Friday, May 31, 2013

Brisbane Rental Report

Brisbane Letting Agent RBCX has issued the following rental report for Brisbane City and inner Brisbane:

"The CBD market seems to be like no other.  Apart from short periods here and there, the demand for rental properties in the CBD is very strong.  There may not be the 20+ attendees at every ‘Open Inspection’, but there are generally eight to 10 interested parties.

The rental demand is strong for units up to $800 per week – and this includes furnished units.  Above that level, the market shrinks significantly and vacancy periods can be three to four weeks+, unless the property is new and/or modern, with fixtures, fittings and d├ęcor to match. River and City views are essential.

The CBD buildings that experience less demand are those that offer short-term letting, as well as long- term residential. These buildings can be very noisy with a pervasive party atmosphere.

The Inner-City market is not faring as well as the CBD market.

In the last quarter of 2012, the rental market tightened markedly with the first signs of the downturn in the Resources Sector. There has been further erosion to rents in 2013.  There are many reasons why the rental market is flat and rents have contracted: the gradual 2012 exodus of Corporate tenants, who were the bread-and-butter of Inner-City rentals, gained momentum. In some areas, they have almost disappeared from the rental landscape; the announcement of the Federal election almost six months out from 14 September 2013 has seen many businesses go into semi-hibernation; job shedding in the Public Service market; the fallout from a Resources Sector seemingly in increasing decline; job insecurity; rising unemployment due to a flat economy; and loss of consumer confidence.

Also, many people who were Inner-City tenants have moved to the suburbs. They are prepared to sacrifice proximity to the city for more affordable rents. This trend is increasing with properties, particularly houses within 10 kms of the CBD being in heavy demand.

Our experience is the Inner-city renter wants everything within walking distance: transport, shopping, entertainment. They do not want to have to drive to services, facilities, infrastructure and entertainment precincts.  There is also a great deal more competition from new developments in the Inner-City areas, including Kangaroo Point, Teneriffe and New Farm. New building stock with all the aforementioned criteria is offered at rents below those of older, established buildings. New buildings with trendy, contemporary interiors and more attractive rents are appealing to the sought-after Corporate market, as well as private renters."

Buyer's Market says RP Data

"The survey was conducted across 1,030 respondents who were located across the capital city and ‘rest of state’ regions around the country.  The headline findings showed 80% of Australians think it’s a good time to buy a home but only 37% think it’s a good time to sell.  The results suggest, at least from a consumer perspective, that housing remains a buyers market."

"There has been clear evidence of weaker housing market conditions over the second quarter of 2013. The housing market is highly seasonal and we anticipated a slowing of conditions over the current period however, it is likely that the magnitude of the slowdown and subsequent value falls has been heightened by falling consumer sentiment. Should this continue, it is reasonable to anticipate a less active housing market where value growth is lower than when confidence was much more buoyant."

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

U.S. Home Prices Rise

The U.S. is in a more positive mood.  See NY Times:

"Americans are in a buying mood, thanks largely to the housing recovery.  The latest sign emerged Tuesday as the Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller home price index posted the biggest gains in seven years. Housing prices rose in every one of the 20 cities tracked, continuing a trend that began three months ago. Similar strength has appeared in new and existing home sales and in building permits, as rising home prices are encouraging construction firms to accelerate building and hiring."

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Vida West End

PointCorp is developing an apartment complex at 101 Riverside Drive, West End.  This is next door to Pradella's Left Bank development, and near to Pradella's Tempo development.

This new development is being marketed as Vida.  It consists of two towers of about 10 floors each, with about 150 apartments.  Some apartments will look West across the river.  About half the apartments will look East towards West End.

The Courier Mail says that for the apartments on the riverside, 1 bedrooms will be from $460,000; 2 bedrooms from $660,000; and three bedrooms from $1.2 million.  It will be interesting to see how expensive the apartments on the higher floors will be.

Compare a recent listing in Left Bank next door -- two bedrooms on a lower floor with river views for $599,000.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Darkness on Alice Street

Sunland has obtained development approval for its apartment tower at 140 Alice Street, on the corner of Albert Street.  Recently, barricades went up around the existing unit block.  I suspect that demolition will start soon.

It appears that this skyscraper will contain 139 luxury apartments and will tower over and shade the Botanical Gardens.

"With apartments priced between $700,000 and $4 million, there would be a pool, gym, a 24-hour concierge for tenants, business centre and a Turkish hammam."

Sunland has branded this complex as Abian Apartments.  Have fun when dealing with Sunland:

"The Victorian Supreme Court dismissed Sunland's claims in June 2012 because their key witness was deemed untrustworthy."  Sun Herald

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Investors Returning to the Market?

"With lower interest rates and home value growth remaining moderate we would expect that the basis point spread between official interest rates and gross rental yields on houses to increase further over the coming months which would subsequently make investing in housing potentially even more attractive for those investors focussed on yield."

See Why Are Investors Returning to the Housing Market?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Off-the-plan apartments and international buyers

Many apartments that are sold off-the-plan in Brisbane are marketed to buyers outside of Australia.  Examples include Meriton and Metro Property apartments.  A recent article points out the dangers of buying in such buildings:

"Overseas buyers can and often do pay too much for property because they do not fully understand the market they are entering. ...

The lesson here is developments where the sales are heavily skewed towards international buyers should set alarm bells ringing for local buyers."

See:  Hype

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Bad real estate agents

I heard another story about real estate agents ripping off a client.  It is worth considering this story, especially if you are thinking of selling, as it is not uncommon.  The agent, who is well regarded, advised the seller of a potential sales price, lets say $900,000.  The agent then sold an advertising and promotional package to the seller, at a cost of more than $20,000.  The agent recommended an auction.  The highest bid at the auction was about $700,000.  The agent then bullied the seller to sell at that price.  The seller refused, and the property did not sell.  It is still on the market.  The agent over-estimated the sales price to get the listing, and made a good profit from the advertising package.  The seller is unhappy, as she would never have tried to sell the property if it was only worth $700,000.

Take care when an agent recommends an auction and an expensive advertising package.

Ask the agent to provide you with a CMA (Competitive Market Analysis) to justify the agent's view of the selling price, and get that in writing.  Study it careful.  And take care!

Recent quote from Warren Buffett:  "It is a lot easier to buy than to sell."

Infinity Tower

Nice story in the Sunday Mail regarding Infinity Tower, being built by Meriton.  I will not be buying in Infinity, but there are cool photos of the construction.

See Sunday Mail.

Real Estate Rort

The Courier Mail recently had a story regarding a real estate rort that is said to be ruining the lives of thousands.  An extract:

"Using cold calls, home visits and high-pressure seminars, marketing agents ramp up fear of an impoverished retirement to push gullible mum and dad investors into buying investment real estate.
They promise a low weekly cost to negatively gear properties, high rents and the certainty of strong capital growth in suburbs well outside of the Brisbane CBD.
But many of the units and townhouses' capital growth has been largely absent, with most buyers only learning the sad truth if they go to list the property for re-sale.
Investors have also found their weekly costs are higher than expected, putting pressure on household budgets. Rents are often far less than predicted and supposed waiting lists of tenants never materialise...."

Brisbane Under-performs

Recent charts from RP Data show that Brisbane is under performing compared to the other Australian capital cities.  Does this mean that a boom is coming for Brisbane houses and apartments?  Interest rates are currently low, but long term, there is a significant risk of inflation.  So what does that mean for Brisbane apartment prices?

Warning on Aussie Bank Bubble

From the NZ Herald News.

"However, following the significant leveraging of Australian and New Zealand households over the last 30 years they are now low growth and remain heavily exposed to housing, funding markets and unemployment risk."

RP Data April Index Report

Capital city home values fell by 0.5% in April however, they have increased by 2.3% so far in 2013
Capital city dwelling values increased fell -0.5% in April and on an annual basis, they have now increased by 2.7%.   Home values fell in April across every capital city except for Adelaide (2.8%) and Darwin (0.2%).  Over the three months to April 2013, home values increased by 1.1% across the combined capital cities with every capital city except Brisbane (-0.9%), Perth (0.0%) and Hobart (-1.6%) recording value growth, the largest of which occurred in Darwin (5.0%).  Home values remain -3.6% below their historic highs across the combined capitals with falls from the peak ranging from -11.5% in Hobart to Sydney where values are -0.4% lower than their previous peak.  Looking at value movements across broad price segments in the market to March 2013, the broad ‘middle market’ has been the strongest sector with values increasing by 1.9% over the year and the most expensive and most affordable suburbs have each recorded value increases of 0.8%.

Annual sales activity is higher than it was a year ago and trending higher
Estimated sales volumes for  the 12 months to February 2013 were -10.8% below the five year average nationally.   Compared to volumes over the 12 months to February 2012, sales volumes are 2.1% higher.  Sales activity has increased by 1.2% over the most recent six months compared to the previous six months.

Rents continue to edge higher across the combined capital cities however, value growth has been stronger than rental growth over the past quarter
Capital city unit rents have increased by 3% over the 12 months to April 2013.  Gross rental yields for units have remained at 4.9% over the year.