World-first program offers high return + Tough credit slows building + Developers ‘flog substandard projects’

Highlights from this week:

  • The fourth layer of government
  • Credit squeeze impacts building starts
  • Disability housing offers high return
  • Upgraders win BIG
  • Developers ‘flog substandard projects’


Disability housing offers high return – Michael Knights

Kevin:   Well, no doubt you will have heard of the federal government’s disabilities scheme, the NDIS, the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Now there’s an opportunity for investors, through a company we’re going to tell you about right now, to get a really good return if you want to become involved in this type of programme. My next guest is Michael Knights. Michael is from a company called Horizon Property Alliance, and they deal directly with builders. Actually, I’ll get Michael to explain it, because he is so good at explaining it. Michael, hello and welcome to the show.
Michael:   Oh, good day, Kevin, how you going?
Kevin:   Yeah. Good. It’s a good opportunity here for investors but I think there’s a number of hoops you need to go through first. As I understand it, your company will go out, source some land, work with the builder to get the building constructed to meet the proper standards. And then there’s a fairly good return for investors. Walk me through the process, then we’ll talk about the return.
Michael:   The investor that’s invited to the programme is obviously looking for a higher than normal return. So the returns on offer are extraordinary, but we build houses to spec the government NDIS criteria, and it’s all about demand for looking after the disabled people. So the government’s trying to help out as many disabled people as possible and there’s 60,000 disabled people Australia-wide waiting to get into these custom built homes. They’re called participants.
Kevin:   These are severely disabled people, aren’t they?
Michael:   Well, there’s a variety of all different sorts of disabilities, but we’re focusing on the severely disabled that need 24-hour care.
Kevin:   Okay. Yep.
Michael:   So the government pays two trenches of payment. One for the accommodation and one for the care. We work with the provider who will work out of the investor’s house and profit share with the investor. And that’s basically how … there’s three or four different levels of payment on offer, but typically most investors will work into a profit share with the registered provider.
Kevin:   Okay. So it’s not like a normal return on investment. There is a business being run out of it which is endorsed or supported by the government and that business is to care for the severely disabled person. So that carer lives in the house.
Michael:   Well, the carers, these people who are disabled, they need 24-hour care. So the carers work on 8-hours shift, so there are three 8-hour shifts a day. It’s obviously ongoing 24-hour care on offer for all these severely disabled people.
Kevin:   Now, I imagine, too, these properties will have to be specially built to accommodate for this. Are there many special needs that go into these houses?
Michael:   Yeah, there’s a livable housing guide specification where these houses are built to what’s called a platinum finish, but they look like a five-star house. So what they’re trying to do is integrate the disabled people into the community, so they’ll feel like they’re normal, take them out of the nursing home and the churches and all these old houses where they’re feeling just a bit neglected, and the government is to try and get them into the community. And help their families out with putting them into nice five-star type houses. So even though the houses are specked up and there’s things in the property that are needed for the care, they’re still really nicely decked out with the five-star finish.
Kevin:   Okay, so I imagine these are not going to be cheap properties. Can you give me some numbers of what we’re looking at?
Michael:   We’re working on a model with five bedrooms, four or five en suites and so they average construction’s probably around the 450 to 500, just for the build. And they’re specked up really, really nicely, so the average person would go through and think they’re a normal house, with wider doorways and bigger bathrooms and those sort of things. But they’re just designed with five-star finish.
Kevin:   Okay. Give me the return on this. I mean, I understand that it’s a business return, but tell me, how does that work?
Michael:   Well, there’s a few different options there, but say the property with the land was, say, $250,000 and the house is 500. So it’s a 750 full turnkey, where you’ll completely own the property investment. And the provider will split his return in the business. Now the business could bring in 1.15 million and the net return on that business could be 460,000. He’ll split that with you on a 40%. So, effectively, you could get 180-odd thousand dollars return on your investment per year on a 10-year agreement, ongoing.
Kevin:   Who is the lease with? Is the lease with the government or is it with the carer?
Michael:   You have an agreement with the carer. The carer’s not particularly on a lease, I’m sorry, the provider’s not on the lease. You’re on a partnership agreement and it’s a profit share. The biggest risk obviously is making sure that your provider’s really good at his job and keeps the rooms full and attracts really good, long-term tenants which, they’re called participants. They’re the disabled. And he has to run a really good business and hire really good carers to look after the people in the house. And that’s how the business is, you share the profits.
Kevin:   Your commission? Where does that come from? Who pays you?
Michael:   We get paid like a normal builder’s broker type thing, so our job is to find the land at the right price where the most demand is for disabled people. And the builder pays us a split to build the property. So we get like a builder’s fee to put these properties together.
Kevin:   Who provides the carers? Is that something you get involved in?
Michael:   No. The provider who runs the business out of the investor’s house, he’s paid to run the business by the government. The two trenches of payment. There’s an accommodation payment and then there’s the carer payment. And that’s how the provider gets paid and he shares that profit for running that business out of the investor’s house, with the investor.
Kevin:   Yeah. Wow. Really interesting and it’s great. We’ve only skimmed across the surface there. There’s so much more detail you can get into. Horizon Property Alliance is the name of the company, and my guest has been Michael Knights. The website, I’m just quickly looking here to find your website. Is it …
Michael:   It’s a relatively new programme, so if they want a feasibility and all the returns on investment, just contact us on our website there and we can give an update on what options are available. It’s absolutely outstanding. The returns that are on offer and the amount of participants ready and waiting to move into these houses is just unbelievable. Very exciting government initiative, that’s for sure.
Kevin:   Michael Knights, thank you so much for your time and the website again is
Kevin:   Michael, thanks for your time.
Michael:   Thanks for your time. Thank you.

Developers ‘flog substandard projects’ – Helen Collier-Kogtevs

Kevin:   Well, a recent comment by Helen Collier-Kogtevs from Real Wealth Australia, that property prices are predicted to fall by 20%, received a lot of comment. Helen’s comment was made on the back of an article in the Financial Review that more than 350,000 households are at risk of negative equity. Helen joins me to discuss that. Helen, it’s no wonder that you got that response. Hello and welcome to the show.
Helen:   Thank you for having me, Kevin.
Kevin:   It’s a pleasure. Were you surprised and do you agree with that, that the situation is that bad?
Helen:   I believe it’s going to head that way. Absolutely. I think it’s not a case of if, it’s a case of when, and I want to be clear though Kevin, it’s not 20% off every property in Australia, not all property is going to fall or experience a fall, but there are a lot of properties out there that are not near infrastructure. They’re lacking investment, there’s not a lot happening, and I guess, investors or owner occupiers have gone in, waiting for all of that to come, and I think they’re the ones that are going to be hardest hit in the short term.
Kevin:   You seem to be concerned about Queensland property developers, as you say, and I quote you here, “Trying to flog their substandard projects to unsuspecting Sydney and Melbourne investors.” That seems a bit harsh given how affordable property is in Queensland, Helen.
Helen:   It might be affordable, Kevin, but it doesn’t mean it’s good stock. And, I get approached by developers all the time. So, my thing is I don’t sell real estate, but they approach me because they know I’m an investor, and I deal with investors. And, I get that … Well actually of late, they are coming out in droves, because I know they’re starting to panic and get desperate. So, when I actually sit down and out of curiosity, I like to have a look at what stock they are offering, the floor plans are terrible, they are too small, they are lacking in quality fixtures and fittings. It’s just like a sausage factory where they just churning out these properties and selling it to unsuspecting Sydney and Melbourne investors, which I think is disgusting, quite frankly.
Kevin:   Well look, there’s no doubt that property investors have pulled back. Is it just a lack of confidence, you think, in the market or is it the result of tougher lending restrictions?
Helen:   I think it’s a combination. So, it’s a bit of a perfect storm happening now. So, yes, we’ve got, APRA has started making the changes. The Banking World Commission has now come in and picked up where APRA has left off. Then we’ve got all the labour noises about changes to negative gearing. It’s become … It’s a perfect storm where investors are like Hmm. It’s getting harder to borrow money when actually it’s not, that is a fallacy, but we can talk about that separately. However, because there’s that belief that money is tough, then investors are going, oh, you know what, I think I’ll sit back now and just wait and see what unfolds.
Helen:   However, even with all the changes that are going on with the banks, et cetera, I’m finding, Kevin, that if investors line up their financial ducks, they are still able to borrow. Are we able to borrow 98% or 97% like we did a decade ago, no. The changes that APRA and the Royal Banking Commission are making, is to tighten up lending to make us all fiscally more responsible and even make the banks more responsible with their lending. However, their still in the business of lending money and I want people to hear this. But the issue is, you can’t just rock up to a bank, throw them a couple payslips and expect them to lend you the money. They’re just going to now dot their i’s and cross their t’s, and be more thorough, and that’s okay. I think that’s a good thing for all of us.
Helen:   However, it doesn’t mean that they’re not lending money. They’ve still got shareholders to report to. They’ve still got targets they need to meet, and you know, unless they lend money, if they don’t lend money, money’s only going to get more expensive. So, it’s important for the banks to keep lending. They’re just looking for the right people to lend to, and that’s where I really like to teach people about lining up the financial ducks, so the banks do say yes more often.
Kevin:   Yeah. Just moving away from finance, for a moment, and having a look at supply. Are we building enough properties to cater for a growing population, Helen?
Helen:   No, we’re at a deficit of around 40,000 a year. So, you know, and building approvals are on the decline. In my opinion, what we’re going to see now, Kevin, is a wonderful little boom that’s going to come up and it’s not property prices going up, but it’s going to be yields going up. They’re going to start to sky rocket and we’re already seeing that in the ACT and even little old Hobart.
Kevin:   Yeah. You also expressed some concern about a slow down in public sector supply of housing, at the same time that there’s a slow down in private sector development. What do you think that’s going to do to property prices as opposed to returns?
Helen:   Well, I think because there is enough negative sentiment in the market. I don’t see property prices sky rocketing or going off. There might be a little run on the property market, before the election and if Labor get in, and they do make changes before they legislate. There might be a run on the property market there. However, I think now, we’re going to come into a cool market for the next couple of years and I feel that this is where yields will now enjoy that mini boom.
Kevin:   In one of the articles you’ve written recently, you warned about a dramatic collapsing property market. Is there any way to avoid that? What do you think is the solution?
Helen:   Okay, so it’s important for … If your market ends up in negative equity, if your property ends up in negative equity, don’t panic. If you don’t need to sell, don’t sell. Just sit tight while this rides out. Again, what you need to do, if you’re looking to purchase in this market, it’s a great time to be buying, but you’ve got to make sure that you’re looking for good quality property that tenants want to rent and that has a history of growth, just because it’s cooled off and everything is not growing, so it’s collapsing in some areas or just stagnant in others. The key thing here, Kevin, is for people not to panic, sit tight, negotiate if you’re going to buy. I love Christmas time for that.
Helen:   I always encourage all my students get out there and buy now, there are lots of vendors that would love, love, love to have the property sold by Christmas and celebrate over Christmas. So, let’s give them what they want, but make sure you’re negotiating and asking for discounts.
Kevin:   Yeah, they’ve become a lot more negotiable. Sometimes when they want to meet that deadline, they don’t have to have it necessarily settled by Christmas, but to know that it’s sold by Christmas. For a lot of people is very … It helps them relax a lot more.
Helen:   It does, and it’s just that knowing of, okay, I’m starting the new year off fresh. I got rid of that property, I’m now moving on in the next chapter.
Kevin:   Always great talking to you. Helen Collier-Kogtevs is from Real Wealth Australia. Helen, thanks for your time. All the best for Christmas and the New Year too.
Helen:   You too, Kevin. Thank you.

Upgraders win BIG – Nick Viner

Kevin:   Well, no matter what the market does, there are always opportunities. That’s highlighted in a release that I’ve just received from a buyer’s agent by the name of Nick Viner. Nick is from Buyer’s Domain and joins me. G’day, Nick. How are you doing?
Nick:   Hi, Kevin. How are you?
Kevin:   Good. Yeah, always. We’re very positive in this industry, I find. There’s always a silver lining behind every cloud. Let’s talk about-
Nick:   That’s it.
Kevin:   The opportunities for trade-up buyers. Tell us what’s happening because you’re operating in the Sydney market. What are you seeing there, Nick?
Nick:   Yeah, absolutely. Well, look, overall in the city market this year in the last 12 months we’ve seen a drop of about 7%, just over 7%, although in reality, when you get out and about there, I’m seeing bigger decreases of probably 10 to 15%. Bought an upgrader unit for someone in Mossman recently for 3.13, and the same units were trading for 3.5 in the middle of the year.
Nick:   So that’s a decrease of $370-odd grand, rather, which is more than 10%. So there are particularly strong opportunities for people looking to upgrade, and the reason being because although you might be a little bit depressed that you’re selling your current properties for less than you would have 12 months ago, when you go and upgrade to the larger property, the bigger property at the higher end of the market, the savings are going to be greater on the larger property. So that’s what we’re seeing right now. In some ways, the smarter buyers are really taking advantage of that opportunity.
Kevin:   It is sort of a warning, though, for anyone who is looking to get into property that you’re gonna have to be prepared to take the punt that the market will recover and not continue to decline, Nick?
Nick:   Well, that’s right. And, look, Kevin, it’s very difficult to time the bottom of the market. In fact, no one is going to be able to time the bottom of the market, and what I’d say to people, I speak to a lot of buyers day in and day out, and there’s a feeling among some of them that they’re best waiting for the market to hit the bottom, but when do you know when that is?
Nick:   And the problem with waiting for the bottom of the market is, you really only know when it’s the bottom of the market when it stops going up again. And as soon as it starts going up, as soon as you are starting to find and buy in a rising market, you’ll find that the competition, the buyers come out of the woodwork, and it’s very difficult to secure property in a rising market, and you start making some of those compromise decisions. Busy roads and all that kind of stuff because you feel under pressure.
Nick:   The great thing about the market now is you’ve got more time to consider the options and really focus on getting a really good quality blue-chip property at an outstanding price.
Kevin:   Yeah, because the problem when you try and time the market is that, as you just mentioned there, invariably miss the market because I’ve seen people wait for what they think is the bottom of the market, and then when they see an upswing, they’ll wait to see if it lasts and miss it totally. So I don’t think there’s any value in chasing the market up or down. I think you’ve got to buy when you think it’s right and make sure that you buy well.
Kevin:   Tell me about investors. What are you seeing with investors compared to general home buyers?
Nick:   Very interesting, Kevin, actually. Investors have been really, really quiet for the last 18 months or so, and in fact, I’ve always worked for investors and home buyers in sort of equal numbers up and down over the years. But as I say to investors, they’ve been extremely quiet for the last 18 months. I think they’ve been, I mean they probably started seeing higher prices and falling rental yields, and then they’ve been largely shut out of the market when approaching the banks for loans. Although I’m starting to see a little bit of a turnaround amongst the banks in that regard.
Nick:   So I think one of the smaller lenders the other day was coming out with much better rates for investors than for home buyers, and that’s a little bit of a mini-reversal, and possibly off the back of that, for the first time in a long time, I’ve had a couple of new inquiries from investors in the past couple of weeks.
Nick:   So that’s an interesting development. I think the other thing going forward is that rents have been low, and they’ve probably even fallen as much as 10% in the last year. We actually manage my business, my business manager has a handful of properties for our investor clients as well. So, yeah, I can speak to you freely about this.
Nick:   And rents have been so low, and investors have retreated from the market, and I think they possibly will retreat further, particularly if Bill Shorten gets in and removes negative gearing.
Nick:   But there will come a time, and no one knows when that will be. Will it be 12 months? Will it be 24 months? Where the amount of investor stock becomes too low because the investors haven’t been there for the last, whatever it is by then, two, three, four, five years. And rents will start going up.
Nick:   And you’ll wait and see. The investors will start coming back into the market off the back of rising rents.
Kevin:   What are the best opportunities to buy in Sydney right now, Nick?
Nick:   Good question. Look, I’d stick with the inner-ring suburbs, particularly for an investment property, I’d stick within $10K of CBD, possibly even five to seven, because those are the areas that, those are the blue-chip areas where you’ll get consistently solid demand going forward, irrespective of the strength of the market, and good areas where you’ll never find a shortage of tenants.
Kevin:   Nick, thanks very much for your time. Nick Viner has been my guest. Nick is from Buyer’s Domain. Thanks for your time, Nick.
Nick:   Pleasure. Thanks, Kevin. Thanks for having me on.

Fourth layer of government – Grant Mifsud

Kevin:   Well, my next story is really based on Queensland. It’s Queensland-centric. It will, as you’ll probably see, have, it could have ramifications right around the country. Because plans by Queensland government to reform residential tenancy laws seem fairly well meaning, but could be futile because most rental properties are in community title schemes that are governed by bodies corporate. I’m talking now to Grant Mifsud. Grant is from Archer’s the strata professionals. They are based in Brisbane, so they have a really good knowledge of what’s happening with the Palaszczuk government in Queensland. Grant, thank you very much for your time.
Grant:   Thanks, Kevin.
Kevin:   How do you think this is going to fare because the State Minister Mick de Brenni is driving for some fairly sweeping changes. Wants to actually take control of the rules within a body corporate. How successful do you think this can be?
Grant:   I think it can be, but there needs to be that connection between the legislation that he’s looking to reform and also the body corporate communication management act which applies to Queensland and the current reforms that are under way with that legislation as well. I think that connection needs to be in the form of education. So there’s no point saying within your rental agreement, these are now your rights, and the person tries to exercise those rights but then in strata properties, they’ve got no education behind what rule’s been applied within a strata property which is that fourth layer of government, so to speak.
Kevin:   Interesting you call it that. It obviously is because I think in your release also you talk about the major sources of complaints are around pets, parking, parties and passive smoking. All the Ps. How much control can a body corporate have? There have been instances where people have tried to buy a unit as an example because they’ve got a pet. They settle on the unit. They go to move in. They find that pets aren’t allowed. This does actually cause some disputes.
Grant:   Yeah, absolutely. There is that dispute resolution process for when a decision is made that does not seem reasonable for what people ordinarily do in their home. Having a pet is one of those ordinary things. Consideration needs to be given to not only that person wanting to do that normal thing, but also the suitability of the pet and the building. So making sure the situation is matched and is not going to, particularly in a strata building, where you’re living in close proximity of your neighbours and there’s shared areas to get in and out, etc. You want to make sure that that impact isn’t going to have an adverse affect on everybody else.
Kevin:   This could be a key issue for anyone buying a unit too because each of the body corporates could have different rules, couldn’t they?
Grant:   That’s exactly right. Usually there’s some sort of rule that has, it might be a 10KG limit rule for a lot of the high rise buildings. So pets under a certain size. But there’s always exceptions to those rules and as I mentioned you can dispute that current rule that’s in place if you believe that your pet is suitable. Particularly we’re now getting… there is exclusions for when you’ve got seeing eye dogs and things like that. There’s also the pets for medical reasons as well which we’re seeing a lot more of forming cases.
Kevin:   You mentioned here those common sources disputes: pets, parking, parties, passive smoking, also hanging unsightly laundry from a balcony. What sort of power does a body corporate have if as an example, a tenant moves in, they want to put clothes out on their balcony to dry them. How much power have they got to take action against the tenant?
Grant:   Well there is a process to go through. It’s that same dispute resolution process for when, if you’re an owner or tenant and you don’t agree with a decision that’s being made. It’s just simply in reverse where the body corporate’s making that dispute application and seeking an order through what’s called the adjudicator’s office of body corporate community management. That order, if it is made, is enforceable within a magistrate’s court and further as applicable.
Kevin:   As strata professionals, do you become involved with any of these disputes as a management company?
Grant:   Yeah, we facilitate that process for our clients because the clients are essentially the owners within a body corporate. Then you’ve got specific committee members elected at an AGM that then make the majority of the day to day running decisions of the body corporate. Those owners and committee members, they’re not specifically trained in how to manage a body corporate where we are, that’s our role. We give guidance and information so they can make informed decisions. Our involvement will then be providing them the information about what they’re options are and then facilitating the decision making depending on what level that is and then implementing that decision. That may involve a lawyer depending on how complex the matter is.
Kevin:   Do you find generally that any disputes that arise are predominantly from tenants or is it fairly evenly split between owner occupiers and tenants?
Grant:   It’s fairly evenly split. Although the escalation is usually when it’s with an owner particularly when they’re not accepting that decision. They want to dispute it. I think it’s that cost benefit analysis that it comes back to. So for an owner they’ve got a bit more at stake where a tenant they may say, “Okay this isn’t working out. I’m not going to engage a lawyer to fight this. I’ll just find somewhere else that it’s not going to be so difficult.”
Kevin:   Okay, anyone who has got a dispute or a bit of a difficulty, is there a dispute process or website they can go to?
Grant:   We have a weekly newsletter through our brand. So that’s just general education for all stakeholders within the strata industry so we also educate our peers with a lot of different cases that come up from time to time which are a bit left of centre. We also have Chris Irons who’s the commissioner for body corporate community management. He regularly contributes articles on an education basis to our platform as well. What we find, that’s the best place for people to go. They can just search the word depending on whatever issue it is and find an article that is written in plain English rather than trying to go through, at times, complex legislation to work out what the answers are.
Kevin:   Okay Grant. My guest is from Archer’s, the strata professionals. Grant thank you very much for your time.
Grant:   Thanks for having me Kevin.

Credit squeeze impacts building starts – Geordan Murray

Kevin:   We have spoken in the past on this show about credit and the tight credit squeeze and how that’s impacting the housing market around Australia. According to the HIA, that’s accelerating the slow down in building activity. Joining me from the HIA is Geordan Murray. Geordan, thank you very much for your time.
Geordan:   No problems.
Kevin:   I’m looking for the fees now and it would appear to me that there was an improvement 2016 to 2017 and you’re predicting a drop into 2018 and 2019. They’re project figures or forecast figures?
Geordan:   Yeah, absolutely. We’ve just done a review of our forecast for home building activity for the next three years and we do have a material decline forecast for 2019. It was a particularly strong year in 17/18 which came off the back of a moderation in the cycle during 16/17 and off that high level that we’re at now, we are expecting quite a significant decline of about 19% next year in total new home starts.
Kevin:   And what are you basing that on?
Geordan:   What we’re seeing is we’ve got a big pipeline of multi-unit dwellings that are about to come on to the market and we’re seeing a slow down on approvals coming in behind that as we work down that pipeline, we’re expecting approvals aren’t coming through as quickly as before. So that’s just natural that we’ll see quite a significant decline in that part of the market and, similarly, with detached home building, we’re seeing some slow down in leading indicators and that’s being corroborated with the information that we’re hearing from industry.
Kevin:   Housing supply and demand has a lot to do with property prices. With the slow down in construction that’s going to lead to lesser supply, obviously. With demand increasing, that’s going to have an upward tick on prices I would have thought.
Geordan:   Underlying demand isn’t really the issue that’s playing into the cycle at the moment. Australia has a very strong population growth rate at the moment. The latest figures show that population was growing at about 1.6% over the last year which is a very strong rate of growth. That’s been particularly strong in the East coast, capital cities, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney. And Brisbane is also starting to pick up as well now. In aggregate, across the country, we expect that underlying demand requires between 200,000 to 220,000 homes per annum.
Kevin:   These are new homes built. How many are we building?
Geordan:   At the moment, over the last couple of years, we’ve been building quite a strong level of activity and we’ve been in the vicinity of 220 to 230 eating into some of that accumulated shortage that we’ve built up over the previous decade.
Kevin:   So, Geordan, from what you’re saying there, we’re actually meeting demand and if we require that number of properties, we’ve been meeting demand since about 2014, 2015, according to your figures. So where’s the problem?
Geordan:   Over the last couple of years the level of home building has met the demand of the growing population. If you look further back, there was a long period there where new home building failed to meet the demand of the growing population-
Kevin:   In other words, you’re saying we’re playing a bit of catch up here.
Geordan:   That’s exactly what’s happened-
Kevin:   Why are you predicting that it’s going to decline when this last year, over the previous year, there’s actually been growth. I know you’re talking about the pipeline coming through. How quickly can that turn around?
Geordan:   Well, one of the biggest issues that we’re seeing at the moment is access to credit. Our home buyers are facing increased difficulty accessing credit. If you look back a little while we saw APRA introduce measures back in 2014 that put a cap on investor credit growth at 10% and then in 2017, APRA intervened in the mortgage market again, this time having interest only lending in the cross hairs. Throughout the housing upswing, we did see quite strong growth in interest only lending to the point where it was about 70% of new investor loans were on interest only terms and about 30% of owner occupy loans were on interest only terms .
Kevin:   Geordan Murray is from the HIA. Thanks for your time, Geordan.
Geordan:   No worries. Bye.

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