As many predicted some time ago, the newly created investment market, where we have seen approvals for high-rise apartments hit levels never seen before, will now see a massive correction.
In December 2008, the rules for off-the-plan apartments had a significant change when the ratio for foreign investors was moved from 50 per cent to 100 per cent. Developers could not believe their luck, as this decision created new rivers of gold, albeit an eight year run.
The governments then got involved by increasing stamp duty for foreign buyers, the Chinese government shut down the facilities permitting vast amounts of monies to be withdrawn from China and the major Australian banks stopped lending to foreign buyers. When combined, this has created the perfect property storm although the gamble of relying on foreign buyers acquiring the majority of these new apartments was always fraught with danger.
What we will see in 2017 is thousands and thousands of apartments off-the-plan coming back onto the market and the big question that remains unanswered is; what will be the percentage drop from the original contract prices? It has already been mentioned that analysis of every new development in Australia that settlement defaults will be between $1 billion and $1.5 billion every month over the next twelve month window.
A saving grace will be that the existing housing market will continue to go on-wards and upwards simply because fewer and fewer households are selling due to the exorbitant selling costs – namely stamp duty. If you look at the approximate 700 hundred suburbs that make up Sydney – it would be fair to suggest that at least 70 per cent of these suburbs are not creating any new houses for consumption.
The NSW government has gone down the track of high density with next to no new infrastructure to absorb this construction so in many areas our roads will become gridlocked.
At some stage an independent body will commission a report to look at all the bushland within Sydney to then ascertain how many tens of thousands of residential building blocks can be created to ease the demand of all those wanting to live in Sydney.
We need to bear in mind that the population within Sydney will hit 5 million in a matter of months and our population growth is years ahead of initial projections. Building tens of thousands of apartments does not in any way, shape or form ease the demand for established houses.
Of course, there is always a few who throw in that recession word and don’t forget that a few some years ago suggested that 2016 would see Australia fall into a long overdue recession. They would have been somewhat aggrieved when last quarter Australia posted 25 years of economic growth.
Many property forecasters were quick to say, at or about this time last year, that the Sydney property market was easing (which it did) and that this was the start of a price correction. As a few of us pointed out this was more the case of buyer fatigue (which it was) with 2016 posting greater price growth than 2015. Whichever way you want to look at this the heart of the problem is that demand for established housing far exceeds supply.
A significant correction in the new apartment market will have next to no effect on the established housing markets because they are two different buyers. Secondly, the vast majority of the new apartment investor markets are foreign buyers so if they default there is absolutely no knock on effect into the established housing markets.
If anything, we will see the Australian buyers cherry-pick this market, given the cash rate will go lower and then, in turn, will chase returns. The family home is at record highs so via negative gearing households will be mopping up the newly created apartment markets at much lower entry levels with so many apartments expected to default.
Some will be saying what could possibly go wrong following Australia’s unprecedented 25 years of economic growth? Wages have fallen from 3.5 per cent growth in 2012 to 2 per cent in 2016. A positive sign is that population growth in 2012 was 1.8 per cent and in 2016 it dropped to 1.3 per cent. Household income growth and consumer spending are in decline so those economy drivers will be closely monitored in the September quarter of 2016.
Whilst some are saying retirees are doing it tough, we need to keep in mind that their homes are at presently at the highest value ever so many are taking advantage of that by taking out reverse mortgages – otherwise known as spending the kid’s inheritance (SKI).
The major problem with Sydney house prices is that planning by state governments, at best, has been appalling. Even today there is no plan – rather, approve thousands and thousands of new apartments, sell them offshore and bank the stamp duty and land taxes.
So next time you are caught in traffic, just think, how is Sydney going to cope with all these thousands of new apartments under construction?
MOSMAN – 2088
CREMORNE – 2090
NEUTRAL BAY – 2089