Sunday, March 20, 2016

Glut of one bedroom apartments?

Many of the new apartment buildings have a large number of small one bedroom apartments, that have been sold to investors.  These investors are hoping to rent them.  In the past, a one bedroom apartment gives a good rental return relative to purchase price.

However, at present, there is a problem.  There are too many one bedroom apartments.  Owner-occupiers prefer two bedroom  (or larger) apartments or houses.  There is less demand for short term rentals at present, where a one bedroom apartment was a good alternative to a hotel room.  And most young Brisbane renters prefer to share and rent large apartments or houses.

Some one bedrooms are sold without a car park, making them even less attractive.  In my view, a one bed with no car that is 60sqm or less in size is worth about $310,000.

If rents go down, which they will, then capital values will fall.

There may be one exception here.  Some of the riverfront older apartments, which have larger apartments (e.g. a one bedroom over 70sqm) seem to be holding up well.  See for example this apartment and this apartment in Admiralty Towers

Monday, March 14, 2016

Recent Apartment Sales in Brisbane 4000

Here are some recent sales (all early 2016) with actual sales prices of apartments in Brisbane Postcode 4000.  These are all B and C quality buildings, and so expect to pay more for A quality:
  • Skyline, Apt 91, 30 Macrossan Street, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 1 car - $747,000
  • Skyline, Apt 261, 30 Macrossan Street, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2 cars - $800,000
  • Skyline, Apt 41, 30 Macrossan Street, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 1 car - $731,500
  • Festival Towers, Apt 3605, 2 bed, 2 bath, 1 car - $529,000
  • Festival Towers, Apt 4006, 2 bed, 2 bath, 1 car - $570,000
  • Festival Towers, Apt 1805, 1 bed, 1 bath, no car - $342,500
  • Festival Towers, Apt 2503, 2 bed, 1 bath, 1 car - $499,000
  • Charlotte Towers, Apt 508, 1 bed, 1 bath, no car - $350,000
  • Charlotte Towers, Apt 2902, 2 bed, 2 bath, 1 car - $540,000
  • M on Mary, Apt 3204, 1 bed, 1 bath, no car - $356,000
  • M on Mary, Apt 607, 1 bed, 1 bath, no car - $360,000
  • M on Mary, Apt 2609, 1 bed, 1 bath, no car - $327,000
  • Felix, Apt 303, 2 bed, 2 bath, 1 car - $600,000
  • Meriton Herschel St (Infinity), 2 bed, 2 bath, no car - $580,000
  • Meriton Soleil - 2 bed, 2 bath, 1 car - $575,000
  • Vue, 92 Quay St, Apt 2301, 2 bed, 2 bath, 1 car - $460,000
  • Vue, 92 Quay St, Apt 2602, 2 bed, 2 bath, 1 car - $437,500

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Has the Brisbane new apartment crash started?

On 10 March, the AFR reported that there will be a "very messy end" to the apartment boom.  See AFR story here.  It says:

""In Melbourne the oversupply will be significant, in Brisbane it will be worse. It is an accident waiting to happen," said BIS-Shrapnel managing director Robert Mellor at the group's six-monthly Building Forecasting Conference."

Has the end already started?

Let's look at a recent apartment project in Brisbane, that recently completed -- The Milton at 55 Railway Terrace, Milton.  Some examples of the disaster there:
  • Apartment 1302 is listed for sale for 10% below in the initial price, at $365,000.  For a one bedroom apartment, looking West, which has a 55 sqm internal floor space, and a main bedroom that is only 3m by 3m, and no car space, $365,000 is expensive.  Rent is estimated by the selling agent to be $450 to $460 per week unfurnished, which seems to be optimistic.
  • Apartment 2901 - one bedroom, is not even listed at a price -- "make an offer"
  • Apartment 2709, which is four bedrooms, if it sells at all, will sell for a huge amount less than the current owner has paid
  • Apartment 2005 is listed at $1.1M, which is very high for a 3 bedroom apartment in Brisbane that is only 123 sqm -- you can buy luxury two bedroom apartments elsewhere that are this size and at a lower price, and it only has a narrow tandem carpark
  • Apartment 2311, is not listed with a price
  • Apt 2609 is two bedrooms, "bring me offers"
  • Apartment 3008, a top floor two bedroom, 91 sqm in total, is listed unpriced
  • Apartment 3009, also a top floor two bedroom, is listed for $849,000 -- are they dreaming?
  • Apartment 2511, 2 bedrooms, listed at $659,000 is said to be under offer
  • Apartment 2007, 1 bedroom, is listed at $490,000
  • Apt 502, 2 bedroom, 74 sqm internal, is listed at $499,000
  • The list goes on.
The onsite agents, Mint Residential, have a large number of apartments for rent.  And so do offsite agents.  The following are rent ranges, depending on floor, car parking etc:
  • 3 bedrooms, from $650 per week to $800 per week
  • 2 bedrooms, from $570 per week to $720 per week
  • 1 bedrooms, from $370 per week to $490 per week
  • A fully furnished two bedroom is listed at $640 per week
  • Some apartments have 4 weeks free rent, which (for example) in effect reduces the rent per week of a $500 a week apartment to $460 a week over a yearly lease.
The Milton won my award for the wildest advertising claims of 2010.  See this prior post.  In that post, I said:  "They have a sheet of paper showing investment returns for a 2 bed, 1 bath apartment listed at $650,000. The prediction 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."

As can be seen from the above, this was in fact wildly inaccurate.  

The Milton has a host of problems, not simply that it was sold for prices that are way above market price.  The development is on a train line, with half the apartments looking west and close to a brewery.  The river views are distant, and will be blocked by construction of apartments in front.  Body corporate for a 2 bedroom is about $4,800 a year.  See comments in prior posts.  It is very dangerous buying off the plan in Brisbane.

Compare the above to a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 1 car apartment, 106 sqm, with direct river views, for $700,000.

If The Milton is representative, then we are in for a very rough ride.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Selling without an agent

A new service has just launched, to allow property owners to sell without an agent.  Some real estate agents are so hopeless, and don't return buyers calls, so there is some appeal here if you know what you are doing.  See

Friday, March 11, 2016

Will Brisbane Prices Increase This Year?

CoreLogic recently reported:

"The trend in home value growth is showing signs of increasing in those markets that have previously underperformed. These include Brisbane, Adelaide, Hobart and Canberra. Affordability constraints as apparent in these cities and rental yields been compressed to the same extent as what they have in Melbourne or Sydney. Home values increased in Brisbane by 5.5% over the past year, which is the fastest annual rate of value growth in a year."

The above 5.5% included houses and apartments.  Below is the information just for apartments, which is not as good.  The question is whether Brisbane will have capital appreciation across the board, or whether it will be limited to certain suburbs, or to houses (not apartments), or to houses and older apartments in better locations.  There appears to be great oversupply of new smaller apartments, in locations such as Newstead and South Brisbane, so capital appreciation of this dwelling type seems doubtful.

Brisbane apartment prices (to 29 February 2016):
February 2016 - down 1%
Quarter - up 0.9%
Year to Date - up 1.5%
Year on Year - up 3%
Median price based on settled sales of Brisbane apartments over the quarter - $391,000 (which is less than reported for the quarter ending May 2015).

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Property Prices Double Every 10 years?

I have been to seminars by property agents and promotors, where they say that property is a sure investment because property prices double every 7 to 10 years.  CoreLogic debunks that "rule".

"Melbourne is the only capital city housing market in which home values have doubled over the past decade.  In fact, many cities are a long way from having doubled with values in Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart and Canberra having all increased by less than 50% over the past decade."

See CoreLogic Report

Monday, March 7, 2016

Off the plan risks

Two stories in the AFR today are worth reading, both on page 33.

The first is titled "Industry warns of settlements failure".  It has a chart that shows that the average number of completed apartments in Brisbane for the period 2007 to 2014 was less than 2,500 a year.  For 2016, it is predicted to be more than 5,000 in the year.  For 2017, it is closer to 10,000, or more than 3 times the past average.

"The settlement risk will occur in places where prices are slowing and the market's getting harder."

"Banks are not only cutting back their LVRs, they are also taking a more conservative approach to valuing completed apartments, and in the case of at least one retail bank, this meaning between 15 and 23 per cent below the purchase price."

So if you are buying off the plan, and have paid a 10% deposit, you may need to stump up 40% of the contract price, because the Banks may only lend in effect 50% of the purchase price.

The second article is titled "Lenders nervous about incentives to apartment buyers".  It states:

"A recent survey by WBP Property sowed nearly half of the off-the-plan sales in the eight months to last August were in negative equity, which means worth less than the purchase price."  And this does not take into account transaction costs, such as stamp duty.