Bob Anderson – Property Developer
REViews has no connection to the persons mentioned as Gurus and the views expressed are as a result of our own independent research.
In the field of property education in Australia there are a few people who stand out in the crowd. The few who have amassed in-depth knowledge in their specific area of expertise include people such as Bob Anderson, Cherie Barber and John Lindeman.
Bob is the CEO of property development company Positive Property Strategies. In the 30 years he has worked in the property development and investment sectors, Bob has held both state and national management positions with some of Australia’s major
One of the most successful API Property Magazine articles ever published was the ‘Small Development Guide’ where in 12 episodes Bob shared some of his property development secrets.
Cherie Barber – Property Renovator
Cherie is a self-made, full-time professional renovator, regular TV renovator and highly sought-after Australian public speaker. At age 22 Cherie bought her first low budget, unrenovated property and cosmetically flipped it for a profit.
A decade later Cherie quit her full-time job and in the first year of her professional renovating career, Cherie bought 6 houses with a combined value of $6.2 million. She did this with no stable income, no job and little money behind her. Cherie has personally renovated over 50 properties and been involved in countless property deals.
Cheryl has extensive knowledge about property investment, renovation and development and is skilled at adding maximum value for the least possible cost. She is skilled at creating the “wow factor” that gets owner-occupiers emotionally attached to a
property, prior to purchase.
John Lindeman – Property Market Researcher
John is the research columnist for API Property Magazine and chief property consultant at innovative housing market analysts, Property Power Partners. John has a solid understanding of the drivers which affect our property market and backs this up with solid research. John’s articles are well researched and he has amazing insights into what’s hot and what’s not.
In the FAQs we have posted short answers to a number of common questions asked by investors and owners of residential real estate.
Disclaimer: The comments in FAQs do not constitute advice. Comments are of a general nature only. If you agree or disagree or want to add a comment then please let us know on the Contact page.
How to choose an Agent?
What is the best way to find an Agent when you plan to sell your home? You want an Agent who will work hard for you and who will put in the effort to achieve a good result. An Agent who knows the style of properties that buyers are looking for in the area where you live and who will keep you informed with both the good news and the not so good news.
You don’t want an Agent who will tell you almost anything to get your listing but then cools off once the Authority to sell your home is signed. Above all you don’t want an Agent who raises your expectations to a high level prior to getting the listing but from then on makes every effort to dampen your expectations. The aim here is to soften you up so that you will accept a low offer so that the Agent can then move on to the next unsuspecting vendor.
Remember that Agents work on a commission basis and while it matters a lot to you if your home sold for $50,000 more than you expected, it did not make a great deal of difference in the commission paid to the Agent who handled the sale.
Referral from family or a friend who have been pleased with an Agent in your area is still the best way to select an Agent. If that’s not the case then the following may help.
Give yourself a month to select an Agent. First, go to realestate.com.au and search for properties in your area and make a note of the listings that you like. Now here is the important bit. Ignore the Agency and select 3 or 4 individual Agents that appeal to you. Make sure at least 1 or 2 are female Agents as they often make the best Agents.
Then attend inspections of properties in your area handled by these Agents. See how they deal with people attending inspections. Ask them questions (difficult ones are good e.g. any planning approvals for adjacent/nearby properties?). Check if they follow up with a phone call. Do not tell the Agent that you plan to sell your home as you will (or should) receive extra special attention.
The process of seeing Agents in action on behalf of other vendors is as good a way as any in selecting an Agent. When it is time to sell you should now have a list of 3 preferred Agents. Contact them and ask each Agent to meet with you at your home and provide you with an Appraisal.
Then select the Agent of your choice. Do not base it on the lowest commission or the highest valuation. Base it on the Agent who you think did the best job at the inspections you visited, who provided a professional Appraisal (containing material relevant to your property and not just a folder with lots of their marketing material) and the Agent who you feel most comfortable with. Trust your instincts.. and then, best of luck.
Do Estate Agents need to be licensed?
No, it is not necessary to be licensed to work as an estate agent. Basically, each real estate office needs to have a licensed Agent in charge of the office. Then any number of persons can work as Agents in that office in a capacity generally referred to as “Representative” Agents. That means they can generally do anything that a Licensed Agent can do (such as sell properties) but they work under the auspices of the Agent in charge.
Real estate regulations and licensing vary from State to State. The various State real estate bodies have talked about the establishment of a national body but so far it is just talk. In QLD it is normal to enter into contracts with 30 day settlement while in VIC this is unusual with 60 – 90 days being the norm.
It is often assumed that agents earn lots of money. That is not entirely true. According to payscale.com.au Real Estate Agents earn an average salary of just $48,514 per year. That is well below the national average. There are some Agents who earn a lot but there are also many Agents who find it hard to get by. Many Agents earn just the minimum basic wage plus commissions. As commissions can take 3 months to come through when you start with an Agency this can make it difficult to pay your bills when you join an Agency. And then, when you leave, there can be 3 months of commissions still “in the pipeline” which some Agencies use to their advantage.
One way in which the Real Estate industry differs from most other industries is that young adults with little or no formal qualifications and with little or no experience can earn good incomes. Bottom line, a young person with no qualifications or experience can sell real estate straight after leaving school and earn good money. However, with the average salary at $48,514 pa the vast majority realise after a while that it is hard work, needing special talents to succeed, and they leave.
An Agent will only succeed if they are able to generate new listings off their own bat. If they can, they can do well. If they cannot they will fail sooner or later.
There are a few Agents who I admire and who are expert at their craft and who do a great job. Unfortunately, the average Agent is fairly ordinary. So take your time to choose an Agent who will work for you when it is time to sell your property.
If negative gearing is abolished will it push up rents?
No, it will not and history suggests it will do the opposite.
Negative gearing was abolished in 1985 and reintroduced shortly afterwards. Over the two years from 1985 rents increased in 2 capital cities (in Perth and Sydney where rents increased at a time when demand exceeded supply) while rents fell in the other 4 capital cities.
Let’s look at some maths first. Assume there are 100 existing homes owned by 70 owner occupiers and 30 investors who rent out their property to 30 tenants. Let’s say negative gearing was abolished and (supposedly) removed the incentive to own an investment property and 10 of the 30 investors decided to sell. They can only sell to other investors in which case there is no change in the mix or they sell to tenants. In this instance, let’s assume they sell these 10 homes to 10 tenants. Now we have 80 owner occupiers and 20 tenants. Nothing has changed. There has been no increase in the housing stock (still 100) and the demand vs supply equation has not changed (30 investors renting to 30 tenants simply changed to 20 investors renting to 20 tenants). Thus there is no reason to expect there will be a rent increase or decrease when investors buy established homes and, yes, well over 90% of mortgage loans to investors are to buy established homes.
Thus negative gearing does not result in an increase in rent. This is confirmed historically (for the period 1985 to 1987) as the removal of negative gearing resulted in a reduction in rent (on average) for our 6 State capital cities.
It is often said that negative gearing helps to prop up the building industry. Surely, if investors buy new house and land packages and let these to tenants this results in an increase in housing stock?
That is true but here’s the rub. Only 1 in 15 investor mortgage loans is taken out to buy a new home. So negative gearing, if it helps to increase housing stock, does only do so marginally.
What is happening in Greece?
Now for something completely different & nothing to do with real estate. In a capitalist world an economic crisis such as is happening in Greece impacts on everyone. In normal times the structure of our capitalist system enables those at the top to gather the wealth produced by all into just a few hands. However, when a crisis occurs, this same system shifts the cost of
the crisis onto those below them.
Crises caused by the system have imposed hardships above all on those at the economic bottom.
In the USA that means millions unemployed, millions foreclosed out of their homes and so on.
In Europe, it means forcing the poorer countries such as Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain to absorb most of the crisis-caused economic pain so that other countries such as Germany, France and the Scandinavian countries can get through the crisis with less suffering.
In Greece this same process is happening and the austerity program hits the poorer parts of Greek society far harder than the upper levels. Most Greek citizens face the double whammy of being in a relatively poor country and not being part of the few capitalists at the top of Greek society (this article is a summary of an article by Prof. Richard D. Wolff rdwolff.com).
Property vs Shares (which is best?)
Over the last 10 years (2005 to 2015) the ASX All Ordinary Share index has increased 42% while the Residential Property Price index for the 8 capital cities (6 States & 2 Territories) has increased 70% for this same period, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Where the 2 asset classes really differ is in 2 respects. One is that the share index is highly volatile while property prices increase fairly consistently with only minor corrections every few years. For example, during the GFC many shares feel 50% while property prices only fell 5% from late 2007 to late 2009.
The second and the major difference is leverage. It isn’t advisable to borrow money to buy shares (unless you know what you are doing and are prepared to take significant risks) while it is the norm to take out a mortgage loan to buy a home.
So using the same % increases from above, an investment in shares of $100,000 in 2005 will have grown by $42,000 (42%) over the 10 years while a deposit of $100,000 on a $500,000 home (with a mortgage loan of
80%) will see that home increase in value to $851,464 in 2015, an increase of $351,464 or 351%. So property has outperformed shares by a very large amount.
Share buffs might say but what about dividend reinvestment? True but while the above figures are illustrative they are fairly typical of what has he past 10 years, and for that matter the previous 10 years as well.
I am not against shares and certain shares such as bank shares provide good dividend returns when compared to low interest rates on bank deposits.
The bottom line is that you probably should have some of each. More Australians own shares than property and that is because employees contribute to super and just about every fund manager invests in shares. So just about every adult Australian owns shares even though they may own these indirectly via their super. My thought is that maybe 75% in property, 20% in shares and 5% in cash provides a balanced investment portfolio?
Demand & Supply (expressed in mathematical terms)
Let’s assume there are 1,000 homes in a radius of 1 km from the city centre and that there is the same density of housing all the way out to a radius of 50 km from the centre of the city. Guess the number of homes in
this larger area (answer is at the end). From the formula for the area of a circle we know that the area is directly
proportional to the square of the radius. Thus if there are 1,000 homes within a radius of 1 km there are 4,000 homes in the area within a radius of 2 km from the centre (1×1=1 and 2×2=4). Then subtracting these two areas there are 3,000 homes in the area (band or circular ring) from 1 km to 2 km out, or 3 times as many homes in this area as the number of homes
within a 1 km radius. Surprised?
Let’s look at some more numbers. The area or band 5 -10 km out has 75,000 homes, 10 – 20 km out has 300,000 homes, 20 – 30 km out has 500,000 homes, 30 – 40 km out has 700,000 homes and 40 – 50 km out has 900,000 homes. So the outer ring from 40 – 50 km out has 900 times as many homes as the area 1 km from the city centre.
Now, many couples for reasons such as being close to jobs, amenities and entertainment would like to live fairly close to the CBD. Let’s say the preferred place to live for many couples is 1 – 5 km from the centre which in this example comes to 24,000 homes. Here comes the intriguing part, there are 2,475,000 homes in the area 5 – 50 km out, or more than 100 times as many homes compared to the homes in this inner 1 – 5 km ring. What has this to do with demand vs supply?
Everything. As there are very few homes in the inner city fringe where many couples want to live, compared to the number of homes further out, the demand for living closer to the city will outstrip the supply by a very large multiple. Then the only way to balance demand vs supply is for homes closer to the city to be much more expensive than those further out.
(You guessed right. The number of homes within a radius of 50 km from the city is 2,500,000).
Forthcoming Property Bubble (or not?)
Prices have increased by around 30% in Sydney and around 20% in Melbourne over the past 2 years.
A number of commentators are now saying that we are in the middle of a property bubble. Don’t believe them. Yes, property can go up and property can go down and property moves in cycles. Even if property falls by 10%
in the next year (and I’m betting it won’t) that’s merely a correction. Corrections can be healthy although it hurts if you’ve just bought your first property. Corrections can put a temporary brake on a market that’s moving too strongly, too fast.
Some of the pundits who talk about an imminent property bubble base this on past housing bubbles in the USA and UK. However, the Australian property market has never shown any correlation to any overseas property
markets so it makes no sense trying to compare these (unlike the Australian share market which has strong correlations to selected overseas share markets such as the USA Dow Jones). When asked for my opinion on property prices over the next 12 months I like to say “I am not too sure but if you ask me about property prices over the next 10 years I’m quite
confident that prices will increase in a range of 70% – 100% (that’s for properties in or close to the 5 mainland capital cities).
This confidence is based on a number of factors:-
- Councils rarely, if ever, release land at prices below previous releases so the price of land is likely to keep going up.
- Building costs rarely come down. The cost of energy is a major component in the cost of building (eg kiln fired bricks) and energy prices are likely to increase, as is the cost of labour. Ever increasing regulations covering energy ratings, water storage etc also add to the cost of building. Thus the price of house and land packages will keep on increasing. This has a flow on effect resulting in an increase in the price of established properties.
- Next, there are only a limited number of properties close to the CBD’s where most of the jobs are. So here is the choice facing many couple “do we buy reasonably close to the CBD at cost $X or further out where cost is half of $X?” followed by “even half of $X will be tough on us and travel time to/from work will be 3 hours per day if we decide to live further out but do we really have a choice?”. So with these choices it’s easy to see why some couples will bust a gut to acquire properties reasonably close to the city centres which is a further reason for seeing prices go up.
Because of the above I see no reason why prices will be lower 5 years from now. My personal forecast includes the possibility of a small correction in one year with moderate price increases over this period as a whole, resulting in an overall gain of a minimum of 25% for the whole of the period from 2015 to 2020.
Just about every day heated comments appear in our newspapers or on TV about affordable housing. The whole topic is a bit of a furphy. There is no shortage of affordable housing. Just put bedrooms at a minimum of 3 and rice at a maximum $200,000 and location as QLD, VIC, NSW etc in realestate.com.au and you’ll get more than 100 results of homes for sale (some quite attractive) at less than $200,000 in every one of our 6 States. The main problem of course is that the homes which are for sale are in regional towns where people, in general, do not want to live. Secondly, that’s not where the jobs are.
For those wanting to buy a home to live in but who cannot afford to buy in their preferred location at this point in time why not buy an investment property as your first property? There are always a lot of ifs and buts but it is invariably a good idea to create a plan and take action. Why not be creative? Buy an old property and renovate to create additional equity or buy a property and sublet some of the bedrooms to help pay for the mortgage.
If you can’t buy now where you want to live, do it progressively and buy a property a bit further out. But stay in areas on the fringes of the mainland capital cities. Some 60% of us live in 5 capital cities so that’s where the main demand will be. Some 50% of planning certificates in the greater metropolitan areas are for infill developments in established suburbs and the other 50% of certificates are issued in fringe areas. (Hint: use the Boomtown app to check demand in outer suburb locations).
Generally speaking, negatives outweigh the positives when buying off-theplan properties as a first investment (mainly as price gains in the first 3 years can be on the small side). But then it can be a good way to start in property as out of pocket costs can be less than $100 per week and if selected in a growth corridor you can be on your way as a first step to property wealth (complete the Contact form to be referred to an off-theplan specialist).
Should I apply for variable interest or apply for fixed interest loan of 3 to 5 years?
The general view is that if interest rates are below 6% per annum then it makes sense to fix the interest because at that rate you should be able to hold on to the property for a long period. If you have a mortgage of $500,000 it can be a good idea to fix half with the balance on a variable rate. Interest rates are historically low and pundits are saying that rates are unlikely to rise for the rest of 2015 so a wait and see approach may not be such a bad idea.
Should I upgrade my property before I sell?
Some vendors paint their home or install new appliances before they sell. It is best to carry out cosmetic improvements and avoid expensive upgrades as many buyers want to add their own touches to a property and may not like the colours you have chosen or the new appliances you have installed. Just as a note keep all colours neutral and avoid feature walls in strong colours.
Should I auction or sell privately?
This should be decided by the suburb and the type of property you have. If you have a well presented property in a good suburb and there is likely to be considerable demand for such properties then it is a good idea to go to auction. If your property is in an outlying suburb where there are few auctions then private sale may be the best option.
Should I buy positive or negatively geared property?
The end game is that you own a number of properties where the combined asset value less the mortgage on these is such that you can retire on this sum when you sell the properties in retirement. Alternatively the positive incomes generated from the properties provide the income you need to live on. It is quite difficult to find positively geared property within a reasonable distance from the centre of the main capital cities and most investment properties will be negatively geared in the short to medium term. For some it could be seen as a means of forced savings until cash flow becomes positive. At the same time if the negative cash flow is affordable but there has been strong capital growth you are well ahead.
What are the disadvantages of negatively geared property?
The main disadvantage is that after you collect your rent and pay for outgoings and interest on your mortgage that there is a loss which you have to fund out of your income. Thus there is a limit to the number of properties that you can buy, typically 3 or 4 at the most before it becomes too much of a financial burden on you.
What are the advantages of buying positively geared property?
The advantage is that after you collect the rent and then pay for outgoings such as maintenance and rates as well as the interest on the mortgage that you have money in your pocket. Thus there is no limit to the number of positively geared properties that you can buy as each contributes to your income.
Should our home be treated as an asset?
There are a number of commentators who say that you should not include your home as an asset. We disagree. For most Australians their home is their main asset. A home, just like an investment property, can generally be realised i.e. converted to cash in a period of 3 to 4 months which implies that it is an asset. Where you go after you have sold your home is another question but not relevant in this context. Buying an investment property is all about the numbers and do the numbers work for you? Buying a home to live in is really about life style and if you pay a bit too much or buy something that’s a bit different then that’s fine. There is no reason why the two cannot coincide i.e. buy a property that you love to live in which can also be a good investment.
Should I buy flats or houses?
Houses with a twist are the best properties to buy because they offer more opportunities for capital growth. On a $ for $ basis apartments tend to show slightly higher yields (return on $ invested) and they are easier to maintain. Apartments are often a good way for making an entree into the property market for the first time investor. But try and buy in an established suburb.
Where to buy?
Some 60% of us live in just five mainland capital cities i.e. Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide. The first four cities have shown consistent growth over many decades. There is nothing wrong with regional cities or regional towns but capital growth is much less reliable. Capital cities tend to show consistently high growth while regional towns and cities tends to grow in spurts and then stagnate. There are always exceptions but it is best to keep to the tried and true paths of achieving consistent capital growth over the medium to long term. Another reason to consider that the average “time on market” (ie time taken to sell a property) will tend to be much lower in capital cities than in regional towns (hint: realestate.com.au shows time on market by postcode).
What to buy?
There are two parts to this answer. It is best to buy an average house, In an average street, in an average suburb because that is where the biggest demand will be. Price is determined by the level of demand versus supply. The greatest level of demand is for properties which are typical (and thus the average) for a particular suburb or town. Secondly, it is always a good idea to try and buy a property with a bit of a twist or potential for upgrade such as an old property needing renovation, a property on a site where it is possible to build two or more townhouses, a possibility of future rezoning or a property on a corner where it is generally easier to demolish an old home and build two or more townhouses with access to both streets.
Is underquoting unfair to buyers?
Let’s say a property is being offered for sale at $800,000 and later sells for $1 million. Is it unfair to the vendor? No, they are pleased. Is it unfair to the buyer who paid $1 million? No, they are happy they bought the property. So who is being treated unfairly? Agents have to act in the best interests of vendors. Agents know that a low price will bring in more people at inspections and selling a property has a lot to do with creating buyer interest and competition. So the only people who might have been upset are those with a budget of $800,000. Maybe so but if the property is going to be purchased by one family does it matter which family buys it? There is going to be one happy family and one or more unhappy families, no matter which family buys it. So is underquoting all that unfair?
Are investors being discriminated against?
As from July 2015 AMP has stopped lending to investors for new loans. And on top of that AMP has increased the variable rate for investor loans by 0.46% with several other banks increased the rate on investor loans by 0.27%. The reason is supposedly stricter capital requirements as well as stricter APRA conditions.
Should immigrants be encouraged to move to regional areas?
Many small country towns are struggling economically because many young people move to the cities when they come of age. At the same time there is a shortage of housing in the cities, forcing prices up and putting a strain on services such as health and transport.
Does it not make sense for migrants and in particular those who are provided assistance to arrive here to be encouraged to move to regional areas?
There are literally hundreds of links to websites which deal with property and related matters. Many are excellent.
The following link and app is considered a must for anyone considering investing in property. Go to hotspotcentral and download the Boomtown property research app which assists investors by providing locations at the beginning of an upswing as well as locations which are “hot” (where demand exceeds supply) and those which are “not” where the potential for capital growth is limited (where supply is well in excess of demand).
First impressions are everything and your goal should be for your property to outshine the competition. This list is a guide only and will help ensure your property looks at its best for the photography shoot.
Move vehicles from the driveway, and put away any bikes, children’s toys, etc. Clean up any rubbish (paper, bags etc) and hide any bins. Mow any overgrown lawn and any obvious weeds. Sweep up leaves and grass cuttings. If possible trim back any overgrown bushes/trees that may be blocking the full view of the property.
Clear all the benches of any clutter. Small appliances make the bench space disappear. We recommended that you remove the toaster, coffee pot, knife block, can opener, hand mixers etc. Conceal any electrical cords that are visible, or remove the appliances altogether. Clear the refrigerator of any fridge magnets, photos etc. Clean all kitchen appliances such as range hoods, stove tops, ovens. Conceal any rubbish bins.
Dining Rooms and Meal Areas
It is a good idea to set any tables with a centrepiece such as a candle or flowers. Ensure the area is free from any clutter, and once again please hide any electrical cords.
Shower/bath items should be placed under the sink. Clear counters, and please lower toilet lids.
Open all window blinds and drapes to reveal the view. Replace any faulty light globes. Turn inside lights on. Turn fans off. Turn televisions off. Make all the beds, and hide any clothes in the wardrobes. Hide any electrical cables from items such as clock radios. Conceal any rubbish bins. Remove pet food bowls and toys. Put away jewellery and valuables. Use a professional photographer and copywriter.
Top 10 Recommendations when Selling Your Home
- Declutter your home, make it look spacious. Think about putting extra sofas, beds, tables, bookcases etc in storage for a couple of months. Surfaces in the kitchen and ledges/vanities in the bathrooms should be clear of clutter.
- First impressions are important. Ensure the garden does not look untidy. Cut the lawn, clean the windows and gutters. Anything that improves the appearance and first impression of the home is important.
- Do not change anything without consulting the Vendor Advocate Agent. Ask the Agent about their opinion on what cosmetic changes they would recommend when the property is offered for sale. Money spent in the wrong areas may be difficult to recover. For example, spending an extra $25,000 on renovating a bathroom may not get you $25,000 more. Remember that certain changes eg resurfacing the bath can cost well under $1,000. One percent of the price is often a good guide eg do not spend more that $5,000 on making cosmetic changes to a $500,000 property or $10,000 on a $1 million property, unless the property has an obvious fault eg badly worn carpet, broken tiles, rusted gutters, leaking roof. Purchasers often look at a property with a view to making certain changes (to make it their own). Do not anticipate their needs as each prospective purchaser is likely to have different ideas. Ask the Agent for advice on simple, inexpensive changes which improve the overall feel of the property. Often this can be a simple coat of paint (neutral colours are best) in one or two areas can work wonders. Try to minimise personal photos so people inspecting the home concentrate on the property, not the family living in it.
- Make the house smell fresh. Get rid of unpleasant smells eg from cats or dogs. Have some soft music playing in the background to set the mood; make the front entrance inviting. Have flowers on show at inspection times. Coffee brewing on the stove can provide a pleasant aroma and get rid of unpleasant smells.
- Be guided by the Agent in setting the price range and method of sale.
- Ask the Agent to provide comparable sales data for your suburb to support their estimate.
- Do not be present at at inspections – go for a drive or to a café nearby
- Make sure that your Section 32 documents have been prepared by your Solicitor/Conveyancer before the property is offered for sale, as offers to purchase a property cannot be submitted without a copy of the Section 32 included.
- The two main reasons why homes may not sell are 1. poor marketing campaign, or 2. price too high. So if there has been a good response to the advertising campaign you may have to reconsider your selling price. Don’t forget that most of the interest is created in the 1 to 4 weeks from the start of a selling campaign and interest will wane from then. Spending too little on advertising is not a good idea while spending too much is wasteful. More than 75% of sales interest is generated via the internet, so it essential to have good quality photos on the internet that will generate interest (refer Tips below).
- Lock away valuables. Put the best linen on the beds and fresh towels in the bathroom, and again “Ask the Agent for advice at every stage”
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