A PREDICTED 3500 workers on the Pacific Hwy in 2015 will make finding a rental property in the Clarence Valley extremely difficult.
Agents in Maclean and Grafton say that while the situation has not moved much yet, the change is coming.
L.J. Hooker Maclean sales manager Ken Giese said the influx would be difficult in Maclean, where a vacancy rate of 2% means there is almost no room to move.
"After the GFC in 2010 the vacancy rate hit 15% with a lot of people leaving town for fly-in, fly-out work, while renting their homes," Mr Giese said.
"Since 2012 the trend has come back and is now even tighter than it was prior to 2010, around 3% or 4%.
"You need at least 3% to 4% for the general movement of things."
Mr Giese said slow new home construction in the region was also contributing to the tight rental market.
"People are happy to take up second-hand housing and even with an incremental population increase there is less opportunity to choose.
"It's not surprising. Wages have not increased. You can't support a boom if you can't pay for it."
He said when the rush begins workers will take up holiday rentals in Yamba and Brooms Head, which will also have an impact on those towns.
In Grafton investors have begun buying up rental properties in anticipation of an influx of renters, Elders Real Estate Grafton principal Dave Dart said.
"I've got investors buying properties right now for that reason," he said.
"The word is we're going to need a fair bit of that sort of accommodation in Grafton."
Mr Dart said duplexes were popular with investors looking to maximise their returns.
He said there had been no movement in rental prices, but said this would change when the workers started to arrive.
"I'm not sure when the work will begin. I know they've called for tenders for Woolgoolga to Glenugie," he said.
"When that happens rents will have to increase."
Mr Giese said there was still time for investors to take advantage of opportunities. "Interest rates are still on hold and this thing is definitely going ahead," he said.
"When you add in the work on second bridges at Harwood and Grafton there is going to be a lot of activity in the region for the next five years at least."
How many workers
There were just over 1300 workers employed on the Pacific Highway upgrade in December 2013.
The peak employment period is expected to come in 2015 where an estimated 3500 workers will be employed on construction sites along the highway.
Source: RMS website