripped supply, particularly for those seeking affordable housing.

“There is a limited amount of that stock available,” Mr Isaacs said. 

His comments come after a central Victorian family of six found itself without a home, despite having been in the market for a new place to rent since November.

On two occasions, Sheree McLeod and Richard Paterson thought they had secured a property.

But neither arrangement came to fruition, prompting the couple to plead for more time to find a new home.

Ms McLeod and Mr Paterson have four children and a dog.

A VCAT member in Bendigo yesterday granted a possession order for the house the family had been renting. 

The family spent the rest of the day clearing out the house, without another rental to move to.

They have since secured a new rental property, with the aid of a number of real estate agents. But Ms McLeod said the experience had opened her family’s eyes to the market conditions.

“The market is stretched – it’s bare – and there are many others looking at the same properties, sometimes in excess of 30,” she said.

She said the timing had been especially poor given real estate agencies were closed over the festive season and flooded with interest when they re-opened, as new employees and students transitioned to the area.

The property the family had been renting sold in November. Ms McLeod said they were given until the start of February to vacate.

“Since then we have inspected, we have applied, we have considered moving away from the area, we have looked high and low for appropriate accommodation,” she said.

“We have, regrettably, had some bad timing and events; this is in no way reflective of us as tenants.”

Two of the four children are school-aged. The other two are aged under five years and are either attending, or will soon be attending, early childhood education programs.

Mr Paterson is employed full-time, and Ms McLeod is a stay-at-home mum.

The situation was harder still to bear given Ms McLeod used to work as a welfare community service manager.

“We are a real, everyday family with four kids looking homelessness in the eye,” she said.

Nathan Ludeman, of Tweed Sutherland First National Real Estate, said the market had changed dramatically in the past five weeks.

The agency has leased close to 70 properties in that period.

Only one of the seven, four-bedroom houses on the agency’s books was vacant when the Bendigo Advertiser called.

Mr Ludeman said the others would be available by the end of February or the following month.

Rental vacancies in Bendigo are south of three per cent, according to PRDnationwide Bendigo.

“It is a healthy, competitive market,” Mr Isaacs said.

He said inspections for rental properties were well attended, with about five – 10 prospective tenants going through houses.

Mr Isaacs said the size of the properties investors could afford to buy affected the availability of certain types of rentals, such as large family houses.

The price range of the prospective tenant was also a factor.

“Things in that sort of price range and size are just hard to get your hands on,” Mr Isaacs said.

“There is no doubt it’s a difficult spot to be in”.