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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.

Related article: Experts warn of ‘debt bomb’ as housing downturn worsens

Source: news.com.au

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Opinion

Negative gearing changes will affect us all, mostly for the better

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Negative gearing changes will affect us all, mostly for the better

Don’t have a negatively geared investment property? You’re in good company.

Despite all the talk about negatively geared nurses and property baron police officers, 90 per cent of taxpayers do not use it.

But federal Labor’s policy will still affect you through changes in the housing market and the budget. Here’s what you should know.

Labor’s negative gearing policy will prevent investors from writing off the losses from their property investments against the tax they pay on their wages. This will affect investors buying properties where the rent isn’t enough to cover the cost of operating the property, including any interest payments on the investment loan.

Doesn’t sound like a good investment? Exactly right: negatively gearing a property only makes sense as an investment strategy if you expect that the house will rise significantly in value so you’ll make a decent capital gain when you sell.

The negatively geared investor gets a good deal on tax – they write off their losses in full as they occur but they are only taxed on 50 per cent of their gains when they sell.

Labor’s policy makes the tax deal a little less sweet – losses can only be written off against other investment income, including the proceeds from the property when it is sold. And investors will pay tax on 75 per cent of their gains, at their marginal tax rate.

Future property speculators are unlikely to be popping the champagne corks for Labor’s plan. But other Australians should know that there are a lot of potential upsides from winding back these concessions.

Limiting negative gearing and reducing the capital gains tax discount will substantially boost the budget bottom line. The independent Parliamentary Budget Office estimates Labor’s policy will raise about $32.1 billion over a decade.

Ultimately, the winners from the change are the 89 per cent of nurses, 87 per cent of teachers and all the other hard-working taxpayers who don’t negatively gear. Winding back tax concessions that do not have a strong economic justification means the government can reduce other taxes, provide more services or improve the budget bottom line.

Labor’s plan will reduce house prices, a little. By reducing investor tax breaks, it will reduce investor demand for existing houses.

Assuming the value of the $6.6 trillion property market falls by the entire value of the future stream of tax benefits, there would be price falls in the range of 1 per cent to 2 per cent. Any reduction in competition from investors is a win for first home buyers.

Existing home-owners may be less pleased, especially in light of recent price falls in Sydney and Melbourne. But if they bought their house more than a couple of years ago, chances are they are still comfortably ahead.

And renters need not fear Labor’s policy. Fewer investors does mean fewer rental properties, but those properties don’t disappear – home buyers move in, and so there are also fewer renters.

Negative gearing would affect rents only if it reduced new housing supply. Any effects will be small: around 90 per cent of investment lending is for existing housing, and Labor’s policy leaves in place negative gearing tax write-offs for new homes.

All Australians will benefit from greater stability in the housing market from the proposed change. The existing tax breaks magnify volatility. Negative gearing is most attractive as a tax minimisation strategy when asset prices are rising strongly. So in boom times it feeds investor demand for housing. The opposite is true when prices are stable or falling.

The Reserve Bank, the Productivity Commission and the Murray financial system inquiry have all raised concerns about the effects of the current tax arrangements on financial stability.

Negative gearing would affect rents only if it reduced new housing supply.

 

And for those worried about equity? Negative gearing and capital gains are both skewed towards the better off. Almost 70 per cent of capital gains accrue to those with taxable incomes of more than $130,000, putting them in the top 10 per cent of income earners.

For negative gearing, 38 per cent of the tax benefits flow to this group. But people who negatively gear have lower taxable incomes because they are negatively gearing. If we look at people’s taxable incomes before rental deductions, the top 10 per cent of income earners receive almost 50 per cent of the tax benefit from negative gearing.

So you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that the share of anaesthetists negatively gearing is almost triple that for nurses, and the average tax benefits they receive are around 11 times higher.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says aspirational voters should fear Labor’s proposed changes to negative gearing and the capital gains tax.

But for those of us who aspire to a better budget bottom line, a more stable housing market and better opportunities for first home buyers, the policies have plenty to find favour.

 

Source: brisbaneinvestor.com.au

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Opinion

Property Experts Reveal Surprising Areas Investors Are Snapping Up

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Property Experts Reveal Surprising Areas Investors Are Snapping Up

We all know Sydney’s property market has taken hit after hit recently — but there are other lesser-known areas that are experiencing a sudden property boom.

That’s according to Australian real estate experts, who claim that while investors may have deserted Sydney and Melbourne, their attention has turned to other regions across the country.

According to Daniel Walsh of investment buyer’s agency Your Property Your Wealth, investment activity has now firmly shifted to Queensland.

“Net migration has now overtaken Melbourne due to the affordability that Brisbane has to offer,” he explained.

“We’re also seeing rising demand particularly in the housing sector in southeast Queensland where yields are high and jobs are increasing due to the amount of government expenditure around infrastructure which is attracting families to the Sunshine State.

“With Brisbane’s population growth at 1.6 per cent and surrounding areas like Moreton Bay at 2.2 per cent, the Sunshine Coast at 2.7 per cent and Ipswich at 3.7 per cent, we are forecasting that Brisbane will be the standout performer over the next three to five years.”

Realestate.com.au chief economist Nerida Conisbee agreed, saying Sydney investors especially had started to turn their attention north.

“Interest is strong in the Gold Coast across the board although there’s more action on the south side in places like Tugun and Burleigh Heads,” she said, adding there was also a notable trend towards Tasmania, Adelaide and pockets of NSW.

“In Tasmania, most activity is definitely taking place in Hobart, but it has shifted — a lot of the action was in the inner city, but it’s now happening in the middle and outer ring suburbs, as well as in Launceston.

“Tweed Heads and Byron Bay (in NSW) have also had strong price growth at the moment,” she said, adding that in Sydney, trendy inner-city suburbs like Paddington, the premium end of town and areas like Winston Hills in the city’s west were defying the downward trend.

Ms Conisbee said long-neglected Adelaide was also finally booming after recently hitting the highest median house price ever recorded, largely driven by jobs and economic growth off the back of defence contracts, the announcement of the new Australian Space Agency and other investment in the area.

“Inner Adelaide, beachside and the Adelaide Hills tend to have the most activity but there’s also quite a lot of rental demand in low-cost suburbs so we’re expecting to see a bit more investment there in those really cheap suburbs over the next 12 months,” she said.

“There you can get houses for $250,000 so for an investor, it’s a relatively low cost in terms of outlay and the area is seeing really strong rental demand which means you’re more than likely to get tenants, so for investors it’s a really attractive area.”

Mr Walsh said Sydney still remained a solid investment option in the long term — but stressed it was just not the right time to buy in the city due to its market cycle as well as lending constraints.

“While property prices in Sydney have softened by about 9 per cent this year, they are still high, which means it’s not an affordable option for many investors,” he said, noting the city’s high buy-in prices coupled with relatively low rents made the yields quite unattractive.

“At this point in time, the high costs of entry as well as holding costs make it a location that should be avoided — but not forever,” he said.

“The thing is, Sydney is still Sydney, which means that it will always be in demand.

“Its population is forecast to grow by some three million people in the decades ahead, plus it remains our nation’s economic engine room.”

He said the entire NSW economy remained “robust” with unemployment falling to 4.4 per cent last year, with Sydney’s major infrastructure program also proving there was “much to be positive about” in Sydney.

“Sydney homeowners and investors who bought a number of years ago are still well ahead because they chose the optimal time to buy and they remain focused on the future,” he said, adding the optimal time to re-enter the market probably wouldn’t be for at least another year or two.

Source: brisbaneinvestor.com.au

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Opinion

Property Experts Reveal Surprising Areas Investors Are Snapping Up

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Investor might be turning their backs on Sydney - bu plenty areas are booming.

We all know Sydney’s property market has taken hit after hit recently — but there are other lesser-known areas that are experiencing a sudden property boom.

That’s according to Australian real estate experts, who claim that while investors may have deserted Sydney and Melbourne, their attention has turned to other regions across the country.

According to Daniel Walsh of investment buyer’s agency Your Property Your Wealth, investment activity has now firmly shifted to Queensland.

“Net migration has now overtaken Melbourne due to the affordability that Brisbane has to offer,” he explained.

“We’re also seeing rising demand particularly in the housing sector in southeast Queensland where yields are high and jobs are increasing due to the amount of government expenditure around infrastructure which is attracting families to the Sunshine State.

“With Brisbane’s population growth at 1.6 per cent and surrounding areas like Moreton Bay at 2.2 per cent, the Sunshine Coast at 2.7 per cent and Ipswich at 3.7 per cent, we are forecasting that Brisbane will be the standout performer over the next three to five years.”

Realestate.com.au chief economist Nerida Conisbee agreed, saying Sydney investors especially had started to turn their attention north.

“Interest is strong in the Gold Coast across the board although there’s more action on the south side in places like Tugun and Burleigh Heads,” she said, adding there was also a notable trend towards Tasmania, Adelaide and pockets of NSW.

“In Tasmania, most activity is definitely taking place in Hobart, but it has shifted — a lot of the action was in the inner city, but it’s now happening in the middle and outer ring suburbs, as well as in Launceston.

“Tweed Heads and Byron Bay (in NSW) have also had strong price growth at the moment,” she said, adding that in Sydney, trendy inner-city suburbs like Paddington, the premium end of town and areas like Winston Hills in the city’s west were defying the downward trend.

Ms Conisbee said long-neglected Adelaide was also finally booming after recently hitting the highest median house price ever recorded, largely driven by jobs and economic growth off the back of defence contracts, the announcement of the new Australian Space Agency and other investment in the area.

“Inner Adelaide, beachside and the Adelaide Hills tend to have the most activity but there’s also quite a lot of rental demand in low-cost suburbs so we’re expecting to see a bit more investment there in those really cheap suburbs over the next 12 months,” she said.

“There you can get houses for $250,000 so for an investor, it’s a relatively low cost in terms of outlay and the area is seeing really strong rental demand which means you’re more than likely to get tenants, so for investors it’s a really attractive area.”

Mr Walsh said Sydney still remained a solid investment option in the long term — but stressed it was just not the right time to buy in the city due to its market cycle as well as lending constraints.

“While property prices in Sydney have softened by about 9 per cent this year, they are still high, which means it’s not an affordable option for many investors,” he said, noting the city’s high buy-in prices coupled with relatively low rents made the yields quite unattractive.

“At this point in time, the high costs of entry as well as holding costs make it a location that should be avoided — but not forever,” he said.

“The thing is, Sydney is still Sydney, which means that it will always be in demand.

“Its population is forecast to grow by some three million people in the decades ahead, plus it remains our nation’s economic engine room.”

He said the entire NSW economy remained “robust” with unemployment falling to 4.4 per cent last year, with Sydney’s major infrastructure program also proving there was “much to be positive about” in Sydney.

“Sydney homeowners and investors who bought a number of years ago are still well ahead because they chose the optimal time to buy and they remain focused on the future,” he said, adding the optimal time to re-enter the market probably wouldn’t be for at least another year or two.

Source: brisbaneinvestor.com.au

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