Is it time to be fearful or greedy in property?

When master investor Warren Buffet said: “Be fearful when others are greedy and be greedy when others are fearful” was he encouraging the strategy of countercyclical investing?

But with all the mixed messages out there today, some even suggesting we could be in for a recession, what should an investor do today.

I’d like to give you my thoughts on this with a lesson from history…

Twenty years ago few would have thought of property as a good investment.

It was 1993 and interest rates had come down 3 percent over the last 2 years as the Reserve Bank tried to stimulate the economy and our faltering property markets.

By the way… this brought rates down to 10%, the lowest level they had been for 13 years.

Australia was just coming out of the “recession we had to have”, there were too many properties for sale, buyers were scarce and some properties, particularly in top end suburbs, had plummeted in value.

A few years earlier on Black Monday of October 1987 a stock collapse of unprecedented size hit Wall Street.

However while the stock market recovered, the lumbering savings and loans industry in the USA (which financed many American homes) was beginning to collapse, leading to a property funding crisis which put the financial wellbeing of millions of Americans in jeopardy.

The financial contagion that spread to the rest of financial sectors led to a recession which hit other countries whose economies were previously healthy but were economically closely linked to the United States. This included Canada the United Kingdom and Australia.

Is this beginning to sound a little familiar?


What was happening in Australia?

In mid 1993 you would have paid around $173,000 for a typical house in Sydney; $138,00 in Melbourne;  $121,00 in Brisbane; $102,000 in Perth; $156,000 in Canberra; $110,00 in Adelaide $96,000 in Hobart and $132,000 in Darwin

But over the next two decades the value of many capital city properties around Australia tripled underscoring the wealth of many of today’s Baby Boomers and creating significant property empires for those who took property investment seriously.

Interestingly today’s property markets look surprisingly similar to those of 20 years ago.

And just like then, many of the same arguments are being floated by analysts explaining why property values can’t keep increasing as they did over the previous 20 years.

I accept that much of the gains over the last twenty years were related to structural changes that will not be repeated.

The Reserve Bank kept inflation within a narrow band meaning interest rates could fall at a when time banks were deregulated allowing new non-bank lenders like Aussie John Symond to make cheap finance available for borrowers.

At the same time wages grew and there were more two-income households. This allowed more Australian families to buy new homes or upgrade their existing homes as their families grew.


Why our property values are guaranteed to increase in the long term

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting we’ll have widespread double digit growth in property values (even though some suburbs will enjoy it), but we don’t have 7- 8% inflation like we had in the 1980’s that required that type of capital growth rates to produce a real (after inflation) rate of return.

With household incomes likely to grow between 4 and 5 percent per annum there’s no reason to think that property values won’t increase by at least that much and probably much more.

It’s important to understand that while many factors like interest rates, supply and demand and market confidence, affect a country’s property prices in the short term, in the long term prices are driven by two main factors:

  1. Population growth, and
  2. The wealth of the nation

In Australia strong future population growth is a given and as a matter of fact so is our increasing wealth. And this is positive news for the long-term growth of property prices.

[sam id=36 codes=’true’]The fact remains that as long as people keep having children and residents from other countries seek to settle on our shores, Australia’s population will keep growing at a rate faster than almost every other developed nation. In fact we need these immigrants to take on the new jobs created by our growing economy.

On top of that we are going to need to whole cities of new immigrants to replace the 5 million or so Baby Boomers who are going to leave the workforce over the next 15 years. They will boost our country’s economic wellbeing through revenue raised from income taxes and all the goods and services they will buy.  And yes, that includes property.

Of course this means with more and more of us wanting to live in the same four big capital cities, and even in the same suburbs of those capital cities, our old friend the supply and demand ratio will keep pushing up the value of well-located inner suburban properties.

Inevitably this will make property unaffordable for some of who will remain tenants, however others will be able to afford these higher priced properties.

It also means that apartments are likley to become the style of housing in strong demand as more people swap their backyards for balconies; partly because of cost but also because of lifestyle choices.

While nothing in life is guaranteed, if like me, you are confident that Australia has a prosperous future, and you agree that our population is going to keep increasing and that most of us are going to want to live in much the same parts of our lucky country; you can understand why I see a strong long-term future for our capital city property markets.

Sure there is a risk in buying property, but don’t forget there is also a different risk in not buying!


So what will you do about this?

Owning real assets is a powerful wealth creator and with our property markets moving on a whole new generation of property millionaires will be created over the new decade.

However, if history repeats itself, and it most likely will, most people who get involved in property investment will not become financially independent. Many will buy the wrong property or at the wrong time or in the wrong location.

With so many mixed messages out there about what type of what makes a good property investment it’s hard to know who to listen to.

It’s hard to know who to trust.

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 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.

Just click on this link to find out more and reserve your place.

Of course I’ll keep you up to date with how to take advantage of the changes happening in our property markets in future updates, but as so much is happening in property nowadays I’ll keep you updated almost every day with a short post in my blog –just click here and subscribe to it – that’s a different subscription to my regular newsletter – it gives you my short daily updates


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Michael is a director of Metropole Property Strategists who create wealth for their clients through independent, unbiased property advice and advocacy. He's once again been voted Australia's leading property investment adviser and his opinions are regularly featured in the media. Visit

'Is it time to be fearful or greedy in property?' have 5 comments

  1. Avatar for Property Update

    June 28, 2013 @ 9:18 pm David Isom

    Hi Michael, I agree about population growth, yes, that’s inevitable but where is Australia’s future wealth going to come from? I am an optimist but pessimistic about this prospect. We are rapidly losing our essential primary industries and ability to produce enough of our own food as the supermarket duopoly source cheaper supplies from overseas . Farmers are given little help and have to pay the same interest rates and taxes as those on high salaries with tax deductible investments.
    The RBA’s obsession with low inflation and inability to see what those of us in the property game have seen what is coming has kept our interest rates relatively high , one of the main factors in keeping the AUD high and therefore contributing to us being less competitive with our exported goods. Australian manufacturers are going off shore to produce more cheaply and satisfy shareholders..this includes tertiary industries (eg. ANZ moving jobs off shore, Ford closing down, GMH looking shaky).
    Look around Melbourne ,the factories and warehouses that once produced and distributed goods and now being turned into apartments. So what are we producing? Very little and less and less ,so where is the wealth going to come from? The wealth of a country is dependant upon what they produce in the form of goods and services. We are losing our ability to produce our own food, our manufacturing industries have mostly gone or are going .We have had dysfunctional governments who do not encourage business innovation and opposition parties who along with the media preach negativity…so apart from the inevitable population growth where is our future wealth going to come from ? Australia is not being clever and productive like Germany but is more like Spain or Greece where people expect the government to provide for them…I don’t wish to sound negative but I think we’ve seen, and had the best of this country .Lucky for us..I’m about your age but what hope for the our children and the future. Cheers, David Isom.
    ps I’m on my yacht at Mackay heading for the Whitsundays then hopefully around the world..thanks to property investing over the last 30 years which has been a ‘no- brainer’…but I don’t believe the next 30 will be the same !


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      June 30, 2013 @ 5:58 am Michael Yardney

      Thanks for your thoughts. I agree that I can’t see a great future for our manufacturing industries – our cost of production is too high.
      I do hope our agricultural industries will remain competitive and help feed the growing Asian population.
      Where I see most growth is in the service industries – health, education, technology and finance. This may mean the way we are educating our children may have to change otherwise we’ll have to import a lot of he new workers from overseas


  2. Avatar for Property Update

    July 1, 2013 @ 8:46 pm Jarred

    Hi Michael. I certainly understand your prediction for ongoing price rises of property (and scarcity) based on population growth and everyone seemingly wanting to live in the main cities but my concern for property and indeed the wealth of the country is to do with the mining boom and its eventual wind down. If this happens and governments have not properly set aside capital (which no side of politics ever has) from mining investment, then once this slows right down, it will be felt through the entire economy (of Australia). Mining taxes are one issue but these are minor when you consider that the rocks cannot be replaced – once they are mined, they are gone. The situation makes me think of other nations that were resouce rich such as Sth Africa but now, the people do not share the wealth at all. When this scenario eventuates (a winding back of mining), will it not likely cause a domino effect that will see a major correction in property prices nationally & wages & living standards?
    Your thoughts appreciated.


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    July 2, 2013 @ 10:46 am Nigel

    Hi Michael,

    I can see a bad situation happening in Darwin and Im also living it first hand. The house prices for a two bathroom four bedroom house in a suburb near the city are all at a medium average of $600, 000. The house stock is majority houses built in mass after cyclone tracy so are in need of renovation so add $50 000 – 100 000 to this after purchase. A new house in a new suburb is a minimum $750 000 with no pool or shed. Rents are 700 – 800 dollars a week.

    My point in all this is that how can people in the service industry (taxi drivers, cleaners, childcare workers etc) that support the workers on $100 000 plus afford housing ? If they cant afford housing, they do not support the higher earners. Darwin does not have a outer, outer place where they can live. I have spoken with many Taxi drivers who are moving to Melbourne for this reason, and our local Labour member was very concerned about’ the hollowing out of Darwins economy)


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    July 11, 2013 @ 12:59 am Michal

    I like the helpful info you provide in your articles. I’ll bookmark your weblog and check again here frequently. I am quite certain I’ll learn plenty of new stuff right here!


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