THE demand for rental properties in Port Macquarie is now as strong as the exodus from metropolitan areas.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold 12 months ago, more people have realised it is possible to work productively from home and not from an office block.
LJ Hooker Port Macquarie senior asset manager Daniel Barnard admitted it had resulted in fewer properties being readily available.
The competition has been hot - the median house price is $460 per week while a unit is $360.
"We don't have property on our rental list for any more than two or three days," Mr Barnard said.
"Quite often we're leasing properties before they're even advertised and that comes about because of people we've vetted and know they've looked at property and missed out so we have their application processed.
"Our vacancy rate is the lowest it's been in eight or nine years and the rent's as high as it's been in a long time."
A shift towards online viewings and applications have made the competition even more difficult for those looking for a property.
"There are huge numbers of people viewing properties so to cope with that demand we've had to schedule extra viewings based on timeframes and the number of people attending," he said.
"We book viewings for around every eight minutes."
While it's difficult to predict the future, long-term Mr Barnard believes there is still very strong growth in the sale sector which will filter down into the rental sector.
"Our vacancy rate is the lowest it's been in eight or nine years and the rent's as high as it's been in a long time."LJ Hooker Port Macquarie senior asset manager Daniel Barnard
"Port Macquarie and the Mid-North Coast in general are always going to see positive growth in terms of sales and rental and that's due to the people coming out of the metro areas," he said.
"I wouldn't say the demand has skyrocketed, but the speed at which things are happening is greatly increased.
"Our vacancy rate is far less so properties that used to sit on the rental list for three weeks are now there for less than three days.
"The trends have changed and how things are occurring has changed."
Elders Real Estate Port Macquarie senior property manager Richard Sheen said he had also seen a shift in the market with rental prices increasing.
"We've seen high five hundreds and into the sixes for houses whereas 12 months ago they were in the low fives," he said.
"With coronavirus people are discovering they can work from home."
The market has had a gradual increase of around one per cent in recent years.
Currently, 14.6 percent of the market is being occupied by elderly singles, while older couples and families make up 14.2 percent.
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