Pip Hood

The human cost of Byron Bay’s soaring property prices

PHOTO: Pip Hood, pictured with children Minabellah, 9, Meeks, 2, and Miles, 5, hopes to find a home in Coffs Harbour. Photo: Danielle Smith

“There are no options,” says Pip Hood about coming to terms with holding a losing hand in the game of Byron Bay’s rapidly escalating property boom.

After receiving notice just before Christmas that her rented home of 10 years is to be sold, the 31-year-old has given up hope of finding anything in the wider region.

“I’d be looking at $700 a week or more for anything like this,” Ms Hood says, as she looks around her well-maintained, but basic, three-bedroom house for which she pays $450 a week to live in with her three children, aged 9, 5 and 2.

Figures and insights from local agents back up her conclusion. While media attention has focused on wildly escalating property prices — with Domain data showing median house prices in Byron Bay rose 37 per cent in 2020 alone — the plight of renters is less in the public eye.

Ms Hood lives in the seemingly more affordable north Byron Shire town of Ocean Shores — the median asking rent is $590 a week compared with Byron Bay town’s $750 a week — but the story on-the-ground is grimmer.

Local real estate agent Peter Browning, of LJ Hooker Brunswick Heads, told Domain it’s not uncommon for applicants to offer hundreds of dollars above the quoted weekly rental, which means data based on the “asking price” does not always reflect reality.

Mr Browning also noted that he could receive hundreds of enquiries for a single rental vacancy.

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