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Whitsundays proving to be a post-COVID-19 hotspot

By Ashley Rees

A COVID-induced spike in real estate enquiry has experts predicting a strong Whitsundays in the ‘new normal’.

Reports across the country state city-dwellers are making a COVID-19-change and are trading their CBD cubicle for a remote office with room to enjoy tranquility.

This newfound flexibility is believed to be behind the near-record number of online searches for Whitsunday property in recent months.

The lure of acreage seems to be the strongest, with leading real estate website Domain.com.au experiencing a 507 per cent increase in searches for rural residential property in Cannonvale, and surrounding areas.

Ray White Whitsunday Sales Associate Brett Dwyer said he had been surprised by the increase in enquiry.

“It seems like anyone that has had the Whitsundays as their ‘one-day’ dream address has decided that now is the time to move, and the latest stimulus announcements have magnified this further,” Mr Dwyer said.

Hidden Valley Whitsundays, a new estate outside of Cannonvale may well be the epicentre of new interest, receiving over $1.3 million of land offers in May alone.

Hidden Valley Project Manager Brett Evans was less surprised that southern eyes were looking north for an escape.

“I lived in the Whitsundays for years but I live in the city right now and I can tell you where I’d rather be when things get crazy. We all felt the walls closing in down here,” Mr Evans said.

“After a few weeks of empty grocery shelves and being outsmarted by grade one home-schooling, we were definitely ready to hook the boat up and head north.”

With ten lots in the first stage of Hidden Valley sold to local buyers, it seems it’s not just the southern city-dwellers feeling claustrophobic. Locals are also looking for the security that comes with a few extra acres.

“The prospect of a more self-sufficient lifestyle and the security that comes with a few extra acres seem to be really strong motivators, which is understandable,” Mr Dwyer said.

“Who hasn’t found themselves in lockdown staring at the neighbours’ fences on either side and thinking that a little extra space, a veggie garden and a few chickens sounds pretty good?”

Senior Analyst for Ray White Northern Corridor Group, Ashley Rees, said supply of quality acreage land could soon become an unexpected issue in the region.

“When the pandemic began, stock levels were already 14 per cent lower than they were at the same time last year,” Mr Rees said.

“Add the new pressure of buyers cashing out of a strong southern market, to this renewed local demand, and we may soon find buyers struggling to find quality options.

“The Whitsundays has always offered an unbeatable lifestyle, but has been hamstrung by the lack of diverse employment options.

“For many it seems, the newfound acceptance of remote working in a post-lockdown world may have removed the last great barrier to living in this tropical playground.”

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