04 Sep 10 things you must consider when buying an investment property | House or unit | Understanding bank valuations | Deception Bay or Caboolture | Have the rules of renovations changed?
With our property markets performing well over the last few years there are more people interested in getting into property investment. However if history repeats itself, and it most likely will, while some will develop financial freedom through property, many investors won’t get past their first or second property. So how do you succeed? In the show you will hear the 10 things you must consider when buying an investment property with Michael Yardney.
Buyers agent Shannon Davis explains why it is not as simple as deciding to buy a house or a unit, we catch up with a valuer who takes us to task over some advice we have given about getting valuations.
Our feature interview this week is a chat we have with Margaret Lomas who we asked to answer a question from Matt about investing in property in one of Brisbane’s outer northern suburbs. Apparently Margaret said in her Sky TV show that it is not her preferred area. We were surprised when we spoke to her that she revealed that she still has her worst performing property in her portfolio. Why doesn’t she get rid of it? Find out today.
With so many changes occurring, particularly with lending, have the principals around successful renovation changed? That is the question answered this week by Jane Slack-Smith.
Kevin: We’ve spoken before on the show about getting valuations done if you’re a buyer or a seller. Interestingly, the difference between the valuation you might get done and the one that the bank gets done was explained to me in a comment from Jonathan Millar, who is a valuer with JDMA Valuers, in a message he sent to me through the website pointing out that the bank may complete a valuation but it’s one that will keep their lending risk in check.
Jonathan joins me. Jonathan, what do you mean by that?
Jonathan: With regards to that, each valuation completed for a bank has about eight risk factors that they will include in that report. That’s obviously just to help the bank make a lending decision with a particular client.
Sometimes there is a misconception that if a valuer is completing it on behalf of a bank that he’s going to be conservative, because that might then help them with the risk side of things. But to be honest, the valuer shouldn’t be conservative; he should just value it as he sees it in the marketplace, and then the bank makes its own decisions on lending in line with all these risk comments and factors that are in each valuation report.
Kevin: In reality, is it a myth then that the valuation the bank does is actually more conservative than any other valuation?
Jonathan: I can’t speak on all valuers, but certainly the valuation report shouldn’t be conservative; it should be at its fairest market value. The valuer determines that after looking at sales of similar properties in the location, then he works through why it’s worth a certain amount of money.
He certainly shouldn’t be conservative, because obviously the client then potentially loses out on a percentage of equity in their property. The bank obviously looks after themselves by lending to 80%, and then they have to include mortgage insurance beyond this figure.
But yes, I’ve certainly heard that many times before, that sometimes they believe that the valuer is conservative. It may be the valuer didn’t get close to what they thought it was worth. That sometimes can occur. But whether it’s someone engaging a valuer to complete a private valuation or whether it’s for the bank, the two figures should be exactly the same.
Kevin: I’ve heard other stories as well, Jonathan – you might be able to clear this one up for me, too – that when a valuer does a valuation, they’ll ring around real estate agents in the area to get a feel for what’s been selling, what’s been listed, and so on. Is that fair that they should be doing that, do you think?
Jonathan: What assists the valuer in that situation is that you have to try to use the most recent sales evidence, and while there are few systems out there that provide the valuer with sales of properties that have occurred in that same locality, some sales may not yet be on the database.
If they can see a sold sign on a property on the street, especially where they’re valuing, most times the agents are very helpful and might advise on what the property has sold for – if they’re permitted to do so – so that would give you the most recent amount of information. Certainly, I would engage some of the local agents, just to capture that extra bit of information.
Kevin: If I were getting a bank valuation done on a property that I wanted to borrow against to maybe go and buy another property, how would you feel as a valuer if I wanted to be there during the valuation, and even influence that by giving you some of the recent sales to try to support my view of what the value might be?
Jonathan: I think that as much as information as possible can be provided to the valuer. The client should feel that the valuer has every piece of information to value that property as well as he can.
It’s especially important if you’re an owner and you know of something that sold very close by similar to your property, and you believe you know what it sold for – sometimes people can be wrong – that’s really good information to give the valuer, because if that doesn’t pop up on some databases, which can take three months and sometimes longer to capture that sales information, then the valuer certainly should be trying to keep his finger on the pulse. Some of that information from the owners of properties can be really good.
Kevin: Valuers are human, and all humans can make mistakes. If I were to get a valuation done by a valuer and I wasn’t happy with it, nothing to stop me from getting another one done, maybe even using a combination of both of those if one was higher than the other.
Jonathan: Certainly, it’s not a perfect science, and two valuers can be slightly different in their assessment of value on a property. If you had a valuation, and you feel like the valuer didn’t do a thorough job or you had some sort of issue with what the assessment is, some banks’ lending policy won’t allow more than one valuation, however, nothing stops you from getting a private valuation and then taking that through to the bank.
We certainly get a lot of people before buying a property getting their own valuation so that they can assess all the positive and negative features as determined from the professional valuer, just to make sure you make the best decision possible.
But as I say, if you had the valuation and you’re not happy with that, there are some processes with lending institutes. They can be reviewed, but look, it’s always best to try and give as much information in the first instance. If you do get a private valuation, then take that valuation through to the bank, especially if another valuer has seen that the property appears to be worth more than what the previous valuer has determined it at.
Kevin: Yes, of course. One of the recommendations that we always make, too, Jonathan, is that any buyer or seller should always get their own independent valuation done. Tell me, what is the cost of a valuation?
Jonathan: It ranges a little bit, but up to about a rough estimate of $1 million, the fee would be $440 including GST. Above that, it just depends on the style of the property and how much further it may value. It might be up to $770 if it’s above that level.
Kevin: Great advice, Jonathan. Thank you so much for joining us. Jonathan Millar from JDMA. They are licensed valuers.
Jonathan, thank you for your time.
Jonathan: Thank you, Kevin.
Kevin: With the property market doing so well, obviously more people are interested in getting into property. We can see that in the numbers, too, of people coming to listen to Real Estate Talk. It’s always great to have new people listening to us. We’re here to help you work out a plan to succeed.
There are some things you should consider when buying an investment property. To walk us through the ten most important things, Michael Yardney from Metropole Property Strategists, who is a regular on our show.
Hi, Michael. It’s good to be talking to you again.
Michael: Hi, Kevin.
Kevin: A bit of advice for new investors, Michael – the things you think they should consider?
Michael: I think it’s a good way to start, but it is also a good recap for people who are thinking of getting into the market again. I think the first step is “Why?” What are you trying to achieve? Is it money? Is it wealth?
I think for most people, it is financial freedom. Remember, the bricks and mortar really isn’t the end goal. Rather, it’s the vehicle to get you to what you want to be. Therefore, treat property investment as a journey, and don’t get lost along the way.
I guess the next step then is to understand “What strategy are you going to put together to get you there?” My preferred strategy is high growth properties. I know some people look at cash flow, but my strategy is to buy a property in one of the big capital cities that has multiple pillars of growth drivers. I look for properties below their intrinsic values in areas that are going to perform well in the long term.
I look for something that is a bit unique, a bit different, or special, and I like adding value. That’s the sort of strategy that I suggest people consider.
Kevin: What about the type of property, Michael?
Michael: You need to own the sort of property that’s going to be in strong demand by – in my mind – owner-occupiers. Most investors think like investors, but to me an investment-grade property is an owner-occupier property, not because you’re going to sell, but because owner-occupiers are going to buy similar properties around you, pushing up the value of yours.
Over the last years, the trend seems to be more people are trading back yards for balconies, they’re going to want to live closer to the action in the inner suburban areas of our big capital cities, and many of them are in apartments and townhouses.
Kevin: What about old or new? Should that be a consideration?
Michael: It definitely should. I like new properties, but I don’t like paying a premium for them.
Many new properties currently are in those large high rise monoliths, which that don’t have the level of scarcity.
So while I like new properties, I don’t like paying a premium for them.
I’d rather buy an established property and add some value manufacturing some capital growth.
Kevin: Michael, how particular are you about where you buy?
Michael: I think when you buy a property you have three things to play with. You have your price, you have location, and you have the type of property. Price is usually determined by your lender, so you haven’t got much say in that. I think location is the critical one where you buy –you’re right, Kevin.
Then, if you can buy in a good location but you can’t afford a home, I’d be buying an apartment.
So location is going to be the difference between those properties that outperform and those that don’t.
Kevin: Watch out, too. On a regular basis, I record some videos with Michael on the common mistakes investors make. Recently, Michael, we talked about the timing of the market and when you should buy.
Michael: I think there are investment opportunities at most stages of the cycle. I’ve found most successful investors can make money at any time. Sometimes it’s going against the crowd when the market is quiet, but even in these strong markets, there are opportunities.
The right time to buy is when it suits your personal financial circumstances, and then what you would amend is where and what you buy. But there are always opportunities, Kevin.
Kevin: What about “What I can afford, and how I should structure it?”
Michael: The first way you would do that is to go to see a proficient finance strategist – not necessarily the bank, but someone who understands how to set your finances correctly.
I’d always suggest you get your loan preapproved, because that is going to be one of the factors that affects where you buy and the sort of property you can buy.
Also, I’d be speaking to accountants about the right ownership structures, the right entities.
It could be in your own name, it could be in a trust. Some people buy properties in self-managed superannuation funds, but you have to be very careful and get the right advice if you do that.
But you have to do that beforehand, Kevin, because you have to get the finance in the right entity.
Kevin: Who should you ask for advice?
Michael: I think if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in trouble. In my mind, residential real estate investment is a team sport. You need to get a good accountant – as I’ve said – a smart solicitor on your side, and a good finance broker.
I believe in today’s world when the other side – the seller – has agents or marketers on their side protecting them, you should also have an independent property strategist on your side protecting you.
Kevin: Asking about advice: not wise to get it from friends and family?
Michael: Unless you have multi-millionaire parents, the answer is probably “No.” Everyone has an opinion on real estate. Everyone thinks they know about it because they live in a home, but the simple answer is unless you’re getting advice from wealthy people, I would be having fun with friends and family but not necessarily asking them for mentorship in wealth creation.
Kevin: Great advice. Michael Yardney from Metropole Property Strategists. Michael, thank you so much for your time.
Michael: My pleasure, Kevin.
Kevin: We have a question now from Matt. Thanks for the question, Matt.
Matt says, “I’m about to venture into a first investment property using our equity in our principal place of residence. We can spend $310,000. I was looking at younger and newer homes in Caboolture/Morayfield, but then I saw on Margaret Lomas’s ‘Your Money Your Call’ that she prefers Deception Bay/Rothwell.”
For the same money, he would be looking at a 10- to 20-year-old house. Matt notices also on other research that Caboolture/Morayfield are lauded as prospective areas for capital growth and is a little bit confused. Thank you for that, Matt.
We have Margaret Lomas on the line from ‘Your Money Your Call’ and Destiny Financial Solutions. Margaret, thank you for your time.
Margaret: You’re welcome.
Kevin: Can you help Matt?
Margaret: Of course, I can help Matt. The first thing I’d like to point out is that what Matt is doing is what I believe is a mistake that many first-time investors make, and that is that he is busy looking for a younger home.
Very often people are driven by those tax benefits that they believe exist in the younger home, such as greater depreciation and therefore a higher cash flow, so they want to get that newer home, and of course, they’re also thinking about the long term and having less maintenance to do.
Unfortunately, what that does for many investors is that it means that their primary driver for buying a property is the age of the home, and it’ll drive them to areas where housing is newer and there are potentially other issues in those areas, which I’ll talk about in a moment.
Really, what we should be doing when we’re buying investment property is to first of all establish the very best area that we can buy property in, and then work out what kind of properties exist there.
Very often hot spots are areas that have 10- and 20-year-old homes and not much in the way of new homes. Of course, that’s because they’re probably already built out. There’s no new land. We’re down to those established homes, and often they can be better hot spots.
Kevin: Margaret, what is it you like about Deception Bay that you don’t like about Caboolture?
Margaret: Let me first of all say that it’s not that I don’t like Caboolture and Morayfield. I agree with some of the research that, over the long term, they certainly have some potential growth drivers. But in the short term, we have a lot of new land available, particularly in Caboolture.
In fact, if you have a look up there at the moment, many of those brand-new houses that are being sold in that area can be bought for less than some of the homes that are already fairly well established – less than, say, ten-year-old homes – and they can be bought for that price.
Because there’s so much new land, we’re not going to see a lot of pressure on established housing, and therefore people who are buying there would much rather buy something that’s new themselves than they would buy the existing property. That means it’s going to take a lot longer for those properties to grow in value, even though they eventually will.
When we go to somewhere like Deception Bay, we have many of the features of Caboolture. We’re still a close enough distance from the airport. We’re not that far away from the CBD, as well. It’s still a good drive, access from the Bruce Highway, and a growing population.
But the difference is around Deception Bay is that you don’t have so much new land available, so the pressure is being brought to bear very firmly at the moment on those older homes. And to be honest, many of them have had some renovation, so the differences in the depreciation you can get on those homes isn’t as marked as what a lot of people might think.
Kevin: Yes, that’s the thing a lot of people don’t realize, isn’t it? They think they have to buy a new home just to get those depreciation benefits, Margaret.
Margaret: Absolutely, and in fact, that’s not true.
Anything up to about eight to ten years old can have some good depreciation available on it. Then once you get older than that, very often there’s been a fair amount of renovation done. There’s probably a bit of a kitchen done, a bathroom, very often new hot water heaters, carpets, blinds, curtains, all that kind of stuff, all of which are depreciable items, even in an older home. So the depreciation benefits aren’t necessarily completely lost.
But again, I want to reiterate that you shouldn’t be buying for those depreciation benefits; it’s important to get some good cash flow, absolutely.
I’m considered the cash flow queen. I like cash flow in my investment properties, but I also don’t like having properties in my portfolio that have great rent return and just don’t grow or don’t grow for a long, long, long time.
In addition to getting enough cash flow so that I’m not going broke waiting for the growth to occur, I like to see growth in my portfolio as early as I can get it, because growth means you’re leveraged into more property, and it’s the broader base of properties that creates a retirement income, not a single property or two properties in your portfolio.
Kevin: Would you class yourself as an impatient investor – in other words, you want those results or that growth as quickly as possible?
Margaret: Not necessarily. But I think all investors have to realize that every single investor has a different need for income and growth, depending on where they’re at in their own phase in life and where they are on their investment time horizon.
If you’re someone who may be in your late forties/early fifties, your kids have probably grown up and your cash flow’s probably improved because you’re not spending as much money on them anymore – school fees are all gone out the door – then you actually need a property that’s going to grow sooner rather than later.
You can probably take a bit of a hit on the cash flow for now and afford to fund some of those more negative cash flow properties that you’re going to get growth on sooner. You have to get that growth sooner, because you’re don’t have as big a timeframe to invest in.
If you’re a younger person, you can take more risk on property, so you can buy a property that if it doesn’t work out as well as you would have liked, you have got time to recover, but you can also wait a little bit longer for that growth.
The flip side to that, of course, is that anyone who’s waiting for growth, if they don’t have good savings or equity elsewhere, means that they have a delay in their acquisition of property. Everybody does need that growth at some stage, but everyone has a different need for it.
Kevin: Stay with us. I’ll come back a little bit later in the show and ask Margaret how often she reviews her portfolio, and she reveals the fact that she has a lemon in there, so we ask her why she’s not selling that.
This is Real Estate Talk.
Jane Slack Smith
Kevin: As we’ve been telling you this week – I hope you’ve been picking up on it, anyway – The Ultimate Guide to Renovation is opening up once again. We’ll tell you more about that a little bit later in this interview and also over the next few days. Watch out for that as we send you those special announcements.
Talking to Jane Slack-Smith, who is the host of The Ultimate Guide to Renovation – great program, too – I’m just wondering, with all of the changes on the landscape, particularly around lending, whether or not the rules of renovation have changed.
Jane, welcome to the show.
Jane: Hey, Kevin.
Kevin: How have they changed?
Jane: It’s interesting. The rules have changed and the lending landscape has changed, and that means that investors have to be more astute than ever. But the foundations of making a profit from property are even more important in getting them right.
Kevin: What are those foundations?
Jane: I always start with location. As you know, my trident strategy is I look at buying below the market, adding value through renovation, and being in a market that’s going up in value, but location is the key. I think that anyone who is looking to renovate, you need to be buying in the right area.
Kevin: Jane, can you give me an example of a recent success story?
Jane: We had one of our students at Russell Burton, who was actually on the front cover of API Magazine. He used the trident strategy and bought below the market, a great property for $640,000 in Melbourne. He did a 16-day reno and was really strategic about it. It cost him $8300, and at the end, it was revalued at $62,000 more.
What’s more, by putting in that third principle of the trident strategy – being in a growth area – 18 months later, the property is now valued at $800,000, so it continues to go up. He has pushed up his rental income by doing that renovation and actually secured a two-year lease.
That is why it’s so important in this current landscape to understand the basic principle, which is you can renovate but if you renovate strategically to make a profit, you need to know where you’re going to renovate.
Kevin: It’s great to hear those success stories, but not everyone can be successful. What happens when it goes wrong?
Jane: Things can go wrong. In this kind of changing environment at the moment, I recently had a student in our coaching program who followed everything, put an offer in, and had the property purchased, but the valuation came in $50,000 short.
Everyone in the community was giving him some ideas and strategies, but the reality is maybe that lender wasn’t right or that valuer wasn’t right. Changing valuers and changing lenders allowed him to have the property re-looked at and secured at the price that he wanted. You need to be a bit adaptable now in these changing lending markets because not what were the rules from six weeks ago are the rules today.
Kevin: That’s what I love about your Ultimate Guide to Renovation. I think this is the third one that we’ve done together. The thing that strikes me is that you’re not on your own; it’s a great learning experience but there are people there to help and support you.
Jane: It’s so important to me that you have a group of like-minded people to support you. We have hundreds in our community who are willing to jump in and give some advice. A lot of them are very experienced. I think the thing is when you’re going through this property purchasing process yourself, sometimes you do feel like the only one doing it, so having a community to bounce ideas off, to me, was so important for the part of the journey for our students.
Kevin: Now it’s opening up. Give us a little bit more detail about what we can expect over the next few weeks.
Jane: We’re going to be putting out some videos. For me, it’s really important that you see behind the closed doors first before you make any commitment to becoming a student of mine. I’m going to be sending out a number of videos and educating people. You can take that information straight away and decide to apply it or, obviously, come on board with us and maybe get there a bit faster.
We’re going to be covering things like what to look for in a property, going through an actual property and doing an inspection. We’re going to look at some real “bang for your buck” renovation tips and then we’re going to do a renovation on a property and show you some before-and-afters – some real great videos full of content that people can take straight away.
Kevin: If you’d like to know a little bit more about it, go to the homepage at RealEstateTalk.com.au right now because there’s a button there that will take you straight to a page that will tell you all about it, or if you want, just wait because over the next few days, I’ll be sending you a little bit more information. You can click on the link inside there that will give you all the information you need. You can get in and, as Jane just said, look in behind the scenes before you make any kind of commitment.
It’s a great program. As I said, this is the third time we’ve supported it and we do it wholeheartedly because I know that it really does work. Watch out for more information on the Ultimate Guide to Renovation and use that link right now on the homepage, RealEstateTalk.com.au.
Jane, thank you so much for time.
Jane: Thanks, Kevin.
Margaret Lomas Part 2
Kevin: Earlier in the show, I was talking to Margaret Lomas in answer to Matt’s question. We continue that conversation with Margaret now as we talk to her about her portfolio.
Margaret, how often do you review your portfolio?
Margaret: Every year, I have another look at it. People think that because I’m what I call a buy-and-hold investor, that means that I buy and never, ever sell. That’s not true either. I frequently look at my portfolio and sometimes even sell.
I sell as a result of many things. If I realize after giving it a couple years that I’ve actually made a mistake after all. I’ll go back and review the area and realize that I didn’t read it well, and all the things I thought were going to happen are never going to happen, and I’m going to sit on that property with it dragging down my portfolio forever, so I need to get out of it.
The second reason why I might sell is if a property has already had a really, really good period of growth and I don’t feel there’s any more in it.
Some areas have some real sentimental growth that’ll happen, and you can be lucky and time it to get in early enough for that. Then at the end of that sentimental growth there’s no more real growth drivers.
Under those circumstances I might sell, as well, particularly if it’s holding me back from borrowing more money to buy something that I think has better opportunity.
In the main, my portfolio remains the same, and I review it just for rent rises and things like that, but I’ve been known to sell around the edges of the portfolio to reshuffle it and to get a better-performing portfolio.
Kevin: What’s your drive right now – for cash flow, as you indicated, or is this a time to be looking for capital growth?
Margaret: I always look for both, Kevin, and there’s no question in my mind that you can have both. I think people are mistaken, and I think they’ve been led to believe for many years by the spruikers that it’s one or the other.
Even a couple of weeks ago, someone on my show said, “You know, if you buy that property, you’ll get cash flow and it’s going to come at the cost of growth.” That doesn’t naturally follow to be true, so I really want everybody to understand that that is not true.
I’m not the kind of person who always buys exactly the right property. I make mistakes, too, so I have some lemons.
I’ve gotten rid of a couple, and I still have a lemon in the portfolio, but most of the properties in the main that I have bought have had both cash flow and growth.
I firmly believe that there are indicators in all areas that tell you that that area is going to see its rents grow and it’s also going to see growth to the capital value of the asset. To suggest that in all cases, growth comes at the cost of cash flow and cash flow comes at the cost of growth is just not true.
Kevin: That lemon you’re holding your portfolio now, Margaret, why are you holding it?
Margaret: To continue to remind me of the lessons I need to learn as an investor. To be honest, it’s not a big enough lemon for me to sell it. I almost did sell it this year. It’s the very first property that I bought in Cairns.
Kevin: I remember you telling me about this one.
Margaret: It did go up, and then it went down. The last valuation a couple of years ago put it at about $4000 more than I paid for it 15 years ago.
It’s funny; I was having a chat to my friend Dr. Andrew Wilson the other day, and I said, “I’m going to get rid of Cairns.” He said, “No, don’t, because you’re actually going to see some growth next year.” Now, I know that that growth will only be a window, because Cairns doesn’t have the kind of growth drivers for sustained growth over time.
In your portfolio, you want your properties to grow every year. They don’t have to boom, but you want them to grow every year. In the main, my properties do. Cairns doesn’t. I guess I’m kind of hanging onto it.
It’s got a pretty good cash flow. I get a good rent on it. I’m hanging onto it, just waiting to time the market next time that we get some investor sentiment in the area, which is coming because everyone’s talking it up. It’ll get some investor sentiment in that area, and I will then sell when everybody else is buying.
Kevin: Is that what’s going to drive that growth in Cairns, purely that investor sentiment? Just talk?
Margaret: Absolutely. Look, a few things are happening up there, but nothing that’s going to create sustainable growth. We have to face the fact that markets like Cairns are very much itinerant markets.
A good number of the people who live in areas like that are from one of two demographic groups. They’re either retired or semi-retired. The proof is there that any area where we have a significantly higher average age than the national average doesn’t grow as well. Those people tend to sell down, not sell up. They tend to go to smaller homes, and therefore we don’t get the pressure.
The second demographic is itinerant people who go there just to work; they push the rent up because it’s too far to take all your furniture to Cairns, so people go up there and rent furnished properties – and they get good yields on those – but then they leave. They don’t stay. Cairns is the kind of area where you don’t stay.
Certainly, young people and families don’t tend to stay in places like Cairns, and we need families to anchor an area. We need to see private schools coming in. We need a lot of schooling. We need to see more and more schools because of the population growing so fast. We need sporting grounds and the facilities that families want.
Families bring money to an area, grow an area, work in an area, spend their money in an area, and overall make an area become more affluent. Places like Cairns don’t get that.
Kevin: Margaret, great talking to you. I know we deviated a lot there from what Matt’s original question was, but it’s always good talking to you.
Margaret Lomas from Destiny Financial Solutions. Thank you so much for your time.
Margaret: Thank you.
Kevin: And Matt, stand by, because we are going to give you a 12-month subscription to Australian Property Investor magazine for being our question of the week.
Margaret, once again, thank you. Look forward to talking to you again soon.
Margaret: Great. Thank you.
Kevin: A few weeks ago on the show, I spoke to Shannon Davis from Metropole Properties in Brisbane about the advantages of flipping – where you buy a property, renovate it, and flip it over quickly; it’s an American term – opposed to a buy-and-hold strategy.
Welcome again to the show, Shannon.
Shannon: Thanks for having me, Kevin.
Kevin: This time I want to talk to you about units versus houses. Is it that simple? Is it a black-and-white issue?
Shannon: No. I think everyone likes to simplify things, just to make it easier in their heads, but it’s not that simple.
Kevin: Is it market to market, or is it me as an investor?
Shannon: Market to market, definitely. But not all land is created equal. For instance, I would prefer a unit in a highly desirable owner-occupied area than the biggest house further out where the land is much more inferior and the market depth is far less.
Kevin: So you’re still saying come closer to the city, and if you have to buy a unit to get closer to the city, then that’s what you have to do?
Shannon: Definitely. Where the market depth is more and the owner-occupier appeal is more, I would choose more. If that takes me in the inner and middle rings – which is more likely, because people like to live near their employment and the CBD is the biggest employer and provides most of the economic output – then I’m going to take an apartment rather than a house.
Kevin: There is a school of thought, when you’re talking about value, that people say that the value is in the land, therefore “I have to have a house, and the bigger the land the bigger the value.” That doesn’t necessarily follow?
Shannon: Not necessarily. Apartments do have land value, as well, so if I am to pick an apartment I’m not going to pick one in a high-rise with 150 other apartments, with an expensive lift, gym, pool, and spa. I’m going to pick a two or three story walkup that’s on about 1800 square meters, and it has a big land proportion into it but that property has more owner-occupier appeal, a greater market depth, and therefore greater capital growth.
Kevin: When you think about it, in the 150- or 200-unit block is going to have 200-odd other owners in there you have to work with to get things done in the building.
Shannon: Definitely. If there’s that type of mass, there could be ten on the market at one time, so if they all have the same aspect, and layout, and so on, then how are we going to get the sale?
Kevin: What about another aspect of units over houses, and that is if you’re looking at units, the mix of owner-occupiers and tenants?
Shannon: It makes a big difference. Owner-occupiers are house-proud, don’t mind spending the sinking funds on communal areas, and having their apartment block with its best foot forward. Whereas investors tend to not turn up to body corporate meetings and tend to be less worried about more returns on funds, and therefore, there can be a little bit more neglect.
Kevin: Even if you’re buying into a new building and you find out what that owner-occupier to tenant mix is, that’s going to change over time, too. As the block gets older, you’ll probably find that there will be more tenants coming into it as people move out and maybe go to a different block.
Shannon: Definitely. The reason I keep coming back to owner-occupiers, Kevin, is because they pay more. They’re emotional, and for them it’s their home, not a house. If you have a higher tenant proportion there tends to be just that little bit more neglect of the apartment building, the communal areas, and the comings and goings of the parties who are invested in that building.
Kevin: The bottom line: just give me your top three points if I’m deciding about units opposed to houses?
Shannon: A $400,000 house or a $400,000 apartment? I would be taking the apartment in a highly walkable, desirable area, because the smaller the dwelling, the more important the area around it – like green space, cafes, and transport facilities. That’ll be a better investment because the market depth will be greater with that one, rather than a $400,000 house further out.
Kevin: I guess it also comes to what kind of tenant you want. If you’re looking for a family, for instance, you probably are going to have to buy a house.
Shannon: I think that’s probably putting the cart before the horse, because for me, we have lots of tenants and often it’s the ones without kids who pay their rent on time and have less objections when it comes to rent rises.
Kevin: Shannon Davis from Metropole Properties in Brisbane. If you’re wondering, Shannon also has another business called Image Property Management. It’s a specialist property management business, and he is across both areas – a guy well worth talking to if you’re looking for a property anywhere in Queensland.
Shannon Davis from Metropole Properties in Brisbane. Shannon, thanks for your time.
Shannon: No worries, Kevin. Any time.