9 reasons why you shouldn’t buy an investment property


Are you looking to get into property investment, or maybe you’re keen to add to your existing property portfolio?

It’s that time of year when many Aussies are revisiting their financial plans for the coming year.

Well maybe you should by an investment property…house real estate

But maybe you shouldn’t.

Fact is, I’ve spoken with hundreds and hundreds of investors in my time and I’m often surprised when they tell me their reasons for investing in real estate.

Many just get it wrong.

You see…while property investment is an excellent vehicle for growing lasting wealth, occasionally it’s the wrong fit for particular people.

In fact, sometimes, there are some very legitimate reasons why you just shouldn’t do it.

So you shouldn’t buy an investment property if:

1. You’re buying a property to pay less tax

Many naïve investors think negative gearing is an investment strategy.

Their accountant tells them they need to save tax so they chase tax deductions or depreciation benefits and as a result they often overpay for new or off the plan properties while ignoring the fundamentals of property investment.

They think they need negatively gearing and get excited that for every dollar they lose they save 49 cent. 

Now that’s crazy, especially as new stock almost always comes at a premium and has limited (if any) medium term capital growth prospects.

That’s not the way to grow your wealth through property.

Just to make things clear…

A property is negatively geared when the costs of owning it – interest on the loan, bank charges, maintenance, repairs and depreciation – exceed the income it produces.

In my mind this is not an investment strategy – it’s a short term funding strategy, which only make sense when used to purchase high capital growth investment grade properties.

These tend to be established houses, townhouses or apartments in desirable streets in top locations in the inner and middle ring suburbs of our 3 big capital cities.

2. You’re buying because you’re disappointed you’ve missed the property price growth over the last decade

Have you heard of F.O.MO? – the Fear Of Missing Out.

It usually happens at the end stage of every property cycle when people read of the windfalls made by those who bought property a few years ago, however that is obviously the time of the property cycle you need to be more cautious in your investing rather than over optimistic.

Of course it’s an understandable emotion, but investing with emotion leads to bad judgement.

And it is exactly this type of emotion that makes you easy prey for the property marketers and spruikers who will offer you a way to get rich quickly.

And while property values started increase in the last quarter of 2020 and the value of well located properties are likely to be considerably higher at the end of this year that they are  currently, there’s no need to rush in at this early stage of the new cycle.

Sure you should get your foot in the door of this emerging property cycle if you can, but it should be done strategically not emotionally.

3. You want to get rich quick money coin

Many beginning investors want to “get rich quick.”

However, property investing is a long-term endeavor.

I’ve found it takes average property investor 30 years to become financially free.

Often it’s takes 10 years to learn what not to do –  we all make investment mistakes when we start out.

Then it takes three to five years to undo the mistakes of the first decade, often selling off underperforming properties.

Then it takes two good property cycles to build a substantial asset base of investment-grade properties

Warren Buffet said it well when he said ‘Wealth is the transfer of money from the impatient to the patient.”

4. You don’t really understand how property investment works

Many people mistakenly believe they understand property investment because they own a house or have lived in one.

So they end up buying a property close to where they want to live, where they want to retire or where they holiday.

Again, these are emotional reasons to purchase a property rather than selecting based on sound investment fundamentals.

On the other hand, successful investors have formulated an sound investment strategy that suits their risk profile and helps them achieve their long term goals and one which has stood the test of time.

5. If you’re not financially fluent money

If you haven’t learned how to budget, spend less than you earn and save or if you’re not good at handling debt then property investment may not be for you because the large amount of debt you’ll take on for your investment will either get you into financial trouble or keep you awake at night.

Of course if you’re scared of debt, and many people are because they don’t fully understand the difference between bad debt and good debt, then steer clear of property until you better understand the power of leverage, compounding and time has on well located properties.

6. If you want a multipurpose property property data

If you are buying your property with the aim of creating wealth but also as your future home, or as a part time holiday home or somewhere to retire in the future, then perhaps you are wanting that one little property to achieve too much.

I’ve never found that a mixed use property delivers premium investment returns – something has to give.

For one, there are too many emotional factors at play.

Of course, adhering to a proven investment strategy will mean you’re more likely to buy an investment grade property and not make this type of mistake.

7. If your finances are not in order

Property investment is a game of finance with some real estate thrown in the middle.

To get into property you should have a stable job, profession or business with a steady income and need to be attractive to the banks so they lend you money plus you should have sufficient stashed away in a financial buffer to see you through the inevitable rainy days ahead.

8. You don’t have enough money

If you can’t afford an investment grade property, either because you haven’t saved a sufficient deposit or you can’t service the loan repayments, then rather than buying amoney savings secondary property, in my mind it’s better that you wait and buy an investment grade property.

One of the reasons that around 50% of those who get into real estate sell up in the first 5 years and the main reason around 90% of investors never buy more than one investment property is because the first property they buy underperforms and they lose confidence.

In my mind, less than 5% of the properties currently on the market are “investment grade” – the type of property that will outperform the averages with wealth producing rates of return and stability of price when the markets eventually turn.

This means you need to buy the right property in the right location (remembering that the correct location will deliver around 80% of your property’s performance.)

So, if you can’t afford this type of property sometimes the right thing to do is “nothing.”

You make your money when you buy your property, not because you buy it cheaply, but because you buy the right property.

9. You’re trying to time the market or find the next hotspot location map house suburb area find

Sure property markets move in cycles and it would be great to buy near the bottom, or find a location that will be the next hotspot, but the landscape is littered with investors who tried to time the market and failed.

Instead the right time to buy real estate is when your finances are in order and you’ve got the ability to purchase an investment grade property.

Remember there is not one property market in Australia so there will always be opportunities somewhere.

Rather than wait and buy real estate; you buy real estate and wait.

The bottom line:

When it comes to buying property, there are plenty of reasons to take action, but there are just as many reasons to hit the pause button.

If you’re not sure on your next move, speaking with a professional property advisor may give you the clarity and direction you need to move forward with purpose.


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Michael is a director of Metropole Property Strategists who help their clients grow, protect and pass on their wealth through independent, unbiased property advice and advocacy. He's once again been voted Australia's leading property investment adviser and one of Australia's 50 most influential Thought Leaders. His opinions are regularly featured in the media. Visit Metropole.com.au

'9 reasons why you shouldn’t buy an investment property' have 21 comments

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    February 21, 2021 nfw

    All good advice. But the big one to stay well away from is Defence Housing. It has become a land development organisation which takes your money to develop more houses and force down your rent return. The monthly fee is extortionate; you will not make any money on the property; your rent can go down annually (you sign up for that but think it will never happen to you); it is bureaucratic and wants to tell you what to do. There is a section, not well advertised by DHA, on the website of investor properties for sale, ie investors trying to unload bad investments. Go to the web site and type in “Buy a mid-lease property” and you will see quite a few. DHA does not look after the owner; it looks after itself, the Defence Dept and Federal Government, none of which have your best interests at heart. Stay away from Defence Housing.


      February 21, 2021 Michael Yardney

      Thanks for your thoughts. I have always said the DFA housing is an important part of supporting a military, but he’s not an investment option and should be avoided


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    January 11, 2021 land of sale

    Hello Michael,
    Thanks for sharing this valuable information with us, it is really helpful article!.
    I really appreciate this post. Iíve been looking everywhere for this!


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    January 7, 2021 Tom Vichta

    We are mid 70’s and own a 3brm unit in West End Brisbane that provides $850 pw and have had no problems over 3 years. We have over 1 million in our Super at .5% which upsets us. We are not needing large capital growth or rent increases just a care free investment. Should we look for another unit similar and can we buy it in our Super? Thanks for all the great advice on this site…


      January 7, 2021 Michael Yardney

      Giving advice regarding the use of your Super legally requires a financial planning statement of advice – so don’t just accept advice from anyone – they may not have your best interest in mind.
      As a general principal – many retirees are disappointed with their returns form cash or term deposits and are looking at unencumbered property as a sound alternative


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    September 21, 2019 The Rueth Team

    Great information shared on property investment, Thanks for sharing your deep thoughts on this subject. Keep up the great writing.


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    September 16, 2019 Gory

    Initially I thought I would cringe at this article. Turns out I was wrong, some very sound advice here. 100 years of smart money is being turned on it’s head moving ahead but the lessons learned never change.


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    June 25, 2019 Lynley Mac

    HI Michael, what are you thoughts on buying units or townhouses (SA) not for the capital growth as it would be unlikely, but for an income through retirement to supplement super?
    Many thanks


      June 25, 2019 Michael Yardney

      Residential property is not a good cash flow investment – I don’t know your circumstances – you may do better getting cash flow through shares or managed funds as after paying your mortgage, and all outgoings you really won’t be left with much to live off


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    June 13, 2019 Geoff

    I only have 100k and earn 105k pa, 2k disposable pmth…can I get into property investment?


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    June 5, 2019 Mary

    we purchased a serviced apartment in darwin 10years ago, to date we have lost $200k, we cant sell, the strata fees etc are expensive and rent has almost dribbled out. do you have any advice?


      June 5, 2019 Michael Yardney

      I’m so sorry to hear that Mary – I really don’t have an answer for you – serviced apartments are very poor investments aren’t they


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    February 3, 2019 Lena

    Hi Mike ,
    I am being constantly called by “financial advisors” trying to convince me to buy an investment property to reduce tax. Is this a good reason to invest ? They tell me that I won’t be worse off, but I am a bit skeptical ?


      February 4, 2019 Michael Yardney

      What a great question Lena
      It’s a terrible reason to buy an investment property and you have to be very wary of their advice – go elsewhere as they are very likely to have a vested interest and they’ll make a commission recommending a “tax efficient” investment.
      Now don’t get me wrong…I’m not saying don’t buy an investment property – I’m saying buy it for the right reasons – tax benefits are the cream on top and anyone who puts them first has it the wrong way around


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    December 6, 2018 Martin

    Hi Mike
    I read your facts and comments and found them interesting..
    I am looking to invest in commercial what are your thoughts?
    regards Martin


      December 6, 2018 Michael Yardney

      I own a significant commercial portfolio – but it’s a very different game. Please read this it may give you some ideas- Commercial Property — A property Investor’s Guide


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    July 7, 2017 Bob Horgan

    Buying investment property (and Stocks and shares) can be like rolling the dice, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Ten months (August 2016) ago I brought a beautiful 3 bedroom townhouse in Campbelltown NSW for $560K. It has already increased by $120K. We borrowed 3.54% interest ($2022pm) fixed for 3 years. The gap between mortgage payments and rents received is $300pm. BUT conversely 10 years ago I also brought a very beautiful apt in Rockdale NSW for $400K. It had views of the City and The airport with a 3min walk to shops and public transport. We sold at a loss of $20K. Thankfully my gains over other properties have surpassed my losses. It was a combination of good luck and good research.


      July 7, 2017 Michael Yardney

      Bob. I agree that for many investors property is a roll of the dice. But I hope that through the advice you’ll read here you’ll become a strategic investor rather than rolling the dice


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