Luxury Real Estate for Sale Around the World

At the forefront of luxury real estate marketing, the proud the recipients of two awards from the esteemed Who’s Who in Luxury Real Estate The World’s Most Outstanding Luxury Agency Under 2 Years Old (Outstanding Rookie 2008) and Best Luxury Real Estate Brand (2009), Marquette Turner Luxury Homes is the home for your property search including luxury homes, resorts, developments, apartments, condos, villas, mansions, penthouses and islands throughout the world.

We focus on assisting high-net-worth individuals to achieve the most appropriate exposure in marketing their luxury properties via the luxury lifestyle magazine-style website and in assisting aspirational investors find their ideal property.

We have forged partnerships with developers, real estate agents and vendors throughout the world and are proud to present to you an exceptional showcase luxury homes for sale or rent throughout the world.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

How Much Money Do Real Estate Agents Really Earn?

We have all seen real estate agents driving luxury cars of all types. Some agency car parks are like the “magic mile” of German sports cars so the question is how much do agents really earn? Is real estate the easy way to earn your first million dollars?

People generally don’t come straight out and ask what I earn, however there are always comments like “You must be doing well for yourself”. The instant perception is that a tailored suit, polished shoes and a BMW equal success. This is probably the conclusion I would draw if I were to see a person randomly in the street and this has definitely been the conclusion drawn by the public when it comes to real estate agents.

The reality is that around 80% of first year real estate agents fail. That means that around 4 out of every 5 new agents drop out of the industry in their first 12 months on the job. An entry level sales agent can expect to earn less than $40,000 in their first year and it is this constant financial battle which proves catastrophic to most people. The average salary in NSW for a residential sales agent is $63,133, with commercial sales agents averaging $96,782. Of course some agents earn well in excess of $1 million dollars but they are a very rare find. Enormous amounts of hard work, dedication and perseverance are needed to perform at the very top level.
Most real estate agents earn between 30-60% commission depending on their sales volume, so when you see agents driving luxury cars ask yourself how much work is required to really make it to the top and stay there? If you believe you can or if you believe you can’t then you are right!

Michael Marquette

Best Countries To Retire To

Recent research compared the top ten locations for pensioners to retire abroad. The results saw Cyprus and Panama coming tops based on tax, ease of residency, healthcare and average property costs.

It is fact that Australia is seeing large numbers of it's people leaving the country to live overseas. Years of being in the Australian housing market has left many retirees with large amounts of equity in their homes and a desire for better things.

The report shows the vast differences in taxation, inheritance laws and the availability of healthcare. How many of us know that France for example has income tax rate of up to 40% plus.

Cyprus tops the list of destinations because it has an income-tax rate of just 5% on pensions for retired residents, as well as low property prices and no inheritance tax. It also scores highly on related issues such as ease of gaining residency, low property buying and selling costs and benefits for pensioners. Not only does Cyprus offer a warm, sunny climate, it also benefits from favourable taxation and healthcare policies.

Panama, now infamously the chosen destination of “back from the dead” British canoeist John Darwin and his wife Anne, comes a close second. This is largely thanks to its pensionado scheme, which offers attractive discounts for pensioners.

Simon Turner

World's Top 3 Most Expensive Cities for Real Estate

London, New York and Moscow are now the world’s most expensive cities for residential apartment buyers, according a survey by the Global Property Guide (, an international property research firm.

Residential apartments in Prime Central London are among the priciest in the world, at US$21,800 to US$36,200 (£10,960 - £18,214 or €16,305 - €27,095) per square metre (sq. m.). Prime Central London includes Belgravia, Chelsea, Mayfair, Notting Hill, Knightsbridge, Regent's Park, South Kensington, St. John's Wood, and St. James.

Prices in other luxurious areas in London such as Wimbledon, Hampstead, Richmond, and Wandsworth range from US$14,142 to US$19,361 (£8,675 - £9,719 or €10,560 - €14,458) per sq. m., also among the highest in the world.

New York comes in second place with property prices in Upper Manhattan ranging between US$13,270 and US$22,923 per sq. m. Apartment prices in Lower Manhattan are around US$12,510 – US$20,456 per sq. m

Moscow comes in third place with central Moscow apartment prices ranging from US$10,764 to US$20,506 per sq. m

Other cities in Europe that are among the top ten most expensive cities for apartment buyers are Paris, Barcelona, and Geneva. Condominium prices in Paris are around US$12,930 to US$18,070 per sq. m.

In Spain, prices of flats in Barcelona are between US$9,160 and US$9,870 per sq. m. Prices of apartments in Madrid are lower than Barcelona, at US$6,535 – US$ 8,000 per sq. m

In Switzerland, prices of flats in Geneva are around US$6,870 - US$10,400 per sq. m. Prices in Geneva are higher compared to Zurich, US$5,900 – US$9,830 per sq. m

Of the three German cities included in the study, Munich is the most expensive with prices of flats at US$3,485 – US$3,700 per sq. m.; followed by Frankfurt at US$2,360 – US$3,300 per sq. m. Property prices in Berlin are still relatively subdued at US$1,840 – US$2,600 per sq. m.

Residential apartments in Istanbul, Turkey are among the cheapest in Europe, at around US$1,850 to US$2,500 per sq. m.

Most Expensive Asia-Pacific Cities
Among the top ten most expensive cities, four are in Asia: Hong Kong, Tokyo, Singapore, and Mumbai.

Residential apartment prices in Hong Kong range from US$10,490 to 14,780 per sq. m., in Tokyo from US$7,600 to US$11,870 per sq. m., and in Singapore from US$11,500 to US$13,340 per sq. m.

Mumbai is a notable exception among the ten most expensive cities; it is located in a poor country, albeit rapidly growing. A mix of high population density, archaic land laws, rapid urbanization and strong economic growth contributes to the surprisingly expensive property prices in Mumbai.

Property prices in Mumbai are around US$8,600 to US$10,300 per sq. m. This is significantly higher than New Delhi (prices at US$1,970 – US$3,260 per sq. m.) or Bangalore. Despite equally rapid economic expansion, property prices in Bangalore are still among the cheapest in the world at US$950 – US$1,900 per sq. m..

Compared to Mumbai, Chinese cities are significantly cheaper. Prices of flats in Shanghai are around US$2,870 to US$3,540 per sq. m. while those in Beijing are priced at US$2,100 to US$2,330 per sq. m.

Properties in Australia are near the top of the scale, with apartment prices in Sydney at around US$6,290 to US$9,690 per sq. m. New Zealand is significantly cheaper than Australia, with apartment prices in Wellington at only US$4,360 – US$4,500 per sq. m.

Do you feel better for now knowing what an expensive city Sydney is!

Simon Turner

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Is Property A Safe Haven Whilst The Stock Market Is Stormy?

As the stock market slumps into what is now technically a bear market, investor attention turns towards safe havens, particularly Australian residential property.

Historically, as sharemarkets fall, investors head towards bricks and mortar. This time around though, as stocks are falling, the latest property data indicates a further tightening of already chronically low rental stocks with the prospect of increases of between $50 and $100 a week in rents. If the projections are accurate, rental yields will continue to rise, particularly in outer suburbs.

Before you rush for the real estate sales guides, take a steady, deep breath and read on.

Monique Wakelin writes in the Eureka Report that the cardinal sin is to assume that all property is going to provide a short-term, safe haven of income and growth, and to buy quickly and indiscriminately!

The good news for investors is that record low rental vacancy rates and a growing housing shortage have pushed median rents up consistently throughout 2007 with the promise of more to come this year. Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that in the year to September 2007, average dwelling rents showed their highest growth rate in 17 years. Separately, property group Residex’s measure of the growth in advertised annual rents shows a jump of 18% to 35%, depending on location, over the past 12 months.

Average weekly rent rose by $35, and Residex claims we could see increases of up to $100 a week this year. Further, ANZ's annual property outlook indicates that the long lead times on lease renewals (which prevent investors from raising rents) mean we won’t see true market values emerging until later this year, but we can expect upward movements when lease renewals start to bring the rental increases into the data stream.

Moreover, the latest report from property research agency RP Data says that rents in the outer suburbs have surged ahead of increases in capital values, whereas the opposite is the case for inner urban and coastal locations.

It is true that accurate market rates of rent require relatively long lead times to emerge. Investors can’t raise rents on existing tenancies until leases expire. What's more, there’s nothing uniform about when that occurs. Put simply, no two properties are ever created equal and rental properties are no different.

The tenant market, like the home buyer market, has only so much capacity to pay. Like the general housing market the tenant market has become multi-layered and multi-faceted and is being driven primarily by affordability issues. For instance, rent movements in the most sought-after inner-urban end of the rental market are less volatile because of perpetual demand. Already relatively high rents for the most sought-after properties tend to rise – over the longer term – in a slow and steady fashion, underpinned by higher demand for locations offering a particular lifestyle.

Even though it is owner-occupiers that drive price growth, the additional demand from tenants helps maintain values. Investors in these prime zones are focused (as they should be) on capital growth first and foremost and rental yields second.

Property investors need to understand where their “consumers” (tenants) come from. About 30% of the Australian population rents, both out of economic necessity and choice, in the short-to-medium term and most do not expect luxurious accommodation. Break this down and we find that outside of the largely lifestyle-driven inner urban areas, the rental “consumer” is in pursuit of comfortable, affordable accommodation. This core pool of renters includes first-home buyers excluded from the market for longer in the face of low housing affordability.

In the real world, irrespective of the data, to suggest that an average rental property that currently returns $320 a week is going to remain in hot demand if it is bumped up to closer to $370 or $420 a week in six months is to misunderstand the realities of market capacity.

The informed investor must instead strike a sensible balance between arriving at a reasonable and sustainable income level that will bridge the gap with loan repayments for an asset and avoid raising rents to a level that would effectively price them out of the market. Investors must look beyond the hype and the generalised data and assess their own assets very specifically.

When a lease is up for review, ask the managing agent what that particular property, in that specific location, with that tenant pool would realistically rent for if it was vacant and being offered to the market for the first time. It is critically important to weigh up the advantages of reliable, steady income from good tenants and moderate rental reviews against dramatic rent increases that lead to high tenant turnover, greatly increased wear and tear and potentially long and costly vacancy periods.

And, let’s not forget the bigger picture; greedy investors who adopt the “let’s raise the rent as far as we can, as quickly as we can” will add further to upward inflationary pressures. That can only bite them where it hurts the most – by way of increased interest rates.

How Dumb Are Most Real Estate Agents?!

This question has been asked many times. Real estate constantly polls as one of the most untrustworthy professions in the country. Have you ever heard the phrase “trust me I’m a real estate agent?” While this all sounds a little cliché the reality is that the general public has very little trust for real estate agents.

They tend to drive flashy cars, wear suits (some cheap, some not) and are always just a little bit late for every appointment to the frustration of buyers, tenants, vendors and landlords. So does this perception that real estate agents are untrustworthy, incompetent and overpaid really have merit?

The last comprehensive survey of the public put Doctors, Solicitors, Dentists, Pharmacists, School Teachers and even Accountants all well ahead of Real Estate Agents – the big question is why is this consistently the case? I believe the answer lies in the entry requirements to the profession which only require a 3 day course to become a certified agent. Could you imagine a 3 day crass course in Medicine and you could then operate on unsuspecting patients?

There would be enormous public outrage and the course would be banned in a flash. So why has Real Estate been allowed to offer such crash courses to the profession which bring completely unsuitable people into the industry with absolutely no idea what they are doing? The answer lies with the pressure groups that our Government actually listen to like the Real Estate Institute – they make a small fortune from memberships and training. They have self interest at heart when directing policy and have been allowed to influence decisions for far too long.

There are no base requirements to be a real estate agent. Your English can be disgraceful, as can your people skills. You don’t need to have completed high school and there are no checks in place to see if you even attended school. At Marquette Turner we believe that there is only one way to change the perception of the industry and that is through formal education. My fellow Directors are all studying a Masters degree or a Doctorate and we believe that will change the real estate landscape over the next 20 years. So next time you are deciding which agent is best to sell your home it might be worth asking them what formal qualifications they have. Ask them what formal negotiation and marketing training they have completed – after all you are entrusting your greatest asset to them and you have a right to know that you have chosen the best person for the job.

We have posted two parts of the five part expose of the “Real Estate Cartel in Australia”. This is a must read and the third part will be published in next week’s E Mag. You can catch up on the previous exposes by clicking on the links below.

EXPOSED: The Real Estate Cartels, Part 1 & Part 2

Michael Marquette

A Little Inflation Is Like Being a Little Bit Pregnant

HAVING a little bit of inflation is like being a little bit pregnant. Is that old adage worth bearing in mind as consumer prices across the globe accelerate? Marquette Turner takes a look at what's going on.

According to an index produced by Goldman Sachs, global inflation was 4.8% in the year to November, two percentage points up from the previous year. Prices accelerated in 80% of the countries that Goldman tracks.

By historical standards, this is all small fry. An inflation rate of 5% hardly marks a return to the double-digit price increases that haunted rich countries in the 1970s and emerging economies for far longer. (For much of the 1990s, the average inflation rate in poor countries was 50%.)

Nonetheless, the upswing is broad enough to pose awkward questions. With ever more signals, from weak retail sales to rising joblessness, pointing to an American recession, is the world headed for a bout of stagflation-lite? And will stubborn price pressures constrain the marked easing of monetary policy that America's central bankers now promise?

As The Economist reports, the answers depend on what has been driving inflation up and whether those pressures persist even as economies slow. Ultimately, inflation is a monetary phenomenon, so responsibility lies with central bankers.

Pessimists point out that monetary conditions have been loose in recent years, with real interest rates low and credit growth rapid, particularly in emerging economies.

Others worry that the task of central bankers has become harder as globalisation has shifted from being a disinflationary phenomenon to an inflationary one. The downward price pressure from cheap Chinese goods may be abating while the developing world's rampant demand for resources may continually drive commodity prices higher.

There is some truth to these arguments, but none offers a complete explanation of recent price trends. In some emerging economies monetary laxness is clearly fuelling inflation—in the Gulf states, for instance, as the direct consequence of their dollar pegs.

But elsewhere the picture is less clear. Take China, where fears of social unrest have made inflation one of the government's top concerns and have led it to impose various price controls over the past week. The accumulation of vast foreign-exchange reserves has fuelled domestic money growth and the inflation rate has tripled in the past year. But that rise is almost entirely due to a jump in food prices, particularly of pork. Core inflation (excluding food, but including oil) is running at only 1.4%. Pig disease deserves more blame for China's recent inflation than loose policy. What's more, China's monetary conditions are tightening fast.

More important, China's productivity is growing faster, by 20% a year, according to America's Conference Board, a research organisation. That means overall unit costs are still falling.
It is true that the prices of imports from China are rising after several years of decline. But that has more to do with the weakness of the dollar than with increasing Chinese production costs. And even if the prices of Chinese goods rise, they could still dampen inflation in richer economies, because they are much cheaper than domestically produced equivalents and are gaining market share. As China produces higher value items, it will push down prices of domestically produced goods in ever more industries.

A more direct link between developing countries such as China and inflationary pressure comes through commodity prices. The prices of many raw materials have surged in the past 12 months. The food index is up by almost 50%. The price of oil has risen almost 80%. These jumps are the main cause of higher inflation across the globe. They are also related, at least in part, to structural changes in the global economy.

The world economy is increasingly powered by countries, such as China and India, whose growth is far more energy- and commodity-intensive than that of rich countries. Since 2001, China has accounted for about half of the increase in the world's demand for metals and almost two-fifths of the increase in oil demand.

This shift means that the usual relationship between America's business cycle and commodity prices may change. Past American recessions have sent the prices of oil and other resources down. That may no longer be so. Economists at HSBC say that the correlations between industrial output and commodity prices began to fall apart a few years ago.

But that does not mean commodity prices will continue to surge. Emerging economies may be more resilient to an American recession than hitherto, but they are unlikely to grow faster. At the margin, therefore, the demand for commodities will slow. And in the longer term, higher commodity prices will eventually lead to greater supply. Much of the surge in raw-material prices in recent years reflects the fact that few foresaw the pace of emerging-market growth. All of which suggests that, even if commodity prices don't fall, their rate of increase will ease, and the biggest driver of recent global price pressure will weaken.

Given the American backdrop, the Fed's recent decision to step up the pace of interest-rate cuts is understandable. The weak economy poses a bigger danger than inflation. But there are risks. Even if commodity-price inflation wanes, the falling dollar means America faces other inflationary threats. And if overall price pressure remains stubbornly elevated, inflation expectations may yet rise. If that happens, the Fed will face the unenviable task of curtailing its easing or even raising rates while the economy is weak.

Simon Turner

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Global Correction: What's Going On?

Global markets have taken a battering over the last week, and Australia certainly has not been immune. We are increasingly appreciating that the air of immunity that has hung over us for over a decade has been somewhat intoxicating.

Australian shares are now down more than 14 % from their recent peak in November. Another way to put this is that average share prices have given up most of 2007's stellar gains and have fallen to last quarter of 2006 prices. The shareprice of Qantas has notably been one of the casualties, with the few that have benefitted being food producers, such as AWB.

Already the tough-nut, hardened experts are shrugging off the "correction", noting that when shares fall 20 % in a day, that's a crash.

Nevertheless, Australian shares have fallen slightly more than US shares, despite the fact that the Australian economy seems to be in far better shape. Unemployment in the US is rising, and new home approvals is at the lowest level in 27 years.

Both Australia and the US are indeed suffering inflation, led by rising food and energy costs. Growth indicators are far stronger in Australia, but unsustainably so (for example, retail sales and job vacancies growth of the order of 7 % annually). Australian banks and other financial institutions seem in far better shape than similar institutions in the USA and indeed are somewhat less dependant on the US market than some would have us believe.

There are, however, warning signs. Those most clear are the sheer expanse of Australia's credit boom; our heavy reliance on our resources propping up other sectors; and as many of you are experiencing, rising interest rates and inflation are certainly burdens that we are having to take on the chin.

As Henry Thornton adeptly explains, "Equity markets are said to be driven by waves of fear and greed. While fear produces crash and greed causes bubble, markets in more normal times are also the best economic prediction machines we have."

Just possibly, Australia's greater correction so far may be signalling that the Australian economy has more slowing to do from this point than the US economy. Compared to the USA, growth has to slow in most places, even in China and India.

This does not mean either the US or Australian economy, or the Chinese economy need suffer a recession. Growth has to slow in all three countries, and in many others, because recent growth is unsustainable.

The message of the markets is that this slowing is underway. If we are lucky, adjustment will be mild and will be achieved with minimal damage in terms of lost jobs, bankrupt businesses and social and political unrest.

Despite the financial market trembles, the Reserve Bank should help Australia achieve a soft landing with at least one more rate hike next month. The Rudd government needs to tighten spending substantially - having "found" a surprise saving of $3billion from "underspending" in health care, education and infrastructure from the Howard Government, Rudd has been helped in it's quest for finding savings of $10billion.

The much discussed drop in consumer confidence should be welcomed as a sign that Australian households are rational, and some spending restraint is highly rational now - better late than never.

Simon Turner

The Global House Price Growth Decline: Except Australia!

House price growth across the world has slowed down slightly over the last year, and property values on a global scale rose by 8.2 per cent during the third quarter of 2007.

This is down from a 9.7 per cent increase recorded 12 months earlier.

However, Australia still managed to record a strong rate of growth during this period. During the year to September 2007, the nation's average property values rose from 9.5 per cent to 10.3 per cent.

Price growth has been driven by gains in Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide, where in each case, inflation over the year to quarter three of 2007 has been over 16 per cent.

Simon Turner

Sydney's Losing...It's People!

Sydney is bleeding 22,000 citizens a year to all parts of Australia, and for the first time the people deficit covers all key groups, from students and young singles to families and retirees.

The nation's biggest city is the only capital to lose more people aged 15-34 than it gained from interstate migration between 2001 and last year, and is the only capital apart from Adelaide to go backwards for both professional and blue-collar workers.

But for every Sydneysider who is forced out by the cost of living, another two are replacing them from the overseas migration program.

New official data analysed by The Australian reveals a dramatic realignment in the nation's make-up as young and old alike criss-cross the continent from Perth to Melbourne and from Sydney to the "rest of" Queensland - everywhere outside the capital city.

Hobart is the surprise packet, rising to third place behind Brisbane and Perth as the most popular city destination for interstate migrants, while the rest of Tasmania has leapt to second behind the rest of Queensland on the regional growth ladder.

The rest of Victoria and the rest of NSW are also in the black - breaking the past pattern in which they gave up more people to Queensland than they received in seachange and treechange retirees from Melbourne and Sydney.

The bigger picture shows that the rest of Queensland has replaced the state's capital as the nation's top people magnet, gaining 14,000 people a year compared with Brisbane's 10,000 a year.

The customised tables were extracted from the 2006 census, and track interstate migration over the past five years by age and qualification.

Responding to The Australian's analysis, demographic experts said the cause of the drift away from Sydney could be explained in part by its high property prices but also by its slowing economy.

The director of Monash University's Centre for Population and Urban Research, Bob Birrell, said Sydney's population decline mirrored the decline of its economy relative to the rest of Australia.
"We're seeing a big change in Sydney's relative attraction since 2001 or, really, since the Olympics. Sydney's demographic fortunes have changed sharply," he said.

"It's a chicken-and-egg thing, but the actual fact is that job growth in Sydney has slowed relative to Brisbane and Melbourne since 2001."

Demographer Bernard Salt said Sydney had become a divided city, between those who lived the "globalised" lifestyle, close to the CBD, and those who lived in the outer suburbs and rarely saw the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

"We've got floods of people coming in through the front door, into Sydney through Mascot (airport from other countries), but the backdoor's wide open, and Gen Y and down-shifters are streaming out. You don't find that to the same extent in other capital cities," Mr Salt said.

The latest census shows 111,400 more people left Sydney than arrived from elsewhere in Australia between 2001 and last year. This is almost double the rate of defection between 1996 and 2001, when 59,700 people left Sydney in net terms. Every capital, state and territory is officially an importer of Sydneysiders, the data confirms. Four out five Sydney defectors moved to the rest of NSW (46,500), the rest of Queensland (27,800) or Brisbane (18,700).

But Sydney's loss is most acute in the youth belt, which is the group providing the best gauge of a city's health. Almost one in 10 departing Sydneysiders was aged 15-34 - 10,000 out of the total 111,400. Sydney had previously been a net importer of youth, with 14,000 recruits from the rest of the nation between 1996 and 2001. The reversal over the past five years suggests cost of living pressures are pushing out Sydney's young and discouraging others from settling in their place.

The top beneficiaries of Sydney's youth drain were the rest of Queensland (5900), Brisbane (4600) and Melbourne (1800).

Sydney has struggled to meet the infrastructure needs of its population, but growing cities such as Brisbane could face the same pressures.

The other telling deficit for Sydney involves its local workforce. Sydney lost 7200 professionals and 5100 labourers between 2001 and last year.

Sydney also suffered professional worker deficits with Melbourne and Canberra (600 each).
Traditionally, Sydney and Melbourne received more professionals from Brisbane than went the other way. But the tables flipped in the past five years, although Melbourne lost 400 professionals to Brisbane, compared with 1700 who moved north from Sydney.

Simon Turner

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Is 2008 Set To Be A Year To Forget?

Unemployment is now at 6.1% nationally - the second consecutive quarter that this has increased. Should we be blaming the new Rudd Labor Government? Should the knives be at the ready? Will interest rates reach the heights of the early 90’s and what does all this mean for property in 2008?

In the last few Marquette Turner e-magazines I have looked closely at what 2008 will bring for property owners and with only 10 days gone in 2008, we can already see the validity of the predictions I made for 2008 at the end of last year.

As interest rates increase and inflation stays above 3%, fuelled by the pressures of high oil prices it’s inevitable that unemployment will increase. Employers are tending to play a waiting game or are battening down the hatches and getting ready for what comes next. But what will come next?

At the end of 2007 I predicted interest rates to hit somewhere between 9-9.5% and with the Banks increasing rates even before the Reserve Bank announces its decision on official rates this is looking very likely.

Is the Rudd Government to blame? The answer to this is no. The Australian economy is now into its seventeenth year of growth which is remarkable and home owners have been able to cope on the most part (only just in many cases) with recent rate hikes. Interest rates increased 6 times under the former Coalition Government and it was inevitable that further increases would occur in 2008 regardless of which party formed Government. The price of oil filters through every area of the economy with the result being higher prices for consumers. Higher prices result in inflationary pressure which means higher interest rates.

What does this mean for property in 2008? Marquette Turner's first open home for 2008 was run in Neutral Bay last weekend and to our amazement we were inundated with over 30 groups of buyers all eagerly searching for property.
Buyers are still very much in the market, however the attraction to fixed interest rates has increased and I am urging all those that ask to lock in rates as quickly as possible - this is by far the best way to bullet-proof yourself and ensure that you are not feeling undue financial pressure as 2008 rolls on.
Rental demand is extremely strong and rental returns have increased but these gains will quickly be swallowed up by increased interest rates with the result being that many landlords will find the situation too tough, forcing them to sell. 2008 is going to be a year where property prices are steady and those that are willing and able to take advantage of distressed sales will benefit greatly.

The property outlook is mixed – rents will continue to be high, housing affordability is now at its worst point in over 20 years and this is likely to become even worse as interest rates and unemployment continue to increase.
The likelihood of a US recession is high and the sub prime (Lo Doc) mortgage market has caused significant damage in the US and this will likely result in tougher lending criteria for Low Doc products in Australia. The Australian economy has stood firm against the Asian Economic Crisis and we can get through a US recession.
With over 40% of our National exports coming out of mineral rich Western Australia and with demand for our natural resources greater than the rate at which we can supply them we may just sneak through when other countries stumble.
My advice for 2008 is lock in your interest rates and be sensible when spending. Ensure there is plenty of money in the tin for a rainy day and do everything possible to cut excess.

Lock Your Home Loan: Shield Yourself From Further Rises

Home owners should look at locking in the interest rates on their mortgages as the banks get set to raise home loan and business rates.

NAB, the Commonwealth Bank and ANZ have all responded to the tightening global credit market by lifting their variable home loan rate in excess of the Reserve Bank's last raise in December.

Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan has urged Australian banks to take into account the financial pressures that people will face as interest rates get set to rise, although he recognises that the rise in variable mortgage rates is a direct result of the US sub-prime crisis and not directly the fault of the banks.

Marquette Turner believes that there is more hurt to come as the US sub-prime crisis works its way through the financial systems, therefore a shift away from variable home loans is a reflection of uncertainty and caution.

The Outlook for Rental Propery in 2008

Increasing demand and lower vacancy rates will cause many rents to increase during 2008.

With the population growing and rising interest rates putting some investors off the residental market, vacancy rates, (currently running at an average 1.7 per cent) are unlikely to improve.

Increases in median rents can be expected in all states, the Real Estate Institute of Australia says in its 2008 real estate market outlook. The likely rise follow across-the-country increases last year with rents for three-bedroom houses increasing by an average of 12.6 per cent to September 2007.

Darwin is now the most expensive rental location in Australia (the median rent for houses is $440 per week and for other dwellings $340 per week) although Sydney and Canberra renters also pay $340 median weekly rent for two-bedroom other dwellings.

The cheapest rental location is Adelaide at $255 per week for a three-bedroom house and $205 per week for a two-bedroom dwelling.

Some investors are being turned off from the housing market as interest rates have risen and are seeking to take advantage of other investment opportunities which have more favourable taxation treatment.

On the upside, however, with a fluctuating stock market, residential real estate in Australia is looking decidely stable!

Australian Property: Some Positive News

Australia's home-building approvals unexpectedly surged in November by the most in nine months as higher employment, wages and immigration encouraged investment.

The number of approvals to build or renovate houses and apartments rose 8.9 percent from October (when they slipped 3.6 percent), according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

An acceleration in construction increases pressure on the central bank to raise borrowing costs to stem inflation, already above its 3 percent ceiling. This report also suggests investors may be switching into property amid stock market volatility that is seeing Australia's benchmark index falling.

This will ultimately ensure that interest rate rises continue to creep up this year, so long as such trends remain, comments Michael Marquette of Marquette Turner. He continues that "for those investors concerned about the Australian stock market, the residential housing market looks like a good place to be''.

Approvals to build private houses rose 0.3 percent to 9,340 in November, today's report showed. Approvals for apartments and renovations advanced 28.4 percent to 4,882.
Another report today showed Australia's construction industry accelerated in December, boosted by new infrastructure projects and commercial property building.

The construction index rose 6 points to 59.2, according to a report by the Australian Industry Group and Housing Industry Association released in Sydney. A reading above 50 indicates the building industry is expanding.

It is also the view of Marquette Turner that rental vacancy rates, which are averaging 1.7 percent, are unlikely to improve significantly during 2008.

The Most Expensive Street in the Country

Wolseley Road, Point Piper, is the most expensive street in the most expensive suburb in Australia. It's also a who's who of Sydney real estate.

Wolseley Road is the dress circle where the rich and famous sit high on a thin-necked peninsula jutting deep into Sydney Harbour with mega-million-dollar views back to the bridge, the Opera House and the silhouetted CBD skyline.

Established in 1890 and named after British field marshal Garnet Joseph Wolseley, this wide, hooked street is a row of lavish estates, deluxe apartments and theme-park palaces.

Of the 10 highest-priced house sales in 2007, it is the only street with multiple listings, including $25 million handed over in December by stockmarket trader David Trew for a 1921 harbourfront mansion.

24 houses have traded in the past five years on Wolseley Road at an average $12.33 million - including the $21.5 million recruitment queen Julia Ross paid in 2004 for Villa del Mare, still a non-waterfront Sydney record.

It is also a place where construction never stops, with many residents wanting to display “their legacy”, say Michael Marquette, Director of Marquette Turner. Ultimately, “the more it costs and the more people that know how much it costs, the better”.

Take a stroll and and have a look to see who you can recognise (that is if you're tall enough to catch a glimpse beyond the high security walls and fences!).

Simon Turner

Thursday, January 3, 2008

How to Build a Property Portfolio

If your long term strategy is to build a portfolio of investment property then it is important to have a long term finance strategy to match.

Investors frequently hit a brick wall with their lending and can't move forward to the next property. It is often their current loan structure that is holding them back. Incorrect structuring usually results from short-term planning with a focus on completing the immediate purchase rather than asking "How will we do the next one?"

Understanding lender differences
As you acquire more property you also acquire more debt. In most cases lenders will be looking for evidence that you have the capacity to meet this increased commitment. Where you are acquiring high growth property that may be cashflow negative in the early stages this becomes more challenging. Each additional property will effectively eat into your income reducing the loan capacity.

Each lender has their own method of assessing serviceability. This means the amount you can qualify for can vary significantly from lender to lender. Even between the major banks there can be significant variations.

eg. across a panel of over 30 lenders, a couple earning $75,000 per annum could potentially borrow anywhere from $308,879 to $522,124, based on the same information. Therefore you can actually rank your potential capacity across these lenders from lowest to highest.

In building a portfolio you would start by using the lower rank lenders first. As you reach capacity with these lenders you then place your next purchase through the next lowest lender where you can qualify. And so on moving up through the rankings.

Avoiding cross-securitization
Cross-securitization is where more than one property is used to secure a loan. If you have a property with a lender and buy another property, in most cases that lender will secure the new loan against both properties.

This can present a number of complications going forward:
1) By linking all your properties together you have probably limited your loan options to that lender. As highlighted above if this lender has a more restrictive servicing test then your future investment plans may be slowed

2) The lender will generally assess any future borrowing plans on the aggregate value of the properties. Let's say one of the properties experienced strong price growth but the other property was located in an area that was experiencing a down turn in value. The loss on one would cut into the gain on the other, reducing the amount of additional equity that could be released. If the properties were separated then you could take full advantage of the property with the gain to release additional equity and acquire further property.
3) If you want to change things with either property or the loan structure it is likely to involve more costs in terms of additional documentation and valuation fees.

4) Having your properties separated gives you greater flexibility. It means if you need to make changes to your portfolio or your loans going forward you can do so without significant complication. If you find that there is a better option for you with another lender you can move one of your properties without disrupting the rest of your portfolio.

It must be remembered that these are general principals only and will not be practical or apply in all situations. The range of options available to you will depend on your specific situation.

This article is not a substitute for independent professional advice. Marquette Turner does not warrant the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of this information. We disclaim liability to all persons or organisations in relation to any attraction(s) taken on the basis of currency or accuracy of the information or material, or any loss or damage suffered in connection with that information or material provided. You should make your own enquiries before entering into any transaction on the basis of the information or material provided.

Where The Smart Money Will Go in 2008

With so much happening around both Australia and the world – wars, sub-prime financial crisis, changing governments, assassinations and very unforgiving stock market investors, where is the hot money tipped to go?

On the domestic front we have just come through to our 17th year of consecutive growth. We defied the Asian economic crisis and continued building and growing as demand for our natural resources reached record highs. The resilience of the Australian economy will again be tested to some extent if predictions of a recession in the United States come to bear. Decreased US demand will affect Asian manufacturers including China however their domestic demand for Australian resources and products has every chance of shielding our economy and seeing yet another year of continued growth.

So the big question is where will the HOT (or smart) money go in 2008?

Typically we would be asking – shares or property? We have seen some of the property trusts like Centro take major hits on the stock market which is now extremely watchful and cautious.

We’d expect a flow of money into property with any stock market wobble and I am hoping that will occur in 2008. Prior to the Federal election I predicted that interest rates would continue to increase regardless of which party won and with inflation at current levels The Reserve Bank is likely to increase rates further.

The last property cycle came to an end in 2003 and historically property has doubled in price every 7-10 years depending on location, so we can reasonably expect that Sydney prices would have doubled by around 2013 as compared to prices in 2003. With that in mind property yet again looks like being a winner for those fortunate enough to capitalize on the current situation. Mortgage foreclosures in 2008 will create opportunities for investors with rental demand outstripping supply, increased yields and an excellent outlook for long term growth. Our population has now reached over 21,000,000 and people will inevitably continue to invest in Sydney.

The hot suburbs for me are those in the typical hot spots like Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, Potts Point and now Redfern. Rental demand in these suburbs is enormous and there are still some great buys for those willing to look and wait. And of course, sydney luxury homes continue to do well.

The surprise suburbs for 2008 will be those that have an inherent cultural need like Lakemba and its surrounds. The Muslim Mosque creates a natural need for accommodation around the area and the Eastern Distributor and M5 have now made it very easy to reach the city from that area.

Suburbs like Penrith, Glenmore Park and Kellyville are much further from the city and will hurt as interest rates increase.

My tip for 2008 is to invest in property where you know that demand will be constant – especially where a cultural need exists. Many of these suburbs are undervalued and provide enormous opportunity for those willing and able to look outside the square.