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The latest happenings in the Melbourne property market. For our Essays and The Secret Agent Report, see our Research page.


Category Archives For: Economy

Budget 2017 – Winners and Losers in Property

WINNERS

First Home Buyers
First home buyers will be able to use voluntary contributions to their superannuation to save for a house deposit. Withdrawals will be taxed at a lower rate, but the amount you can contribute is capped at $15,000 a year and $30,000 all up. Both members of a couple can take advantage of the scheme.

In Victoria, the state government will abolish stamp duty for first time buyers of homes valued up to $600,000, make cuts to stamp duty on homes valued up to $750,000, and also double the First Home Owner Grant to $20,000 in regional Victoria.

With the first home super saver scheme, we may see increased demand for property below $600,000. This will push up the prices of houses and townhouses in outer suburbs such as Cranbourne. Inner city suburbs will be less affected, as average prices are typically above $600,000. Developers will also have to compete more agressively for development sites that allow sub-$600,000 townhouses to be built and sold in these outer suburbs.

Downsizers
A person aged 65 or over will be permitted to make a non-concessional contribution to superannuation of up to $300,000 from the proceeds of selling a principal residence owned for the past ten or more years from 1 July 2018.

This is good news for real estate agencies operating in areas popular among downsizers, such as the inner city, as there is more incentive for elderly property owners to sell their home. Developers can also benefit from creating stock in these areas. Read the full post


Bond Yield Update: February

official yields on australian treasury bonds 2016While many media outlets paint a rather bleak and uncertain future for the world economy, long-term bond yields in Australia finished 2016 higher than at any other point throughout the year.

This is even more impressive considering that the cash rate (which has a strong correlation with bond yields) was cut twice for a total of 50 basis points over 2016. Figure 1 shows how much long-term rates increased towards the end of last year and into 2017. Yields on 10-year Australian government bonds have increased by 74 basis points since September and nearly 100 points since the last interest rate cut in August. Read the full post


Investment Tips: Time Value of Money

Icon of a clock multiplied by an icon of a dollar note equals a question mark, to illustrate the concept of time value of money.

This week, Secret Agent illustrates the importance of time value of money when investing in property.

There is a saying that money earned today is worth more than money earned tomorrow. The main reasons this is true are:

  1. Inflation (rising price levels deteriorate the spending power of cash)
  2. Interest rates (money that can be invested today earns interest, which compounds over time
  3. Opportunity cost (the ability to use money now rather than having to wait for it)

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Trump Makes Bond Yields Great Again

A look at the bond market reveals a very large jump in bond yields the day after Trump was elected.

What a year it has turned out to be. From the mild (Western Bulldogs Premiership) to the momentous (Brexit and Trump presidency), 2016 has seen it all. Before discussing more recent events, let’s take a look at how bond yields have been performing since our last update in September. Read the full post


Bond Yield Update: September

There are two ways to be a consistent winner in investment: information asymmetry (mostly through insider trading, which is illegal) and holding assets in the long term. Both of these methods are protected from short-term volatility.

The first expects and profits from these movements (often very risky as all public information is already factored in the price), while the latter can safely ignore the daily peaks and troughs, knowing that these will cancel out over a longer period of time. Investing for long-term returns and robustness is the appropriate reason to buy treasury bonds, yet it is very counterintuitive for most of us to ignore weekly or monthly yields (even changes over one year can be irrelevant with the right strategy).

Business Insider recently published a story called “The week is underway and Australian bonds are getting destroyed” with an image of a building being demolished. Yet as the article correctly points out, yields are still below pre-Brexit levels (bond yields rise as prices fall), which was less than three months ago. It can be difficult to separate signal and noise from information when there is such an abundance of data.

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The Secret Agent Report – Melbourne’s Supply of New Developments

We have just released our latest Secret Agent report!

Demand is a hot topic in the apartment market at the moment, and assumptions about what buyers want are being made by almost everyone with the right to an opinion. Predicting future demand for a property is one way for investors to estimate the future capital growth of an asset. However, too little attention is paid to the supply side of the equation.

In this report, Secret Agent will move the focus from demand to supply, and forecast Melbourne’s upcoming stock of new developments.

Access the Supply report now!

You can also explore our interactive map of Melbourne’s supply of new apartment and townhouse developments here:

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Bond Yield Update: August

“Record low interest rates”. This seems to be the headline of the year, having been used so many times it is hard to remember any other kind of interest rate. Each time we see this, expectations for another rate cut decrease momentarily, only to return to the same, pre-cut probability-levels after a few weeks.

Figure 1 paints a clear picture of a similar short-term outlook, yet weakening long-term expectations. While this graph does not include data since the rate cut (yields on 10 year treasuries have lifted a whopping 0.03% since the July levels shown in Figure 2), we can see almost identical movements at each maturity date from May to June and from June to July.

Blog-1
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Capital Growth Update: June

The capital growth index is a very accurate way of measuring the long-term returns on an investment in the property market. It removes a lot of the noise usually present in real estate statistics, such as construction or renovations, a lot of large or small houses being sold and seasonality.

Median capital growth is based on the resales of the same property over different time periods (see methodology for more detail). Over the second quarter of 2016, inner Melbourne capital growth was 1.63%, or 6.67% when annualised. This is slightly lower than the median of 6.80%% over 2015, but above the five-year median of 6.31%.

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Bond Yield Update: June

The bond market, even more so than the stock market, is often a key indicator of investor expectations and the overall health of the economy.

Figure 1 shows the RBA reported bond yields on treasury bonds from 90-day bills to 10-year, long term bonds. From March to April this year, long term yields decreased more than short term ones. This is called “flattening” of the yield curve and is often a sign of lower investor confidence and a bleaker future outlook for the economy. From April to May, the opposite effect can be observed: while yields for all maturity dates decreased, the yield curve steepened slightly. The drop in short term yields reflects the RBA’s decision at the start of May to cut the official cash rate by 25 basis points (0.25%).

Blog-1So what has happened since the interest rate cut?

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Settlement Risk Looms

The development space in inner Melbourne and Sydney is set to be severely challenged. Conversations between Secret Agent and various developers over the past month have revealed their increasing anxiety about potential settlement issues. These developers, who have settlements due in the next 18 months, are worried that many of their apartments may not be able to settle due to the restrictions placed on foreign buyers by local banks. This is likely to have substantial implications.

For some time now, developers have used successful business models to sell their projects directly to Asia. Sales companies who specialise in selling unseen apartments to the Chinese market have made large financial gains. These apartments, many of which are tiny by local standards, have been purposely designed for the overseas market. Committed contracts, once thought to be rock solid, are now on shaky ground.

To understand the problem at hand, let us consider a hypothetical situation. An investor group, on behalf of a developer, sells a small two bedroom CBD apartment to a buyer based in Shanghai. The buyer pays $714,000 for the 68sqm apartment, which is $10,500 per square metre, and pays a 10% deposit. Since the transaction was entered into 12 months ago, the investor has no stamp duty to pay at settlement. It so happens that this purchaser defaults. The developer gets to keep the 10% deposit minus fees. The problem is that there is a need to sell the apartment to someone else.

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