Highlights from this week:
- Cash flow vs capital growth – a mistake!
- Low vacancies impact the market
- $1M property now the norm
- DIY Investing is DUMB investing
$1M property markets – Cameron Kusher
Kevin: An interesting look in the latest Your Investment Property magazine looking at million-dollar properties. My guest on this chat is Cameron Kusher from CoreLogic.
Good day, Cameron, how are you doing?
Cameron: I’m well. Thanks, Kevin. How are you?
Kevin: Good, mate. I wanted to bring you into the conversation early because, well, you’re much younger than me, but gee, when I was your age thinking about having to pay $1 million for a property was something that was just out there in the ether. But it’s actually quite common now, isn’t it?
Cameron: It certainly is, particularly in markets like Sydney and Melbourne, but even at a national level, we are seeing a pretty strong upwards trend in the number of sales over $1 million.
Kevin: How many areas are there around Australia where we’re finding that?
Cameron: As I said, it’s largely in Sydney and Melbourne, but even in markets that have been pretty weak over the last few years – like Brisbane, Perth – you’re still seeing the number of million-dollar sales trend higher in those capital cities, as well.
Kevin: What’s been the growth like in those particular areas, Cameron?
Cameron: Nationally, we’ve seen over the 2017 calendar year, 16.1% of all houses and 9.5% of all units selling for at least $1 million, up from 14.8% of houses and 8.1% of units a year earlier. But if we look across the individual capital cities, 49.3% of all houses sold over the year in Sydney were over $1 million, up from 45.4% the previous year, and even looking at the unit market, we’re looking at 18.8% of all units selling for over $1 million.
If we go to somewhere like Melbourne, 28.3% of all houses and 8.3% of all units sold for at least $1 million, up from 23.7% of houses and 7.2% of units a year earlier. Then if we go to a market like Brisbane, we’re seeing 8.3% of all houses sold for at least $1 million and 3.4% of units. That’s up slightly over the previous year.
You can see there’s a real rising prevalence of $1 million sales, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne.
Kevin: Is $1 million the benchmark we should be measuring, or is that increasing? Is it $1.5 million or $2 million now?
Cameron: It’s obviously dependent on the city you’re in. In Sydney, you’d say the benchmark is probably more like $2 million. In Melbourne, it’s probably more like $1.5 million. $1 million is probably a bit more exclusive in capital cities like Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart, Darwin, and Canberra. But certainly, in Sydney and Melbourne… Sydney’s median house value is still above $1 million, so you’re typically going to be paying at least $1 million anyway.
Kevin: What was it like five years ago?
Cameron: Five years ago in Sydney, you’d be looking at around 20% of all houses sold were over $1 million. In Melbourne, it was about 8%. If we go back to somewhere like Brisbane, you’re talking about 3%, so it has increased quite significantly over that period of time.
Kevin: There you go. If you have a cool $1 million in your back pocket, there are lots of places for you to spend it around Australia. Cameron Kusher from CoreLogic. Thanks for your time, Cameron.
Cameron: Thanks, Kevin.
Rental vacancies fall – Louis Christopher
Kevin: Data released by SQM Research this week has revealed that the national residential vacancy rate slipped to 2.1% in March, with the number of vacancies Australia-wide falling to 68,000, almost 69,000, down from 2.2% in February.
What’s the impact of this? What does it mean to the market? Joining me to talk about this, Louis Christopher from SQM Research.
Louis, thanks for your time. Good to be talking to you again.
Louis: Good to be here, Kevin.
Kevin: Louis, what does this mean for the Australian property market?
Louis: I think from month to month, it’s not a significant change. We like to look at how things change over a period of time. It’s still, of course, very interesting to see how things have changed on the previous month.
It’s a slight decline from 2.2% to 2.1%. I note that vacancy rates this time last year were at 2.3%, and so there has been a gradual downtrend in vacancies across the country – probably enough. The decline in vacancies has been driven by falls in Perth, where last year the vacancy rate was 5%; it’s now 4.1%, Brisbane, where this time last year, the vacancy rate was 3.5%; it’s now 3.2%, a sign that perhaps vacancies have peaked in Brisbane, Canberra, where vacancies are really tight now; last year they were at 0.8%; now this year we have them about 0.6%, with some offsets in Sydney.
We’re recording a vacancy rate in Sydney of 2.3% now, which was unchanged on the month, but compared to this time last year, basically March 2017, the vacancy rate was 1.7%, so vacancies in Sydney have basically been rising over the course of the year.
Kevin: It certainly highlights for me anyway just how patchy the Australian market is. If you’re looking at those variance in rates. Pulling some numbers on this, vacancies in Sydney, according to your report, almost 16,000, and that represents 2.3%.
Louis: That is correct. Yes, 16,000 sounds like a lot of vacancies but let’s remember that Sydney is a city of 5 million people, so it’s still relatively tight, and I would argue it’s just in the landlord’s favor. However, I do not believe in Sydney that landlords have a lot more power to lift the rents further than where we are now, and it’s slowly edging towards being a tenant’s market.
That’s been brought upon by an increase in rental properties predominantly in Sydney’s outer ring, and in particular in the west and northwest, where a lot of investment properties, a lot of land has been opened up, turned into estates, and that’s increased the supply of rental properties.
Sydney is less of an issue of a big oversupply of CBD apartments like Brisbane still has; it’s more of more vacancies in the burbs.
Kevin: Yes. It shows you how robust that Melbourne market is, too – very stable with its vacancy rate continuing to sit at 1.4%, so it’s a good market in Melbourne.
Can we have a look just briefly before we go at the asking rents, what impact that’s having there, Louis?
Louis: Yes, certainly. Overall, when we look at the capital city average for rents for houses, rents over the past 12 months have risen by 1.3%, and for units, a rise of 0.9%. So, overall, quite steady. For the month, rents did record a little bit of a rise of 0.5% and unit 0.2%.
When I look at the city breakdown, the areas recording the strongest rents is clearly Hobart. For the year, rents are up by 14% for houses and 18% for units. Mind you, there was a bit of a correction in the month for Hobart. We’ve been mentioning in the past, Kevin, how tight the Hobart market is. We have the vacancy rate at just 0.5%. It’s heavily favoring landlords right now.
Kevin: Yes, I was at a conference this morning and they were talking about the Hobart market or the Tasmanian market overall. Interesting to note, too, in your figures, and I hope I’m reading this correctly, that the asking rents rose the most in Darwin over the month, up 3.3%.
Louis: Over the month for houses, yes, that’s right. There seems to be a little bit of a turnaround in the Darwin market. There’s already been a bit of a turnaround in the Perth market, not that we recorded any stunning increases in rents in Perth last month. Just keep in mind Darwin has been quite volatile. We still have fairly elevated vacancies, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we record sometime in the near future a decline in rents for a month.
But yes, it’s better than what we’ve been recording. At one stage, we were recording rental declines in the order of 8% for the year for Darwin, and we’re no longer getting those type of numbers, so there is evidence that the Darwin rental market is finally bottoming out.
Kevin: It’s good talking to you. Louis Christopher from SQM Research. Great insight as to what’s happening in the market, particularly for investors. SQMResearch.com.au.
Louis, thank you so much for your time.
Louis: Good to be here, Kevin.
What do you need – a mentor or a coach? – Matthew Bateman
Kevin: When it comes to investing, sometimes you’re much better off not doing it on your own. I know that’s great temptation and many people will think “Well, do I really need someone to guide me in this?” We’ve spoken in the show in the past about putting together a team, who goes into that team. That’s not what we’re going to talk about right now; we’re going to talk more specifically about getting a mentor.
I’m talking to Matthew Bateman. Matthew is from ThePropertyMentors.com.au, so you’re probably going to guess what he will be saying.
Matthew, what’s the difference between a mentor and a coach?
Matthew: That’s a really difficult question to answer because they have so much overlap. I guess come back to your question “Do people need a mentor?” No, absolutely not. What they should want is they should want to have a mentor.
The reason I say that is if we look at the similarities between a mentor and a coach, a mentor and a coach are both there to help you get a better result. That’s the bottom line. Now, obviously, coaches typically work in the fields of sport or business. Mentors also work in the fields of business, and in our case, we focus on property and property investing, and actually help to guide people through the myriad of choices and decisions that they need to make to be able to get the best results in the investing space.
So, do you need a mentor? No. Do you want a mentor? Yes. The only reason you’d want to is if you want to get better results. If you want to take your investments from where they are currently to the next level – and there’s always another level of investing – then finding the right mentor to guide you through the process, I think, is invaluable.
Kevin: I guess I’ve often wondered about that question – the difference between a mentor and a coach – and I’ve always thought that a mentor is someone who can guide you, whereas a coach is someone… And I don’t like using the word motivate, but a coach is someone who will try and move you along, whereas a mentor sits down and helps you and guides you. That’s the only difference I can see.
Matthew: I guess if we use that analogy, it’s a little bit like trying to climb Mount Everest. Using your analogy, a coach would be behind you trying to push you up the mountain, whereas a mentor would probably be beside you and just giving you a helping hand when you need it along that journey, and just giving you the advice as to what to look out for, where the danger zones are. If the weather is coming in, do we turn back in order to make sure that we’re safe?
These are all the things that I think a mentor does. They’re not there to do all the work, and they definitely shouldn’t be there to motivate you, because when we’re talking about finance and wealth – basically people’s lives – we’re really talking about all of the dreams and goals that people have for their lives, of which they need finance to be able to complete, really, we’re getting very much into very real conversations and very real relationships as a mentor with people to help them to achieve everything that they want to achieve in life.
Kevin: A mentor is a bit like a co-pilot. If you’re in a plane, the co-pilot sits besides you and helps you check off the list, the things that you need to get done.
Matthew: Absolutely. That’s a really good analogy, actually, because yes, the co-pilot is not necessarily there to fly the plane unless you as the pilot start to get into trouble. Then, obviously, once the plane has leveled out again, then the co-pilot hands the reins back over to the pilot and, obviously, the journey continues.
Kevin: I love what you said earlier, Matt, about not necessarily needing a mentor but wanting one, because that’s a big difference, isn’t it? If you really want one, you’re recognizing the important role they’re going to play.
Matthew: I’m a classic example of this. When I first started investing, I thought “I’m an alpha male, I’m six foot tall, I’m bulletproof, I can do it all myself, I don’t need any help.” And in fact, for me, early in my investing career, it was seen as a sign of weakness to actually put your hand up and say “Look, I actually need some help.”
But the point I got to was I was trained as a chiropractor professionally, I started running health and wellness businesses, started generating good income, and I went out and started investing that income without really knowing what it was I was doing and probably also importantly, without having a really clear plan as to what I was doing.
What I did was I just do what a lot of people did; I went out into the market, tried to do it all on myself, and unfortunately, lost both bucket-loads of money but also more importantly, I think, I lost a lot of time doing things that I shouldn’t have been doing.
Now, had I recognized earlier in my investing how valuable a mentor was, my results… I’m really comfortable with my results, they’re fantastic, but they could have been so much better had I put my hand up earlier in the piece and say “Hey, look, I don’t have the education, I don’t have the networks, I don’t have the experience or the skillset to necessarily be going out into financial markets and making an absolute killing.”
Kevin: It’s so much better to learn from others’ mistakes, so you’re not going to make yourself. The mistakes you make in the market, while they won’t all be crippling, some of them can be.
Matthew: Absolutely. We get to see, unfortunately, both the good, the bad, and the ugly in the property investment space. And having been an investor myself for nearly 20 years, I’ve been through it all on both sides of that. I’ve been through it as an investor. I’ve been through it learning on the way and learning, I guess, at the school of hard knocks and making lots of mistakes and losing lots of money.
Don’t get me wrong; those experiences were invaluable because they helped me to get to the point that I’m at today, but had I had the choice, and somebody said to me “All right, do you want to do things the slow way or the fast way. Do you want to do things the safe way or the unsafe way? Do you want to do things predictably or do you want to just leave it all to chance?” then obviously, my decision processes might have been a lot different to what they were over the last 20-odd years.
Kevin: How do you find a good mentor? How do you avoid getting a bad one?
Matthew: Actually, that’s probably a good question to ask, and it’s probably a difficult one for me to answer because I’m going to have a little bit of bias here because, obviously, our business, The Property Mentors, is directly involved in the space of helping other investors get better results.
Kevin: Let me cut you off there. Surely, you’ve had people come to you who have been skeptical because they’ve been with someone who hasn’t given them good advice, and you’ve seen what those people are like. Tell me what they demonstrate, not what you demonstrate.
Matthew: All right. Here are the traps you need to look out for. There are a lot of people out there who will call themselves mentors or coaches or financial advisors or guides, but really what they often are just salespeople in disguise. Really, what they’re trying to do is they’re trying to promote a particular product or service for you, the investor, to move into.
Now, oftentimes, they’ll be very charismatic. Oftentimes, the opportunities will look amazing. At the end of the day, though, realistically what you want to be working with to find a good mentor is somebody who’s probably already been there and done it and actually doesn’t really need to be doing it, if that makes sense. They’re not there to earn the income.
Obviously, as any business and our business is no different, we’re here to make some money, but at the end of the day, we don’t need to make that money, if that makes sense. We make money in many ways in our investing space, including property development, subdivision renovation.
What we highlight to a lot of members is really understand the motivations of the mentor. All of the people who we work with in our business are not salespeople; they’re actually experienced property investors in their own rights. They’ve built multi-million-dollar portfolios. And they now get as much joy and satisfaction out of helping other people get that result as they do continuing to build their own wealth.
Kevin: Yes. You know what worries me about all of that is the fact that good salespeople will sell you on a concept and you won’t even know you’re being sold on it. That’s the difficulty I have, and the difficulty I think a lot of people in trying to find someone, Matthew, is cutting through the BS is really very hard.
Matthew: Look, at the end of the day, the only way you’re going to be able to do that is to have some conversations and start doing some level of work with some people. For example, in our business, we’ll usually have two or three or four phone conversations or meetings before we’ll even ask for any business.
What that does is it gives us an opportunity to learn more about you the investor but also gives you the investor a chance to learn more about us and what we do and why we do it, and hopefully, you’ll be able to see and your BS meter will rise to high levels if we’re not authentic or we’re not genuine.
These days with social media… If we go back to the 1980s and the cowboys of the 1980s and the flights up to the Gold Coast and all of that sort of rubbish that was in the industry, these days with social media, you cannot afford to not be authentic and not be truthful because your reviews will just suck.
One of the great things about social media these days is it helps to keep businesses accountable and holds people to a higher standard. That helps to weed out a lot of the bad eggs in the industry.
Kevin: Great talking to you, mate. Thank you very much for your time. Matthew Bateman is from ThePropertyMentors.com.au. Thanks for your time, mate.
Matthew: My pleasure, Kevin.
DIY site with a difference – Stephen Atcheler
Kevin: The Internet has brought about the possibility for people to take a lot more control of the sale of their property. You only have to look at the number of third-party sites that now offer the opportunity for people to get the best agent. People are wanting to take more control of this process – not necessarily doing away with the agent but this has led into a number of people wanting to try it themselves. Enter a site called ReDIY.com.au – that’s “Real Estate Do It Yourself.” I’m going to talk to the man behind this, Stephen Atcheler.
Good day, Stephen, how are you doing?
Stephen: I’m doing well, Kevin.
Kevin: Good. As an agent, you probably have a fairly good understanding about the sale process. This has obviously helped you put this together.
Stephen: Definitely, yeah. With the tools that we had access to as an agent or an agency, being able to have the ability to use those to get properties sold and get rentals leased has led me to believe that with those tools in the hands of somebody doing it themselves, that it can all be possible.
Kevin: Is this an exercise to cut out the agent totally?
Stephen: A lot of people are wanting to try first, for whatever reason, whether they’ve had a bad experience with an agent before, so they’ve lost faith, or they don’t see value or they want to save on the commissions.
So, at this point, yes, it will cut out the agent in the initial stage, but we give them all the tools to try it to the complete level that they can doing it themselves, and if they still don’t get the property sold, then an agent can still have the opportunity to step in.
Kevin: What tools are you talking about that you offer?
Stephen: The biggest tool to get a property sold is using the major real estate sites, like RealEstate.com.au and Domain.com.au. Most of the private sellers find their way to Gumtree because they’re not allowed to actually access those sites as a DIY landlord or seller.
Kevin: Okay. So, you’re going to put them on to those major portals. What are some of the flaws in this? Are there any flaws that you’d like to identify?
Stephen: The biggest flaw is like when people go to do it themselves – and as an agent myself, I used to take a lot of listings off other private seller websites, due to the fact that there’s no guidance on some of the other key areas. There are two things: there’s where to advertise and then there’s how to market.
Being able to give assistance in the marketing is one of the areas where I think a lot of these DIY sellers and landlords let themselves down with their photography, with their scripts, because they’re not a professional at writing scripts, they’re not a professional at marketing.
But they can stand there and point and shoot and take a photo, and we have tools that can do the rest.
Kevin: Okay. What about the negotiation process and showing people through the property?
Stephen: One of the biggest things with negotiation is keeping them away from each other, because I think DIY sellers, they’re emotional about their home. When they actually start entering negotiation face-to-face with the buyer, things can get a little bit emotional and a little bit heated.
So, what we’ve built in is a way they will still show the property but if there’s any interest from that party, they can come back and create themselves as a user with us – if they haven’t already – and they can actually negotiate through our portal. They can submit an offer, they can submit their conditions, then they can submit some text in there, as well, so they can chat to each other, and submit that offer to the seller. Once the seller receives the offer, they’ll have the choice in the system where they can accept, counter-offer, or reject.
It keeps them away from each other and they can do this process going back and forth until the point where they reach an agreement. Once they reach an agreement through the portal, it creates a document they can send off to their solicitor, and they can take care of the rest from there.
Kevin: How does this monetize for you, Stephen? How do you make money out of this?
Stephen: We make money initially off the advertisement. What a lot of the other companies have done is just given them the ad and then let them fall by the wayside and let them do everything completely by themselves without offering any tools. We want to give so much value that they can manage the process so that everyone’s talking about it. The more ads that we get up online, the more people that sell, the more people talk about it, and that’s how we will make money from it.
Kevin: Okay. Is there a cost involved for the seller apartment from the advertising?
Stephen: No. There’s no cost. If they want, we have an offering that we’re going to be going through today that has bolt-ons. So, if they want to get signed, a downloadable brochure pack, there are all these extras in there if they want image, enhancement, video editing, floor plan, all of those like a shopping list of extra add-ons.
If they simply just want to advertise and use the tools in our site, it’s just a flat fee of $299 plus GST until sold.
Kevin: Okay. Now let’s talk about the special offer that you wanted to make today, and there will be more details about this, I guess, on the site. Is that right?
Stephen: Yeah, correct. It’ll be on our landing page that we’ll discuss and direct them to later.
Kevin: The website is ReDIY.com.au. Tell me about the special offer.
Stephen: For rentals and for sales, we’re giving an offer, which is a hero shot. What we call the hero shot is the main image, where they will just point and shoot and take a nice photo of the front. What we will do with our professional editors is turn that from a day shot into a beautiful lit-up dusk shot, which will make their home look more expensive and help them attract more buyers.
We’ll also edit and image enhance nine further images, and we’re going to give them 10% off their ad, as well. The $299 plus GST will come down by 10% and we’re going to give them some awesome marketing, which will make their property stand out, and give it the best chance of getting sold.
Kevin: We’re going to send out a flyer on this, too, to anyone on our database, so watch out for that. It’ll come out in the next week or so. The website to get more details and find a little bit more about this special offer is ReDIY.com.au.
Is there a voucher or a code that has to be put in to get that discount?
Stephen: Yeah. The code is KTOFF.
Kevin: I don’t know if I like that! Anyway, KTOFF, and the website is ReDIY.com.au.
Stephen Atcheler, thank you so much for your time.
Stephen: Excellent. Thanks so much for having me, Kevin.
Cash flow vs capital growth – Steve Waters
Kevin: I guess it would be fair to say that there’s been more written about and more spoken about whether or not you should be looking at cash flow versus capital growth when it comes to property investing. Well, Steve Waters, who is the founder and director of Right Property Group says if that’s what you’re doing, you’re making a mistake. Let’s find out why. He joins me.
Good day, Steve. How are you doing?
Steve: Very well. Yourself?
Kevin: Good, mate. Good to be talking to you. Thank you.
I’ve read your blog article. Explain to me just why you think it’s a mistake.
Steve: I think mainly if you put all your eggs into one basket by either chasing the growth or the cash flow, you’ll be left short somewhere in the future. There’s this premise that if you’re chasing the high cash flow, then there won’t be the growth, and if you’re chasing the growth, there won’t be the cash flow. I think balancing the numbers is more to the point.
Kevin: Where does it all fall apart?
Steve: If we look at growth, as I say usually, it does. The higher growth properties, as I say, usually do have the smaller cash flow. I think if we’re comparing today’s cost of money, so interest rates, where perhaps people’s disposable income is okay, my fear is when it gets to 5% or 6% or whatever the average is, that these properties will start to a dramatic effect on the household budget.
Likewise, with the opposite being the higher cash flow properties, those who are chasing that alone potentially won’t have the growth. And at the end of the day, it is that equity or that capital appreciation that’s going to get us to where we want to be.
Kevin: Is there a right and a wrong time? Let’s have a look firstly at cash flow. When is it time to look at cash flow?
Steve: I think you should always be looking at cash flow. For me personally and how we help our clients, it’s more about building or creating that balanced portfolio. We’re looking to establish a portfolio that has some higher growth properties but also some properties that fundamentally have higher cash flow to support those negative cash flow properties. And this is all pre-tax dollars, of course.
Kevin: I guess it comes down to your stage in life, too – doesn’t it – and also your risk profile, I guess, if you’re going to be chasing capital gains over cash flow. I guess early investors, too, have to sacrifice a bit of cash flow, don’t they?
Steve: When we all first started, yeah, we did whatever it took. Once again, you do need that growth because it’s going to perpetuate you into the next property, because you can’t save the deposits quick enough, so to speak.
Once again, I’m a massive fan of balancing the numbers. Just like you would as a business, you’re looking at the bottom line and constantly adjusting.
Kevin: How many people in Australia do you know are actually property investors and how many are multi-property investors?
Steve: The stats, it’s around about 7% of people invest in property, and then it drops significantly those with multiple properties, and the more properties, the less a percentage.
Kevin: What stops someone? They get one property, is it because they’ve made a mistake or their risk profile changes a bit that they don’t move on to their second or third property?
Steve: I think it’s a good question. AI think it’s a combination. Usually, life does change, and it’s certainly no secret for those who have multiple properties that the more properties that you have, the more work is involved. It’s certainly not a passive asset vehicle.
Life does take twists and turns, whether that be more kids, education, and what have you. The household budget begins to shrink and the whole argument around affordability and what they can contribute from the household budget to support properties really becomes a major factor.
But I’d also say people’s risk profile has a lot to do with it, and sometimes just one is enough.
Kevin: Steve, when someone gets to one property and they think “Oh well, I’m now a property investor, I’ve made it,” I forget the phrase you used, but it was almost saying that it’s not a “set and forget” proposition.
Do you think where a lot of investors probably go wrong is that they just actually start but never quite finish the journey?
Steve: I think that’s a really good point. And with today’s technology, as we were speaking about earlier on, there are so much information out there that the consumer can really use to better their position in terms of due diligence, but it is a lot of work.
I think there is a little bit of a fallacy that their property is passive. Once someone gets one or two properties, the workload involved, and not just the workload, of course, but the ups and downs, the shorter cash flow months when there’s repairs and maintenance or higher cost of interest rates, whatever it may be, it does seem to taint the overall picture.
Kevin: Is it a matter of being constantly vigilant, always looking at your portfolio, reviewing it, and looking at trimming off at the bottom – making your portfolio more profitable?
Steve: 100%. I think if you approach property as a “set and forget” or a passive asset vehicle, I think you’ll really do yourself an injustice. I know we are constantly reviewing portfolios. We do it every quarter for a normal portfolio, and I say “normal” in inverted commas.
But I think if you go and invest hundreds of thousands of dollars, it is something that you should take seriously and have your finger on the pulse, whether that be interest rates, rents, whatever it may be. It’s a big business to you.
Kevin: Good advice. Steve Waters there, who’s the founder and director of Right Property Group. Steve, thank you so much for your time.
Steve: Thank you. Appreciate it.