Confidence in investing in Australian real estate has dropped to its lowest point in 44 years, according to the Westpac-Melbourne Institute consumer sentiment report for September 2017. Only 10.5% of Aussies surveyed said they feel property is a wise place to put savings – the lowest percentage since 1973. At the peak, in the mid-1990s, almost 50% of Australians felt that property was the way to go. Almost a third (29%) of respondents chose Banks as the wisest place for savings. It is thought that the cooling market combined with rising household costs and stagnant wages growth is to blame for the 44-year slump. Looking at consumer sentiment, September saw a slight increase, up 2.5%, to a four-month high of 97.9. The consumer confidence index is down 4.4% year-on-year and anything below 100 denotes pessimism. Those commentators favouring rate hikes next year point to record business conditions but we are starting to see a considerable gap open up between business conditions and business confidence, according to Westpac chief economist Bill Evans. Commsec also sees no need to hike interest rates and observed how Aussies are going off real estate investments. CommSec chief economist Craig James said putting money in the bank or paying down debt are still regarded the wisest places for new savings, also that shares have narrowed the gap with real estateand that a less frothy real estate sector would be very much embraced by the Reserve Bank. Paying down debt is no doubt weighing on the minds of many Australians. At the end of 2016, Australia had the fourth-highest national debt-to-income ratio of 190%. More than 40 per cent of all Chinese-buying inquiries in the year to date have been for Melbourne, making the southern city Australia’s destination of choice. That’s according to international property website Juwai.com, which reported that 41 per cent of Chinese-buyer inquiries made in Australia in 2017 have been for properties in Melbourne. That figure is up from 36 per cent last year and constitutes a “triumph for Melbourne”. Chinese investors are aware of Victoria’s stamp duty, and while that figures into investment-oriented buyers’ calculations, it doesn’t have much impact on lifestyle and education buyers according to Juwai. They say, Australia is popular because of the educational opportunities it offers and its reliable investment environment.