There’s no sign of a property market slowdown any time soon, with predictions the national uplift in prices is set to continue despite lockdowns in major cities.
Jason Paetow, managing director of property investment consultancy AllianceCorp, says investors may have been concerned at the start of the pandemic by media predictions of major price decline, the market has actually performed better than it would have if the pandemic hadn’t arrived.
“We’re still getting these extraordinary numbers from the market,” Paetow says. “I don’t think it’s going to slow down any time soon, because there are so many different strong forces driving this up-cycle. The boom has longevity.”
Even in Melbourne where buyers are not allowed to inspect properties in person during the lockdown, transactions are still occurring and high prices are being achieved.
Paetow, speaking during a webinar hosted by hotspotting.com.au, outlined the trends in Australian real estate over the past 18 months.
He says that, at the end of 2019, Australia’s property market was in a recovery phase.
“At the start of 2020, in pretty much every market, they were looking quite positive moving forward into 2020,” he says.
“A lot of that had to do with shortage of supply. We had still very low interest rates. We had strong confidence in the market, strong demand and vacancy rates were very low, so everything was moving in the right direction. Nationally a lot of our key markets were on the rise.
“Covid hit us and then from February through to March as we started to see case numbers rise in Australia, it became very concerning to a lot of people.”
Paetow says this is when media reports suggested a price crash of up to 30% in some markets and some investors became nervous about whether to go ahead with deals which hadn’t been finalised yet.
He says it was a timely lesson for people not to make investment decisions based on media speculation – while COVID was a concern, it was not a fundamental driver of the performance of our property markets.
“We’re in unprecedented times, but we will get past this Covid period at some point,” he said.
“When we think about investing, we should be focusing on where the markets will be in the next 5, 10, 15, 20 years, not where they’re going to be in the next 6-12 months.
“It’s very important to focus on the fundamentals. For investors, yes, it’s a little uncertain at this time, but I do believe in taking a long-term view.
“We say to our clients, as long as you’ve got a deposit, as long as the bank will lend you money, as long as you have a little bit of a buffer left over, you should be buying it as soon as you can afford to because it’s a long-term venture.”
He says those who want to “wait and see what happens” could potentially end up paying 20% more for a property than if they take action now.
He says once government stimulus kicked in and vaccines were under development, confidence returned to the property market.
That confidence, coupled with financial stimulus, helped push up demand for properties, particularly for land, with those buyers who pulled out of contracts in early days, discovering values had increased up by to $30,000 for some blocks on the back of a flurry of buying.
Paetow says the forced savings by people unable to travel internationally meant many of those who had previously struggled had now pulled together a significant deposit, and they were now able to enter the market.
He says in the 12 months to August Sydney values rose 20%, Brisbane 18%, Adelaide, 15%, Perth 10%, and Melbourne 10%.
He still believes there are good investment opportunities in capital cities, particularly Brisbane and Adelaide.
“We’ve pulled back a little bit on Sydney just because it’s so expensive and it’s had a pretty good run,” he says.
“We still see some great opportunities in Brisbane and we are currently buying in Adelaide. Adelaide is still a very consistent market. It just doesn’t capture the headlines, but in terms of investment we do like Adelaide, and we’ve started to focus a little more on Perth.
“Because of price point, we’ve been watching Perth for a little while. There’s some good opportunities and we’re very bullish about Melbourne as well.”
Paetow says AllianceCorp also targets regional areas, which are affordable despite recent price rises, but he says buyers should focus on regional markets had strong population data and solid diversified economies.