Real estate is buzzing with questions about the so-called recovery in property markets. Is it real? Does it have legs? Is it a dead cat bounce?
Before providing answers, we need to understand the questions, some of which show a chronic lack of understanding about real estate markets.
The questions assume that what’s happening in Sydney and Melbourne reflects the nation. It doesn’t.
Generalisation is the blight of real estate consumers. We’re afflicted with writers and commentators who discuss Australia as a single market, quoting economists whose knowledge of the intricacies of residential real estate could be written on the back of a postage stamp in crayon.
The overriding assumption is that events in the two biggest cities describe the entire nation. If they’re booming, the “Australian property market” is booming. If Sydney and Melbourne prices are falling, then prices are falling across the nation.
Journalists who parrot this nonsense – in the process of re-cycling press releases from lazy research firms and ignorant economists – are treating their customers shabbily. Misinformation proliferates.
So, are property prices recovering in Hobart? Well no, they’re not, because they didn’t fall. Hobart prices remain comfortably higher than last year, having been rising for the past three years.
Are property prices recovering in Canberra? Also no, because Canberra didn’t have the Sydney boom and it didn’t suffer Sydney’s post-boom correction. It’s just been chugging along happily, as Canberra tends to do. It’s the perennial Goldilocks of Australian real estate – not too hot, not too cold, just right.
Price recovery is also a foreign concept in Regional Victoria because prices have been rising strongly in many towns and cities outside of Melbourne for the past two years, and continue to do. Dozens the regional centres across Victoria have recorded double-digit growth in their median house prices in the past year.
So when media talks about the possibility of recovery in Australian house prices, people who live in Ballarat, Bendigo, Pakenham, Warragul, Bright, Mildura, Wangaratta, Seymour, Moe, Kyneton and many other Victorian centres wonder what on earth they mean.
There are similar scenarios is many regional locations across New South Wales, Tasmania and Queensland.
When media discusses recovery in real estate prices, they’re essentially referring to Sydney and Melbourne, which dominate coverage in big media, to the exclusion of all other locations.
That’s where the question of market recovery and the realness of price increases is focused.
What we’re witnessing is an end to the post-boom downturn and price correction in Sydney and Melbourne. The evidence is strong and real. Looking across price data from multiple sources, we first saw an easing of the rate of decline, then a bottoming of the downturn – and then, increasingly, signs of a return to growth.
This was accompanied by an improvement in auction clearance rates – which, as I commented last week, are a rather blunt instrument by which to measure markets but, taken alongside other data, can add some weight to overall conclusions.
Often anecdotal evidence is more telling than the statistics, and this also is increasingly positive. All kinds of property professionals have been feeling the upturn in demand and the growing pressure on prices, in an environment where stock on the market is generally low.
None of this is terribly surprising. The perfect storm of negatives that impacted the big city markets in the first half of the year has blown over – and has been replaced by a series of fortunate events, starting with the Federal Election result.
Too much has been made (as usual) of the impact of interest rate reductions. These don’t hurt, but interest rate levels are never the prime motivator of events in real estate.
Far more important are the improvement in overall sentiment, the end of the fear created by Labor policies, the greater ease in obtaining finance and the state of economies at a local level.
So what we have in Sydney and Melbourne is a fairly normal post-boom market. The correction phase that usually happens after a prolonged up-cycle has happened and now we’re back into situation normal – healthy activity and some pressure on prices, but with little likelihood of a return to boom conditions.
We’re more likely to see booms in other places – Brisbane, where conditions are improving and prices are attractive; Adelaide, which has an emerging economy likely to underpin an upsurge in real estate demand, helped by great value-for-money real estate; Perth, which is fighting back after a long downturn in the underlying WA economy; and many parts of regional Australia, such as regional Queensland, where a growing number of regional centres have improving economies, lower vacancies and attractive price/yield scenarios.
Buyer’s agent shines light on Brisbane property market
Speaking to SPI, Melinda Jennison of Streamline Property Buyers explained why now is an exciting time for property investors in Brisbane.
“As the third largest capital city in Australia, Brisbane is the economic engine for Queensland as a whole,” Ms Jennison said.
“Over recent years we have experienced an apartment oversupply in the inner city ring suburbs which has definitely had an impact on investor returns in terms of capital growth and rental yield in that market. The run-off effect was that vacancy rates in inner ring suburbs started to increase which resulted in negative rental price growth.
“The middle ring and outer suburbs were less effected. But more recently construction commencements have slowed right down and we are now facing a period in the immediate future of potential undersupply which is likely to put upward pressure on prices.”
Further, Ms Jennison said the team is already seeing vacancy rates drop sharply. She noted that rental price growth has also been consistent for a few months.
“The immediate future looks very bright for investors considering we have population growth that is accelerating and a record volume of infrastructure projects underway which will help stabilise the local economy in the years ahead,” Ms Jennison said.
“That said, the housing market in Brisbane has been performing strongly in some suburbs – even in light of the fact that the median price growth for Brisbane houses over the last 12 months has shown a relatively flat market.
“We have been purchasing properties for clients in suburbs that have shown consistent year-on-year price growth upward of 5 per cent per annum for the last five years. It all comes down to local drivers of supply and demand and understanding, at a local level, what is happening in the Brisbane property market. “
According to Ms Jennison the Brisbane market is being taken advantage of by interstate investors, undoubtedly because of the affordability factor when compared to Sydney and Melbourne.
“Our investment yields are also a lot more attractive, which is another reason interstate buyers are heading north,” she added.
“Brisbane also has all of the fundamental drivers of solid price growth in place and there are many large research groups including QBE Housing Market Outlook and BIS Oxford Economics who are predicting very good capital growth – up to 20 per cent across the next three years – in Brisbane.”
Ms Jennison expects more interstate investor activity in the months ahead “as property investors start to see price rises in Brisbane (hopefully) and then, as often happens, a lot more people will move in once the upward price growth trend is established”.
“But more so than this, I think a lot of people have much better access to funding since the APRA changes came into effect and we have also seen two interest rate cuts (with more to come) so there is certainly more confidence in property markets as a whole,” she said.
Streamline Property Buyers was launched by Melinda and Scott Jennison just over 12 months ago.
During this time, Ms Jennison says one of the biggest obstacles they’ve seen clients face is maintaining a strategy when it comes to their property portfolio.
“We are finding that a lot of clients are quite confused when we speak to them about what property investment strategy is going to be right for them,” she explained.
“There is so much information and so much ‘noise’ about different investment strategies on offer today. Capital Growth, cash flow, flip, manufacture equity, development…. for the average investor a lot of this information can be overwhelming.
“Part of our service is that every client gets a one-on-one strategy session with a Qualified Property Investment Advisor (QPIA) so we can help clarify what type of strategy might be best suited to an individual investor’s personal circumstances.
“Because we are all different in terms of our goals, our risk appetite, our incomes and our lifestyles, it is important to understand what investment strategy might be best suited to the individual and not take a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach.
“Also, for those looking for a more sophisticated strategy to manufacture equity or complete a development project, we have the team that can assist with the whole process from concept to completion. So our service is usually tailored to the needs of our clients. “
It is this service capability which was one of the reasons why the Jennison’s decided to roll out Streamline Property Buyers to the Brisbane market.
“Scott and I have been involved in Brisbane property for more than 20 years as investors, builders and property developers. We wanted to create a boutique service offering where we could guide buyers who may not have the same intricate knowledge of our local property markets,” Ms Jennison said.
“Brisbane property is very different to Sydney and Melbourne in terms of land constraints (eg flooding) and our architecture (largely tin and timber homes). Therefore it is important for property investors to understand how these differences can impact on the performance of an asset.
“While property investing is largely related to selecting the right location for the relevant investment strategy, our business was created on the foundation of helping others not only select investment grade locations in Brisbane based on the numbers and our local knowledge, but also to ensure people avoid costly mistakes and to provide complete transparency around the asset that they are looking to buy.”
Another reason was to fill a knowledge gap that a lot of people have during the home buying process.
“During a project where I was managing a small townhouse development for a client, I reached out to the adjoining property owner to discuss the dividing fence. During my discussions, she told me that they had just moved in to the property only weeks before we demolished the single house next door and started to construct three townhouses in its place. She was devastated and had no idea she would be living next door to three neighbours instead of just one,” Ms Jennison said.
“It made me realise that most people would not understand what land zoning means, how to find approved developments in an area, what areas will change due to development or planned infrastructure in the future – among other things.
“It was a light bulb moment where I realised the skills Scott and I had could really benefit property buyers throughout Brisbane.”
For Ms Jennison, Streamline Property Buyers primary goal is to “select the best possible property for our clients every time, one that we know will not cause headaches down the track but will deliver the desired results that a client is looking to achieve.”.
“We also want to enable our clients to become more confident property investors following their experience with us,” she added.
“We achieve this through our unique service offering. Every client gets access to every team member throughout their journey with us. We don’t just take over the process, we help people to understand the reasons why a property may or may not be a good investment for a particular strategy.
“When we achieve this, our clients become raving fans and this is how we build our brand and our business into the future.”
Brisbane auction record smashed with $8.4 million Bulimba sale
Brisbane’s auction record has been smashed with the $8.4 million sale of a riverfront home at Bulimba, making it the city’s most expensive property ever sold under the hammer.
The five-bedroom European-style mansion at 95-99 McConnell Street had attracted potential buyers from across the globe due to its prized north-facing riverfront position sprawled over 1473 square metres of land with 32 metres of river frontage.
But it was two local Brisbane families, both intent on buying the property to live in with their young children, who battled it out on Wednesday night in one of the most furiously fast-paced auctions marketing agent Sarah Hackett of Place Estate Agents Bulimba had ever seen.
“It was very high intensity, it was absolutely unbelievable to watch,” Ms Hackett said. “Both families were very emotionally connected to the property and wanted it badly.
Brisbane’s most expensive auction sales
|95-99 McConnell Street||Bulimba||2019||$8.4 million|
|39 Griffith Street||New Farm||2019||$7.75 million|
|22 Sandford Street||St Lucia||2009||$7.75 million|
|29 Laurence Street||St Lucia||2010||$7 million|
|78 Jilba Street||Indooroopilly||2007||$6.1 million|
|20 Scott Street||Hawthorne||2017||$5.6 million|
|22 Langside Road||Hamilton||2016||$5,385,000|
|34 Quay Street||Bulimba||2016||$5.33 million|
|14 Otway Street||Holland Park||2016||$5,225,000|
|9 Griffith Street||New Farm||2013||$5.2 million|
“Bidding started at $5.5 million, went straight up to $6 million, then it was pretty much $100,000 bids at a time from there. It was back and forth, back and forth – the time between bids was literally seconds. It was amazing to watch.”
The previous record for a property sold at auction in Brisbane was $7.75 million, which was first set in 2009 with the sale of a grand riverfront estate at Sandford Street, St Lucia, then equalled in March this year when 39 Griffith Street, New Farm sold under the hammer. It was purchased by Ben Seymour, the grandson of Queensland rich-lister and developer Kevin Seymour.
Ms Hackett said it was an emotionally charged auction because properties of this calibre in Brisbane were rare.
“I’ve got one buyer absolutely elated and over the moon and one buyer absolutely heart broken,” she said.
“We’re currently at an all-time record low for riverfront stock in Brisbane at the moment, so sadly I don’t have anything else comparable to offer them at the moment.”
The winning bidders, a young family with two boys, were keen fishermen looking forward to enjoying the riverfront lifestyle, Ms Hackett said.
“This is a purchase made for the whole family. They want their kids to have that riverfront lifestyle, they’ve already got a tinny and the kids are super excited,” she said.
The kids won’t even have to share – the property has not one, but two private deep water mooring pontoons, as well as a pool, flat landscaped backyard and multiple living areas inside, all with spectacular water views that stretch across the river to Hamilton Hill.
Residential property near Brisbane’s Cross River Rail pinpointed as investor opportunity: John McGrath
The latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show the value of new loans to investors (excluding refinancing) across Australia jumped by 4.7% in July – the highest monthly gain since September 2016.
On the east side of the country, Canberra led the way with a 22% spike in the value of loans from June to July, followed by Queensland at 8.1%, Victoria at 5.7% and NSW at 2.0%.
John McGrath told Switzer readers, “My best piece of advice for property investors is to buy quality and focus on location and aspect.”
“Go for a quality property in a great street, in a desirable neighbourhood, with plenty of amenities such as cafes, shops and public transport. These properties might cost a bit more, but you’ll get better capital gains.”
“In terms of locations, I think a good strategy is buying close to new infrastructure. There is so much building going on and this is creating opportunities for investors to capitalise, especially in areas where prices have fallen during the downturn,” he added.
He analysed the impact and reasons that investing near the Brisbane Cross River Rail which is starting at the end of 2019, with the aim of opening 2024, may have potential.
IMPACT: Stretching from Dutton Park to Bowen Hills, the 10.2km line will provide a second river crossing so more trains can run. It will include four new stations and revitalised precincts at Boggo Road, Woolloongabba, Albert Street and Roma Street, with upgrades to existing stations at Dutton Park, Exhibition, Salisbury, Rocklea, Moorooka, Yeerongpilly, Yeronga and Fairfield.
OPPORTUNITY: We tend to see a lift in property values when projects are announced, commenced and completed. Using Woolloongabba as a case study, the median house price sat around $770,000 from 2015 to 2018 but is now starting to grow. It’s $822,000 today, up 7.9% over FY19. The median apartment price has been drifting down since 2015 from $526,500 to $405,000 today.
PREDICTION: CoreLogic-Moody’s Analytics predicts 1.2% growth in house prices and 9.1% growth for apartments over CY20 and CY21 in Brisbane-South, which incorporates Woolloongabba, Fairfield, Dutton Park and Yeronga.
He also looked at the latest Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney infrastructure developments and the impact they have had and will continue to have.
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