Pilbara rental prices slide as mining boom wanes

Some rental property prices in the resource-rich Pilbara region have slid by more than $1000 as the shine comes off the mining boom, with vacancy rates sky-rocketing from 3 to 15 per cent.

David Hipworth, a Karratha real estate agent said the rental market in the town is at its lowest point since 1996 and continues to track down.

Hipworth told the ABC’s PM program that rental prices for houses have dipped from $2500 to $2750 per week to around $1800 per week.

“You're lucky to get a tenant these days," Hipworth said.

"There are some of our competitors that are offering one week's free rent."

Port Hedland is also feeling the rental market slide but real estate agent Leigh Anderson is not surprised at the drop in prices.

“It had to happen. It was just going crazy. And it's a good thing, because it couldn't continue on, it couldn't be sustained,” Anderson said.

While the price slide may be good for those looking to rent in the region, Anderson said some property owners would suffer.

“There are some people that are suffering mortgage stress, and unfortunately they're going to have to sell out at whatever price they can get,” she said.

Hipworth called the drop “the absolute best thing”, and said it would give the people who are not involved in the mining sector some breathing space.

“..we finally get a chance to grow our community, because the more people that are here, the more people who are involved in industries other than mining, the better we can get ourselves back to being a community of volunteers that actually go and run the local rugby, or they run the local little athletics. And these are great places to bring up families.”

Pilbara’s Development Commissioner Ken King agrees.

“I think there have been some significant challenges, and particularly for those workers who are not employed directly by the resource sector,” King said.

“The resources sector is always going to dominate the economy in the Pilbara, but we want to diversify the economy here in the Pilbara. So as beds become available that are not being used by the resources sector, that's a great opportunity for tourists to come visit and stay at an affordable rate.”

Last year Australia Mining reported on the impacts FIFO was having on small Western Australian communities with housing prices, service sector strain and infrastructure constrains topping the list of problems.

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