04 Apr Is it too late to get into this property cycle? | Auction price ranges | What’s a seller’s advocate | Should you buy in a trust? | Plus more…
Michael Yardney tells us if it’s too late to get into this property cycle. He says timing is one of the most misunderstood concepts in property investing.
Auction continue to grow as a method of sale but there are changes on the horizon and Dr Andrew Wilson details the changes being foreshadowed as a result of many complains about price ranging.
Ken Raiss runs through the advantages and disadvantages of buying a property in your own name or a trust.
We catch up with Sellers Advocate Kathryn Fantov. While sellers advocacy is not new, how they work is changing and she explains the change and how it might benefit you.
Do high home prices make schools better, or do homes in the best school districts sell for higher prices? Paul Osborne has studied this and joins us with the answers.
Plus… we hear the secrets of a property expert – a 25 year veteran.
Kevin: We’ve spoken from time to time about property cycles. Is it too late to get into this property cycle?
Michael Yardney from Metropole Property Strategists answers that question. Hi, Michael.
Michael: Hello, Kevin.
Kevin: Is it too late, Michael?
Michael: Well, our property markets have performed very strongly over the last few years. But they’ve slowed down a bit now, so it’s got many investors wondering – you’re right – “Is it too late? Have I missed the boat?”
I understand why they’re thinking that. It’s probably because it’s often said that timing is everything when you invest in property. But, Kevin, in my mind, timing is one of the most misunderstood concepts regarding property investment.
Kevin: In what way, Michael?
Michael: The truth is successful investors know how to create wealth at any point in the cycle. Timing definitely matters. Of course, you don’t want to buy a property right near the peak of the boom and just have to wait a few years for the property market to rise. But successful investors find timing really isn’t important to them.
Michael: Have you noticed, Kevin, how some investors do well in good times and do even better in bad times? Market timing just doesn’t seem important to them. On the other hand, there are some investors who do poorly in good times and even worse in bad times. Market timing doesn’t have much effect on them, either. Interesting, isn’t it?
Kevin: Yes, it is, mate. What is it that differentiates that small group of successful investors from the crowd?
Michael: The fact that successful investors manage to make money while unsuccessful investors lose money at the same stage in the cycle, in my mind, means it’s not necessarily the external world that determines whether you make or lose money; it’s something inside of us.
I know many people would argue that that probably means it’s knowledge. But I don’t think that’s actually quite right, Kevin. There’s always a level of knowledge that you need – financial fluency that the average, investor lacks – but it’s much more than knowledge that makes successful investors. In my mind, it’s actually mindset, Kevin.
Kevin: What do you mean by that, Michael?
Michael: For some people, the current stage of the property cycle, Kevin, still makes really good opportunities around. Savvy investors see the current times as an opportunity to buy good investments.
But for others, there seems to be all sorts of negatives in the press, and they get confused and concerned by that, and they see it as the worst of times. Sometimes it’s because they are saddled with unfortunate debt or they’ve made wrong investments. But, in my mind, some people always seem to see abundance, while others seem to find scarcity.
Kevin: Yes. Is it more than just knowledge and facts, Michael?
Michael: I think you’re right, Kevin. That’s right. Knowledge alone won’t assure you success. I’ve seen some very knowledgeable people make some foolish investment decisions.
Interestingly, as I said, while some investors are currently getting in the game and buying great investment properties to secure their financial future, others at the moment are just a little bit tied up with all the what’s happening in politics and the world with the Australian dollar falling. “Is it too late in the cycle?”
A couple of days ago, I spoke to a client, and interestingly, Kevin, he’s been waiting ten years for the market to be right – just right. He’s looking for everything to line up. If only he’d bought any property then, boy, would he be in a different position today.
Kevin: I quite often wonder whether sometimes we just wait for the perfect time to arrive, Michael, and it just doesn’t happen.
Michael: Exactly. In my mind, wealth is attracted to people who are decisive and committed. If you’re waiting for the timing to be perfect, Kevin, the timing will never really be perfect for you. Currently, property investors are taking advantage of some good opportunities to buy properties, despite the heat in the market. I bet you when you interview them in a couple of years’ time on Real Estate Talk, they’re going to look back and say, “Hey. 2015 was a pretty good time to buy property.”
Kevin: Getting back to my original question, Michael, it’s not too late to get into this property cycle?
Michael: No, it’s not. But clearly, the market is going to be flatter this year. The market is not going to do the heavy lifting, pushing up the property values, so correct property selection in the areas that are going to outperform the averages. You’re actually not buying the market; you’re buying individual properties in the market – ones that will increase in value because of the location, because of the demographics in the area, and probably one that you can add some value to, Kevin, so that you’ll manufacture some capital growth while the market is a bit flatter.
Kevin: Sounds good, Michael. Thank you so much for your time.
Michael Yardney from Metropole Property Strategists. Thanks, mate.
Michael: My pleasure, Kevin.
Kevin: There’s been a lot of talk about what’s going to happen with auctions, whether they should be controlled more, and you probably would be aware of what happened in Queensland last year with some legislation of governing how auctions should be handled by agents. It seems that something may also be happening in New South Wales. I wonder what your feeling is about that. Let us know anytime, of course, through the show. Just do it through the comments section.
I’m going to get his opinion on this, Dr. Andrew Wilson, Chief Economist with the Domain Group. I know you watch these auction results very carefully and you’re a student of auction. Tell me briefly what the government are looking at doing, why they’re doing it, and what impact you think it will have.
Andrew: The New South Wales government, in line with the Queensland government, has been concerned about under-quoting by agents in terms of auction markets. The price guides are significantly less than the prices that are realized at auction.
But look, this is just a clear product of a very strong market. It’s very difficult when you’re getting price rises generally of up to 15% in the capital market city, and in some cases, Sydney suburbs have risen by over 30% annualized. It’s very difficult when you’ve got that level of competition amongst buyers that are pushing prices up 10%, 20%, 30% above reserves, to be able to give an accurate estimate in terms of a price guide.
We can’t really control these things, this is just a really strong market, and the whole purpose of an auction for a seller is to create a market environment of uncertainty. The buyers are there to fight it out, and the highest price wins.
If you’re going to have to start putting out price guides that have some sense of accuracy to them, you might as well be going up private sale and sellers might as well just put a very high price on their reserves – in other words, not a minimum, but a maximum – and then negotiate downwards rather than push prices upwards.
It’s a product of very strong market activity. I know there’s a lot of disappointed buyers out there who do go to an auction with an expectation that it will bring a particular price and then it’s $100,000, $200,000 more, and there is disappointment in that scenario, but it’s just a product of a hot market.
Most owner-occupiers, most buyers are sellers and sellers are buyers, so they don’t want to interfere in the process of maximizing the price outcomes for their property, and there’s no doubt that when there are more buyers than sellers that auctions are the way to maximize your price outcome is you’re a homeowner.
Kevin: Yes, this underlines the problem, doesn’t it? They’re trying to outlaw lowballing or giving buyers an indication about the price that the property may actually sell for when in fact it sells for a lot more. Surely, that reinforces what happened in Queensland where price ranges were outlawed for that reason.
Andrew: That’s right, Kevin, and as I said, all it does is it changes from that auction marketing environment to one of a private sale environment. If you’re starting to actually have to promote what you think the price will be, obviously then the seller is under pressure to nominate a price, and so is the agent. It’s very difficult for agents because they, too, are in that position where prices growth is extraordinarily strong and it’s very hard to monitor the rate of growth.
Look, buyers do have a lot of information options at their fingertips. There’s a lot of data that’s provided for free now that indicates growth in prices, recent prices in neighborhoods and particular properties that they can use as a guide, but it is a product of a hot market. We would be talking the reverse, of course, if it was a cold market. We would be worried about over-quoting for properties to try to get vendors to sell.
Kevin: Buyers simply wouldn’t turn up if you are over-quoting, would they?
Andrew: That’s right. The whole purpose of the auction is to create a free market environment where the buyer sets the price. The point is that the seller doesn’t have to accept the price, and it’s the imperfect acknowledge from the point of view of the buyer that makes them bid competitively, because if they knew what the price was, they would just all start negotiating downwards from the headline price.
I understand there are a lot of disappointed buyers out there that miss out on auctions. It is that underlying imbalance between supply and demand, but that’s just the nature of the game, and we just need more supply, particularly in that Sydney market, to start balancing out price growth.
Kevin: John McGrath, of course, spoke out quite strongly against what the moves were in Queensland. I wonder what his reaction is to what’s happening in New South Wales. Have you heard at all?
Andrew: No, I haven’t. In Sydney, the proportion of auctions for overall sales is now rising up to around about one in four, and why wouldn’t it be given how strong the market is and how you can optimize your outcomes in terms of price in an auction environment in a strong market?
Melbourne is “Auction Central” for capital city auctions. It has over 30% of its sales from auctions. Sydney is now pushing up that way because of the strong competition for property. Sellers indicate that by preferring to go to auction to maximize their outcomes.
Of course, it’s better for the agent in the sense that they too can let the market decide, and that’s what an auction is all about: let the market decide on the day what the price is. There are no guarantees for sellers, either, and they have to conduct a four- to six-week campaign in that uncertain environment of knowing of whether they will get the sale they want at the end of the day.
Kevin: Watch this space, that’s all I can say. We’ll get comment from John McGrath a little bit later in this show, as well. He’ll put his view forward, as well.
Dr. Andrew Wilson, Chief Economist with the Domain Group. Thank you so much again for your time.
Andrew: My pleasure, Kevin.
Kevin: We’re going to answer a question now from Dimitri. Dimitri, thank you very much for sending this into us. Let me quickly read it. “I’d like to ask one of your experts a question and have it featured in the show.” Of course. It’s our pleasure, Dimitri.
“The question is: what are the general considerations that need to be taken into account when choosing whether to buy a property in your own name or in a trust? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each, and what are the guidelines recommended to be followed deciding on the structure?”
Ken Raiss from Chan & Naylor, you have about three minutes to answer this question. Can you do it?
Ken: I’ll do it at a very high level, Dimitri. Obviously, you’ll need to come in and get some more specific advice. For a principal place of residence, we would normally say buy in your personal names for the tax and land tax benefits.
But if you’re looking for asset protection, estate planning, some flexibility – including maybe moving money to lower tax payers – then you would need to consider a trust. Also, if you’re a major or larger property investor, land tax is normally a consideration and in that instance, having structures such as trusts can reduce your land tax.
In general terms, if you have a positively geared property, maybe a quick turnaround where you want to spread that cash flow to different people, then I would use a trust such as our Business Enterprise Trust.
If it’s negatively geared and you want some of those benefits, then you have to be very careful because the ATO really looks at this. Chan & Naylor’s Property Investor Trust actually has a tax product ruling on that, so you can effectively have a trust and push negative gearing down against your wages.
I would probably never use a company if you’re an individual to buy property because you don’t get the 50% discount and you end up paying more tax anyway.
You need to have to a look at the value of those benefits that you’re trying to do, and compare that to the cost of running a structure, both the setup costs and obviously the increase to annual compliance costs.
Hopefully, that’s a high-level overview that gives you food for thought.
Kevin: Ken, just a quick question from me if I may. Is it necessary to have a different trust for every property?
Ken: No, normally not. Speaking for myself, a couple properties per trust. I look at the land tax issues, so once I fill up that trust with land, I’d move on to the next one. There’s another issue as well: asset protection. If you have too many assets in a trust, then if one tenant sues, it could be a house of cards that falls down and all your assets then in that one trust are at risk.
The land tax is the first consideration and then look at some asset protection strategies if you have a lot of assets in the same trust.
Kevin: There you go, Dimitri. As Ken said, a very top-level answer there to your question. Thank you very much for sending it in.
Ken, thank you very much for giving us your time today.
Ken: It’s a pleasure.
Ken: Well, it’s a pleasure.
Kevin: You no doubt will have heard of the term buyer’s agent, and you know how that differs, I would imagine, from the normal everyday agent – that is that buyer’s agents will work exclusively with buyers. But is there such a thing as a seller’s agent?
I guess one of the things that has concerned many, many people over the years is the conflict of interest for a traditional real estate agent. How can they work for both the seller and the buyer, particularly when they’re actually earning their money out of the seller?
Well, guess what? There’s now a thing called a seller’s advocate. This is someone who works exclusively with sellers to make sure that they get the right agent and then they get the right price.
I’m talking to one of them now. Her name is Kathryn Fantov. She’s from Innovative Property Advocates, and she joins me.
Good day Kathryn.
Kathryn: Hi, Kevin. How are you?
Kevin: Good. Seller’s advocacy has been around for some time. What’s the difference between your business and other seller’s advocates.
Kathryn: There are probably a couple of differences. The main difference would the way that we’re remunerated. Other seller’s advocates actually tell the clients that it’s a free service and then what they do is when they’ve chosen a real estate agent, negotiate a fee with them but they have to take off their fee about 20%. The fee that they get paid comes from the agent but that fee is paid by the seller. It’s not actually a free service.
Kevin: It could also be seen as a bit of a conflict of interest, similar to what I was saying at the opening there where traditional agents try to work for both the buyer and the seller.
Kathryn: Exactly. In my view, I think that seller’s advocacy is all about being independent. It’s all about offering unbiased advice to the seller, acting exclusively for the seller. The difficulty is when you’re sharing the commission with the real estate agent, how can you remain impartial and independent?
Kevin: This is an additional fee your seller would have to pay. Can you give me an idea as to what that may cost and what are the benefits for them?
Kathryn: Starts anywhere from around $4000.
Kevin: At what stage do you become involved in the selling process? Is it at the appointment of the agent?
Kathryn: We actually come in right at the very beginning, hopefully when the people are just starting to think about selling and they’re thinking about, “Well, we need to do some work around the house. What should we do? How much should spend so we don’t over-capitalize. Where should we spend the money?”
We actually call in three of the local agents. We interview them on behalf of the seller, and we give our recommendations to the seller on who we think would be best suited to sell the property and why.
Once they’re appointed, we negotiate the best selling fee for the owner. We review the marketing, making sure they’re not overspending on marketing. We deal with the agent throughout the whole process.
Kevin: Going back to the appointment of the agent. That’s one of the most difficult things for most people, because agents are very good at selling themselves and selling a concept. How do you cut through all of that? What are the things that you ask that helps you identify the best person for the job?
Kathryn: The thing that I really want to know about is how they handle the question of price when it comes to the buyers querying them, maybe at the open house or afterwards, especially if it’s an auction campaign or if it’s an “offers over.” I really question them on how they handle that and whether they’re going to give them an accurate fee or are they going to be under-quoting?
The other thing I get from them is a list of all of the sales they’ve made in the last three months – every single sale, how they were made, how many days on market, whether they sold at auction or private treaty. That gives me a bit of a snapshot as to how well the agent is operating in the area, as well.
Kevin: I think that a couple of points you made there really highlight the fact that many people – who probably only once or twice in their life may ever sell a property – sometimes don’t even know the right questions to ask, so it’s quite easy, therefore, to get the wrong agent. That’s one of the reasons why having a seller’s advocate is certainly going to make it easier.
If that’s what you want, why don’t you contact Kathryn and her team at Innovative Property Advocates.
Thank you for your time today.
Kathryn: Thanks, Kevin.
Kevin: I’ve often been involved in this conversation myself, but quite often people will say, “How important is the school zone or the area where the kids will go to school? Does that actually impact property prices?”
Lots of people will give you different impressions. I read a really interesting report that was put out by Secret Agent. They’re buyer’s advocates out of Melbourne – a great website, too, for you to go and have a look at, a lot of tremendous reports there. These guys produce a number of reports each year that are very detailed and they’ll give you a lot of insight about what’s happening in the market. The website is SecretAgent.com.au.
The man behind that site, along with a big team, is Paul Osborne. Good day, Paul.
Paul: Good day, Kevin.
Kevin: The question I pose of you today is do home prices get impacted by the quality of the schools in the area?
Paul: I would say most definitely. I think when anybody is looking to purchase a property wrapped up in the price of that asset is always going to be amenities. We always know cafés and restaurants and access to the CBD is important, but increasingly important is the particular school zone that a property might fit within and how it actually goes in terms of its scoring mechanisms.
Kevin: Is choosing a home inseparable from choosing a child’s education, do you think?
Paul: I think it always depends on the individual. But what we have found is that with prices escalating, and this move towards being in more central locations, that there is now a preference for many parents for perhaps rather than buying into a particular area that might be suited towards a very good private school, they’re looking to get to an area that’s close to the CBD with a very good public system or a good public state school where they can put two kids through school without having to incur the cost of $30,000 to $40,000 per annum, and instead to plough that into the mortgage and to live in a different area altogether.
Kevin: Paul, is there a number that you could say the value of property in this area is going to go up because it’s in a good catchment area?
Paul: The analysis that we uncovered was that on average, a 1% increase in the percentage of study scores that were over 40 – study scores are marked out of 50, which is the highest that you can get – increased the price of a house in the affected school zone by $19,000.
Kevin: Now, this is backed up from some study. I understand there was one done in New Zealand, as well, that you’ve relied on, too. Is that correct?
Paul: Correct, yes. We were very interested by the advanced workings that were going on in New Zealand and the type of research that was coming out of there, which showed also that when school zones are actually altered, that it would potentially devastate one area in terms of its pricing and drop the price when it was no longer factored into a good school zone that parents had a preference to putting their kids into.
It was something that we looked at in terms of the New Zealand studies. We’ve applied it predominantly to Melbourne, but we’ve loosely looked at this into other states and cities across Australia and have found similar findings in terms of the research.
Kevin: Yes. The report, as I said, is available at the website SecretAgent.com.au. Just to wrap it up, Paul, if we could, just your conclusion from this – the bottom line.
Paul: I think the bottom line is that the way that we’re living today is very different in terms of we’re potentially looking at many small spaces – living in apartments, for example – and having a family within those particular areas where there haven’t traditionally been great schools. We’ve seen Haileybury College in Melbourne, for example, which has gone and purchased a $52 million city block in a city to develop a city campus.
There is a changing way of where kids are being brought up. One way that parents are looking at this is “We want to get into where we want to live, and if we can find a terrific school that comes under a school zone with higher study scores than another particular school, we’ll locate our preferences in that area, and therefore, we’re happy to pay a premium to do so.”
Kevin: There’s the bottom line. The report is available for you at SecretAgent.com.au.
My guest has been Paul Osborne from Secret Agent. They’re buyer’s advocates out of Melbourne. Thanks for your time, Paul.
Paul: Thank you.
Kevin: Robert Klaric has written a book called “Secrets of the Property Expert.” Nice to be talking to you this morning, Robert.
Robert: Thank you, Kev. Always a pleasure.
Kevin: Let’s drill down into the book just a little bit. Chapter 13 where you deal with the do’s and don’ts of negotiation, something I was going through last night. A lot of sellers – and in some cases, buyers – only ever buy or sell one property in their entire life, and the negotiation part of it, while we think it’s all left up to the agent, quite often the seller and buyer need to understand the philosophy of this, as well, too, don’t they?
Robert: Very much so – on both sides of the fence. As you rightly said, the majority of people only do it once or twice in a lifetime, and the agents certainly have the advantage of doing it virtually every day. From a consumer perspective, it can be very, very daunting.
Kevin: I love the saying you have in the book, too, right up at the front of that chapter: “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.” The thing I’ve learned about really great agents is they love that negotiation part of the whole thing, whether that’s negotiating to get a listing or even negotiating to get a sale.
Robert: Yes, very much so. Most of the agents and the good agents across Australia love the beginning and they love the end. The bits in the middle sometimes get in the road.
Kevin: The bits in the middle are quite often where agents go wrong. They’re very good at the front and the end, but it’s the bits in the middle that the sellers and buyers in some cases have a bad experience with.
Robert: Yes, very much so. It’s a process, and that is the communication. That’s often where the breakdown is – and the communication from both sides of the fence from the buyer when he’s making offers to the seller and also the way that the offers are presented. The agents get lost in the crossfire sometimes, as well.
The communication is absolutely critical for anybody wanting to buy or sell or a property. Have it in writing. Put things in writing. Maybe it’s an email confirming your discussions.
Kevin: In a negotiation – and you’ve written a bit about this in the book, too – the win-win. Tell me how we go about doing that when there’s obviously a lot at stake here. How do we get a win-win?
Robert: In simple language, it’s so important in the process. A buyer wants to get a property as cheaply as he can, and the vendor wants to get as much as he can, so we’re on opposite sides of the fence.
Ultimately, if there can be a win-win, it’s about making sure that you have the right result if you want if you’re selling, and that’s about being comfortable, thinking, “Yes, I’m happy with the result,” and from a buyer’s perspective, they’re going to know, “Maybe I didn’t steal and maybe I didn’t get a bargain, but I have what I want,” and to me, that’s a win-win.
Kevin: The breed of the agent has changed a lot, though, in the last decade.
Robert: Two things have happened. You need to be professional to survive, and technology – the use of the Internet – that has changed the landscape of real estate. You have only to get on to Facebook to check out a profile of an agent. People can do their homework now. You can go online and you can type somebody’s name in Google, and you can find out – warts and all – who they are and what they are.
I love the fact that people can do it, and I’ve said it in the book “Secrets of the Property Expert” many a time. Your default button has to be research, research, research – no matter where you’re looking to list your property with the agent. Whether you’re in Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne, it doesn’t matter, most suburbs now will have five or six real estate offices in that little suburb, so you have choice, and as a consumer, you need to be speaking and checking them all out and doing your research on all of them before you list your property with them.
Kevin: Okay. The book is called “Secrets of the Property Expert” written by Robert Klaric, who has been my guest. Look for it. You can’t miss it; it will be in all the good bookshops.
Robert: As well as on our website, which is ThePropertyExpert.com.au.
Kevin: Good on you, Robert Klaric and “Secrets of the Property Expert”, which is a great book. Don’t miss it. Make sure you pick it up. It’s a great handbook. Robert, thanks for your time, mate.
Robert: Thanks again, Kev. Always a pleasure.