Our say | Winners and losers of the Bathurst rental boom

THERE are always two sides to any real estate story, where good news for one group must mean bad news for another.

And so it is with news that the Bathurst rental market is among the healthiest [that is, most expensive] in regional NSW.

Data from Housing NSW’s Rental Bond Lodgements has revealed Bathurst rental prices for two-bedroom homes and four-bedroom homes to be more expensive than in Albury, Dubbo, Orange, Tamworth and Wagga Wagga. And in the 12 months to September 2017, the median rent for a two-bedroom dwelling in Bathurst rose by a very healthy 5.8 per cent.

That’s fantastic news for landlords and is one reason why Sydney investors are increasingly eyeing off Bathurst as a great place to enter the real estate market.

But it’s not such good news for renters, particularly low-income families who are already struggling to make ends meet and have no real hope of ever owning their own home.

And that represents a great social challenge for Bathurst as the region continues its reign as one of the fastest growing regional centres in the state.

But is it any wonder our city is so popular? There are many reasons that this is such an attractive place to live, both for those who grew up here and for tree changers looking to raise their family outside of Sydney.

There is no doubt that relative proximity to Sydney is a great advantage for Bathurst but it would mean nothing if the city had not developed the way it has over the years.

While other regional centres have been subjected to the boom and bust economies of mining, Bathurst has maintained a diversified economy that effectively smooths out many of the peaks and troughs.

The city is an also education hub with seven high school options, more than 20 primary schools, plus a university and TAFE college.

In recent years, council has been pouring money into developing local sporting facilities and Bathurst’s cultural attractions match anything in the state.

So it’s no wonder people want to live here and when that happens, it naturally follows that housing prices – and rentals – will continue to go up.

And that means those who have already been the winners in the real estate market will continue to prosper while those doing it tough will find it even harder.

As a society, we need to find a better way.