Australia’s housing crisis: Single mum fears living out of car despite offering 12 months’ rent

A single mother-of-three fears she’ll be raising her family out of a car within weeks due to the housing crisis on the Sunshine Coast.

Amber Thompson and her three sons have spent the last six months living in an Airbnb almost an hour away from their lives in Cooroy, 23km inland from Noosa.

Ms Thompson, a self-employed cleaner, has been desperately searching for a three bedroom home in the popular holiday region for two months after her Airbnb was booked out from October 26.  

The Sunshine Coast, much like the rest of Australia, is in the midst of a housing boom which has seen prices skyrocket while availability plummets.

Vacancy rates on the Sunshine Coast are among the lowest in Australia at just 0.4 per cent. 

Amber Thompson and her three sons have spent the last six months living in an Airbnb almost an hour away from their lives in Cooroy, 23km inland from Noosa

Amber Thompson and her three sons have spent the last six months living in an Airbnb almost an hour away from their lives in Cooroy, 23km inland from Noosa

Often, she receives a text like the one pictured above the morning of the appointment telling her not to bother coming, because offers were made sight unseen

Ms Thompson has even offered to pay 12 months’ rent up front and has a budget of $550 per week.

Despite having ‘great references’ from previous real estates and savings to cover the cost of a 12 month lease, she told Daily Mail Australia she’s not even getting a look in.

‘The rentals are being taken before I can even get in to inspect,’ she said.

Ms Thompson trawls real estate listings every single day and is regularly applying to inspect homes.

Often, she receives a text the morning of the appointment telling her not to bother coming, because offers were made sight unseen.

‘I’ve lost all hope,’ she said. ‘I’m concerned I’ll be living in my car.

‘I’ve been working my butt off in school hours, driving the kids 50 minutes to school each day… rearranging work to inspect properties only for them to be cancelled.’

Ms Thompson, a self-employed cleaner, has been desperately searching for a three bedroom home in the popular holiday region for two months after her Airbnb was booked out from October 26

Ms Thompson, a self-employed cleaner, has been desperately searching for a three bedroom home in the popular holiday region for two months after her Airbnb was booked out from October 26

Despite having ‘great references’ from previous real estates and savings to cover the cost of a 12 month lease, she told Daily Mail Australia she’s not even getting a look in

Her stress levels, she said, have never been higher. 

Ms Thompson sold all her furniture after her divorce and now feels as though she has nothing and ‘like a failure’ having exhausted all her options to find suitable housing. 

On Tuesday, she is hoping to meet with her local MP to discuss what options are available to her.  

Her sons are enrolled at a local school in Cooroy and, ideally, she’ll be able to find a home within the Noosa Shire after six months of commuting from the Airbnb they’ve called home in Coolum, usually a 50-minute trip in traffic.

Ms Thompson and her sons, aged 13, 10 and seven, also have a six-year-old sausage dog.

In 2021, the number of homes available for long-term rentals on the Sunshine Coast dropped to the lowest it has been in more than a decade.

Median rental prices for a two-bedroom flat in the region were $450 last quarter – up from $365 in the same months last year, according to the Residential Tenancies Authority.

Houses in the Noosa Hinterland enjoyed a 7.8 per cent quarterly hike in June 2021, sending the median weekly rent price soaring to $620. 

Ms Thompson has even offered to pay 12 months' rent up front and has a budget of $550 per week

Ms Thompson has even offered to pay 12 months’ rent up front and has a budget of $550 per week

City-dwellers making the move from virus-hit Sydney and Melbourne have long been blamed for the increased demand and low supply on the Coast. 

But Image Property Sunshine Coast sales agent Matt Nickerson said the rental market in the region was ‘undersupplied long before the pandemic’.

‘With additional demand from new residents, as well as low investor activity, the situation is not overly surprising,’ he said. 

Nationwide since September 2020, property prices have soared by 20.3 per cent to $674,848.

For the first time ever, an average, full-time income earner on $90,329 buying a typical Australian home would have a debt-to-income ratio of six – the level where a borrower is on the verge of mortgage stress and can’t pay their bills.

In September, property price records were set in 66 of Australia’s 78 real estate sub markets based on a grouping of suburbs and towns.

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, the banking regulator, regards this threshold as a cause for alarm and is exploring with other financial regulators stricter lending rules targeting mortgage debt-to-income ratios.

Ms Thompson sold all her furniture after her divorce and now feels as though she has nothing and 'like a failure' having exhausted all her options to find suitable housing

Ms Thompson sold all her furniture after her divorce and now feels as though she has nothing and ‘like a failure’ having exhausted all her options to find suitable housing

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