Wednesday, June 29

Small Inland Town’s ‘Free Land’ Offer Draws Coastal Interest to Hong Kong | accommodation

It was only intended to be a solution to a housing crisis in the small town of Quilpie, in the interior of the Southwest, in southwest Queensland.

The plan was to build a maximum of five homes by offering “free land” to new home builders in response to the housing shortage that was being experienced in the Australian region.

But the Quilpie council’s offer of grants of up to $ 12,500, the equivalent of a new block of land in that area, has attracted a massive response domestically and abroad, including more than 250 inquiries from as far away as Hong Kong. and India.

Stuart McKenzie, the mayor of Quilpie, said that “if we had built three or four houses, we would have been happy, but the interest has been extraordinary.”

Quilpie council executive director Justin Hancock said expressions of interest come from a variety of groups, both in terms of demographics and the motivations of people wanting to move into the city.

Hancock said there has been a lot of interest from families living in Australia’s biggest cities coming out of lockdown and looking to move because “they don’t want to be locked up, they want to enjoy wide open spaces.”

Even before the grants were available, she said that many people who had previously left wanted to return to the county. And many people who had come to work for short periods in Quilpie “fall in love with the community and never want to leave.”

With a free swimming pool offered by the city council, a 24-hour gym, golf and petanque clubs, post office and pub, Hancock said, “We have all the services we need at our fingertips. People don’t get lost in this community. “

The problem facing the city is that they have more people and job vacancies than there are houses available.

The Home Builders Grant was the brainchild of Hancock. She had first-hand experience of the housing shortage when she moved to the city for her job in January of this year.

“There was only one unit available, which was in the retirement village, where I lived for the first six months in the shire,” Hancock said.

“It was a unique situation. My neighbor at the complex celebrated her 90th birthday; a few weeks later I celebrated my thirtieth ”.

Tom Hennessy and his fiancee, Tessa McDougall, qualified for Quilpie's $ 12,500 grant and are about to begin construction.
Tom Hennessy and his fiancee, Tessa McDougall, have qualified for Quilpie’s $ 12,500 grant and are about to start building a home. Photography: Leon O’Neil Photographer / Quilpie Shire Council

Hancock said that as a council member, living in the retirement village was the perfect opportunity to hear constituents’ concerns and appreciation, but it meant that daily activities, such as hanging up, became a decision. strategic based on how many questions you wanted to answer on a given day.

Hancock said that despite the city building eight new homes in the past five years and a greater commitment to build 10 more in the future, they needed private investment to keep up with demand.

Tom Hennessy, 23, and his fiancee, Tessa McDougall, 24, qualified for the grant and have been among the first to move forward with the purchase of one of the blocks of land.

Hennessy said the offer was “too good to pass up” and had helped the couple present their plans to buy their first home.

Hennessy was born and raised in Quilpie, but McDougall moved to the city from Brisbane just two years ago, after she took a job as an elementary school teacher.

Hennessy said the couple were happy to settle there, especially now that the grant “prepares us for the future” with nothing to worry about once the house is built.

Dr Kim Houghton, chief economist at the Australian Regional Institute, said housing markets have stalled in smaller rural communities due to difficulty in obtaining approved loans due to banking models that use transaction-based data in cities.

Houghton said that what is happening in Quilpie is “really exciting. It’s a pretty creative solution because it’s starting to do something to disrupt that stagnant market. “

“What Quilpie’s experience tells us is that they are getting interest in these free blocks from outside [the] region and even abroad. Part of this is a marketing problem. Not enough people know that there is land available in these communities, and an investment case can be made to justify new construction, ”Houghton said.

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