Why you shouldn’t invest in shiny new properties

The fresh smell, the clean slate, the low maintenance and the primal need to be the first to mark your territory: these are just some of the reasons why buying a brand new house or unit is enticing.  property plan apartment build develop construction_new

That doesn’t mean it is a smart decision, though.

In my mind there are no ifs or buts about it – established properties make the best investments.

When it comes to property investing, you can’t be distracted by the lure of superficial appeal.

It has to primarily be a financial decision – which means leaving your own desires and prejudices at the door when looking at established properties.

“But new properties are so much nicer,” I hear you say.

Nice doesn’t cut it as an investment strategy – and I’m fairly certain that no matter what your objection is, I have an answer for them all:

But… new properties are easier to rent.

There’s no denying that tenants can be just as swayed by their emotional when deciding where to live as we are as investors, deciding where to buy.

But here are a couple of home truths you need to consider when buying an investment property:

  1. Australia in general, and capital cities in particular, has a shortage of rental properties. With limited options on the market, renters are still flocking to established properties in droves. Other factors like location and rental costs will continue to be major drivers of the rental market.
  2. If you are thinking new properties are easier to rent, you probably aren’t alone. Chances are if you buy a unit in a brand new apartment complex, it will be filled with investors just like you. I prefer to buy in predominantly owner-occupied areas because the buildings are generally better cared for and there is less competition (and as a result, higher demand) for rentals.
  3. Buying an established property does not mean that it has to stay as it is – in fact, I recommend looking for existing properties and then adding value through quality refurbishments.

But… there are more tax benefits for new properties.

There are indeed many tax benefits for new properties, but that is not the whole picture.  images tax

While you initially get greater tax depreciation allowances for brand new properties, there is usually lower capital growth in the first few years because you often pay a premium for newer homes.

It is also a complete misconception that only new properties are eligible for tax depreciation.

Investors can claim depreciation on their properties for up to 40 years and by working with a reputable quantity surveyor, you can ensure you receive maximum depreciation benefits in older homes and units.

This particularly true of renovated homes, which can deliver substantial depreciation benefits.

Anyway…I like buying established properties and renovating them – this not only manufactures capital growth – it makes the property more appealing to tenants and I get depreciation allowances on the new work.

But… there is less maintenance involved in a new property.

While you would expect this to be the case, it often isn’t so.

You’ve heard the saying, “They just don’t make ‘em like they used to.” It stands true in property as well.

New properties can and do have maintenance and structural issues, from peeling paint to cracks in the walls and ceiling, and building insurance policies only cover so much (and for so long).

Getting a thorough property inspection before committing to any home – new or old – is always recommended to confirm the structural integrity of the property.

It also pays to look at the bigger picture, because if you buy an established property with the intention of adding value through renovations, you can always address minor maintenance issues then.

But… new properties don’t cost much more than established properties.

There do seem to be some affordable deals available for new properties, but as always it is crucial that you do your homework first, and be sure to ask a couple of hard questions.

First of all, what are you actually paying for?

When you buy directly from a developer you are inadvertently paying for the developer’s margin, the agent’s commission and the cost of marketing – combined, these figures amount to tens of thousands of dollars.

In real terms, this means you’re actually squandering your first few years of capital growth and even instantly losing value.

If you’re not holding for the long term, you can say goodbye to a favourable resale value – especially in a slow market.

Most of the numbers that you see floating around for new properties are projections – educated guesses, in what is usually an overcrowded market.Secondly, how can you actually determine fair market value?

Others are inflated because of overseas investors paying too much.

When you buy an established property you can access historical data and market research, which paints a much clearer and more insightful picture of what you’re actually buying.

Finally, where is the wriggle room?

When you buy a brand new property, your room to negotiate prices is strictly regulated by a set price list.

When you are buying an established property, on the other hand, you are working in the realm of emotions and imperfections – a market that is ever changing – and with vendors whose motivations for selling are varied, to say the least.

In the current market, it is very possible to buy established properties below market value and in fact, we are often finding apartments for up to 20 per cent below replacement cost.

This is why, in my view, buying an established property is the way to go.

I believe most investors will find the best success buying an existing property with ‘character’ and renovating it to add value, resulting in a higher yielding, tax efficient investment.

Instead, here’s what you could do…

If you’re looking for independent advice, no one can help you quite like the independent property investment strategists at Metropole.

Remember the multi award winning team of property investment strategists at Metropole have no properties to sell, so their advice is unbiased. 

Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned property investor, we would love to help you formulate an investment strategy or do a review of your existing portfolio, and help you take your property investment to the next level.

Please click here to organise a time for a chat. Or call us on 1300 20 30 30.

When you attend our offices in Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane you will receive a free copy of my latest 2 x DVD program Building Wealth through Property Investment in the new Economy valued at $49.


Want more of this type of information?

Kate Forbes


Kate Forbes is a National Director Property Strategy at Metropole. She has 15 years of investment experience in financial markets in two continents, is qualified in multiple disciplines and is also a chartered financial analyst (CFA).
Visit www.MelbourneBuyersAgent.com.au

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