People keen to move to the region are fomenting a de facto bidding war in the local rental market, adding to the squeeze on long-term residents trying to stay in the region. An influx of new residents, started during the pandemic and exacerbated by a skills shortage, is seeing “new locals” with greater economic clout making things even harder for people struggling to match Margaret River’s rising rents. While the Real Estate Institute of WA put the median rent for a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home at about $600 now — an increase of up to 50 per cent compared with three years ago — ordinary homes in local subdivisions were now climbing past $700 a week. The Times heard anecdotal stories this week of newly arrived professionals bidding an extra $150 a week and offering three months rent in advance to secure a home in the tight rental market. Stocker Preston realtor Mark Murray told the Times there were a lot of “myths” around the rental market and bidding wars were not common. “It is true that some tenants have been offering higher rents to secure properties, although we don’t provoke this,” Mr Murray said. Property managers considered the ongoing financial capacity of tenants as well as rental history and references when approving new tenants. Dunsborough realtor and REIWA president Joe White said the latest median rental price of $550 a week captured a range of price points, and low supply skewed those figures further. “While potential tenants may offer to pay more than the asking price or offer to pay rent months in advance, that doesn’t necessarily secure them the property,” he said. “Property managers are focused on finding the right tenant for the property and look at more factors than who is offering the most money.” Mr Murray said his agency had 11 properties for rent despite the December-January period seeing the most local movement. “Most families move due to the end of the school year, as it has less disruption for their family,” he said. “Families make up the main proportion of rental applicants and currently there is more than one application being presented when an available property is advertised.” Just Home Margaret River manager Alex Hughes said less wealthy residents were feeling the pinch amid low rental stock availability. “We know there has been less than one per cent vacancy rates for rentals over the past 12 months, creating high levels of competition when trying to secure housing,” he said. “This has led to an increase in rental costs, which for many Augusta-Margaret River residents is leading to devastating housing stress.” Mr Hughes said many residents were on below-average wages compared to other locations, reinforcing the new for more low-cost and community housing.