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What does the return of investors mean for the property market?


Throughout the first half of this year, much of the talk of this property boom has been focused on owner-occupiers and especially first home buyers.

Record-low interest rates, a suite of government incentives and a burst of consumer confidence after last year’s dire economic forecasts were proved wrong helped usher in one of the biggest years of growth the Australian housing market has ever seen.

Over the past few months, though, affordability pressures have put the squeeze on those new market entrants, and it’s made way for a fresh wave of investor activity.

Will that shift continue to propel the market to greater gains, or is the heat set to die down? We spoke with Michael Yardney, one of the country’s leading property experts, to get the state of play.

What are the signs that investor activity is on the rise—and why now?

The latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which tracks new loan commitments for housing, shows a substantial uptick in lending to investors in recent months.

May especially saw a substantial jump in loans to investors of +13.3 per cent, or $9.13 billion for the month. That’s +116 per cent more than the same period last year.

ABS loan data, May 2021
New borrower-accepted loan commitments (seasonally adjusted) show a big uptick in investor activity. Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

Mr Yardney, a best-selling author, founder and director of Metropole Property Strategists and the name behind one of the world’s leading real estate blogs, Property Update, says lending indicators are all pointing to a resurgence in investor activity.

“In my close to 50 years in the property market, I’ve never seen all the markets coordinate and grow as strongly,” Mr Yardney explains.

“Throughout Australia, investors are reading in the media that properties are going up in value, they’re seeing the value of their home going up, and so they’re also getting confidence to take on a commitment and get into the market.”

“In fact, more are experiencing FOMO, because they think ‘Hey, I’m reading that overall the markets have increased +13.5 per cent this year according to CoreLogic in the last financial year, and most of that’s occurred in the last half of that year.'”

In Mr Yardney’s view, the smartest investors would have already jumped on the rising market in the months prior, but with his forecast of a further +10 per cent growth nationally for the year, there are still big upsides to making a move now, even while rents are still recovering.

“Informed investors have always invested for capital gains rather than cash flow. They recognise that while cash flow keeps them in the game, it’s their capital growth that will get them out of the rat race.”

Many investors are also choosing to sell while the market’s hot. Is that wise?

While plenty of investors are making a fresh leap into the buoyant property market, others are choosing to list their assets and cash in on this year’s staggering growth.

“Yes it’s a trend, and it’s a silly trend,” Mr Yardney says.

“We’re seeing that because they’re seeing the market’s going up and saying ‘I’m making a profit, I’m going to sell.’ But most investors are in it, or should be in it, for the long term.”

As he sees it, acting on emotion rather than being patient and reaping the rewards over the decades is a more sound approach to investing.

“Property investment is the vehicle they’re using to get financial independence and choices in life in the future. For most of the investors we deal with at Metropole, they don’t ever sell. They’re wanting to create intergenerational wealth.”

The conditions now, however, present a good opportunity to capitalise on a hot market and offload any investment properties that aren’t A-grade.

“If they’ve got a secondary property, a dud property, one that’s not very good, this is a good time to sell and buy something better to see you through because you don’t want to be left with a dud property when the cycle finishes,” he says.

How will increased investor activity affect the market?

Investors swooping into an already booming market will no doubt have an impact on other buyers and sellers.

The first half of 2021 saw an influx of first home buyers breaking into the market, and the surging rates of growth have stimulated a lot of conversation around the topic of housing affordability.

Mr Yardney feels this concern is overblown to a degree, though, and it’s more an issue of desired location.

“First home buyers have always had difficulty with affordability,” he says. “I bought my first property for $18,000 in the early 1970s, and I could only go halves with my parents because I couldn’t afford it, and I took out a 30-year loan. We got $12 rent and we were excited.”

He points out that first homeowner activity has reached record levels in the past year, but many of them “want to live in the sort of property it took their parents 40 years to buy. So they’ve got to become more realistic.

“Having said that, moving forward first homeowners are going to have difficulty, and it will take a while. It’s not the level of the mortgage that’s the issue for first homeowners; they don’t bring a trade-in to the market like established home buyers do, so it’s saving the deposit that’s the biggest issue for first home buyers.”

Sellers, meanwhile, have been presented with a golden opportunity thanks to huge demand driven in part by record-low interest rates.

“Sellers are able to take advantage of the biggest property boom in a couple of decades,” he says. “This sort of property boom is a once in a generation thing where you’re going to get all the banks, all the big economists agree this cycle, property values will go up 25 to 30 per cent.”

With investors picking up where some first home buyers have left off, unable to keep up with such rapid growth, it looks like sellers will continue to benefit from a thriving property market.

Mr Yardney does caution, though, that high-density units in inner-cities are still an unattractive option.

“Investors are currently shunning CBD high-rise Legoland apartments which are proving to be poor investments and are being very cautious about buying off the plan,” he says. They seem to be more informed and not lured by unrealistic promises from developers and project marketers.”

So what comes next?

With first home buyers pulling back, investors upping their activity and a fresh coronavirus outbreak throwing the country into varying states of disarray, what could be around the corner for real estate?

“I believe in the second half of 2021, overall property values are going to go up 10 per cent,” Mr Yardney predicts.

“The investors and homebuyers have worked their way through Covid. They’re used to it now. It’s a nuisance, it’s a setback, but it’s not stopping them.”

He notes that, while the economy is likely to take a hit as a result of prolonged lockdowns, “we’ve seen what happened after Melbourne—once the gates are opened up, people are going to get going again.”

He characterises the current market as a “cycle of upgraders,” saying tenants are buying their first homes while homeowners are upgrading their properties or moving to better locations, all as a result of low interest rates.

“Why are property values going up? Because people can afford it. Despite people saying it’s unaffordable—if it wasn’t, there wouldn’t be so many people taking loans and buying properties. Because the banks are still very strict with their lending criteria.”

Ultimately, it looks like there’s plenty more action to come in this year’s property boom.

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Gold Coast

Why Iris Capital chose Broadbeach for their first Gold Coast apartment project

Why Iris Capital chose Broadbeach

After initially focussing on Sydney’s fast growing south west corridor, Iris Capital, founded and led by entrepreneur Sam Arnaout, has now extended its reach over the past decade to become a developer of integrated residential and mixed-use developments in a number of booming suburbs across the country.

The company now holds a $5 billion enterprise value, having significantly expanded its footprint over the past year through a number of land and hotel acquisitions.

We recently caught up with Iris Capital CEO, Sam Arnaout to discuss why the group chose Broadbeach as their first Gold Coast project.

“It was the first and only location that I would consider undertaking such a spectacular residential/resort with coastal luxury as its core design focus,” Arnaout said.

“Only Broadbeach and this current Neicon Plaza redevelopment site offered us the opportunity where everything is at our buyers fingertips. This has allowed Iris to design this mixed use coastal luxury development in a landmark location, where our two premium towers will preside over a world class recreational podium and premium ground floor retail and dining.”

“Choosing Broadbeach as the address for our V&A project in the lively heart of its dining and retail precinct has allowed us to put our brand on our first luxury foray into Queensland.”

Colliers’ Director Residential, David Higgins, who is handling the market of V&A, says Broadbeach is comparable to Sydney’s Double Bay.

“Being from Sydney, I often think that Broadbeach is our Double Bay with the dining, high end retail, laneway cafes, beautiful Kurrawa parkland, the beach, and the amenity that is uniquely Broadbeach all within a five-minutes walk,” he said.

Recognised as the heart of the Gold Coast, Broadbeach offers a host of nearby amenity, further adding to the likability of the sought-after suburb.

“The walkability of the location to over 30 restaurants, GC Convention Centre, Pacific Fair, The Star Casino, the Beach and Kurrawa SLSC makes it the most lifestyle rich village locations to undertake a premium development,”  Higgins said.

Main Beach, Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach are distinctly different real estate suburbs and attract very different buyer demographics says Higgins.

“Main Beach has a small, limited choice of dining and café options, where the lifestyle is focused around the renowned Tedder Avenue, which attracts an older buyer type to the very quiet village location.”

“Surfers Paradise features a more prominent nightclub and late-night venue scene, with destinations attracting singles, tourists groups and the young-at-heart.”

“Broadbeach has a much wider appeal both domestically and internationally, where you are spoilt with the supreme choice of dining, entertainment, bars, shopping all at the residents fingertips.”

Revered as “the most desired location” for developers looking to hit the family owner-occupier market, Higgins says Broadbeach marks itself as the place that can do it all.

“This area attracts a more mature, family-buyer market, sometimes even multi-generational buyers, who want the village location, where they can park there car below their apartments and walk to everything when either residing or choosing to live in Broadbeach.”

Taking its name from Broadbeach streets, Victoria and Albert, the project will comprise 398 apartments over two towers of 40 and 56 storeys, with a subtropical recreational podium, featuring two levels of premium offices and commercial facilities, and a fresh food and dining retail on the street level.

Designed by DBI Architects, residents will live among world‐class amenities, with both towers offering an elevated recreational podium with a 25-metre lap pool, a gym, a yoga deck and resident’s lounge as well as kid’s area, a Zen garden, an outdoor dining and barbecue space, all surrounded by lush green landscaping.

Once complete, V&A Broadbeach will create the first high end residential, retail and culinary precinct in central Broadbeach since the Oracle towers more than a decade ago.

“The family orientated downsizer buyers are the main demographic who are looking for larger apartments in Broadbeach and who share a history with a long love of the area,” said Higgins.

“This comes from spending many childhood family memories holidaying or enjoying Broadie apartments, with strong childhood memories of the village of Broadie.  Having a memberships and wanting to be close to the Kurruwa SLSC and the family park is also important to owner occupiers.”

“For the investors, they are always looking for the two or three-bedroom apartment with a beautiful view in the heart of Broadbeach, where they can look forward to the strong proven returns from a very established holiday and conference rental market.”

“Many southern downsizers are seeking the village location where walkability, amenity, luxury and convenience is at the top of the purchasing requirements,” Higgins added.

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Airlie Beach: The laid back town that’s the definition of a tropical paradise

Airlie Beach, tropical paradise

The coveted coastal town of Airlie Beach has long been a popular holiday destination, and for good reason: it’s famed as the gateway to the Whitsunday region, with 74 islands and the Great Barrier Reef at its doorstep.

Given its year-round tropical weather, palm-fringed beaches and ever-growing cosmopolitan charm, a growing number of high-end home-hunters from Australia’s major cities are arriving in town, armed not just with a suitcase for the weekend, but with a goal to stay for life.

With tropical holidays abroad coming to a halt in recent years, the demand for luxury homes across Queensland’s prestigious coastal pockets has spiked significantly as buyers set their eyes on all-encompassing coastal retreats, like those to be found in Airlie Beach.

Airlie Beach, beautiful ocean view

With its natural beauty, Airlie Beach is a living holiday postcard. Photo: Mark Fitz

“The recent uncertainty of overseas travel has pushed people to secure lifestyle properties on or near the water, therefore increasing our local market by some 100-200 per cent,” says Mark Beale, principal of Ray White Whitsunday.

“Part of our town’s appeal is also the fact that buyers aren’t restricted with heritage-listed homes, meaning they can build that dream beach house exactly as they’d like.”

Regardless of its glamorous appeal, Beale notes how the town’s laid-back vibe is a major drawcard, allowing affluent buyers to live incognito.

“Simply put, the way of life in Airlie Beach is about getting out on the water with friends and family,” he says.

“We all have the opportunity to jump on a yacht every Wednesday and go sailing, explore Whitehaven Beach and deserted islands on the weekends, and get our city fix every couple of months.”

Originally from the Sunshine Coast, Alita DeBrincat, her husband and two kids relocated to Airlie Beach in 2008 for work.

She says it didn’t take much convincing that this would be where they would happily live, work and play.

“You get your first sight of our paradise home as soon as you come over the hill and see a glimpse of our turquoise waters and bobbing boats – every day, this view truly makes you smile, and you get lost in what adventures lie ahead,” DeBrincat says.

“The local community is also amazing. Our street is known as the Sunset Squad; we get together for street parties or a friendly Sunday afternoon game of bocce.

“I particularly love summertimes in Airlie Beach because, I say, the hotter the better – any excuse to take a dip in the pool, lagoon and, of course, the ocean.”


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Gold Coast

Why it’s all about Broadbeach in 2022

Broadbeach in 2022, Mosaic Property

The central, always in demand Broadbeach is the next Gold Coast hotspot set to see a wave of new apartments.

It’s been one of the busiest spots in 2022 already, with a number of prominent developers, both local and interstate, seeking to build apartment towers in the sought-after spot south of Surfers Paradise.

Mosaic Property boss Brook Monahan says Broadie is the centre of the Gold Coast now.

“A lot of people talk about Surfers Paradise in the Gold Coast as the hub, but really for actual residents, it’s definitely Broadie,” Monahan said.

“Surfers is heavily weighted toward investors, whereas Broadie is very much a local market, either local owner-occupiers or those with a secondary home.”

Monahan says there’s a lot of nostalgia to Broadbeach for a lot of residents in South East Queensland.

“It’s a very nostalgic place for a lot of people who would have come to Broadbeach and holidayed as kids,” Monahan says, adding that the walkability factor puts Broadbeach ahead of other Gold Coast suburbs.

“You can walk to 75 coffee shops/resultants, the light rail, or the surf club in minutes, as well as being on the doorstep of Pacific Fair shopping centre and the casino, which makes it one of the most appealing areas up and down the coast.”

This year Mosaic will launch their first luxury Broadbeach project to the market.

Broadbeach in 2022, Mosaic's proposed tower

Mosaic’s proposed tower at 146 Surf Parade. Image credit: Plus Architecture

The 29-level tower, designed by Plus Architecture at 146 Surf Parade, will have 96 apartments, starting from large two-bedders, some with multi-purpose rooms, to three-bedroom apartments and skyhomes.

Broadbeach was a no brainer for the Sydney-based Iris Capital’s first Gold Coast apartment development, Victoria & Albert.

“It was the first and only location that I would consider undertaking such a spectacular residential/resort with coastal luxury as its core design focus,” Iris Capital Chief Executive Sam Arnaout says.

“Only Broadbeach and this current Neicon Plaza redevelopment site offered us the opportunity where everything is at our buyers fingertips. 

“Choosing Broadbeach as the address for our V&A project in the lively heart of its dining and retail precinct has allowed us to put our brand on our first luxury foray into Queensland,” Arnaout says.

David Higgins, Colliers Director of Residential who is handling the sales at V&A, says Broadbeach is recognised as the heart of the Gold Coast lifestyle precincts.

“The walkability of the location to over 30 restaurants, GC Convention Centre, Pacific Fair, The Star Casino, the Beach and Kurrawa SLSC makes it the most lifestyle rich village locations to undertake a premium development,” Higgins says.

“Being from Sydney, I often think that Broadbeach is our Double Bay with the dining, high end retail, laneway cafes, beautiful Kurrawa parkland, the beach, and the amenity that is uniquely Broadbeach all within five mins walk.”

Evan Raptis, co-Managing Director of the family-ran Raptis Group, says that while economic conditions have been good, Broadbeach has been among the most sought-after addresses in Australia.

“The pandemic has made a lot of people reset their priorities: with a laptop and good WiFi, they can live where and how they want, and that’s underpinning much of the demand for Broadbeach right now.”

Raptis has had a longstanding connection with Broadbeach, developing projects in the suburb for over four decades, their most recent being The Gallery Residences, completed late last year.

They have a solid work book in the area too, with plans in 2022 to launch three projects; a 40-level Koichi Takada-designed tower dubbed The Sterling at 6-8 George Avenue, a 41-level tower on Chelsea Avenue, and a 35-level tower at 5-9 Anne Avenue.

 Broadbeach in 2022, proposed 134-apartment tower at 6-8 George Avenue

The proposed 134-apartment tower at 6-8 George Avenue

Raptis says the buyer demographic is quite eclectic, which is representative of all the different amenities that Broadbeach offers.

“There are a lot of young professionals in the suburb as well as a lot of early-stage retirees. We’re seeing a lot of interest for three-bedroom apartments. Young professionals are seeking a third bedroom for when they may start a family, while retirees want to have the space for the children and grandchildren to visit,” Raptis says.

“But beyond age groups, the common bond between buyers is their interest in leading a healthy life. Parks, bike and walking trails and the beach are all outside the doors of residents, keeping them fit without the need for a gym membership.”

The local developer Anthony Quinn of QNY Group, who is plotting a boutique owner-occupier tower on his recently acquired 511 sqm block at 21 Broadbeach Boulevard, says Broadbeach is the live, work and play Mecca of the Gold Coast, which is endorsed by its number one ranking walk score.

“Broadbeach has always been in demand,” Quinn says.

“Through each good property cycle Broadbeach delivers a large share of the projects for the Gold Coast.”

Quinn says it’s not so much about Surfers, but more about what each of the suburban pockets offer.

“Both Main Beach and Broadbeach are unique in their offering and cater to different demographics and markets,” Quinn says, adding that the buyers are a healthy mix of downsizers and young professionals, with a strong market for owners and renters

A recent entrant to the Broadbeach market is the Brisbane-based West Homes.

West Homes Director Brett Kennedy says they chose that part of town because it has always had higher quality apartment buildings, great access to the beach, restaurants, Pacific Fair, and a much quieter and calmer pace of living that Surfers doesn’t offer.

“There’s less tourist trade in Broadbeach, and a lot more owner-occupiers,” Kennedy says. “People actually live there, they’re not just visiting like most of the Surfers Paradise market.”

Kennedy grew up on the Gold Coast, and has always been aware of the value of Broadbeach. “It has always been a go-to destination,” he says.

West Homes has just lodged plans for a 22-level tower of just 20 apartments at 75 Old Burleigh Road, a site they secured late last year.

Each apartment will have nearly 400 sqm of internal living space, unprecedented even for the whole-floor apartment trend that has swept the Gold Coast over the last 12 months, as developers pivoted toward more high-end, owner-occupier friendly stock. One apartment, on level three, will have 430 sqm.

Inarc Design describe the sculpted tower as an “urban lighthouse.”

GV Property Group’s Antonio Mercuri, who sells amalgamated sites to apartment developers up and down the coast, says Broadbeach is a suburb for everyone.

“It’s a beachside coastal city suburb by the ocean, surrounded by parklands, and is in the pinnacle of three Gold Coast city locations; the Star Casino precinct, the Gold Coast convention centre, and Pacific Fair. 

Mercuri is marketing a prime 1,294 sqm site on Armrick Avenue, with approved plans by Rothelowman for a 22-level, 84-apartment tower.

“Armrick Avenue (park front) is the next best thing to beachfront because of the expansive views over the bowls clubs / parks lands, while still being located beside the beach,” Mercuri says.

“The attraction of Broadbeach to developers is the mixed buyer pool, alongside the blue sky value add (which going up), and taking advantage of the favourable high density zoning (unlimited height potential subject to council approval).

Mercuri says there are three areas of Broadbeach which all have high demand, value, and attraction to both developers and buyers.

“The northern pocket of Broadbeach is a huge catchment area for locals (coming from suburbs like Broadbeach Waters, Isle of Capri etc). It’s just outside the fringe of Broadbeach hub area and close enough to enjoy but still be in an area of it own. 

“Then there’s central Broadbeach, the hub of Broadbeach which incorporates the Anne Avenue precinct, while the southern pocket is popular due to its closer proximity to the Broadbeach Primary School.”



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