Property and especially Australian property is an excellent investment. Not only is it much harder to lose money in property than in the stock market, but with property you also benefit both from steady capital growth and from rental income. And as rental income increases over time it protects you from inflation. At the same time you can borrow money to buy property and despite Australia’s high taxation environment, property investment can be very tax efficient.
Let’s have a look at these advantages and some more beneficial aspects of residential property investment in a bit more detail.
1. An investment market not dominated by investors
First of all, you need to realize that some seventy property percent of all residential property is “owner occupied” and only thirty percent is owned by investors. That means that residential property is the only investment market not in fact dominated by investors, which means that there is a natural buffer in the market that is not available in the share market. To put it simply, if property values crash by 10%, 20% or even 40% we all still need a home to live in and so most owner occupiers will simply ride out any major crash rather then sell up and rent (compare this to the stock market where a major drop in prices can easily trigger a serious meltdown). Sure, property values can and do go down but they simply do not show the same level of volatility as the share market and property offers a much higher level of security.
And if you don’t believe me when I tell you that residential property is a safe investment, then just ask the banks. Banks have always seen residential real estate as an excellent security and that’s why they’ lend up 90% of the value of your property; they know that property values have never fallen over the long term.
2. Sustained growth
Property prices in Australia tend to move in cycles and historically they have done well, doubling in cycles of around 7 – 12 years (which equates to about 6% to 10% annual growth). We all know that history is no guarantee for the future but combined with common sense it’s all we have. There is no reason to think that the trends in property of the last 100 years would not continue for the next few decades, but to be successful in property investment you must be prepared and capable to ride out any intermediate storms in the market, but that applies to any investment vehicle you choose.
Australia’s median house price between 1986 and 2006 as published by the Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) shows that back in June 1986 you would have bought an average home for $80,800. That same home would have been worth $160,500 in 1986, which is pretty much double of what you paid 10 years earlier. Another 10 years later in 2006 that average home was worth some $396,400. So between 1986 and 2006 that average home went up by nearly 400% or about 8.3% per annum.
Not bad. And quite in line with the longer term history.
In fact, as Michael Keating points out in his blog on 24th January 2008 (Why Melbourne’s properties will keep rising), it is actually on the low side compared to the historical average. Australia’s property prices have been tracked for something like the last 120 years and on average they have risen 10.4% per year. Just in case you might believe that had to do with Australia being a newly found colony, and don’t believe this would be sustainable in the long term, consider this. In the UK records of property sales go back till 1088 and analysis of the data shows that in those 920 years UK property on average has gone up by 10.2% per year.
3. Buy It With Other Peoples Money (OPM)
Now just in case the above has not been enough to convince of the value of residential property investment, let me tell you one of the great secrets of creating wealth, which also applies to investing in property. The secret is OPM. Other Peoples Money.