Sunday, September 26, 2010

How To Lose Money in Property Investing

Here is an interesting article, that discusses the risks of buying off-the-plan.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Milton at Milton

FKP has opened its sales office for "The Milton", a new apartment building that FKP plans to build next to the railway line at Milton Station.

The building will feature 298 one and two bedroom apartments. There will be no three bedroom apartments. There is a pool. Shops are located on the ground level.

Compared to all recent developments for Brisbane apartments, the floor plans for the apartments in The Milton are the best that I have seen. The apartments have wide frontages, good light, storage space, and most have good sized kitchens (rather than galley kitchens). There are no internal bedrooms. The apartments are an ok size - the average size for a two bed is 92 sqm including balcony and 62 sqm for a one bed.

The downsides:
  • FKP's recent developments in Brisbane have not been great. Vue at Milton was did not turn out to be great, and many of the apartments there are still selling below the original sales price. The Albion Mill project never started. I considered the SL8 development at West End to be a disappointment.
  • The Milton is being built on a railway.
  • The Milton is located close to the XXXX brewery, and so residents will be impacted by smell, fumes and fallout from the brewery.
  • Despite the nice brochures from FKP, The Milton is located a fair distance from the river. It is not river front, and will only have distant river views. There is the strong possibility that other towers will be built between this development and the river. In my opinion, the artist's impressions being distributed by FKP are somewhat misleading.
  • There is the risk that the apartments on each end will be built out if similar apartment buildings are constructed on the neighbouring land. The Milton is not on a corner block, and this is a risk.
  • The building does not have central airconditioning. The hallways are unlikely to be airconditioned. Not all rooms in your apartment will have an airconditioning output head. So FKP selected the low quality option here.

The biggest downside to me is the price. FKP is advertising that the median (not average) price for 2 bedroom apartments is $778,049 and for one bedrooms is $430,497.

For example, the apartment listed above (N type) on about level 12 is listed for sale at $795,000 plus an extra $12,000 for the "upgrade" interior package. This is over $8,500 per sqm metre, for an average residential starter apartment -- we are not talking about a luxury building or prime location here.

A two bedroom M type on lower than level 10 will cost $785,000 plus a $10,000 upgrade package. A two bedroom K type on a similar low floor will cost $748,000 plus $10,000 upgrade package.

What is even more amazing is the printed information that FKP is giving out to potential investors. They have a sheet of paper showing investment returns for a 2 bed, 1 bath apartment listed at $650,000. The predicition is that this apartment will be worth $807,500 on completion of the project in 2013, and will be worth over $1M by 2016. The predicted rent is over $720 a week in 2013.

Take note! Investors who purchased a 2 bedroom 1 bathroom apartment off-the-plan in Evolution (a better location, in the downtown area) over 5 years ago at over $600,000 are now having great trouble selling that same apartment for $500,000 today, and similar apartments in Felix are selling for about $450,000 today. So it is a bit rich to say that a two bed, 1 bath apartment at Milton is good value at $650,000 today, and I find it very hard to believe that it will be worth 0ver $800,000 in three years time.

Take care!!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Dishonest Real Estate Agents

I came across this illegal trick that a "reputable" city real estate agent is doing. This is the story. Let's say that the apartment is listed at $1.4M. He receives an offer of $1.2M. So to butter up the vendor, he first puts in a fake offer (a forged contract) to the vendor at say $1.025M. The vendor is disappointed, and rejects the offer. Soon after, he presents the real $1.2M offer (telling the vendor that this is a good offer; and also telling the purchaser that there is another person bidding on the the property.) The vendor is more likely to accept the $1.2M offer.

So if you are an investor selling your apartment in Brisbane, take care! Especially if the address of the purchaser is a PO Box. If you get a low ball offer, have someone check out to see if the offer is from a real person.

Meriton's Infinity Pricing

I received this from a Sydney investor, who was asked to invest in Infinity, on Herschel Street in Brisbane:
  • 1 bedroom with study with city views from: $398,000
  • 1 bedroom with study with river views from: $448,000
  • 2 bedroom with city views from: $525,000
  • 2 bedroom with river views from: $560,000

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Month In Review

The Herron Todd White Month in Review report, issued each month, often has useful commentary. Some extracts from the September 2010 report:

"Importantly, do not read ‘relatively affordable’ as ‘secondary quality’. It is better to stretch the dollar a bit and buy a dodgy looking second had unit with good bones and quiet position in an area such as Ascot or Toowong, rather than a brand newie in the same areas that is the size of a bathtub and has full exposure to rail noise. The good thing with these units is that they always have a strong rental demand and some value-add potential if you get something that needs a little love.

... there are some areas that you should steer clear of.

The first that comes to mind is on the Redcliffe Peninsula and specifically high rise unit developments. A favourable council hell bent on turning the area into something beyond a sleepy seaside habitat went gung ho with developers to create a mini Surfers Paradise along the esplanade. The result was a number of multi-level unit projects designed to take advantage of the views and the natural attributes that usually have investors salivating. Unfortunately the suitors became a little too enamored and far too many projects came out of the ground, with many units snapped up by out of town buyers for prices well beyond the average local punters cashbook. The result - there is now a glut of these attached dwellings throughout the area. Some initial buyers have lost large money and given the abundant supply on the market and the near zero demand from well informed local buyers, the prospects of growth appear somewhat limited for some time at least.

Gold Coast

Overall market sentiment has remained very slow/ subdued over the winter months, with minimal market activity and some less than impressive sale results. Therehas been a significant drop off in the number of sales and selling prices, and fingers are crossed that demand will increase as the election is out of the way and the weather warms up."

The report then lists recent sales where the vendor has lost money.

The report also states that the Brisbane apartment market is "peak of market" and that the Gold Coast apartment market is "declining" but that the Sunshine Coast unit market is at the bottom of the market. This would suggest that it is best to buy on the Sunshine Coast, than in Brisbane or the Gold Coast.

Landmark case sends a warning to investors

"Know how you should and shouldn't market your apartment, particularly when the onsite complex manager owns the building trademark."

From September 2010 edition of Australian Property Investor

Similar to issues raised in prior posts here.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Brisbane Apartments Outperform Brisbane Houses

Have a look at this chart from RP Data.

RP Data August 2010 Index

From the RP Data press release:

After a large 1.0% seasonally-adjusted fall in June, Australian home values changed little in the month of July, recording an increase of +0.1% (up +0.4% seasonally-adjusted).

According to the market-leading RP Data–Rismark Hedonic Home Value Index, Australia’s capital city home values remained relatively flat in the month of July recording a modest, seasonally-adjusted increase of 0.4% (on a raw basis home values were up only +0.1% in the month).

The July results follow a 1.0% seasonally-adjusted decline in the month of June; the first negative movement in Australian capital city home values in 17 months.

The slow-down in Australia’s housing market had been long-anticipated by RP Data and Rismark and was noted by the Reserve Bank of Australia in its most recent Board Minutes.

According to RP Data’s research director, Tim Lawless, the July index results are further evidence that Australia’s housing market has experienced a controlled soft-landing after a resounding recovery during the course of 2009.

“In the period between end 2008 and March 2010, Australian home values rose by 16.3%. Yet monthly growth rates have declined consistently since the start of the year. RP Data and Rismark expect to see the market track sideways over the second half of the year. There is the possibility of modest gains if mortgage rates remain in check and economic conditions continue to improve,” he said.

The deceleration in capital growth rates is evident across the cheaper, middle and more expensive suburbs tracked by the ‘stratified’ version of the RP Data-Rismark Hedonic Index. This index shows that while the most expensive 20% of suburbs realised the highest capital growth between end 2008 and March 2010, these same suburbs have suffered the largest falls in home values in the period since.
According to Mr Lawless, “As has been the case previously, the illiquid top-end of the market is showing higher volatility than lower priced markets. Home values in Australia’s most expensive suburbs fell more in 2008, rebounded quickly in 2009, and are now tapering at a more rapid rate than cheaper property markets. Home values in the most expensive 20% of suburbs were down 2.0% over the three months ending July 2010 compared with smaller declines of 0.4% and 0.7% in the cheapest 20% and middle 60% of the suburbs, respectively.”

Christopher Joye, Managing Director of Rismark International, said, “In contrast to claims that the decline in home values recorded in June would accelerate, we have seen quite the opposite: Australia’s housing market appears to have gravitated back to a no-to-very low growth trajectory, as we forecast.”

Mr Joye added, “RP Data’s leading indicator data also paints an encouraging picture. After falling from historically high 70-80% levels, national auction clearance rates have now leveled at around the 60% mark. While outstanding inventory levels have expanded in response to the weaker demand, they have recently settled. Perhaps most significantly, the futures market is currently pricing in no further interest rate hikes over the next 1-2 years. In recognition of the flat yield curve, we have seen some banks cutting the cost of fixed-rate loans.”

“Looking forward, I would expect to see the major banks pushing housing credit growth a little harder as profitability gains--driven by reduced impairment provisions across their business lending books--dissipate. Australian housing credit growth has been running at record low levels, and has experienced a downward trend since 2006. An increase in credit growth back to reasonable single-digit rates will provide further support to the market in the next 12 months.” Mr Joye said.

Mr Lawless agreed that substantial falls in Australian home values look very unlikely.

He said, “The number of homes being advertised for sale across Australia is only 5% higher than what we saw at the same time last year. We aren't seeing a blow out in stock levels and properties are taking on average about 40 days to sell, which is only a little higher than recent experience.

“And while we have noticed an increase in vendor discounting, this is coming off the very low base we recorded during 2009,” he said.