Vacancy rates climb in mining towns

Two-thirds of mining towns have recorded a rise in vacancy rates year-on-year, according to new research.

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SQM Research recently released property data on the nation’s resources-based towns and noted that 66 per cent of all the towns surveyed experienced a climb in vacancies.

Managing director of SQM Research Louis Christopher said the results were mixed, but highlighted that “there are plenty of towns that appear to be in trouble”.

“Consider this, 71 per cent of the mining/gas-related towns surveyed had a vacancy rate of over three per cent,” he said. “Sixty-six per cent of all towns surveyed recorded a rise in vacancy rates year-on-year, while just 24 per cent of agricultural/livestock-related towns had a vacancy rate of greater than three per cent."

The highest vacancy rate across the nation’s mining towns according to SQM’s research was 36.2 per cent in Queensland’s Collinsville in December 2013, up from 17.3 per cent in December 2012. SQM noted the area’s primary economic base is coal.


Other areas such as Bourke (NSW), Branxholm (TAS) and Weipa (QLD) recorded 0.0 per cent vacancy rates in December 2013.

Mr Christopher said these results suggested a ‘universal truth’.

“Housing markets are very dependent upon the underlying economic base of the locality,” he said. “Other macro influences such as interest rates, and aggregate GDP are secondary influences. So for agricultural-based towns, the respective housing markets appear to be stable and almost boring. Consider Cloncurry, Esperence and Grafton. Some mining-related towns are also holding up okay based on SQM’s property data. Consider Ballarat, Beaconsfield and Katherine as examples.”

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