Local agent offers answers

Real estate agent Helen Harm said local employers must "think outside the box" in Warwick's current rental market. Picture: JESS BAKER

By Jess Baker

As rental vacancies continue to tighten across the Southern Downs, one local real estate agent is urging businesses to consider adding housing to their employment packages.

Warwick real estate agent Helen Harm said employers who take on out-of-town staff have no choice but to “think outside the box” in the current rental market.

“People who are qualified for positions that are being offered need accommodation and there is none available,” Helen said.

“I’ve been doing real estate for 15 years, but even as a non-real estate person I’ve never seen houses go as quickly as this.”

Helen Harm Real Estate’s rental list has seen a dramatic fall in numbers in recent Covid-19 times – so significant, in fact, that Helen now has no rentals available whatsoever.

Helen said Warwick’s lack of rental vacancies has the potential to become an enormous issue for new businesses and old businesses looking to make new hires.

“We’ve sold 20 of our rental properties to people who want to live in them, or who want to put relatives in them, or who want to put their employees in them,” she said.

“(And) we’re getting at least 20 (applications) per house if we’ve got one.”

These days, even renters with good track records are hard-pressed finding accommodation in Warwick – let alone renters with poor track records.

“Tenants who are problematic and tenants who don’t pay their rent on time are going to find it very difficult to get a rental,” Helen said.

“Housing is going to be critical.”

But, she said, there is a part-solution to Warwick’s looming housing crisis. And it not only allows businesses to grow through new hires, it also allows employers to improve their investment portfolios.

“This I see as a win-win,” Helen said.

“People want to come to town, they want a different lifestyle, they want to get out of the city … (and) as a business owner, you’re going to attract a different quality of person if you offer them a nice house.

“It’s a way of saying thank you for being a good employee.”

Helen said Warwick’s property market isn’t “going gangbusters” like Brisbane’s is and housing is still affordable, so right now is the perfect time to invest.

“Suburbs (in Brisbane) are going up $10,000 a week. That’s not happening here,” she said.

“We’ve probably gone up $10,000 to $20,000 total.”

With Melbourne once again in lockdown, and many other major cities declared Covid-19 hotspots both last year and this year, Helen said it really is no surprise so many people are moving closer to the country.

Budding new businesses are also major drawcards for people to relocate to Warwick, said Helen, and are crucial to the growth of the Southern Downs region.

Business owners interested in adding housing to their list of employment offerings, and property owners interested in leasing out their homes, can reach Helen on 0408 457 496.

To see Helen’s current listings, visit www.helenharm.com.