Regional brokers benefit from population boost

Following the release of new figures showing permanent populations are on the rise in select mining towns, brokers say it's the communities themselves which stand to benefit the most



A KPMG study has found that permanent populations are growing faster in mining regions than in other regional areas, as opposed to the traditional ‘fly-in, fly-out’ workforce, which one Kalgoorlie broker says is great news.

The Mortgage Gallery franchise-owner, Ian Dunstan, says he’s seen the trend himself, though says it’s been happening at a slow rate for a long time – not in a massive wave all at once.

“This [Kalgoorlie] is the sort of place where you’re trying to encourage a permanent work force. I believe the figures  - certainly in the last 12 to 18 months there’s been a rebirth of the first home buyer market, which could be a spinoff of that.”

Dunstan says there are a number of reasons why families are attracted to places like Kalgoorlie, aside from the promise of good wages.

“The city itself is a good place to live in there’s  good schools and amenities. Housing is not hugely expensive; you can get houses for $200,000 or thereabouts.”

Fellow Kalgoorlie broker, Smarline’s Jimmy Bowler, agrees.

“It’s great when you get local residents, not only for us but for the town itself. Fly-in-fly-out workers hurt mining communities. The rental market has really gone through the roof in the last two years so more and more people say it makes more sense to buy and then to rent.”

The KPMG research showed the average annual growth rate in mining regions, including Kalgoorlie, to June 2011 was 1.5%, in line with national trends and higher than regional Australia. Full-time employment in the nine areas studied was 66% in 2011, compared with 58% in non-mining regions.

Dunstan, who’s lived in the WA hub for 20 years, says it’s good for the community to have people who live and work and invest in the town itself and says some companies have recognised this by stipulating in employment contracts that workers must live in Kalgoorlie, rather than fly in and out of other locales.

He says recent concerns over the potential ‘peaking’ of the mining industry hasn’t affected his business either.

“I don’t think people are too concerned about that. Things got a bit quiet in ’09-’10, but since then there’s been a pretty steady stream of enquiries. When things are going south elsewhere, we’re going north. We’re a very resilient locale. It’s a multi-faceted mining industry. That’s not to say there aren’t people doing it tough; obviously we do have our moments when it might get a bit tough but at this very minute in time it’s a good level and we’re doing well.”


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