Investors are positive about the long-term returns of Australian residential property, shrugging off concerns about stricter lending conditions, price bubbles and oversupply, a new survey has found.
More than 70% of the 742 respondents think now is a good time to invest in property, with 61% looking to purchase a property in the next six to 12 months (up from 58% last year), according to the third annual Property Investment Professionals of Australia (PIPA) Property Investor Sentiment Survey.
Surprisingly, Brisbane was at the top destination for property investors in spite of its apartment oversupply concerns, though the percentage who favoured the city fell from the last survey.
PIPA chair Ben Kingsley said that the survey results confirm that investors remain committed to property as a favourable investment option over the long-term.
However, concerns over changes to investor lending policies loom large, with 43% of respondents reporting an adverse impact in their ability to secure finance, compared to 32% in 2016.
Banks raising rates for interest-only loans was also a key concern, though more than half (55%) with interest-only loans said they would not struggle to meet new principal and interest repayments.
Higher borrowing costs also mean that investors are constantly looking for a better deal.
More than 23% said they would consider refinancing their loan for an interest rate differential of 0.5 percentage points, while another 23% would consider refinancing for one percentage point.
According to the survey, only 15% of investors have put their buying plans on hold due to concerns around a property price “bubble”.
“Similar to last year, most property investors are looking past short-term challenges and are remaining focused on the long-term wealth benefits that are available from residential real estate,” said Kingsley.
Investors have also shrugged off speculation about negative gearing and capital gains tax changes, with only 14% putting their investment plans on hold.
The survey also shows that only half (52%) of property investors are currently negatively geared, with a majority (62%) of these expecting to become positively geared within five years.
“The survey also affirms that a lot of the speculation about negative gearing misses the mark. Most investors understand that negative gearing is only a short-term cash flow position, not a property investment strategy. And only a very small minority are attracted to real estate for these tax concessions,” Kingsley said.
Despite being the most preferred destination for property investors, Brisbane has lost some appeal, with the proportion of investors favouring it falling from 49% to 43% over the past year. However, the city remains far ahead of any other capital city when it comes to investor interest.
After Brisbane, Melbourne is the second most popular investment destination (32%), followed by Sydney (7.8%), Adelaide (6.6%) and Perth (5.5%).
“Property investors are becoming savvier. Many of them continue to look outside of our biggest property markets of Sydney and Melbourne, which are coming close to the peak of their cycles,” said Kingsley.
“The two key reasons that Brisbane still attracts investors are affordability and the potential for attractive yields. Brisbane is investing in infrastructure to make the city more liveable and investors are betting on this.”
Although investors are becoming more sophisticated, with 33% having a set strategy for investing, they overwhelmingly (84%) consider that more investment education about the risks and potential benefits of investing in property is needed. Even higher numbers (90%) believe that the property investment industry should be regulated and licensed in the same way as many other professionals.
“Unlike financial planning and mortgage broking, the provision of property investment advice still remains unregulated. PIPA is committed to raising the professional standards of this industry and will continue to lobby the government to regulate property investment advice and educate investors to help them make informed investment decisions,” Kingsley said.
Prateek Chatterjee, Property Observer, 28 September 2017