You could hear the late night guttural moans echoing through the rental belts of the biggest cities, the blue glow of laptops illuminating their twisted reveries: “oh yeah baby, that’s right: three bedrooms, close to public transport, schools and a hospital; local auctions are clearing in the mid-six figures, a mortgage would basically be less than we’re currently paying in rent … and only a 40-minute commute to work! YES YES YES OH GOD YES!”
Of course, regular readers would be aware of these dangerous delusions and have more realistic ambitions: we know that if we work hard, apply ourselves and live with the ascetic frugality of a particularly clutter-averse monk, we too can enjoy watching prices skyrocket far beyond our reach until that magical day the landlord informs us we have 60 days to get out before they knock our place down for a block of luxury studios.
But that was only one of the stories of the past year. However, if you listened very, very carefully at the rhythms of 2017 you may have discerned a few common beats that seemed to play out with predictable regularity. So what were the big property story trends this year?
1. Everything is going to be perfect forever, cash register noise!
Every weekend a new auction record was set as some clown paid a Taylor Swift ransom for an unliveable hovel, almost as though they were providing a valuable Aesop’s Fable-style service about how savagely everyone needs to adjust their expectations.
“Can you believe someone paid $2.6 million for a derelict shanty on the Rozelle virus-pits,” readers would scoff, “despite it being undevelopable because of the quicksand and restless ghosts?”
However, the message to those already in the housing game was simple: your property was constantly rising in value because of your wisdom and nous. Indeed, we are now a nation of pharaohs sitting within mighty pyramids of pure gold and precious leverage. If anything, you should buy more investment shanties – when it comes to property values, the sky is the limit!
2. The property crash is coming and we’re all doomed!
Of course, then there’d be a weekend where not every auction ended with the exchange of a comically Scrooge McDuck-style vault of riches, at which point the story would abruptly change: clearly this is the inevitable beginning of the inevitable correction, and everyone is dangerously exposed through their profligate borrowing and once interest rates move up a percentage point the rate of defaults will bankrupt our entire financial sector and condemn us to roaming the barren wastelands hunting real estate vendors for food – like Cormack McCarthy’s The Road, but not as toe-tappingly upbeat.
What property crash? Photo: Erin Jonasson
The message to those already in the housing game was simple: you were damned fools to borrow so much cheap credit and now the hubris train is a-coming, as it does for all who attempt to serve their own selfishness and greed by quick-fix get rich schemes.
Why oh why didn’t you sell up and put everything in bitcoin instead?
3. Increased supply is about to fix everything for renters, muffled laugh
As more non-buyers stayed in the rental market, that increased demand made renting in the bigger cities increasingly impossible for those earning wages from lesser professions such as baristas, fast food workers, cleaners, teachers, police officers, dentists and surgeons.
In fact, it got to the point where even federal MPs were priced out of their own inner-city electorates in what would pass for poetic justice if politicians appreciated either justice or poetry.
Supply, supply and more supply. Photo: Eddie Jim
Fortunately other groups of politicians asserted that there was a solution at hand: encourage developers to build more apartments, which would increase supply and therefore drive down prices.
State and local government went out of its way to make this possible for developers, who ensured that they kept prices at a rate that was affordable for those on lowe … nah, just kidding: they merrily accepted the perks of making “affordable housing” such as building boarding houses right up until the thing was built, at which point they whacked as high a price on it as the market could bear.
The answer, however, is clear: we haven’t given developers enough incentives and must free up all currently non-developed land to curry their good graces. And what’s all that green space doing at Taronga, anyway? Why should those sweet harbour views be wasted on those uppity giraffes?
4. ‘Sydney’ suburbs still affordable to first-home buyers are hardly even in Sydney
In 2017 it seemed that every month or so there would be a story about the suburbs where a young family can afford to buy their first property, and each time the accompanying graphic would sport a larger and larger ring whose radius began 12 kilometres further from the CBD than the last time around.
The Central Coast … is technically Sydney. Photo: Supplied
It’s a trend we probably need to knock on the head since we’re getting closer to the era of think pieces asking “is it realistic for Sydney homebuyers to live and work in the same time zone?”
It’s time that we start acknowledging the unquestionable future of Sydney as a fly-in-fly-out city where workers sleep in gridlocked Ubers around Mascot and whose sole affordable suburb is now Bordertown, SA.
5. Telling us to all move to Hobart
Yes, we get it Tasmanian property stories: Hobart is very nice and also cheap. It has a lovely MONA, bracing Antarctic winds and convenient access to people who claim to have seen thylacines – and in numbers that put Melbourne and Sydney to shame.
Hobart is the new black. Photo: Tourism Tasmania
However, it also has a population of 225,000, which means that a) it can’t possibly cope with an influx of more than a dozen or so people before the infrastructure collapses, and b) it all seems like a cunning way to create forward sizzle for content in 2018 about how Hobart used to be cool before all these mainlanders turned up and ruined its charmingly creepy Twin Peaks ambience.
That said: sorry, how much for a beachside bungalow? And no ghosts, you say? Maybe I’ve been all backwards on this…
Originally Published: www.domain.com.au