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’Out of whack’: Qld suburbs where overseas rental searches exploded

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A QUEENSLAND suburb within easy reach of a major university has seen a whopping 188 per cent increase in overseas renters looking for a roof over their heads in the past year.

But it is not the only student hotspot feeling the heat, with many of the top 10 growth suburbs for overseas rental property seekers located around education hubs.

Top of the list was Upper Mount Gravatt with the number of overseas searches for rental properties soaring 188 per cent year-on-year since international borders reopened.

Hot on its heels is Mount Gravatt, home of Griffith University, where overseas views have exploded by 161 per cent.

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Bundara at Griffith University was to be used to help people who were not being able to find rental properties.

Also in hot demand is Kelvin Grove (+149%), Springfield (+141%) and West End in Townsville (+140%).

Townsville is home to James Cook University, with the suburb of Douglas, where the main campus is located, seeing a surge of 123 per cent, according to the PropTrack data.

James Cook University is located within the sought-after suburb of Douglas

PropTrack senior analyst Karen Dellows said searches for properties to rent on from overseas property seekers increased overall by 65 per cent in 2022 compared to 2021, and were now 20 per cent higher than pre-pandemic levels (2019).

“It is likely that searches will continue to rise, mainly as migration picks up after being on halt over the pandemic and Australia attracts workers from overseas,” she said.

Explore Property Townsville co-director Santo Spinella said that when the borders closed, a lot of students and foreign specialist left.

“It was almost overnight,” he said. “But since the borders opened again, 100 per cent demand has gone up.

“There is a lot going on in Douglas, and Townsville in general, and areas close to the uni and hospital are highly sought-after by international students and medical professionals.”


As is the Townsville University Hospital. Picture: Evan Morgan

Mr Spinella said that while the vacancy rates had eased slightly, they were “still very low” at 1 per cent.

St Lucia, home to the University of Queensland, also made the top 10 list, with views up 125 per cent.

Coopers Plains (+138%), Roma (+135%) and Toowong (+129%) are also among the suburbs with biggest growth in overseas searches by renters.

Aerials of Brisbane

The UQ campus in St Lucia, which almost 21,000 students enrolled last year

Living Here director Haesley Cush said the rental demand from overseas was not surprising given the influx of international students and expats.

“Brisbane has that wonderful balance of a safe reputation, lifestyle and it has probably one of the best forward outlooks in Australia over the next decade with the Olympics, new developments and infrastructure,” he said.

“And we are seeing it on the ground for sales and rentals with plenty of inquiry from interstate and overseas.

“Unfortunately, supply and demand is out-of-whack.”

Supply and demand is out-of-whack, according to Haesley Cush

The top suburbs for overseas rental seekers were Brisbane City, St Lucia, Surfers Paradise, South Brisbane, Southport, Toowong, West End Indooroopilly, Broadbeach and New Farm.

The top 10 countries where overseas renters are searching for Queensland properties were New Zealand, UK, US, Philippines, Canadam Hong Kong, India, South Africa, Singapore and Brazil.

When international borders closed at the start of the pandemic, thousands of foreign students went home.

But since then, despite the exodus, Queensland has found itself in the grips of brutal housing shortage, with some desperate renters forced to live in their cars or holiday parks.

And while the statewide vacancy rate improved slightly over the December quarter, rising from a record low of 0.6 per cent in September to 0.8 per cent, supply levels are still “critically low”, according to peak housing bodies.

“Promising as this news may seem, we’re taking it with a grain of salt until we see if this uplift is here to stay or if it’s merely a seasonal fluctuation,” REIQ CEO Antonia Mercorella said.

Of the 50 regions analysed for the latest REIQ’s Residential Vacancy Rate Report, 43 had seen a rise in vacancy rates while the others remained “static”.

Queensland’s tightest rental markets are located in the Southern Downs (0.2%) and Cook, Goondiwindi and Tablelands (0.3%).

The highest vacancy rate is in the Redland Bay Islands (6%).

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