YOU could bag $20,000 if you move to this Australian town – as long as you don’t mind pitching in with the building work.
The desert town of Quilpie in Queensland is crying out for residents to relocate there, despite the fact zero houses have been built.
Quilpie Shire Council is desperately trying to drum up interest for its “free land” scheme, although there are some drastic flaws in the plan.
As part of the local authorities’ Home Owner Grant Scheme, people who buy land and move to the outback town can receive $20,000.
Officials want to boost the slim population in the town, where summer temperatures can hit 50C, from 595 residents to 1000.
Those brave enough to live in the dry and desolate area can purchase a plot, build a house, and be refunded for the cost of the land.
But they only get their cash back when they have lived in the property for six months.
However, there is a huge snag in Quilpie’s master plan – there are no tradesmen willing to take on the mammoth project.
Council chiefs have been struggling to find builders willing to work in the town, which is around 620 miles from the nearest city, Brisbane.
Mayor Stuart Mackenzie told 7News: “An absence of builders is the hardest part.”
The local authority had called on tradies to give them quotes for six properties to be built in Quilpie, but had hardly any takers.
Mr Mackenzie said the only estimate he did receive was from a builder who wanted an extortionate amount of cash.
The mayor explained: “They came back at $900,000 to build a four-bedroom home.
“We can do that for under $400,000 by buying a transportable (home) which is built away and then moved out.
“It was just the fact that we only got one quote, and it was a ridiculous price.
“There weren’t enough builders out there that wanted to do it.”
It means that despite 11 residential blocks being sold since the scheme was announced, the buyers have nowhere to move into.
The council has been forced to bring in four transportable homes over the last three months due to the builders’ drought.
Mr Mackenzie said banks are also hampering the success of the scheme as they are reluctant to lend potential buyers cash.
He said they have somewhat “blacklisted” developments in rural towns and regions of Australia as they deem it a high-risk investment.
The mayor added: “The demand is really strong, there’s no doubt about that.
“People want to build out here, and that should hold the price of houses up, or increase them, which should take away the risk.
“Some have been told they need a 50 per cent deposit, others have been told their jobs aren’t secure enough – even though they’re a teacher and a council employee.”
Despite the black cloud hanging over Quilpie, one family have extraordinarily decided to take the plunge and relocate there.
The Stennett’s have bought a block of land for $25,000 and plan to build their dream home from scratch.
They are set to be the first homeowners who qualify for the “refund” on their plot as part of the Home Owner Grant Scheme.
Mum Heather told ABC: “I don’t think anyone’s been crazy enough to attempt this, but I like a challenge.”
Despite the family of four not even visiting the town, they snapped up the land as they say the deal was just “too good to pass up on.”
She added: “The lifestyle and the opportunities out there to do something different is very attractive.
“If you don’t try, you’ll never know.”
Construction on their home is set to commence by the end of the year.