Tag Archives: finance

Homebuyer confidence rises. 2013 outlook is promising

5 Years from now

The number of Australians who believe it’s a good time to buy a home surged 11.5 per cent over the December quarter, reaching highs not seen in three years.

CommSec chief economist Craig James says the Westpac/Melbourne Institute’s latest index shows more people are keen to park their money in bricks and mortar.

“Real estate was regarded as the second wisest place to put new savings, with that reading just below seven-year highs,” James says.

Housing finance commitments slid slightly by 0.2 per cent in October, new data shows, but total home lending for the year is up four per cent.                                   Loans for land blocks rose by 17.5 per cent over 2012, which is the strongest pace of growth in three years.

“All the pointers suggest there are better times ahead for the housing market, representing good news for builders, tradespeople, material suppliers and a raft of retailers.”

On the wider economy, James says there’s good momentum moving into the New Year. In particular, forecasts for the resources sector show Australia is set to “reap extraordinary earnings” over the coming year. James says the outlook is far brighter than the “doom and gloom school would have you believe”.

Export volumes are predicted to increase substantially and the reason for a forecast drop in export values is due to the drop in commodities prices.        While general consumer sentiment fell by 0.2 points to 100 on the index, loans to buy new or used cars hit a record 1.23 billion in October.

James says the drop is disappointing at first glance but digging deeper shows “sharp divisions across the country” are to blame.  “In short, conditions are very mixed and how you feel depends on where you live and your housing status,” he says.

He believes the data suggests the Reserve Bank may opt to stay on the interest rate sidelines in the early part of 2013, preferring to see how the economy responds to rate cuts.

Source: Australian Property Investor

Negative gearing and its impact on the housing market.

HOUSEIn its most simplistic form, negative gearing for investment housing allows investors to deduct their losses against their personal taxable income.  These losses may occur when the investor incurs costs such as interest on a home loan as well as maintenance and other small expenses on an investment property. However, it is important to note that negative gearing is not unique to the property asset class; it also applies to businesses and shares in Australia.

The most important thing to realise about asset negative gearing is that it is fundamentally off-setting a loss.  Although you can claim that loss on your tax return, the investor must carry the cost of that loss throughout the year.  Ultimately, when investing, most purchasers would be hoping that rental rates increase over time and result in the asset moving from a loss-making one to an income producing one.

It is also important to note that between September 1985 and September 1987, negative gearing laws were changed.  The government quarantined negative gearing interest expenses on new transactions.  As a result, investors could only claim interest expenses against rental income, not other income.

Given that negative gearing provides a benefit to investors, we look at the impact these changes had on the investment market over the two-year period.  The first component is the impact the changes had on the rental market.

According to the rental component of CPI data, rents across the capital cities rose by 21.8% over the two years to September 1987 (the period during which negative gearing laws were changed).  The increase in rents was most pronounced over the period in Sydney (26.1%) and Perth (31.1%).  As a comparison, over the two years to September 1985, rental costs rose by a lower 17.0%.

The data clearly shows that rental growth was present over this period and it was greater than it was over the two year period directly preceding it (The above chart shows the period for which the negative gearing rules were changed and are bolded black).  Here you can see that rental growth was well above average, particularly recent averages, but it was not unprecedented with rents growing by a greater amount on an annual basis in late 1982 and early 1983.

Another important determining factor is the demand from investors over this period.  Unfortunately the Australian Bureau of Statistics does not provide information on the number of loans to investors; rather it provides the total value.  The total value of investment finance commitments in September 1987 was 41.5% higher than in September 1985.  These figures seem to suggest that at that time there was no weakness in demand for investment housing however, a clearer outcome would be apparent based on the number of loans rather than the value.

The reason why negative gearing was reinstated in September 1987 was that it was proclaimed that rents rose sharply on the back of a fall in housing market investment.  However, it doesn’t look as if investment in the housing market dried up throughout this period. Rents clearly did rise quite sharply throughout as demonstrated.

Many in favour of removing negative gearing from property say that it should occur due to the fact that housing is an unproductive asset class.

My argument is that given that housing provides shelter, if investors don’t purchase these assets, it would then be the responsibility of the Government to provide this shelter.  Ultimately, that would mean that anyone that pays taxes would be funding housing for those who can’t afford it themselves.

One of the arguments against negative gearing is that the tax deductions afforded to investors in the housing market reduces government revenue.  However, if investors did not provide shelter to those that can’t provide it to themselves, government revenue would already be reduced due to the fact that this responsibility would fall on the Government.

If we look at the recent Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) dwelling approvals data, it is interesting to see just how much of the new housing supply is created by the private sector as opposed to the public (government) sector.  According to the ABS dwelling approvals series which began in July 1983, between July 1983 and October 2012, 4,355,266 dwelling approvals have been given to the private sector compared to just 228,843 to the public sector.  Over the last 29 years (give or take a few months), public housing approvals have accounted for just 5.0% of all dwelling approvals.  This is less than 8,000 approvals by the public sector each year!

Over the 12 months to October 2012, 145,515 dwellings approvals were granted to the private sector (98.6%) compared to just 2,065 to the public sector (1.4%).

The most recent Census data shows us that of those homes occupied, 29.6% are rented (investment properties).  Based on this data, if we assume that without the private sector building homes for investment purposes, the public sector would have to account for 29.6% of all dwelling approvals to cover those in rental accommodation.  Over the past 12 months this would have equated to 43,684 dwelling approvals.  If we also consider that the median home price across Australia as at October 2012 was $386,000, and if the Government had to buy the land and build 43,684 homes, this would cost the Government of the day $16,861,900,480 based on the number of approvals and the median home price.

Of course this is a rather simplistic calculation and if the Government were to build homes on their own land it would cost them less as that figure includes land and building.  Also, it is unlikely that private investment in residential housing would cease without negative gearing but I would expect that it would fall.

The most recent taxation statistics data shows that over the 2009-10 financial year, $4.81 billion in net rental deductions were claimed by taxpayers.

In order for the Government to break even to allowable deductibles from tax returns they would have to be building those 43,684 homes at a cost of $110,100.  Based on the current median home price across the country at $386,000, they would have only been able to build 12,461 homes over the past 12 months or 8.4% of the total building approvals over the past year.  It should be noted that not all new builds are for investment purposes but if we assume that 29.6% are there is a significant short-fall.

When you look at these figures it is obvious why negative gearing is unlikely to be removed.  Whether the removal of negative gearing impacted investment or not, and whether it lead to an increase in rents is a secondary concern relative to how much it would cost the Government to supply public housing for the almost 30% of Australians that don’t own their own home.

These figures are not to suggest that if in the case negative gearing was removed, there would be no investors in the market however, the appeal of negative gearing is part of what attracts many investors to the market.  Without negative gearing it is likely that there would be fewer investors and therefore less private developers delivering new homes coupled with a greater need for the public sector to provide housing.  The flow on effect may also be that there would likely be lower demand for housing credit.  Although some proclaim removing negative gearing would cause house prices to fall, I would expect that new housing supply would be even tighter as developer’s struggle to achieve pre-sales for new development, this may in-turn force prices higher than they otherwise would be.

By looking into the figures in more detail, it makes good economic sense for the government to allow housing investors to negatively gear their properties so that the significantly greater cost of providing social housing is not borne by the Government and ultimately the Australian taxpayer.

Source: Cameron Kusher. RP Research

6 Rules to make sure you become wealthy

Regular Property Update blogger Pete Wargent recently wrote an excellent piece on the psychology of wealth creation. Source : http://propertyupdate.com.au

1 – Increasing your self-esteem
Why is self-esteem relevant to wealth creation? The reason is because if your self-esteem is low and you then achieve a level of success that exceeds what you believe you are worth, you will unconsciously sabotage your success.

2 – It pays to invest for the long term
Too many of us devise plans to make ourselves a little better off in the short term, but have no cogent plan for building wealth over the long term. True wealth and fortunes are built slowly but surely.
Following the principle and power of compound growth is the key to building wealth. If you can add some leverage – the use of other people’s time and other people’s money – you can join the ranks of the super-wealthy over time.

3 – Study and counsel with wise men
If you want to be successful, learn from successful people. Find someone who has achieved what you want to achieve. Study and follow their methods.
You may even be able to learn from some of their mistakes and reach your goals even more quickly and completely than they did themselves. This is a powerful tool known as ‘modelling’. I consciously use it every day.

4 – Paying yourself first
What do most of us do? Pay our mortgage, pay our bills, pay our credit cards and pay for other essentials. Then we look to see what is left over at the end of the month.
We need to see things another way. Invest a decent sum safely away first and then worry about the other payments thereafter. It sounds arrogant. It works.

5 – Controlling expenditure
Financial freedom is about having passive income – which flows to you regardless of whether you work – that is greater than your outgoings. There are two variables in that equation that can be adjusted to achieve the goal.
One is to increase the passive income figure (through investment). The other is reducing the outgoings (through thrift).
Where are the holes in your financial foundations? How can you plug the gaps?

6 – Taking action
It’s all very well studying these first five steps, but what really counts is taking massive and consistent action and simply never, ever giving up.
What is holding you back from starting today? A fear of failure? A fear of losing money? You’re “doing OK” without investing? When will you start to take action? Next month, next year, next decade?
You need to dare to be different to achieve wealth. Procrastination is the killer of all opportunity. Take action today!