Is now a good time to invest in real estate?
It’s been a rollercoaster of a year for both those in the stock market and in property. Unpredictable events have made a mystery of what to expect when it comes to investments and the economy at large. With inflation high and interest rates rising, people are looking for answers when it comes to where to invest.
What’s happening in the property market?
The last six months have seen a slight downward trend in sale prices across the Melbourne and Sydney markets in particular, while markets such as Perth and Adelaide have continued to show strong growth. Some say we are coming out of this ‘price cooling’ period, especially in areas of Queensland – which have proven to bounce back the fastest – yet some local property markets are still stalled.
What’s happening in the stock market?
A mix of high inflation, rising interest rates and a generally uncertain macroeconomic environment has meant increased market volatility and uncertainty amongst investors in the capital markets around the world. At the time of writing, the ASX is flat after a rally post this week’s RBA announcement, however Macquarie believes the move doesn’t quite signal the start of a sustained rally just yet. Like many others, the experts are adopting a “wait and see” approach.
What does this mean for you?
In times of uncertainty or caution, investors traditionally seek safer alternatives to park their capital. Both stocks and property have offered good long-term returns but understandably, the current markets are making some a little nervous, especially with the potential of more rate rises.
We spoke to property experts across Australia to see whether stocks or property are a better option for the everyday investor right now. This isn’t financial advice, however, and it always pays to seek professional advice on decisions that take into account your personal circumstances.
Investing in stocks vs. property in Australia
Property economist and Co-Founder of BuyersBuyers, Pete Wargent, shares his thoughts on stocks versus property right now.
Stock market investing:
- The ASX (Australian stock exchange) is different from the international stock exchange. The ASX always has and still is performing better than its international counterparts.
- Stock market investment is becoming more accessible to even more Australians through diversified funds and low-threshold online investing platforms.
- Allows you to leverage borrowed capital for a greater long-term return
- Has a higher entry point when it comes to capital: you have to have that deposit in your account to get started.
- Property ownership comes with costs of upkeep and the risk that you may cover portions of mortgage repayment while the home is between tenants.
How do they stack up?
- Both stocks and property have shown a 9% return per annum* consistently since 1994.
- While the stock market offers ease in transacting, it also comes with volatility and fluctuations that are more pronounced than the volatility experienced in property.
Is now a good time to invest in property?
Matt Scafidi, Owner of Abode Advocacy Group notes that while many property investors are pausing during this media storm, in his opinion now is in fact a good time to buy in.
He says, “Whilst others are waiting to see what happens, you will be able to secure a high-performing investment property at a price you could have only dreamed about 6 months ago.” He continues, “Those who wait too long will end up buying as the market starts to head back up.”
Adding to that, Joe Hanna, Group CEO and Managing Director of PropTech Group, which operates Real Estate Investar, says, “Diversification is generally a key element of safe investing. Investors who can afford it often choose to have a mix of both equities and property, so it’s not really an either/or situation.”
He adds, “If you can afford it, spread your investments among both stocks and real estate.”
Joe reminds new investors to think long-term with their investments, regardless of the current markets, “While prices are likely to fall and rates rise over the next 12 months, in five years I believe today’s prices will none-the-less look inexpensive.”
His advice for those considering property investment right now is, “Take advantage of today’s market to buy a good-quality property that is easily rented, maximise your yield and minimise your expenses. Ensure you will be able to manage whatever debt you take on.”
Why property investment might be right for you
Pete Wargent says, “Since 2003, house prices have delivered a compounding capital growth rate of 5.8% per annum while units have delivered 4.2% per annum.” He continues, “Total returns from property investment over the past 20 years have therefore been somewhere in the range of 9% per annum.
Pete explains that investing in property tends to help investors change their mindset to appreciate ‘long term gains’, adding that there are more property millionaires than any other asset class for a reason.
Tangible assets and basic needs
To quote the obvious: houses are physical, tangible assets. While stocks offer incredible potential, property investment relies on a demand that will never die – the basic human need for housing.
Build equity without paying for it yourself
Making smart property purchase decisions can ensure you have reliable cash flow from your investment property through rent, which serves to both pay off your borrowed equity and can also provide additional income through rental yield.
We spoke to leading Melbourne-based property manager Anna Molinaro from OBrien Real Estate, about keeping your investment property cash flow-positive. She explains, “If the rent exceeds the expenses and mortgage repayments, then the rental provider has a positive cash flow. It is important to have a positive cash flow when investing, in the event that the property may be vacant for a period of time.”
The thing to consider with investment properties is the purchasing costs and ongoing maintenance costs. Property is a great long-term strategy for your investment portfolio, but don’t forget it comes with costs along the way.
Potential tax benefits
Property investment tax benefits make this asset class an attractive investment to some e of those comes from potential negative gearing to offset tax. While ‘negative gearing’ isn’t a phrase used in tax legislation, it’s commonly used when asset-specific expenses, including interest expenses from a mortgage, are greater than the income earned from the asset. This would make your asset ‘negatively geared’.
Individuals who are negatively geared can deduct that loss against other income (e.g. salary), usually minimising their tax owed.
While it’s not ideal to have a property that costs more than it makes, it means that you could potentially l have something to gain from the property if you find yourself weathering a difficult market. It is advised to seek advice from a qualified accountant or financial planner prior to making any decision you make, though.
How to invest in property wisely
Get the right professionals involved
Matt Scafidi advises that the process and pressure involved in picking the right investment property can be overwhelming, especially for those new to the market.
He says, “We always advise clients to have professionals in all areas for example an accountant, financial planner, solicitor and a property advisor. There are many streets in suburbs we avoid based on capital appreciation, rental returns or even particular apartment buildings.”
He continues, “It’s all based on performance for our clients and so out of all the properties on the market at any given time there are probably 2 in 100 that we would determine a ‘good investment’, hence why you need a professional on your side.”
Be open to options
Matt continues, “There are many choices for clients out there when investing in property. A common mistake we see made is investors having tunnel vision on either a particular property type or location.”
He explains, “Your best investment decision could be regional, interstate, permanent or a holiday let – it just depends on your desired outcomes.”
Matt concludes, “Investors should be open to all scenarios without bias to choose the property that will give the best performance return both on rental return and capital appreciation.”
Make sure the basics are covered
Because investment properties come with associated costs for upkeep and more, it’s important to check if a property ticks all the basic boxes before committing.
Anna advises, “When purchasing an investment property, it’s important to ensure the property meets the minimum standards and that as a rental provider you adhere to The Residential Tenancies Act, especially with the new changes that have come into effect.”
She continues, “Always look at investing in an area that will provide a good rental return. Location, public transport, schools, shops are important to renters.”
Find out more about Australia’s best suburbs to invest in, check out our suburb and street reviews.
If you want security, go for a long-term tenancy-appropriate property
Anna explains, “We find that rental providers prefer the stability of having their renter on a fixed term rental agreement. If you’re fortunate to have secured a renter on a fixed-term agreement with steady rental payments, you can rest assured that your rental income will be consistent.”
She warns, “It is, however, important to have some cash flow in the event that unexpected situations may arise in the event that the renter’s circumstances change; whereby you’ll need to be able to service the mortgage for a period of time.”
Things to be mindful of when deciding whether to invest in property:
- Stamp duty and land taxes upon purchase
- Liquidity. With a property, you can’t simply pull your money out if you need it so it’s important to not overextend yourself with the purchase
- Maintenance costs. Rental provider legislation is tightening to ensure tenants have safe and healthy homes to live in. Unfortunately, this upkeep can make being a landlord costly. Be sure your property is ‘up to scratch’ already
- Get a professional involved to help steer you in the right direction. In a changing market with so much to consider, what may appear a great deal upon purchase could end with you owning a low-performing asset that doesn’t grow in value.
- Problematic tenants. Make sure you use a reputable property manager to ensure your investment is in good hands. Wear and tear happens, but good tenants make life a whole lot easier.
Again, seek professional financial advice before you make any decisions. There are plenty of options out there for those with capital to invest and property remains a viable one for many Australians.
*according to ABS data, supplied by BuyersBuyers.