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As seen in the Source link, written by abc.net.au on 2020-02-19 16:59:43

Posted

February 19, 2020 16:59:43

The seaside town of St Helen's on Tasmania's east coast has long been an idyllic, sleepy holiday spot.

Key points:

  • Median house prices in St Helens on Tasmania's east coast have risen from $267,500 in 2017 to $320,000 in 2019
  • Mountain bike tracks for the region were announced in 2017, and real estate agents say bike tourism is fuelling the boom
  • On the flipside, locals are struggling to find rental accommodation

But property prices have jumped almost 20pc in two years.

With bikers looking for property investments in the area, the town has experienced an influx of buyers from interstate looking to move track-side.

Anita Weekes and her dog Indie have lived at the same house in St Helens for about 15 years.

After hearing reports the market was moving rapidly, she decided it was time to sell up.

She said it sold "within a month" like a "hot potato".

The buyer is moving to the area from Queensland.

"Apparently, it's someone who's interested in the bike riding, same as our adjacent property that's sold next door," Ms Weekes said.

"There's been some hot interest of people tapping into the bike trails and what's happening here."

Since the announcement of the tracks in 2017, the median price of a house in St Helens has jumped from $267,500 to $320,000 in 2019.

Buyer wish list includes bike tracks and a view

St Helens real estate agent Heidi Howe predicted the price would continue to climb because of the new tracks, citing the tiny town of Derby in Tasmania's north-east, which also has mountain bike trails, as a comparable market.

"There's a lot of people who mention, 'We missed out in Derby, we can't afford to buy in Derby now' and so they're realising that they need to jump on the bandwagon in St Helens," she said.

"We've got houses selling much quicker than they ever used to.

"The wish list that we regularly get is, 'I want to be close to the trails, I want to be close to the town and the restaurants and a view would be nice'.

"Previously it was, 'I want to have a great view'."

With about 85 kilometres of the St Helens bike tracks currently operational and new tracks set to open in the coming months, Break O'Day Mayor Mick Tucker said the town was "going off like a frog in a sock".

"We're seeing professional people coming and buying, because this is where they want to be, they can work from St Helens but enjoy our bike tracks and our hospitality," he said.

Business owners buying up property to house staff

But with the influx of interstate investors, locals are struggling to find rental accommodation.

Ms Howe said about 50 per cent of their buyers were looking to invest in mountain bike-related accommodation, leaving little room in the market for locals looking to rent long-term.

"We have a big waiting list of people who are looking for affordable accommodation or any accommodation, and we have people that are looking and they have to move out of the area because they can't get accommodation here," she said.

Hotel owner Anton Wiesmann has been facing a similar problem.

He has been unable to get skilled staff to move to the area because there's nowhere for them to live.

"I couldn't get chefs, couldn't get supervisors, couldn't get couples with kids, you can't ask them to live in a tent," he said.

Mr Wiesmann came up with a creative solution to the rental shortage, buying two properties to house his workers.

"It's not the flashiest of all things, but it's clean and it's functional and the lucky thing is most of these hospitality workers are young and they don't mind sharing a house," he said.

"If I would really like to attract a resort manager or attract an executive chef who has 30 years of experience, he probably wouldn't want to share a house, he probably has a family."

As for the mountain bike riders, they promised repeat visits to the picturesque region, which is close to the Bay of Fires — a popular tourist spot.

Jim Kovacs brought his family down from NSW to ride the trails.

"We didn't even know there were bike tracks in Tasmania but my son in law said, 'you better check out Tasmania, it's got the most awesome bike tracks'," he said.

"We'll come back, we'll bring groups back, we'll just fly them all over here."

Topics:

housing-industry,

housing,

rural-tourism,

hobart-7000,

launceston-7250,

st-helens-7216

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