Our guest today: Cate Bakos, a buyer’s agent out of Melbourne, Cate Bakos Property.
Kevin: Well, as we launch into a brand-new year, 2016, over the next three shows, we’re going to be pulling in so many of our experts who we’ve featured over the years to give us their impressions of where the 2016 market is going to end up at the end of 2016.
My first guest is Cate Bakos, a buyer’s agent out of Melbourne, Cate Bakos Property.
Hi, Cate, and happy new year to you.
Cate: Happy new year to you, too, Kevin.
Kevin: Well, we ended up 2015 in not too bad shape. What do you think we’re going to be saying about the property market this time next year, Cate?
Cate: Well, have two answers here, Kevin.
Kevin: Oh, you’re going to hedge your bets, aren’t you?
Cate: I am. I keep my crystal ball in good shape. I will hedge my bets. I think that the APRA changes have a lot to do with how our market has finished up in 2015 and unless we have some loosening of bank scrutiny and criteria for investment lending, I think that we’ll see a bit more of a divide between our auction clearance rates in our capital cities for houses versus units and also unit price growth.
I’d like to optimistically say that we’ll see a rebound in clearance rates and value growth through our unit market, but the skeptical side of me or the concerned side of me thinks that that divide will become greater.
Kevin: Yes, okay. We’re going to check in with you, obviously, during the year, but we’ll replay that comment to you this time next year and just see how you faired.
Let’s have a look back at 2015. Were there any surprises for you last year?
Cate: Yes, there were. We had some enormous and long growth trajectories in our capital cities, particularly Melbourne and Sydney, and the surprises were probably just how tightly the banks pulled in the reins on investment lending.
I know I’ve spoken about this quite a lot, but it was a real game-changer for a lot of investors. We saw some investors pushed out of the market altogether and then others who had their borrowing capacity completely lessened and restricted. That really changed the unit market in particular in our capital cities.
Kevin: Yes, it changed it for everyone, didn’t it? It made it very, very difficult to work out where the market was going at the latter part of last year. Were there any areas where you thought, “Yes, full marks to me; I got it right in that area”?
Cate: Yes, absolutely. Every time people went on about a bubble and a crash and a collapse in our housing market, I kept reiterating the reasons why we’re having this steady run, and I also pointed out that we’ve had some really attractive capital growth.
We’ve had rates hovering around 10%, maybe a little bit higher in Melbourne, but when you look at the pre- and post-GFC spikes that we experienced, we had growth figures above 20% back then. The difference throughout 2015 was that we had these attractive growth runs but they weren’t ridiculous paces. They were just sustained for a much longer period., and that’s because we didn’t have any interest rate increases.
Kevin: Were there any property disappointments for you last year?
Cate: Possibly. Yes, when I put my buyer’s advocate hat on and I think about some of the people who have been waiting for the market to cool down or drop, particularly at the start of 2015, I met a couple of people who felt that they’d wait for the heat to come out of the market. The disappointments aren’t for me; they’re for them. The pace of the market continued with gusto, and they’ve now been priced out of areas that they could have bought into.
Kevin: Cate, let’s talk specifically about the area you specialize in around Melbourne. What are the areas you’re going to be keeping an eye there on this year?
Cate: I’ll be focusing on some opportunity areas for first-home buyers and home-upgraders who are finding that they’ve been priced out of the inner ring areas that have become quite popular. We’ve had a lot of areas that are showing some really good signs of growth, and the growth is actually fueled by people who are being taken to the next wave out, areas such as Sunshine, Faulkner, Hadfield, Glenroy, and Preston.
We’re seeing a lot of buyers who would have loved to have that inner west or inner north lifestyle, and when we look at the eastern areas and we have people being priced out of prices like Blackburn and maybe having to consider going into areas like [4:37 inaudible] or Vermont.
There are lots of ripple effects taking place and I think there are the areas to watch, because while we haven’t got such a strong focus on scrutinizing home-buyer loans, we’re still seeing a lot of home buyers doing quite well, and we’re seeing typical home-buyer properties continuing to grow quite aggressively.
Kevin: Cate, always good talking to you. Cate Bakos from Cate Bakos Property in Melbourne. Cate, we’ll talk to you again as the year unfolds. Thanks for your time.
Cate: Sounds wonderful. Thanks, Kevin.