Commercial leases lagging behind as renters fight for a slice of Wandina

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Lisa FavazzoGeraldton Guardian
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Wandina is the tenth fastest growing suburb in regional WA.
Camera IconWandina is the tenth fastest growing suburb in regional WA. Credit: The Geraldton Guardian,

Wandina has become one of the hottest places to live in a local rental market on fire.

But while homes are being snapped up in the southern suburb, commercial spaces are sitting empty.

Real estate insiders say commercial properties should soon catch up with the hype and the residential leasing landscape is showing early signs of easing.

Real Estate Institute of WA data revealed this week rental properties in Wandina lasted an average of 29 days on the market, making it the 10th-fastest growing suburb in regional WA, with its performance only beaten by Bunbury suburbs and small towns buzzing with resources projects.

The rental vacancy rate has increased for the first time in 2021, moving from one per cent in January to 1.2 per cent in February.

This was consistent across the south of the State, where most cities and towns recorded a slight increase in available properties.

No major market in WA recorded the 2.5-3.5 per cent vacancy rate that REIWA would refer to as a “balanced market”.

Meanwhile, Wandina’s shopping centres, South Gate Forum and Seacrest Shopping Centre, have six vacant retail spaces available between them.

Vend Property managing director Jeff Klopper, who operates Seacrest Shopping Centre, said he was keen to find a tenant that would bring a new dining experience.

Geraldton Property Team licensee Mairi Quinn, who manages South Gate Forum, said she had seen an influx of interest in recent months but for a long time, most potential tenants who contacted her were new to their industries and not ready to take the risk.

“Mostly, these people have great ideas, but when they hear what is involved with leasing, they don’t realise it can be very different (from renting a house),” she said.

Ms Quinn hopes some of the vacant spots in South Gate Forum will fill soon, given the low rents and the favourable location on the edge of a flourishing suburban community.

Mid West Chamber of Commerce chief executive Joanne Fabling said it would take time for commercial leases to fill after the rental squeeze.

“People are still waiting to see what happens when the COVID-19 stimulus finishes ... it’s a very interesting time,” she said.

Ms Fabling said Geraldton had a “strengthening economy”, and the city’s diverse business scene was carefully and gradually growing.

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