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Experts warn of ‘debt bomb’ as housing downturn worsens

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debt bomb
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

Expert insight: Should investors buy Brisbane properties today?

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Expert insight Should investors buy Brisbane properties today

With the Sydney and Melbourne property markets declining, the stability of the Brisbane property market has been welcomed by investors with open arms. Will the Queensland capital ultimately emerge as the next investment hotspot?

While Brisbane has yet to witness a stellar growth in its property market, the capital city has remained stable in the past few months as other major capital cities suffer continuous decline in property values.

As a result, a considerable number of investors are starting to flock into the Queensland capital, hoping to take advantage of the affordable entry points and consequently benefit from the eventual rise of its property market in the near future.

How exactly will the Brisbane property market be performing in the next five years?

Streamline Property Buying’s Melinda Jennison said that, in general, she’s optimistic about the Brisbane property market moving forward.

“We’ve certainly had a lot of headwinds as have all property markets now that the royal commission and the federal election are behind us, even though we still have tight lending – that’s going to continue into the foreseeable future, I think. With the second half of the year coming up, one or two rate cuts may provide further stimulus into the market.”

“Brisbane itself had a 38 per cent reduction in building commencements just in the last 12 months. We had an oversupply in the apartment market but that has been absorbed by the accelerating population growth. Vacancy rates are now declining in some of the inner city locations,” the buyer’s agent highlighted.

With good population growth and a decline in housing supply, the Brisbane property market only needs employment and wage growth to complete the ‘perfect recipe for upward pressure on prices’, according to Ms Jennison.

Where to invest

As there is no ‘one size fits all’ strategy for investing in property, Ms Jennison highlights the importance of understanding the investor’s personal goals before ultimately jumping into a purchase.

What type of results do they want—rental yield, capital growth, or a balance of both? How can they get their considering their personal and financial capabilities and limitations?

Moreover, investors are encouraged to study the fundamentals that will drive growth into their assets over the long-term.

Ms Jennison said: “We love trains and sub-train line locations, but Brisbane is very widespread and we don’t simply buy in all train line locations.”

“There are blue chip suburbs and the fringe suburbs just on the outer areas of those blue chip locations – the train lines there, that’s where we’re certainly looking at right now… Where there’s price disparity between one suburb and the next, there are certainly opportunities for investors there.”

Apart from train stations, investors are also advised to look out for ongoing and upcoming infrastructure projects in the area, which could ultimately spur growth for investment properties.

In Moreton Bay, for instance, the new campus of the University of Sunshine Coast is expected to improve the housing market conditions across The Mill at Moreton Bay, the new destination with the university at its core, and, ultimately, the entire Moreton Bay region.

Stage one of the campus, which will be located adjacent to the Petrie railway station, is set to be completed in time for the first semester of 2020.

“We feel that Moreton Bay will gentrify quite quickly with young university students moving in, so we’ll see the types of accommodation gradually change over time to suit their preferences. There’s lots of opportunities within the area and the region as a whole because of this gentrification.”

Finally, rezoning may also spur growth in certain property markets across Brisbane in the near future.

Local councils often rezone land to assist in the planning for future growth. Rezoning, therefore, typically occurs around growth corridors or areas where the population and infrastructure spending has been rapidly increasing.

“A lot of the land has been rezoned and we’re certainly still finding great opportunities in that region for investors that are in the $500,000-price point. If we were to categorise investors in Brisbane based on price point alone, that would definitely be our preferred location right now.”

“Were not going Logan or Ipswich for the simple reason that property investment is all about supply and demand—the availability of future supply of land in the Moreton Bay region is a lot more limited than it is when you go west towards Ipswich or when you go south towards the Gold Coast,” Ms Jennison explained.

At the moment, Brisbane is ripe with off-market opportunities, which puts investors who engage property professionals at an advantage.

Property professionals with local knowledge of the markets could serve as the perfect guide and ‘insider’ as investors try to navigate the real estate landscape, especially in changing markets such as Brisbane. Thus, investors are strongly encouraged to engage field experts, where appropriate.

“We’re certainly getting a lot of off-market opportunities presented to us as we get an influx of interstate investor activity… There’s some great buying opportunities across Brisbane, and we’re achieving yields of upwards of 5 per cent right now.. Even up to 5.5 or 6 per cent per annum,” she concluded.

 

 

Source: www.smartpropertyinvestment.com.au

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Opinion

Buyers in the Driver’s Seat in Current Property Market

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Buyers in the Driver’s Seat in Current Property Market

The average number of days on market has edged upwards as the housing sector weakens, reflecting tougher finance conditions, fewer buyers and a longer period of negotiation before vendors achieve a sale.

But with the federal election now behind us, what will be interesting is seeing how the flow on effects impact on consumer sentiment.

For now, Corelogic research analyst Cameron Kusher says current conditions still see buyers’ in the driver’s seat.

“The rise in time on market is a symptom of higher supply, with advertised stock levels across the combined capitals are at their highest level for this time of the year since 2012, and lower demand reflected in capital city settled sales down 16 per cent year-on-year,” Kusher said.

Buyers in the Driver’s Seat in Current Property Market 1

Across Sydney, properties were typically taking 62 days to sell in April this year, while in regional NSW properties were taking 76 days.

“At the same time a year earlier, Sydney properties took 31 days to sell and regional NSW properties took 50 days,” Kusher said.

Over the past three months, Kusher says Melbourne dwellings have typically taken 43 days to sell compared to 27 days over the same period in 2018.

“Although days on market fell over the past month in Melbourne, properties are taking longer to sell than in recent years while in regional Victoria there has been a recent spike in days on market,” Kusher said.

Over the past three months, Brisbane dwellings are typically spending an average of 60 days on the market, in comparison to 34 days for the same period last year.

Buyers in the Driver’s Seat in Current Property Market 2

While in regional Queensland time on market has increased to 77 days, up from 47 days.

“Although values have declined over the past year in Brisbane and regional Queensland it has been a much more moderate decline than in Sydney and Melbourne,” Kusher said.

“Despite this fact, there has been a sharp spike in days on market highlighting that selling conditions have become much tougher despite values having only fallen moderately.”

Adelaide properties currently take 54 days to sell, up from 45 days for the same period a year ago.

Canberra’s days on the market has risen from 31 days a year ago to 52 days. Perth properties typically take 62 days to sell, up from 48 days.

And Hobart’s hot market typically takes 32 days, up from nine days to sell this time a year ago.

While Darwin properties currently spend 77 days on the market, compared with 67 days a year ago.

 

 

Source: theurbandeveloper.com

 

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Opinion

What the federal election result means for the property market

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What the federal election result means for the property market

A shorter, shallower property price downturn could be on the cards on the back of the Coalition’s victory at the polls, experts say.

But the long-term prospects for first-home buyers are less certain, with changes to investor tax concessions off the table for the foreseeable future.

Following months of uncertainty about the impact of those tax changes, which had led to greater wariness in the cooling market, experts are becoming slightly more bullish, revising their views on property prices, market activity and first-home buyers.

Property prices

“It’s pretty clear to us that the bottom [of the market] is just around the corner,” Commonwealth Bank senior economist Gareth Aird said. “We had a 15 per cent [peak-to-trough price forecast] and we’re almost there now.”

With reforms to negative gearing and the capital gains tax off the table, a likely interest rate cut on the horizon and a scheme to encourage first-home buyer activity, Mr Aird said, it was reasonable to think prices would not fall much further.

He expected prices to bottom out late this year, but noted it would not be a sharp recovery due to tighter lending standards.

“[It’s likely] the market will bottom out earlier under a Coalition government then Labor, but with [potential] rate cuts on top, you’ll never be able to tell,” he added.

AMP Capital chief economist Shane Oliver and Domain economist Trent Wiltshire both also expected the Coalition’s victory, combined with expected rate cuts,  would see the downturn bottom out earlier.

Dr Oliver, who has been predicting a peak-to-trough decline of 25 per cent for Sydney and Melbourne, said price declines were likely to be closer to 20 per cent now.

“Some of threats to property are starting to abate,” Dr Oliver said. “Affordability has improved … and the uncertainty about negative gearing and the capital gains tax has been removed. Tightening of credit conditions won’t get much worse, and at the same time we haven’t seen the panic-selling.

“The fact support is on the way for first-home buyers … along with RBA interest rate cuts, means the market could end up bottoming sooner.”

With a Labor government quite widely anticipated, Mr Wiltshire said, changes to negative gearing — and the potential price falls it could bring — had already been partly priced into the market. 

“This effect will be unwound, so the peak-to-trough price falls will now be probably smaller than thought prior to the election,” Mr Wiltshire said. 

“It’s more likely that prices will bottom out in 2019, [earlier] than if Labor had won,” he added. “But prices still probably have a bit further to fall and the market remains pretty weak.”

Market activity

Regardless of the outcome, Mr Wiltshire said market activity was always likely to pick up post-election as buyers and sellers would have more certainty on housing policy.

“If Labor [had] won, we might have seen a bigger spike in market activity in 2019 as investors would have tried to buy before the negative gearing change, but then there might have been a weaker 2020,” he said.

He is now expecting a more gradual pick-up in prices, with both first-home buyers and investors to drive market activity on the back of the Coalition’s policies.

“Sellers will then respond to buyer interest, there might be a few people who were thinking about selling who have held off [until now],” Mr Wiltshire added.

What the federal election result means for the property market 2

Ray White chairman Brian White said buyers and sellers would be relieved to know where they stood now the election was over.

“[In the lead-up] people were saying ‘let’s sit on our hands and just wait and see what’s happens’,” Mr White said. “That waiting is finished and I think there’s a big chance that confidence will get a nice boost, as we’ve seen already in the stock markets.”

While he is not expecting to see a rush to market, he believes there will be a boost from buyers and sellers who had been waiting on the sidelines.

“I’m confident the market will now improve, because of the stronger [market] curiosity exhibited by the community, which has been reflected by increased auction attendances,” Mr White said.

“People are all wanting to know what’s coming … I believe we’ll look back and sees this period as the bottom of the market.”

McGrath chief executive Geoff Lucas agreed the government’s win would inject confidence and clarity back into the market.

“Conversely, if Labor [had] won and the negative gearing and capital gains tax reforms had passed, it is possible that the current downturn would have been exacerbated,” Mr Lucas said. “At the least, it would have created confusion, concern and uncertainty. “

What the federal election result means for the property market 3

First-home buyers

Labor’s proposed changes to negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount would have removed concessions for investors, creating a more level playing field for first-home buyers.

The changes aimed at improving housing affordability will not go ahead under the Morrison government. Instead, first-home buyers will have access to a loan scheme — also backed by Labor — enabling them to purchase property with a 5 per cent deposit. 

Dr Oliver expects the policy will bring forward some first-home buyer activity, but that its impact will be limited as it is capped at 10,000 loans a year and requires a higher debt-to-income ratio.

He expects the government will morph the scheme into a grant, which could provide more of a stimulus to the lower end of the market.

While he would not advocate for grants in a booming market as they could further drive up prices, Dr Oliver said it could help in a cooling market when there was concern about the wider impact a downturn could have on the economy.

Mr Wiltshire expected the scheme would have a small but not-insignificant impact and encourage some first-home buyers to get into the market earlier.

However, he noted a Coalition government also meant first-home buyers would not benefit from improved affordability off the back of cuts to negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount.

 

Source: www.domain.com.au

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