An exodus of almost 3000 people a month from Melbourne is turning up the heat on already sizzling property markets in other parts of the country.
Australian Bureau of Statistics data for the June and September quarters, showed 16,000 people left Melbourne in six months last year, reversing a 20-year trend of population growth in the city.
Property analyst and buyer’s agent Simon Pressley of Propertology said even for a city of five million, that was a lot to lose.
“It’s not only the loss of people it’s the loss of their financial contribution to the city,” he said. “For everyone who leaves, that’s a potential income of $100,000 and the spending power that goes with it; that’s gone out of Melbourne.”
Regional Australia was gaining from the exodus, with places such as the Gold Coast and Noosa in Queensland, Geelong and Ballarat in Victoria and Orange in NSW enjoying record demand for housing, Mr Pressley said.
Of the capitals, Brisbane was the frontrunner, with a net gain of 6400 people from interstate between April and September.
Demographer Bernard Salt said the only downside was the effect on house prices in those areas, as demand eclipsed supply.
“Two chunks of 8000 people leaving Melbourne over six months is imperceptible for a city of five million but spread them across Geelong, Ballarat and Byron Bay, and it’s like putting a defibrillator on the property market,” Mr Salt said.
Brisbane prestige property agent Jason Adcock said a riverfront home at Toowong recently sold for more than $1m above its reserve price. He said it was not unusual to have up to 10 groups bidding at auctions, 40 to 50 people turn up to rental house inspections and as many as 200 groups at open-house events.
Gold Coast property adviser and valuer Tony Coughran said securing homes within a buyers’ budget had become more of a challenge but not impossible.
In the case of Mr Coughran’s Victorian clients, Ryan Sanderson and Laura Cartledge, the couple were thrilled to land a three- bedroom duplex at Palm Beach for the same price as the two bedroom apartment they were living in at Port Melbourne.
Mr Sanderson said he needed to move from Melbourne because his video production company needed to be outdoors to film sporting and other events.
“It was incredibly difficult in August. We couldn’t shoot anything and my staff had no work to do,” he said. “So we took our staff and moved to Queensland. That was the only way we could continue working and go to events in NSW, South Australia and the Northern Territory.”
When Ms Cartledge, a lawyer, was given approval to continue working remotely, the couple made the decision to make the move permanent.
Investment adviser Joseph Kingsley also fled Melbourne after the city’s marathon 113-day lockdown, moving his family to Brisbane in December.
“We chose not to buy back in at this time, but even finding a place to rent was a challenge,” Mr Kingsley said. “It felt like you were trying to buy a place, given the number of people turning up to rental inspections.”
But the rush to escape Melbourne had not cooled the city’s property market, with demand for housing from upsizers, first homebuyers, expatriates and investors continuing.
Real Estate Buyers Agent Association president Cate Bakos said despite plenty of properties being vacated by residents heading north, there was still not enough stock to meet demand.
Ryan Sanderson and Laura Cartledge outside their new home on the Gold Coast after escaping the COVID lockdowns of Melbourne