Nick Hart bought four homes in Adelaide in less than two years, and was getting ready to make an offer for a fifth, when a regulator-inspired move to cool the sizzling Australian property market spoiled his plans.
“I went to my bank for my next home loan and their response was eligibility assessments have changed, and they can’t lend more to me just yet,” said the 37-year-old sales manager at a software services firm. Hart said the bank told him his existing loans, equivalent to 93 percent of the value of his A$1.8 million ($1.3 million) properties, need to be reduced before he can borrow any more.
Last month, Australian banks raised interest rates for property investors and introduced tougher loan-to-value standards in response to a move by regulators to rein in the riskier corners of the country’s house price boom. With interest rates stuck at record lows due to the slowdown in the wider economy, the central bank and the Australian banking regulator have been grappling with ways to prevent a property price bubble.
There are signs that the market may be cooling. Inquiries from property investors dropped by a quarter last month, said Paul Bevan, a Melbourne-based mortgage broker. Price gains in Sydney, the city which has seen the fastest increases, are expected to ease to about a third of the annual pace of 18 percent seen in the year to July 31, according to a Bloomberg survey of six market analysts.
“All ingredients are in place now to spook the Sydney house-price momentum,” said Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy at AMP Capital Investors in Sydney. “It is better to cool the market rather than wait for the bubble to burst.”
Low mortgage rates and a flood of Chinese investment have propelled prices 29 percent higher across Australia in the past three years, according to research firm CoreLogic Inc. Prices in Sydney have jumped 46 percent over the same period.
Last year, the Reserve Bank of Australia called the housing market unbalanced, and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority urged banks to limit the growth in investor home loans, which make up a record 53 percent of all mortgages, according to latest government figures.
The turning point came last month, when the banking regulator increased the capital that the banks need to hold against potential mortgage losses to an average of 25 percent, from 17 percent previously. That will force the four largest lenders to add A$12 billion in equity in a year, according to analysts at Goldman Sachs Inc. and Morgan Stanley.
In response, banks introduced a number of steps to curb borrowing for investment. They reduced the maximum loan amount they will lend relative to the value of a home, increased the interest rate used to assess borrowers’ ability to repay, and reduced the sources of income they would accept in investor borrowing applications.
Last month, the three biggest lenders — Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corp. — increased home-loan rates for landlords by as much as much 30 basis points. For the first time since 1997, investors pay more than owner-occupiers on mortgages from those banks.
ANZ and National Australia Bank Ltd., the fourth-largest lender by market value, have capped the loan-to-value ratio at 90 percent, down from as much as 95 percent.
Investors are “still keen” to enter the property market but they would find it difficult to meet the new loan-to-value rules, said Martin North, principal at Sydney-based Digital Finance Analytics, citing a rolling survey of 26,000 households across the country on financial and property expectations.
“While I expect things to slow down through this year and into the next, a price collapse is unlikely when rates are still low,” North said.
Property investor Hart says homes are still his safest bet though he acknowledges he wouldn’t be able to expand his portfolio as fast as he had expected.
“By next year, I’m sure the value of my properties will rise further and I’d be able to pay down some of my mortgage,” he said. “Once that’s done, I can go to my bank for the next one.”
Renewed hopes of saving North Lakes Golf Club
Residents living around the financially troubled North Lakes Golf Club are increasingly hopeful it can be saved from being turned into a retirement community.
The course has been bought by developer Village Retirement Group and is due to close at the end of 2019 although a DA is yet to be submitted.
The Save North Lakes Golf Club group met with Moreton Bay Regional Mayor Allan Sutherland this week and spokesman Andrew Cathcart tells Mark he is confident local will get a fair hearing.
SEQ begins big push for a billion-dollar City Deal
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (left) and Treasurer Jackie Trad are pushing for a City Deal for south-east Queensland.
Photo: AAP/Dan Peled
Political delays dogging infrastructure projects will be history if talks on Tuesday morning cement a new billion-dollar 15-year City Deal for south-east Queensland between all three levels of government.
Such a deal could benefit 3 million people catching trains and buses, driving on highways, building businesses, looking for housing, and finding school and universities between the Sunshine and Gold coasts and west to Toowoomba.
Deputy premier Jackie Trad and Brisbane’s lord mayor Graham Quirk will on Tuesday morning outline how close the 10 south-east Queensland councils – Brisbane, Ipswich, Logan, Moreton Bay, Redland, Scenic Rim, Somerset, Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba and Lockyer Valley – are to signing Australia’s largest City Deal with the federal government.
Australia now has three City Deals backed by the federal government: Townsville (2016), Launceston (April 2017) and Western Sydney (March 2018).
Cr Quirk, the chairman of Council of Mayors (SEQ) that represents the region’s local governments, described a City Deal for the area as “a dramatic change”.
“The power of aligning the efforts of all levels of government and securing a long-term program of investment in our region will be a game changer,” Cr Quirk said.
“For the first time, all levels of government will be working in unison to protect and enhance the prosperity and liveability of south-east Queensland.”
Brisbane’s lord mayor Graham Quirk begins a campaign for a City Deal funding package for 10 councils on Tuesday morning.
Photo: Fairfax Media
A City Deal binds the three levels of government — federal, state and local — as a group to agree to a 15-year rolling funding program of infrastructure projects that a fast-growing region needs.
As projects provide a lift in land value, that financial uplift is identified, captured and then re-invested into the infrastructure funding pool, under a model first identified in Manchester in 2012 and then in Brisbane in 2014.
In April 2018, Cr Quirk and Ms Trad met the federal government’s new Cities and Urban Infrastructure minister Paul Fletcher, when they first put forward the SEQ City Deal.
All parties described those 2018 talks as “positive”.
Cr Quirk and Ms Trad will begin the public push for the SEQ City Deal at a business breakfast at Brisbane’s Convention and Exhibition Centre on Tuesday.
“We secured Australia’s first ever City Deal in Townsville, which is paying dividends with projects like the North Queensland Stadium, delivered through the City Deal,” Ms Trad said.
“That is under construction and on track to be open for the start of the 2020 NRL season.”
Townsville’s City Deal is a 15-year arrangement, while Launceston’s is a five-year deal and Western Sydney’s is a 20-year deal.
The federal government is tipped to announce City Deals for Geelong and Darwin by September 2018, allowing planners to work on Hobart, Perth and south-east Queensland over 18 months.
How could it help?
It locks in project funds over 15 to 20 years, moving them away from political promises, which are subject to election outcomes. It could remove election squabbling over the same project.
It sets out a timetable for projects allowing the private sector to invest more confidently.
It could help the next generation of infrastructure projects, after the Pacific Motorway, Cross River Rail and Brisbane Metro projects were all delayed by politics, angering voters.
It has also been mentioned as a way of funding Moreton Bay’s new university campus at Petrie and breathing life into the Brisbane River’s Resilient Rivers proposal.
What is Townsville’s experience after 18 months?
The Townsville City Deal was signed on December 9, 2016. It is a 15-year agreement.
Work has begun on stage two of the 25,000-seat $250 million North Queensland Stadium. It will be finished for the 2020 rugby league season. It is funded by the federal and state governments, and Townsville City Council.
The Queensland government has promised $250 million for new water supply for Townsville.
A business case for new Townsville Port facilities is almost finished and the Queensland government has pledged $75 million for port upgrade.
Townville mayor Jenny Hill said choosing the right projects was essential to make a City Deal effective.
“The City Deal provides a roadmap for delivery that breaks the political cycle so it is very important to choose the right projects or areas for reform that will make the biggest difference to a city or region,” Cr Hill said.
“All three levels of government also need to buy into the key priorities of the local area that are included in any City Deal.”
Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill on top of Castle Hill with Townsville in the background.
SEQ City Deal – the background
- May 2012: Co-funding model idea began in United Kingdom.
- June 2015: Queensland prepares its own case for City Deals after Ms Trad looked at the UK City Deals idea in Manchester.
- 2016: Council of Mayors (SEQ), Queensland Property Council and the Queensland government put a plan together.
- November 2016: Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk signed a memorandum of understanding with prime minister Malcolm Turnbull in November 2016 to develop “tailored City Deals” for Queensland.
- February 2017: Ms Trad and Cr Quirk wrote to then-federal cities minister Angus Taylor, agreeing to a joint submission.
- Late 2017: A Cities Transformation TaskForce established in Brisbane.
- June 2018: Queensland’s major contractors called for a City Deal.
Where you can still invest by the water in QLD for less than $700k
IT’S unheard of in Sydney and a distant memory in Melbourne, but for under $700,000, it’s still possible to buy a house by the water near Brisbane.
In the sleepy beachside suburb of Margate, a four-bedroom house only a block back from the beach is up for grabs for offers over $599,000.
Down the road in nearby Scarborough, another four bedder just 200m from the water is available for $595,000 — little more than the cost of a Sydney car park.
Even in the popular family holiday spot that is Coolum Beach, a cute three-bedroom pad is going for $695,000.
New data provided exclusively to The Courier-Mail by RiskWise Property Research has identified the 10 best suburbs by the water in southeast Queensland to invest in.
Woody Point, 25km north of Brisbane in the Moreton Bay region, is the top pick, with a median house price of $490,000, followed by the neighbouring suburbs of Margate and Scarborough.
The coastal suburbs of Thorneside, Birkdale and Wellington Point, about 20km southeast of Brisbane, are also ripe for investment, according to RiskWise.
And what better time to scope these areas out for holiday homes than during school holidays.
RiskWise chief executive Doron Peleg said the suburbs were ranked based on affordability, proximity to water and distance from working hubs.
“Deception Bay is a great example because the prices there are significantly cheaper than what you see in alternative suburbs,” Mr Peleg said.
“Overall, anything that starts with a four or is below $500,000, when you get proximity to water at that price tag, it is extremely affordable.”
Mr Peleg said Coolum Beach was another good example because it was possible to work in Brisbane and commute.
“It’s also not far from Noosa, but a fraction of the price of Noosa Heads,” he said.
Mr Peleg’s only advice to investors looking in these suburbs was to think long term.
“The only thing you need to do is to buy and hold because of the nature of the real estate market and transaction costs in Queensland,” he said.
“Regardless of these specific areas, southeast Queensland currently represents outstanding value.”
James and Jasmine Campbell are selling their three-bedroom house at 1 Westbrook St, Woody Point, for just $485,000.
They bought the house almost six years ago as their first home and it has achieved solid capital growth in that time.
Mr Campbell said they loved being just 500m from the water and being able to stroll along the boardwalk of an afternoon with their two-year-old daughter, Pippa.
“The house is close enough that you still get that smell of the ocean,” he said.
Selling agent Brendan Philp of Abode Properties said Woody Point and Margate were becoming popular with owner-occupiers, either families, retirees or interstate buyers relocating from Sydney and Melbourne.
Mr Philp said the area’s sandy beaches and affordability — with the average house selling for around $500,000 — made it one of a kind.
“Geographically, you are 25 minutes to the airport, 30 minutes to Brisbane CBD, an hour to the Sunshine Coast — you can’t find another suburb for that sort of money,” he said.
“In Wynnum or Manly, you’re paying at least a third more.”
TOP 10 EMERGING WATERSIDE SUBURBS
Suburb Property type Region Median sale price
1. Woody Point House Moreton Bay $490,002
2. Margate House Moreton Bay $453,820
3. Scarborough House Moreton Bay $550,719
4. Thorneside House Brisbane – East $523,177
5. Birkdale House Brisbane – East $541,048
6. Wellington Point House Brisbane – East $589,185
7. Wynnum House Brisbane – East $639,622
8. Lota House Brisbane – East $635,082
9. Deception Bay House Moreton Bay $352,245
10. Coolum Beach House Sunshine Coast $637,984
(Source: RiskWise Property Research, CoreLogic)
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