Business optimism runs high
DESPITE the ongoing departure of workers from the Victorian Desalination Plant, businesses are optimistic about the future of the Bass Coast.
Real estate agents in Wonthaggi and Inverloch believed there was no better time to rent property, with an influx of high quality homes becoming available.
Wonthaggi Stockdale and Leggo property manager Sue Smith said the market had been “slow moving” lately, but was beginning to pick up.
At peak, they were renting 150 homes to desal workers, but that figure has since dropped to 80 and will continue to decrease.
“We’re getting around 10 to 15 more properties becoming available than usual every month, and that’s definitely due to desal employees moving on,” she said.
“We’re still leasing and people are still enquiring. Certainly while we’ve still got high vacancies, we’re renting. It’s just a little slower than normal.”
Fellow property manager Cara Sheerin said many tenants are also “upgrading” to better quality homes and the presence of desal workers has improved the rental market.
“There are definitely good quality family homes available at very reasonable prices,” she said
“We had a real shortage pre-desal, but it really encouraged investment down here.”
The property managers also agree the construction of the Wonthaggi Plaza was a sign of good times ahead for development in the town.
Meanwhile in Inverloch, the rental market is booming.
Inverloch Southcoast First National principal director Blair Hodges said while an influx of rental properties were coming back onto the market, they were being snapped up right away.
“We are getting a lot of properties back onto our rental list, but we are finding there is a strong demand in Inverloch – lots of people are returning back to the area,” he said.
“There’s been a slight drop in rental price and we’re renting properties quite easily. There’s a lot of variety on the market and it’s exciting times; beforehand, people didn’t even bother looking in Inverloch, but now there’s so much opportunity for potential tenants, whether they’re looking for a brand new or older beach shacks.”
Mr Hodges said the majority of holiday houses rented to desal workers were also returning onto the holiday market.
Meanwhile, businesses who came to the area around the same time as the desal plant were planning on staying put.
Branch manager at Coates Hire, Marcus Loughran, said the completion of the desal project would not affect the Wonthaggi business.
“How we’ve set up at Coates is that we have an on-site compound at the desalination plant. We’ve actually been set up in the town to service everyone bar the desal,” he said.
“Even before the desal had planned to come to Wonthaggi, Coates had.”
Mr Loughran said trades in the Bass Coast were extremely busy.
“There are lots of projects going on like the Leongatha hospital, the RACV at Inverloch and the new plaza in Wonthaggi,” he said.
“There’s also a lot of road works down at Bass with the new freeway extension going on. Work wise, there’s not much in Victoria, but we’ve certainly got busy branches in Wonthaggi.”
Mr Loughran said it was unlikely big businesses would have come to the Bass Coast for short term.
“Companies like Coates and Bunnings – they do their research,” he said.
“Coates decided to put a branch in Wonthaggi before places like Melton, Pakenham and Craigieburn, because it’s been identified as being bigger in growth than some corridors in Melbourne.”
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