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Experts warn of ‘debt bomb’ as housing downturn worsens

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AUSTRALIA is facing a “debt crisis” — and the property market and our entire economy are at risk as a result.

That’s according to the sobering 60 Minutes segment Bricks and Slaughter which aired last night, revealing the country’s property downturn was just the tip of the iceberg.

According to reporter Tom Steinfort, the current slump is actually “more like falling off a cliff”, with a number of real estate and finance experts claiming houses could plummet in value by up to 40 per cent in the next 12 months.

If that happens, it would also cause an economic “catastrophe”.

Mr Steinfort spoke with data scientist Martin North from Digital Finance Analytics, who said Australia was uniquely vulnerable when it came to an economic crash tied to a property downturn.

“At the worst end of the spectrum, if everything turns against us we could see property prices 40-45 per cent down from their peaks, which is a huge deal,” he said.

“There’s $1.7 trillion held by the banks in mortgages for owner-occupies and investors. And that’s about 65 per cent of their total lending.

“That’s higher than any other country in the Western world by a long way.

“There’s probably no country in the world more susceptible to the ramifications of a housing crash than Australia. We are uniquely exposed at the moment.”

Mr North said Australia was now in the same position as the US was back in 2006 and 2007 — a position which triggered an economic collapse.

“As a society, and as a government, and as a regulatory system, we’re all banking on the home price engine that just goes on giving and giving and giving. It’s not going to,” he said.

“We’ve got a debt bomb, we’ve got a debt crisis and at some point it’s going to explode in our face.”

debt bomb

Melbourne homeowner Mohammed Souid told 60 Minutes his family was experiencing mortgage stress. Picture: 60 MinutesSource:Supplied

It’s a sentiment shared by Laing and Simmons real estate agent Peter Younan, who said the median house price in his patch in Granville in Sydney’s west had dropped from $1.2 million to $1 million in just one year — a shocking $200,000 plummet.

He said foreclosures had also risen by 600 per cent in the region.

“The mortgage stress is definitely being felt especially in this area,” he said.

60 Minutes also spoke with several Aussie homeowners who gave harrowing details of the stress they faced trying to pay off their mortgages, including having their power turned off and being “hounded’ by their banks.

What does a million dollars buy in Aussie capital cities?

debt bomb

Market analyst Louis Christopher of SQM Research said the market had been “clearly overvalued”, labelling the downturn as the “correction we had to have” — at least in Sydney and Melbourne.

“On our numbers, Sydney was effectively over 40 per cent overvalued. And Melbourne was overvalued by about the same amount,” he said.

But property investor Bushy Martin said the blame lay squarely at the feet of buyers who “mortgaged themselves up to their eyeballs” in a bid to snap up dream homes before being able to afford them.

debt bomb

Property investor Bushy Martin says homeowners are to blame for the crisis. Picture: 60 MinutesSource:Supplied

However, the segment has also sparked backlash online, with some claiming the situation had been exaggerated.

One Reddit user branded the report as an example of “alarmist journalism and scare tactics”, while another said it was “dramatic and cringe-worthy”.

Others also criticised the segment for making it seem like all homeowners would be affected, when the downturn was actually mainly focused in the NSW and Victorian capitals.

And some said it was unfair to blame the banks for the situation, and that homeowners needed to take responsibility for their own decisions.

That was in response to comments made by one homeowner on the program, who said the bank had “suddenly switched the mortgage to interest and principal”, raising his repayments by 57 per cent.

“The interest only part annoyed me the most. The bank didn’t ‘suddenly change’ your repayment from (interest only) to (Principal and interest) your IO term expired. You a) knew this would happen and b) assumed the bank would renew it when it expired. I hope this speculator gets burnt first,” one Reddit user said.

Source: news.com.au

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Opinion

Tim Gurner overcomes 2017 controversy to take third place in Young Rich List

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sunshine coast

IN 2017, property mogul Tim Gurner became one of the most hated men in Australia. But today, he’s having the last laugh.

LAST May, millionaire property developer Tim Gurner outraged millennials the world over after blaming their housing woes on smashed avocado and coffee.

The Melbourne man made the sensational comments during a 60 Minutes segment about housing affordability, telling the Nine network: “When I was buying my first home, I wasn’t buying smashed avocado for 19 bucks and four coffees at $4 each.”

Mr Gurner’s 2017 quote went viral, sparking hysterical headlines around the world and instantly turning Mr Gurner into a villain among young people struggling to break into the housing market.

Related article: Mortgage holders rejoice: Most Qld homes rose in value over the past year

But the 36-year-old’s comments have clearly done little to hold him back.

Last week, he was officially named as the third richest young person in Australia in the 2018 Financial Review Young Rich List thanks to his impressive $631 million fortune.

He was beaten only by Atlassian co-founders and serial rich-listers Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes, who took out the top two spots on the list for a record-breaking seventh year with a combined net worth of $14.2 billion.

According to the list, Mr Gurner, the founder and CEO of property development group Gurner, owes his phenomenal success to a number of acquisitions which pushed his “combined project value to more than $5 billion, spanning almost 7000 apartments”.

Mr Gurner was beaten only by serial rich-listers and Atlassian co-founders Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes. Picture: SuppliedSource:Supplied

The AFR also explained Mr Gurner had made a stack of cash by “targeting high-end buyers wanting to downsize”.

He got his start in property after taking over a lease on a suburban gym aged just 19, using $34,000 given to him by his grandfather.

A year later he sold the business and went into property development, riding Melbourne and Brisbane’s real estate boom.

At the peak of the smashed avo outrage, many of Mr Gurner’s detractors claimed he had enjoyed an unfair advantage from his grandfather’s cash.

But while the backlash has not affected Mr Gurner’s fortunes, he has previously spoken about the personal toll the scandal took.

At the time, Mr Gurner was ridiculed across social media and inundated with interview requests from local and international reporters alike.

In May this year, around a year on from the original controversy, Mr Gurner told Executive Style it had seriously impacted his life, and that his comments were taken out of context.

sunshine coast

Mr Gurner insists he has no regrets despite the backlash. Picture: Stuart McEvoySource:News Corp Australia

“I said it was really hard for them (millennials), I said I feel for them because there were real challenges, but I added I thought there was an issue in society with the amount of conspicuous consumer spending with the millennial generation,” he told the publication.

“I said a large number of this generation needs to lease (the) latest BMW, take the European holiday, buy a 70-inch TV, the latest designer suit, the latest phone, eat smashed avocado and $4 coffees every weekend.

“They took out the last bit and it all went crazy.”

Mr Gurner also described falling ill three days after the story went global as a result of stress — but said he did not regret making the comments.

“It really got me personally. We can all have a tough media facade but I am a normal person inside and it really hurt. But I learned a lot,” he said.

“I learned the haters talk a lot louder than the likers. And I think it did, ultimately, create a really good conversation around affordability and what the next generation will do about it, because it is a legitimate problem.”

brisbane

Fitness queen Kayla Itsines was ranked fifth on the list. Picture: AFR MagazineSource:Supplied

Meanwhile, Ori Allon, who built his $539 million wealth in technology and property, scored fourth place in the Young Rich list, while equal fifth and sixth went to fitness entrepreneur Kayla Itsines and her fiance Tobi Pearce.

Seventh place went to Owen Kerr, with $460 million to his name thanks to his stake in foreign exchange Brokerage Company Pepperstone.

Husband-and-wife duo Collis and Cyan Ta’eed, who founded online graphic marketplace Envato, are jointly worth $428 million, earning them the eighth and ninth places, while farming and finance capital investor Peter Greensill sits in 10th place with $412 million in the bank.

The Young Rich List, now in its 15th year, tracks the wealth of the richest self-made Aussies aged under 40.

The 100 rich-listers featured this year have a staggering combined wealth of $23.5 billion — a huge increase on $13.2 billion last year.

Source: www.news.com.au

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Brisbane house prices tipped to rise 11pc in three years: QBE

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Brisbane house prices

BRISBANE homeowners will be the envy of their southern counterparts over the next few years, with property price growth predicted to be the strongest in the country.

brisbane house prices

House prices are tipped to rise 11.3 per cent in Brisbane by June 2021. Image: AAP/Darren England.Source:AAP

BRISBANE homeowners will be the envy of their southern counterparts over the next few years, with property price growth predicted to be the strongest in the country after Adelaide.

House prices in the Queensland capital are forecast to rise by 11.3 per cent in the next three years, according to the latest BIS Economics Australian Housing Outlook commissioned by QBE Insurance.

Brisbane’s median house price is tipped to grow to $615,000 by June 2021.

Brisbane house prices

House prices are tipped to rise 11.3 per cent in Brisbane by June 2021. Image: AAP/Darren England.Source:AAP

The report found Brisbane’s affordability remains significantly more attractive than in Sydney, where house prices are forecast to fall 3.5 per cent in 2019 before bottoming in 2020, and in Melbourne, where they are set to drop another 4.2 per cent next year.

But the outlook is less rosy for Brisbane apartment owners, with unit prices set to fall by 5.1 per cent over the next three years as the oversupply of stock continues to be absorbed and demand from investors weakens.

The median price for an apartment in Brisbane is expected to fall to $405,000 — the greatest forecast decline out of all capital cities.

Brisbane houses

Apartment prices in Brisbane are forecast to fall 5.1 per cent in the next three years. Photo: Claudia Baxter.Source:News Corp Australia

Greater competition for inner-city apartments is tipped to cause investors to lower rents to try to draw tenants from more affordable city fringe locations.

Competitive unit rents and prices due to the oversupply may encourage some potential first home buyers to remain as renters, or alternatively preference an apartment purchase over a house.

QBE Lenders’ Mortgage Insurance chief executive Phil White said tighter lending restrictions had impacted property prices nationally.

 

Brisbane houses

Phil White, chief executive of QBE. Picture: Supplied.Source:Supplied

“We anticipate foreign investment will further dampen in coming years owing to a number of factors such as increased approval fees, stamp duty and land tax surcharges, as well as tighter capital controls from foreign governments, most notably China, which have impacted how much money they can take out of their country,” Mr White said.

But Queensland’s increasing population growth is expected to support buyer demand.

The report is the only one of its kind in Australia that looks at what house prices will do over the next three years.

Source: www.news.com.au

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Opinion

‘Perfect storm’ to collapse capital city house prices by 20%

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AMP Capital has revised its forecasts for the Australian property market downwards as a perfect storm of factors turns the property boom to a “bust”.

The wealth manager had previously predicted top-to-bottom price falls of 15 per cent in Sydney and Melbourne spread out to 2020, or about 5 per cent per year.

In a client note on Thursday, AMP Capital chief economist Dr Shane Oliver said that was now likely to be 20 per cent as “credit conditions tighten, supply rises and a negative feedback loop from falling prices risks developing”.

That would take average prices back to early 2015 levels. Dr Oliver maintained that a “crash”, defined as 20 per cent plus fall in national average prices, was unlikely – but his revised forecast points to near-crash territory.

“The risks are starting to skew to the downside – particularly around tighter credit and falling capital growth expectations made worse by fears of a change in tax arrangements,” he said. “Auction clearances in recent weeks have been running around levels roughly consistent with 7-8 per cent per annum price declines.”

CoreLogic figures show national house prices fell for the 12th consecutive month in September, with Sydney and Melbourne now 6.2 per cent and 4.4 per cent down from their respective peaks in July and November 2017.

Dr Oliver said the tide started to turn about a year ago due to a number of factors including poor affordability reducing the pool of buyers, tightened bank lending standards under pressure from regulators, and a “significant pool” of interest-only borrowers scheduled to switch to principal and interest in the next few years.

Adding to that was banks withdrawing from lending to self-managed super funds, reducing the pool of property investors, and a sharp fall in foreign buyers due to Australian government crackdowns.

brisbane capital
AMP Capital has downgraded its forecast.

Chinese investment in Australian property has fallen by 70 per cent since 2015.

Meanwhile there is rising unit supply, out-of-cycle mortgage rate increases, expectations of changes to tax concessions if Labor wins the next election, and falling price growth expectations creating FONGO, or “fear of not getting out”.

Related articles:

“On their own some of these are not significant, but together they risk creating a perfect storm for the property market,” he said.

Dr Oliver said a crash would require “much higher interest rates or unemployment, neither of which are expected, or a continuation of the recent high construction rates, which is unlikely as approvals are falling, and a collapse in immigration”.

“Strong population growth is continuing to drive strong underlying demand for housing,” he said, adding that while mortgage stress was a risk, “it tends to be overstated”.

“There has been a sharp reduction in interest only loans already, debt servicing payments as a share of income have actually fallen slightly over the last decade, a significant number of households are ahead on their repayments, and banks’ non-performing loans remain low,” he said.

“However, the risk of a crash cannot be ignored given the danger that banks may overreact and become too tight and that investors decide to exit in the face of falling returns, low yields and possible changes to negative gearing and capital gains tax.”

Even without a crash, the property downturn will affect the broader economy “via slowing dwelling construction, negative wealth effects on consumer spending, less demand for household goods and via the banks as credit growth slows and if mortgage defaults rise”.

“This will provide an offset to strong growth in infrastructure spending and solid growth in business investment and will constrain economic growth to around 2.5-3 per cent which in turn will keep wages growth and inflation low,” he said.

AMP’s housing market forecast is the most bearish of the major financial institutions. Morgan Stanley last week said it was expecting 15 per cent falls, “which would mark the largest decline since the early 1980s”, while ANZ and Macquarie have predicted falls of 10 per cent.

Source: www.ipswichadvertiser.com.au

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