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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

How good an investment is south-east Queensland

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How good an investment is south-east Queensland

Why do we believe we’ll see increasing investor interest in this market? Strong population growth, a diversified and growing economy, and substantial investment in infrastructure should combine to boost demand.

We expect that these factors will swell the number of white-collar jobs – increasing demand for office space, which in turn will push down vacancy rates and raise rental incomes. This should be good news for office property investors – especially those like Centuria Metropolitan REIT (CMA) that are already well-positioned in the market.

A significant and growing population

South East Queensland (SEQ) stretches from the Gold Coast up to the Sunshine Coast and across to Toowoomba in the west. As Australia’s third-largest population zone, the region has been growing significantly, particularly Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Interstate migration figures show a pattern of steady net migration, with Queensland the only Australian state with consistent net inflows of people from other states. In the five years prior to the 2016 Census, over 220,000 people moved to the Sunshine State – mainly to SEQ where nearly 90% of population growth occurred. This is important for property investors because of its implications for demand, but the trend is interconnected with other favourable factors.

A diversified economy poised for growth

Queensland’s economy is diversified across a range of industries including agriculture, resources, construction, tourism, manufacturing, and services. Over the past two decades, its economic growth has consistently exceeded the national average – and in our view this is likely to continue.

The resources sector is gaining momentum, and a significant pipeline of major infrastructure and development projects is helping propel economic and jobs growth, in turn increasing interstate migration and driving demand for both residential and commercial property.

Investment in infrastructure

A strong infrastructure program delivers more than business and consumer amenity – it generates jobs, drives investment, and facilitates population growth. The pipeline of infrastructure and development projects announced in the past few years is likely to have a material impact on the region – substantially improving its accessibility and amenity – most notably, Brisbane’s Queen’s Wharf precinct and the Cross River Rail.

Queen’s Wharf, touted as a “world-class entertainment precinct”, is an integrated resort development costing $3.6 billion and covering over 26 hectares with retail, dining, hotel and entertainment spaces. As Queensland’s biggest ever tourism project it will be a game-changer for Brisbane, attracting overseas as well as local visitors.  Estimated to contribute $1.69 billion annually to the economy, it will employ more than 2,000 people during construction and an estimated 10,000 once operational.

The Queensland Government’s number one infrastructure project, the $5.4 billion Cross River Rail, comprises a new 10.2km rail line between Dutton Park and Bowen Hills, which includes a 5.9km tunnel under the Brisbane River and CBD. It’s the first major rail infrastructure investment in the inner city since 1986 and is set to generate urban renewal, economic development and the revitalisation of inner-city precincts.

Outlook for commercial office property investment

These factors indicate a region poised for growth – and for growing commercial property demand. CMA’s portfolio has a significant exposure to the area in general (six SEQ assets with a combined book value of over $480 million), with many of the individual assets located in those parts of Brisbane set to benefit most from these developments.

Our view is that Brisbane office markets, where five of CMA’s assets sit, are continuing to improve, with vacancies hitting a five-year low – indicating increasing tenant demand – and continued yield compression, demonstrating strong investment demand. Office sales hit the highest level in a decade during 2018 (at $2.35 billion), increasing 60% from 2017.

With the strong outlook for SEQ, we expect the region will continue to attract tenants and investors alike.

Source: brisbaneinvestor.com.au

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Queensland’s 100,000-property public housing shortfall revealed

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Queensland's 100,000-property public housing shortfall revealed

Queensland has a severe shortage of social and affordable housing, an issue that is projected to get worse by 2036 according to new research.

More than 102,000 additional social houses are currently needed across the state, and 54,700 affordable houses are also needed with nearly 13 per cent of Queenslanders spending more than 30 per cent of their income on rent.

By 2036, Queensland is projected to need 254,300 more social and affordable houses – the second-highest unmet need behind NSW, the report found.

The new figures come from a UNSW City Futures Research Centre report on social housing shortfall across Australia.

Regional social housing shortfalls are higher than in Brisbane, the data shows, but Brisbane residents are slightly more likely to be spending more of their income on rent.

Housing Minister Mick de Brenni said housing affordability was a “big issue” for Queensland.

“Through the Palaszczuk government’s $1.8 billion Queensland Housing Strategy, Labor is driving key reforms and targeted investment across the housing continuum,” he said.

“The Strategy commits us to build more than 1000 affordable homes for Queenslanders, as well as a further 4522 new social homes to help ensure everyone has a safe, secure and stable place to live.”

Lead researcher Laurence Troy said 22.5 per cent of Australia’s entire housing growth must go to social housing to meet demand into the future.

“Our analysis shows that the sheer number of households in rental stress across the country means that if we’re going to meet the need, at least 12 per cent of all our housing by 2036 will need to be social and affordable housing – which is a very reasonable ambition in global terms,” Mr Troy said.

“To cover the backlog of unmet need and future need in Australia two in 10 new homes will need to be for social housing over the next 20 years, and a further one in ten for below-market affordable rental housing.”

Mr Troy said the research’s financial modelling found the “best and cheapest way” for governments to meet the need for social housing was to fund it through upfront grants and low-interest government financing.

“Delivering below market rental housing through the not-for-profit sector, as opposed to the private equity model, will save $3 billion a year by removing developer mark-ups and shareholder returns,” he said.

The financial modelling was commissioned by the NSW community housing sector.

Mr de Brenni said the state government was “listening” through its recent public consultation on rental reform and was committed to investing in affordable housing in partnership with community housing, to provide more subsidied homes for low income earners.

“We heard Queenslanders are struggling to afford rental properties in the suburbs close to where they work,” he said.

“Through our Build-to-Rent pilot project, we are seeking to work with the private sector to increase the number of long-term, affordable rental properties for low to moderate income earners, including key workers in health, early childhood and hospitality.

“Internationally, the Build-to-Rent model is delivering fantastic outcomes and facilities for tenants and we’re looking to see what the market is open to delivering here.

“The pilot, if it proceeds, will see $70 million invested towards delivery of hundreds of affordable rental properties for key workers in inner-city areas where affordability has been identified.”

Mr de Brenni said the registrations of interest for that pilot had seen strong market interest, and the department was considering the responses before calling for expressions of interest.

Source: brisbaneinvestor.com.au

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Opinion

Treasury: Negative Gearing Reforms Will Have ‘Little to No Effect’ on House Prices

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Treasury Negative Gearing Reforms Will Have ‘Little to No Effect’ House Prices

Federal Treasury has delivered a serious rebuke to the Coalition for exaggerating the impact of Labor’s negative gearing and capital gains changes.

In emails released under freedom of information, acting treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer requested the department fact check the Coalition’s claims that Labor’s policies would cause house prices to fall.

In response, Treasury issued a correction: “The [s]tatement is not consistent with our advice.”

“We did not say that the proposed policies ‘will’ reduce house prices,” the email reads.

“We said that they ‘could’ put downward pressure on house prices in the short-term depending on what else was going on in the market at the time.

“But in the long-term they were unlikely to have much impact.”

Labor has jumped on the release, with shadow treasurer Chris Bowen saying that the government had been “caught red-handed” misrepresenting Treasury’s advice.

For his part, treasurer Josh Frydenberg denied that the government was misrepresenting Treasury, pointing to the Financial Review’s take on the release that changes “could” put downward pressure on house prices in the short term.

Frydenberg quoted building industry group the Masters Builders Association figures.

“If Labor’s policy is in place you’ll see 32,000 fewer jobs and 42,000 fewer homes being built.”

Treasury Negative Gearing Reforms Will Have ‘Little to No Effect’ on House Prices

House prices hit spending

It has been a difficult week in economic policy, with GDP figures released on Wednesday revealing that the economy has slowed significantly, entering a “per capita recession” for the first time in 13 years.

Retail trade figures for the March quarter were also sluggish, with falling house prices impacting wealth and spending.

RBA governor Philip Lowe highlighted the link between the two at the AFR annual business summit on Wednesday.

“The evidence is that a tightening in credit supply has contributed to the slowdown in credit growth,” Lowe said.

“The main story, though, is one of reduced demand for credit, rather than reduced supply.

“When housing prices are falling, investors are less likely to enter the market and to borrow. So too are owner-occupiers for a while.”

Source: brisbaneinvestor.com.au

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