Welcome back readers!

A socially distanced, mask-wearing welcome but a welcome nonetheless as we enter a 2022 that is already doing its best to snare headlines.

Judging by the level of enquiry entering inboxes over the Christmas break, I suspect we are in for another busy year, with buyers pulling their socks up to have another crack at finding a property this year. Whether it be first home buyers looking at a property ladder whose first rung is a little bit higher than before, southerners seeking sunnier climates or investors starting to take a more serious look, competition is likely to remain a commonly spoken word at open homes and private inspections alike for the foreseeable future as supply remains tight.

This first quarter typically sees a steady flow of properties coming to market before the bigger rush around Easter, though we may see things changed up this year as homeowners without anywhere to go, hold tightly to their current address. As a buyer, waiting for more choice can seem like the right play, but with price growth seeing buyers look wistfully at previous quarter’s pricing, there is a chance that waiting could be costly so it’s a careful dance to find solid footing.

As borders have opened, we will continue to see more southerners looking to make Cairns home, either buying straight away, or as is more common as a starting point – renting first (if they can find somewhere to rent).

Sheer availability is one of the biggest challenges, however where there is availability, an affordability challenge rears its head – one which isn’t going to get better any time soon. Nowhere is this more keenly felt than in the bottom of the rental market.

Thinking back 10 years to when I first started renting (fresh out of unit), $300 a week was a reasonable budget for a single or couple to pay. At the start of this week, there were just 47 properties offered for rent between Palm Cove and Gordonvale for $300 per week or less. Of those, just 12 had more than 1 bedroom. An extra $50 per week improves your odds, though nothing larger than a 2 bedroom half duplex. There is a single house for rent in Cairns under $400 per week.

Cairns needs more investment in housing to create new supply – be it private, institutional or government funded. All those options have long lead times, but short of a time machine, there is no time like the present, and some incredible opportunities for those in a position to do so.