Of course, I finished my last article with a poke at the overpriced markets of Sydney and Melbourne.
Now for someone that calls Sydney ‘home’ 3-4 days per week and in South East Queensland the other 3-4, I may as well call my hand early. That is…I’d only invest in Sydney and Melbourne perpetually, if all things were even.
The problem however is that things aren’t even, and they never have been. So let’s explore those discrepancies.
So with the prerequisite that you should read my last article, allow me to switch from bear to bull and start with the ripe opportunities that sit north of the NSW border. And I’ll start with the counterpoint of my last article with the introduction that “the cure for low prices…IS low prices.”
I’d ask the reader to think about it this way…using Gold Coast as an example.
Gold Coast didsuffer from overdevelopment in 2007. Over 100 cranes in the sky were witnessed with as many as 14,500 apartments (approved in 2004-2006) advanced from concept to delivery. Of course, many of these sold while the market was solid, but as history would demonstrate, as many as 3000-4000 new apartments (without buyers) were delivered to the market just when the market turned on the eve of the Global Financial Crisis. Some of these properties still traded, with disgruntled buyers settling on them at the risk of being sued. Many of them returned these to the market trying to recover their costs. They failed. Others returned their contracts and lost their property deposits. All in all, the market was flooded with all sellers trying to head for the exit at the same time, not to mention the oversupply of rental property, tipping the Gold Coast into 4%+ territory, one of the weakest across Australia.
But while the above took all the headlines, think about the effect this had on construction. Pre GFC, the Gold Coast had a raft of over 100 cranes featured in the skyline to satisfy the appetite of developers. Full circle to 2011, once the already committed projects of the Hilton and Soul were constructed…a total of only one crane only graced the Gold Coast skyline.
Fast forward 4-5 years, seeing in record low interest rates for domestic buyers and a stellar exchange rate for overseas buyers, Gold Coast is craving for more dwellings. How would I know this? Do you think I just made this up?
It’s easy. The Gold Coast now has sub 1% vacancy rates (REIQ). In fact, while other figures show 1.8% across the whole of the coast, it’s well understood that the congestion does appear on in the Surfers/Broadbeach /Mermaid and Main Beach districts, putting further downward pressure on this figure. Vacancy rates are a symptom of a market that does not have enough property. It’s also the reason why I envelope this notion in the adage that “low prices IS the cure for low prices.”
Bottom line, all the extra property that had been on the market after the GFC has been bought. Whether it sold for high, low or firesale prices is irrelevant. That property is all gone. Sold. And most likely with long term owners who are braced for long term investment, not about to return it to the market tomorrow and realise only minor profits.
With vacancy rates this low and the Southern markets of Sydney and Melbourne now reaching their zenith, one also has the value proposition that the Gold Coast presents to the foreign buyer. A quick check on the algorithm for the $AUD to Chinese RMB (now 4.60 to $1AUD), noting that five years ago the equation represented a 25% currency increase, with the RMB to $AUD at 6.12. If you thought Gold Coast property was cheap before, try it with a 25% discount!
I concede that a 25% currency discount is an almost unfair advantage, and it’s the reason why my advice to clients now is not to hesitate on purchasing in the Gold Coast. With vacancy rates so low, a simple $450k investment, realising up to $480/$500 per week rental is all possible, with the near term pressure to push the rental yields up even higher as the sea change effect also brings more residents to the Gold Coast.
Again I ask, do you think I’m guessing about this [migration to the Coast] Sea Change effect? Think again. For those who thought that Gold Coast is an employment desert, I’d challenge that with facts. In 2014, the Coast provided a whopping 181,856 net jobs increase. A different data sample reveals similar outcomes with recent figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) pointing to 14,100 net jobs increase per month. The fact that in 2013 that figure was 19,662 should demonstrate that the trajectory is not just good…it’s gobsmacking. With a current population of 535,000 and projections of a population of 680,000 by 2021, (QLD Office of Economy and Statistical Research Population) there is a lot of room for rationing this growth and still achieving outstanding property prices in the near future. These recent ABS figures put the Gold Coast at the top of Queensland’s employment economy.
Of course, other regions are not immune to the same primary drivers that subscribe to this logic (the cure for low prices IS low prices). That brings Wollongong, the Hunter and certainly some other regional bastions like Cairns and Townsville.
For me however, the clincher is certainly the extra ‘froth’ that gets created around Gold Coast by the strong support by overseas investment. That is not to say some of these other regions do not see the same benefit; they do. But in its brief but important history, the Gold Coast sits at the top of the queue for international investment. And with all signs pointing to more inward investment that out with the $AUD exchange rate, look for “the Goldie” to outstrip all its peers in spades!
So with my investor hat on now and the old adage that ‘the trend is your friend’…this is one trend that, in my opinion, is not only predictable…but imminent!
Gavin McPherson is chief executive officer of Oasis Property Buyers Agency and author of “Value Investing in Property: What would Warren Buffet do if he was investing in property in Australia?”