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Should you Invest in Property or Shares?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Shares or property?

Ahh, that old chestnut…  It’s a question that is often asked.  What performs better?  Shares or property?

On a capital appreciation measure over the past decade, the past half-decade, and over the past three years, residential property has well and truly outperformed shares.  Over the most recent 12-month period shares have outperformed the housing market.

It’s important to note that the share market has shown periods where capital gains have been substantially higher than what has been achieved in the housing market.   As can be seen in the ‘rolling annual change’ graph below, the annual growth rate in the ASX 200 has been has high as 39% over a 12-month period (the year ending February 2010); share prices have also fallen by more than 40% in the space of a year, which is what happened during the GFC (the ASX 200 fell by 42.7% over the year ending November 2008).

Capital city dwelling values haven’t shown anywhere near the same level of volatility.  The largest rise over any 12-month period, based on the RP Data-Rismark eight city aggregate index, was 21% over the year to May 2002, and the biggest fall was recorded just recently when dwelling values fell 5.3% over the year to May 2012.

While the volatility of the share markets may appeal to some, it is the stability and resilience of residential housing that is likely to be one of the key reasons why investing in the housing market is a popular choice for mum and dad investors.

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Tim Lawless is national research director of RP Data.

Mining Boom to continue in 2014

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

By Larry Schlesinger
Monday, 12 November 2012

Australia's mining-led construction boom will peak in 2014 with the value of planned projects already starting to contract, according to the Deloitte Access Economics September quarter Investment Monitor.

Deloitte Access Economics expects investment levels to continue to rise in the short term and then peak in 2014 as fewer projects move through planning to the construction phase.

It notes that investment in mining projects has been the “major driver of economic growth” but says that “all good things must come to an end”.

Mining investment projects currently account for nearly half (46%) of all major construction projects  either under construction or mooted, with transport and storage infrastructure projects (many tied to mining projects) making up nearly a third (31%).

The report finds that the value of planned projects has fallen back slightly over the past three months by $10.6 billion to $465 billion due to a lack of new resources projects, and some project cancellations, including BHP Billiton’s $20 billion Olympic Dam mine expansion project near Roxby Downs, as well as the delaying of the Port Hedland outer-harbour port expansion project in the Pilbara region in WA.

“While the bulk of other resources projects in planning are still on the agenda, there are question marks over the scale of some potential projects, such as Fortescue’s $6.2 billion Solomon mine expansion and [Gina Rinehart’s] Hancock Prospecting’s $9.5 billion Roy Hill project," says Deloite Access Economics.

Question marks also hang over Xstrata’s possible $6 billion Wandoan coal mine in Queensland, which has been placed on hold until market conditions improve, while BHP Billiton’s plans for a $3 billion expansion of the Peak Downs coking coal prospect have been shelved.

The Investment Monitor, which tallies all private and public engineering construction, non-residential building and equipment investment projects in all Australian industries, found the value of projects increased by $6.2 billion, or 0.7% from the June quarter, and has increased by 3.7% over the past year.

As the chart below shows, the mining boom accelerated from March 2011, but has slow-down since the start of the year.

Value of definite projects by status ($billion)

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"Housing Boom and Bust 2012/13 Report" SQM Research

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

One of Australia's most respected and dynamic property analysts, SQM Research's Louis Christopher, has recently released his annual "Housing Boom and Bust 2012/13 Report". This report provides a keen insight into the state and prospects of the Australian property market.

At the most fundamental level, the report provides solid news for average property owners and, as a consequence, the broader Australian economy. Christopher contends that "the remainder of 2012 and 2013 is likely to see a recovery in dwelling prices" and that "the lower end of the capital city market is likely to outperform the upper end". The recovery will be driven by the impact of low interest rates on the lower and middle end of the market.

Importantly, the main impetus of the recovery is likely to occur in markets that have struggled over the last five or so years. Christopher said "the best performing areas in Sydney are going to be in Sydney's outer ring, particularly in the west and south-west". He also identified the struggling Queensland Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast regions as areas nearing a property value floor.

Christopher pointed to low vacancy rates in these areas as a sign of strong demand for middle and outer-ring property.

"Given the rate cuts that have happened many renters who are living out there would now like to be buyers," he said.

"It's better news for sellers. If they are looking to sell in the next 12 months they will probably see more buyer demand."

As always, however, there are risks. The report analyses the impact of five scenarios on the market for 2012/13. In the first and most likely scenario, the commodity boom experiences a downturn, causing the terms of trade to fall and then level out. This scenario assumes that the dollar will be close to parity and the Reserve Bank will cut rates by 50 basis points before Christmas.

If this occurs, Mr Christopher said we can expect house prices to grow between 2 and 14 per cent across Australia. The only exception would be mining towns.

Sydney could expect house price growth of 5 to 9 per cent next year, Melbourne 2 to 5%, Brisbane 3 to 7%, Perth 6 to 12% and Adelaide 2 to 5%.

But the report says this price growth will occur in the lower and middle end of the market while prestige properties continue to underperform.

"At this point in time the prestige market is not showing any signs of recovery at all," Mr Christopher said.

He said the predictions in the report could be bad news for buyers who have waited on the sidelines for house price falls in the order of 40 per cent as predicted by Dr Steve Keen, colloquially known as Dr Doom.

Queensland Booming Property Market

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Retail investment in Queensland contributed the highest share nationally over F2011/12, according to Colliers International.

Colliers International’s National Retail Investment Review 2011/12 says that for transaction activity over $10 million, Queensland recorded 26 sales over the period – three of which were among the top 10 biggest sales nationally.

Major sales included Industry Superannuation Property Trust’s purchase of a 50 percent share in the Myer Centre Brisbane for $366 million, Australian Prime Property Fund Retail’s acquisition of 50 percent stake in the Cairns Central Shopping Centre for $261 million and the sale of Noosa Civic to Queensland Investment Corporation for $200 million.

The 50 percent stake in the Myer Centre Brisbane was the largest retail acquisition in Australia over the period.

Nationally Colliers recorded a total of 83 major retail investment transactions over the period, with a total value of $4.244 billion. This is an increase of 8 percent on the previous financial year.

Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria accounted for around 77 per cent of sales by number, Colliers says.

Stewart Gilchrist, Colliers International National Retail Director said investor demand for quality shopping centres was resilient over the 2011/12 financial year despite volatility in retail trade data.

“Investor demand for quality shopping centres was buoyant, but there was also strong interest in underperforming centres with repositioning potential,” Gilchrist says.

“There has been strong interest in prime regional shopping centre assets from institutional investors from Australia and overseas, with demand continuing to exceed supply.”

Neighbourhood centres led activity with 35 sales over the period, but a historically high number of regional centres were sold, with seven centres comprising 44 per cent of all sales by value.

Fifteen sub-regional centres sold, up from five the previous financial year. The sub-regional category saw the biggest jump in sales volume of all sectors.  Source:Property Ezine

A link to a webinar worth watching if you are serious about property investing

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Gladstone - strongest queensland property market

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Investor darling mining town Gladstone strongest Queensland regional housing market, while Bundaberg struggles like the Gold Coast

By Cassidy Knowlton
Monday, 09 July 2012

Regional areas have outperformed capital cities in the year to March, according to ANZ, with Gladstone leading the way in Queensland. 

"Despite being lower in annual growth terms, regional house prices have been more stable than capital city house prices, which have seen larger price falls across all major states and territories," notes the Australian Housing Chartbook.

"Across states/territories and regions, house price growth has continued to differ, reflecting varying economic performance across Australian industries."

"Queensland has shown the greatest intra-state variation in regional house prices, reflecting the divergenteconomic performance of regions exposed to the tourism sector (i.e. Cairns, Gold Coast) and mining-relatedservices (Gladstone, Mount Isa)," the report says.

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Source RP Data, Rismark, ANZ

Property Investment Opportunities

Thursday, October 04, 2012

From western Sydney granny flats to East Brisbane workers’ cottages: 15 eclectic investment opportunities under $500,000: HTW

By Larry Schlesinger
Thursday, 19 July 2012

There is a wide range of opportunities for property investors with a “lazy” $500,000 to invest and a creative mindset, according to the July edition of the Herron Todd White Property Market report.

Herron Todd White says the results of this year’s “lazy half million issue” show that “market performance has varied as much as the landscape”.

Investment options range from buying an older house in western Sydney on a large block and adding a granny flat, investing in four-bedroom homes near Newcastle University and converting them into student accommodation or considering a worker’s cottage in East Brisbane.

Here are 15 eclectic investment opportunities for savvy investors with $500,000 to invest:

Build a granny flat in western Sydney (rental returns of between 6.5% and 7%)

Investors should consider purchasing a circa  1960s to 1970s dwelling on 650- to 700-square-metre allotments and erect granny flats on the rear of the allotment, thus creating two separate tenancies. According to HTW, this type of investment has grown from a trickle to a flood and is mainly taking place in the Penrith Council area, although it has started to creep into neighbouring Blacktown Council area as well. Typically the investor is paying somewhere between $280,000 to $330,000 for the existing dwelling and between $60,000 to $80,000 for the granny flat plus spending an extra $25,000 on sprucing up the original dwelling. According to HTW the dual tenancies can generate monthly rent of $600 ($350 for the main house and $250 for the granny flat) with vacancy rates at practically 0%. HTW considers granny flats the “best investment from a rental return basis in the western suburbs”.

Convert a four-bedroom house close to Newcastle University into student digs

Investors should look at the Newcastle suburbs of Birmingham Gardens and Jesmond close to Newcastle University in Callaghan. HTW says investors are buying four-bedroom homes and turning them into six- and eight-bedroom residences and then renting the rooms separately to students. “Although rental returns are higher (as, however are the management costs), it is important to ensure that the right approvals  are in place otherwise you might find a nasty surprise  when the bank comes to value the property and you find its still valued as a four- bedroom home,” warns HTW.

Buy a pre-1980s houses in Port Macquarie and Forster

Investors should look for houses close to either the town centre or beach priced from $270,000 to $340,000 in Port Macquarie and Forster on the NSW mid north coast. HTW says the remaining $160,000 to $230,000 could be used to acquire a pre-1980s two-bedroom unit within the same location parameters. According to HTW, houses in the low to medium price range offer the greater likelihood of lower vacancy rates, higher yields and better potential for capital growth. Investors should avoid modern high-rise units in Forster in the $400,000 plus price range, as the market remains oversupplied.

Buy workers' cottages in East Brisbane

HTW says entry level workers cottages with two-bedroom, one-bathroom configurations can be bought below the $500,000 mark. “The suburb is frighteningly close to the CBD and facilities abound. Renters are readily available so the upside is once again a good thing,” says HTW.  For something a little bit more flash in the same suburb HTW suggests a circa-2000 unit with a two-bedroom, two-bathroom layout for around the $425,000 to $450,000 mark would rent for around $440 per week.

Buy a detached post-war home in Camp Hill or Coorparoo

Investors can pick up a detached post-war three bedder in Camp Hill or Coorparoo on a 600-square-metre block.  The suburbs are about 1o kilometres south east of the Brisbane CBD, with “facilities are around the corner” and “renters keen to be there”. According to HTW, these assets also look good for a long-term future sale.

Buy an older house close to the beach at Wollongong

Investors should consider buying an older house close to the beach at Towradgi, Fairy Meadow and East Corrimal just north of the Wollongong CBD. From an investment perspective good capital gains coupled with high rental returns can be found in Fairy Meadow, with the suburb benefiting from the expansion of the University of Wollongong, Innovation Campus and an improvement of public transport to and from the suburb. It is also close to the F6 freeway to Sydney.

NSW Property hotspots

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Dubbo, Ballarat and Townsville are pumping property hotspots, proving mining's not the only show in town: Terry Ryder

By Terry Ryder
Monday, 13 August 2012

Analysis in any field is meant to be a process of gathering information and drawing objective conclusions from the evidence. 

But that’s so last year. The modern way in Australia is to establish conclusions first and then seek evidence that supports it. Anything that doesn’t fit the pre-determined theory can be quietly ignored. 

Then you apply the old principle that if you repeat a lie often enough, people will eventually accept it as the truth. 

Analysis today often starts with the media sound-byte and works backwards from there. 

This is how we have arrived at the “reality” of a two-speed economy. The idea is trite, infantile, pathetic and plain wrong. 

But it’s there every day in headlines and articles and broadcasts – as an unchallengeable fact. Even though it’s a lie. 

National Australia Bank chief executive Cameron Clyne says talk of “a two-speed economy” is simplistic, incorrect and damaging to confidence. 

“It is not a two-speed economy,” he said, “It has never been a two-speed economy. It is a 10-speed economy. It always has been a 10-speed economy and always will be a 10-speed economy. There are a number of industries which are having very buoyant times – just as there are a number of industries that are struggling.”

When the ABS published data on jobs creation in June, most media coverage focused on the number of jobs created in the mining industry, with more references to the two-speed economy. In doing so they ignored the inconvenient truth that mining ranked only third for jobs creation. 

The leading economic sector in Australia in the past year is the “professional and scientific sector”, which puts mining in the shade on jobs creation. Number two is the health care industry. “Education and training” has also been a positive force in jobs creation recently. 

These sectors have received no publicity, amid the media’s obsession with resources as the only happening thing in our economy. Nor has the agricultural sector been given its due for the series of bumper results for commodities such as wheat and cotton. 

The vitality in multiple economic sectors explains why some of the strongest regional economies in Australia have little or nothing to do with mining. 

Townsville in Queensland is one of the best, because it is strong in multiple sectors, including tourism, government administration, the military, education and manufacturing – with some linkages to the mining industry also. 

Ballarat in Victoria is one of the unheralded stars of economic Australia, a place of bustling activity in many different spheres. This important regional city is strong in education, health and community services, tourism and manufacturing (a sector which is not dead, notwithstanding all the negative headlines). 

Ballarat is growing and plenty of new things are being built. I could make similar comments about nearby Bendigo, too. 

Whenever I mention Dubbo in the same sentence as the word “hotspot”, people are incredulous. For some reason no one expects anything exceptional to happen in places like Dubbo. But this is a vibrant regional city moving forward with increasingly large strides. 

It’s a strong regional centre for the Orana district of New South Wales, with big roles to play in education, medical services, support for agriculture, transport and logistics (it sits at the intersection for major routes road, rail and air transport) and tourism (it has the Western Plains Zoo, among other things). Developers are busy and lots of construction is happening, including work on residential, retail, commercial, wind farm and National Broadband Network projects. 

Centres like Townsville, Ballarat and Dubbo would not be pumping if mining was the only show in town.

Terry Ryder

Property Investment and the mining boom

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Australian mining project investment to peak in 2014: ANZ

By Larry Schlesinger
Monday, 13 August 2012

ANZ forecasts mining projects to peak at around $37 billion in 2014 in its August Major Projects report.

Mining sector investment

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Source: ANZ

Overall the bank expects infrastructure project investment to peak earlier in 2013 under revised projections, but to a higher peak.

"This largely reflects improved estimates of the timing of expected capital expenditure across years for the major LNG [liquefied natural gas] and coal projects," says ANZ.

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Source: ANZ

ANZ says the majority of infrastructure investment will be concentrated in the mining and energy sectors, with the investment pipeline across these two sectors totalling $380 billion between 2012 and 2016.

Given the concentration of investment in the mining and resource sectors and related infrastructure (i.e. ports,railways and harbours), the resource-rich states of Western Australia, Queensland and Northern Territory will receive the lion’s share – around 75%, or $450 billion – of the total investment expected over this time frame.

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Source: ANZ

Property Investment in Mining Towns

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Regional centres provide some of the returns of mining towns – without all the risks: Terry Ryder

By Terry Ryder
Thursday, 16 August 2012

Mining towns present the ultimate risk-return conundrum for property investors. 

They’re so hard for property investors to resist. They have the highest capital growth rates in Australia, and they have the highest rental returns. 

They also are the riskiest options for property investors. Mining towns are single-industry economies – sometimes single-employer economies – and are vulnerable to downturns in the lone industry. 

Over the past 10 years a typical suburb in an Australian city has averaged capital growth around 10% a year (thought certainly not in the past two years). The best suburbs in cities like Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth have averaged 14% or 15% – which is pretty good, because at those growth rates values are doubling every five years. 

But the best of the mining towns have capital growth averages double those growth rates. Both Moranbah and Dysart, coal-mining towns in Queensland, have recorded growth in their median house prices averaging more than 30% a year. So too has Newman, deep in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. The median price for Cloncurry in western Queensland rose 60% in the past 12 months. 

But the lure of the mining towns doesn’t end there. They also offer the highest rental yields in the nation. Many of them have double-digit rental returns. With the current surge in resources projects, particularly in Western Australia and Queensland, some mining towns can provide initial returns above 15%. 

But it’s never plain sailing with mining towns. They lack diversity, so their economic life is a roller coaster. Some also service the surrounding farming economy, but the high levels of prices and rents are based on demand created by the resources sector. 

This makes these locations highly vulnerable to downturns in the mining economy. When the global financial crisis struck in 2008, global demand for Australian resources fell. Miners downsized and in some cases shut down mining operations.

In coal-dependent towns like Dysart and Moura in Queensland, residential vacancies rapidly rose from near-zero to double digits. Gladstone, which has had four years of strong growth in house prices, had a 10% decrease in prices in 2009. 

The small WA communities of Ravensthorpe and Hopetoun were devastated when BHP Billiton shut down a $2 billion nickel mine that had been completed only months earlier – 1,800 people lost their jobs and property values fell. Hopetoun’s price performance since then has been a decline averaging 6% per year. 

More recently, we have seen mining companies refusing to rent properties in Moranbah over concerns about the high levels of house rents and upheaval in nearby Dysart followed the closure of the Norwich Park mine. Neither of these events is terminal to the towns’ investment prospects, but they demonstrate how uncertain property ownership can be in mining towns. 

Ultimately, an individual’s attitude to investing in mining towns, or not, depends on their objectives, risk profile and experience as an investor. 

It’s important for investors to understand their goals and to have a strategy for achieving them (it’s surprising how many don’t). Equally important is understanding their attitude to risk. If they prioritise safety and low risk, mining towns are not for them. 

For anyone starting out as an investor, mining towns are not a good option. They may provide big gains short term, but ultimately values may decrease sharply if a downturn occurs, such as the one that followed the onset of the GFC in 2008. 

On the other hand, experienced investors with substantial property portfolios may be happy to accept those risks within the context of a portfolio that has assets in safer locations.

Generally, investors wishing to safely exploit the rise of the resources sector should look at buying in regional centres that benefit from the mining upturn but are not dependent on it. 

Regional cities and towns such as Toowoomba and Mackay in Queensland, Geraldton in Western Australia, and Muswellbrook in New South Wales have diverse economies but also prosper when the mining sector is rising. These are safer options than mining towns.

Terry Ryder

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