If you have been putting off buying a house, flat or apartment to live in because you reckon property prices might fall, I have some very bad news. You have forgone a substantial amount of money.
Many people have been caught out waiting for the property prices to ‘dip, ‘fall’ or even ‘crash’ and as a result have cost themselves a tens, if not hundreds, of thousands a dollars.
If you live in Sydney and, for arguments sake, three years ago you were poised to buy a $600,000 property but held off because you heard someone saying prices were about to fall, the financial pain is extreme.
Today, with Sydney dwelling prices having lifted sharply over the past three years, that property would be worth around $920,000, delivering a tax-free $320,000 increase in your wealth.
If you had borrowed 80 per cent of the value of that property (that is $480,000) and not even paid one cent off the principle, your leverage on the property would have dropped form 80 per cent to just over 50 per cent.
In those three years, if your household income increased by a very modest 3 per cent per annum, you would be earning around almost 10 per cent more.
You would be sitting pretty.
In other cities, including Canberra, Hobart, Darwin and Adelaide, where house price growth has lagged the Sydney boom conditions, a $450,000 property three years ago is approximately $35,000 to $50,000 more valuable today. Not bad for an investment you can live in.
With an even longer 10 year time frame, house prices are up 99 per cent in Darwin, 97 per cent in Melbourne, 90 per cent in Sydney, 70 per cent in Perth, 57 per cent in Adelaide and Brisbane, 54 per cent in Canberra and 38 per cent in Hobart.
For the house you live in, these are quite fantastic tax-free returns setting you up for life.
Over such a timeframe, the cost of waiting for a price dip to buy your property has been very costly.
For many years, there have been a range of house price pessimists who have been fanatical with their pessimism about the “looming price crash”.
They have gained a high media profile as they continuously forecast a collapse in house prices, if not in 2005, then in 2010, 2013 and again today.
If it isn’t the price of the house itself, it is the level of debt, new banking rules or a glut of building that are among the issues that these extremists will lead to housing ruin.
Their humiliatingly poor forecasts have not stopped the media giving them high profile coverage when they re-release their tired and failed forecasts again and again.
Unfortunately, the snake-oil from the proponents of a house price crash in Australia has been swallowed by some potential dwelling purchasers.
One only has to observe the low proportion of new loans for first home buyers for some clues on how some people have been put off taking the plunge into the home ownership market.
To be sure, dwelling prices may one day fall and there have been short periods in some Australian cities where prices have dropped.
Each time this has happened, the fall has been modest and in not too many years, the falls turn out to be a mere blip on the path to long run wealth creation that flows from owning your own house and getting into the market at the earliest possible time of your life.