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Investing in property: The art of picking the right drivers for price growth


It’s all a question of demand and supply, and nowhere is that more critical than when planning a residential property investment.

The art of picking the right drivers for price growth is a tricky one.

You might have found the perfect property in a popular area with lots of jobs, a healthy rate of population migration and excellent infrastructure but if there are plans underway for 1000 new homes in the next year … suddenly, it’s no longer such a good prospect.


Buying an investment home in an area with chronically high demand and low stock will ensure higher returns in the long term. Photo: Vaida Savickaite 

“The basic equation that underlines everything is a low level of supply and a high level of demand,” says Kate Hill, founder and director of investment property buyers’ agency Adviseable.

“And you want that imbalance to be sustained, not just short-term in a volatile mining market, for instance, or for the demand to be extrinsic, like the quick blip in Brisbane when the Olympics come but then everyone moves on. It has to be good, long-term demand to drive capital growth.”

You also need to judge the demand for the type of property too.

There’s no point in investing in a two-bedroom apartment if everyone there is looking for four-bedroom houses.

Don’t be too entranced, either, by the promise of good capital growth in a spot where rents are low and there might be a high vacancy rate and too many days on market for property sales.

Uwe Jacobs, the founding director of Property Friends and author of the book, The 7 Secrets of Highly Successful Property Investors, says being enticed by the lure of negative gearing schemes is a common error of people trying to build a property portfolio.

“The main driver for investment is the balance between the short-term income of rental income and the long-term prize of capital growth,” he says.

“That rental money is what’s going to sustain you during periods of low, or no, capital growth so your investment doesn’t eat you out of house and home.


Investors will need to conduct research in key property data before taking the plunge. Photo: Vaida Savickaite 

“The vast majority of people invest for financial independence, choices in retirement or leaving a legacy to children, so highly negatively geared properties aren’t the way to go. You need a more risk-averse strategy.”

That means not skipping essential research, he advises.

All factors like vacancy rates, days on market, median prices, growth forecasts, any upcoming property developments, and whether there’s an influx of people – or they’re leaving – are all critical to calculations.

“And you need to visit the area to check that it physically matches the research,” Jacobs says.

More than almost anything, the area where you’re considering investing should also be liveable and desirable.

“It should have amenity close by,” says Lachlan Vidler, director of the Atlas Property Group.

“That means transport options for people to get to work easily, shops, cafes, restaurants and parks, so there’s plenty to do when family or friends visit. Don’t be too caught up in promises of infrastructure to come, either. How many promises of infrastructure have there been which takes decades to arrive – if it ever, eventually, does?”


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Gold Coast

Why owner-occupiers are loving the Chevron Island apartments at Allure


Perfectly proportioned, generous living spaces boast a natural palette, providing a sense of ease and opportunity for you to bring your own sense of style to the space

Offering a unique blend of inner-city convenience and coastal bliss, it is no surprise that owner-occupiers are acting quickly to secure an apartment at Allure.

The latest development by Macquarie York, Allure is “inherently opulent and meticulously crafted”, a resort-style development in the heart of the Chevron Island precinct.

Delivering 95 two, three and four-bedroom apartments, the project boasts generous floorplans and a sleek contemporary design by BDA Architects.

Perfectly proportioned, generous living spaces boast a natural palette, providing a sense of ease and opportunity for you to bring your own sense of style to the space.

“Whether you’re entertaining or enjoying some private reflection time, you will always feel right at home”, the project marketing reads.


Allure Chevron Island Corner Burra Street & Dalpura Street, Chevron Island QLD 4217 

Among other design details are the subtle natural timbers and stone that celebrate the beauty of organic materials and connect the interiors with the landscaping outside.

Contemporary bathrooms feature a semi-frameless shower, large format tiling and intelligent storage.

However, it’s the wealth of facilities designed to enhance quality of life that are pulling in buyers to the Gold Coast development.

The rooftop, the pinnacle of Allure, delivers panoramic views from north to south, while residents can enjoy an exclusive lounge, barbeque and dining area, infinity pool as well as several viewing decks to take in the impressive vistas.

A coastal aura and resort experience is felt as soon as you walk through the prominent lobby doors, with a double-storey atrium is crafted to draw natural light while bespoke lighting add a touch of elegance.

Chevron Island is a location that allows Allure to feel both secluded and connected.

“Everything you need to lead an exceptional life is at your fingertips, yet the hustle and bustle of modern life is kept at bay”, the developers said.

The development is expected to reach completion in mid-2022 but discerning buyers should act fast to secure one of these exclusive residences.


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What to ask agents when being taken through a display suite online


Here at Urban, we have compiled a list of questions so prospective buyers can get a handle on what they should be asking agents during online inspections, useful both during lockdown and for those buying out of state or internationally

Australians have been staying at home on and off during the intermittent lockdowns and for homebuyers, this means a delay, sometime indefinitely, in purchasing property.

However, data in both the first Melbourne lockdown and beyond shows that online visits and enquiries of property listings have surged by over 50%.

Here at Urban, we have compiled a list of questions so prospective buyers can get a handle on what they should be asking agents during online inspections. This is useful both during lockdown and for properties available for purchase off-the-plan, or available across state or national borders when in-person inspection may not be possible.

For a more in-depth guide on off-the-plan buying check out our expert guide.

1. What’s the cost per square metre for each floorplan configuration? (make a note of this and compare to other properties you virtually view)

This is vital information to compare the value of the property to others in the area as well as the suburb/region you are looking to buy in. It is important to make sure you are buying a property that suits your needs and has room to grow, one marker of such potential is if the $/psqm is below median for the area, however it isn’t the be all end all

2. When is construction slated to start/be completed?

Construction projections are important information as it will have an effect on how long you may rent or choose to settle on your current property. Ensure the builder/construction firm is reliable and has a good reputation to reduce the likelihood of delay.

Keep in mind that some delays may occur if a coronavirus outbreak occurs.

3. Which items within the display are included and which are optional upgrades?

Straightforward enough, make sure you don’t get blindsided and chuck out your old washer/dryer just because the display suite has one, double check with the agent to see what is supplied by the developer as some offer white-goods packages and optional deals.

4. What customisation option do you have available?

Depending on the design firm and developer, some firms offer a higher degree of customisation, this tends to increase linearly with price as the more expensive the property is, the more customisable it generally is. Either way you should ask as many developments offer at minimum a choice in colour pallete and fittings

5. What’s the ceiling height? (compare this to your own ceilings at home)

While this many not mean as much to someone who is 150 cm tall, for prospective basketball players… and everyone else, it’s worth knowing ceiling height as this can impact whether the home feels claustrophobic or spacious and airy regardless of your personal height.

6. Which aspect does the particular apartment I’m considering buying face? (take note of where the sun is throughout the day in your own home)

This is important for natural light purposes, as well as potential views as some apartments will offer a better aspect than others.

7. Who built the display suite and will they be constructing the actual apartments/townhomes?

A vital point of note is the builder, don’t misunderstand something because of an unrealistic display suite.

8. If taking a virtual tour, ask the agent to zoom in on details so you can see the build quality

If the builder doesn’t put their best foot forward with the display suite, it is worth asking the agent about it and whether other properties you have looked at demonstrate better build quality or detailing.


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My best 12 tips and tricks for first-home buyers

first-home buyers

Aussie home values rose 18.4 per cent over the past year. No, that’s not a typo.

One of the more devastating economic side effects of COVID-19 for aspiring first-home buyers has been how the steep fall in interest rates has inflated home values.

I’m more agnostic than most about the virtues of homeownership, versus renting and investing your savings.

The tax breaks on housing are generous but beware the hidden costs, such as stamp duty, which can add up if you move too often.

The choice to buy is a personal one, often driven by desire for stability and security. That was certainly a big factor for me in buying my first home almost two years ago.

So, if you have decided your goal is to own a home, here are my top tricks and tips to help you. It won’t get everyone a home, but I hope it provides you some food for thought during what can be a stressful experience.

It’s harder for you than your parents

Baby boomers will recall their days of having to scrimp and save for a home deposit. And that may have been true for their experience.

However, it didn’t take – as it does today – an average of 11 years for a worker on the median full-time salary (about $80,000) to save a 20 per cent deposit on the median home value ($666,000), assuming a savings rate of 15 per cent of gross income. It just didn’t.

Don’t give up

Yes, it’s a bitter pill to swallow that the home you want could have, on average, cost about 20 per cent less this time a year ago. But it is what it is. And barring a property crash, which almost nobody is predicting, it’s only going to get worse.

Adjust your expectations

While you’ve been faithfully sticking to your idea of what property should be worth, everyone else has been out there hocking themselves to their eyeballs in debt and pushing up prices.

I’m not saying it’s right. I’m just saying your one-person protest at the inequity of it all is not doing much to change things.

Lower rates work in your favour

While they make it harder to save a deposit, lower interest rates increase the amount financial institutions are willing to lend you. Why? Because when interest costs fall, you have more space in your budget to meet the repayments on a bigger loan. You might be surprised how much the banks are willing to lend you.

Talk with lenders early

When I got serious about getting a home loan, I literally walked into three bank branches on my high street and spent a couple of hours chatting to their loan staff. They’ll ask for an estimate of your income and living expenses and usually give you a rough idea of what size loan you could service.

Many home-loan specialists are also doing zoom sessions during lockdown. Just make sure it’s only a preliminary conversation, and you’re not formally applying for credit because this can show up on your credit history.

Track your spending

If you do speak to a lender or broker, the first thing they’ll do is pepper you with questions to which you don’t know the answers. How much do you spend on electricity? Haircuts? Entertainment? Food? Eating out? Get ahead of the game by figuring this out in advance. And cut where you can.You can download and use the spending tracker I designed here.

Investigate the FHSSS

Stashing your savings in the bank doesn’t get you much these days. It is tempting to look at shares, but volatility can make things tricky.

One alternative is the First Home Super Saver Scheme, whereby you can put money into your superannuation at the low tax rate of 15 per cent, then later withdraw up to $50,000 for your first home. Eligibility and withdrawal conditions apply but, if I was starting again, I’d check it out.

Re-think your deposit

It would be nice to put down a full 20 per cent deposit on your first home, but it is not necessary. I put down about 15 per cent. It is not uncommon for major banks to accept deposits of 10 per cent – often less with smaller players.

Just be aware you’ll be up for paying Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI) if you don’t have the full 20 per cent, which can cost upwards of $10,000. You can have the cost added to your loan amount.

If your income is below a certain threshold, you can investigate accessing the government’s First Home Loan Deposit Scheme. Places are limited and not all lenders can offer it, but it covers the cost of your LMI on loans with deposits as small as 5 per cent.

There is a separate scheme for single parents with deposits of just 2 per cent.

Access ‘bank of mum and dad’

Swallow your pride and ask for help – if you’re lucky enough to have it. Parents can go guarantor on a loan to help you avoid paying LMI. They can also just give you cash for your deposit. It’s so unfair but it’s true.

Reconsider location

Think about whether you could live at least a suburb or two further out. The rise of working from home has opened up new opportunities for living further afield, where prices are generally lower.

Local property markets vary

Property prices rarely rise across the board. Talk to real estate agents about which suburbs may be undervalued. Take it all with a pinch of salt, but it can’t hurt to ask, right?

Re-imagine your dream home

It’s hard, but chances are you can live in something smaller. Unit prices have not risen as fast as free-standing homes. Many people are now raising young families in units or apartments. Nab a ground floor one if you can – they can feel quite house-like and give you direct access to communal space.

Good luck out there, I’ll be thinking of you.

  • Advice given in this article is general in nature and is not intended to influence readers’ decisions about investing or financial products. They should always seek their own professional advice that takes into account their own personal circumstances before making any financial decisions. 


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