Article By: Nicholas Smedley | http://steller.com.au/
The Australian housing market is a topic of much speculation lately. There are many conflicting opinions on whether or not it is set to die down or continue driving property prices further up. According to certain figures, the current population growth in Melbourne alone approximates for 18,000 new homes per annum in the metropolitan area, but at the moment we are currently only producing 9,500 to 10,000 new dwellings. This means that realistically, we might not be seeing the end of the housing boom just yet.
The reason for the sudden influx in demand can be attributed to the increase from foreign investors, which at the moment, are mostly coming from China. Australia is often deemed as a prime market for investment, with the market always being relatively stable. Many foreigners also come to Australia for the education and way of life, which is another reason that they also choose to invest in the country. There is also a new scheme for investment for Chinese investors to invest in developments and properties overseas, if they are worth a certain amount of money. Cities have to sign up to be a part of this scheme, with six cities already on board. This allows investors to easily move their money out of China. The scheme asks for a minimum of RMB 1 million to qualify.
China has also very recently relaxed their one-child policy. This will certainly bring about an increase in their population, causing the Chinese government to allocate up to $3 trillion to buy land abroad for agricultural purposes, as China lacks the land and industry to support it. Chinese investors are now also allowed to spend up to $15 million on farmland before it has to go through the Foreign Investment Board as part of expectations of the population increase.
In addition to these changes, Australia and China have also signed a Free trade Agreement, allowing for up to 5,000 workers a year from China to migrate for work. Their terms of employment do not need to comply with Australian standards. This means that the process, from start to finish, can be controlled completely by investors from China, with Chinese workers based here locally.
These changes will only increase the demand for housing in Australia. With the heat of the market driving up price points and affordability, we are sure to see a rise in long term rental tenancies. The business of real estate has been around for more than a century, and the fundamentals of it haven’t really changed. Australia will most likely see a shift much like in the USA, where landlords will be more supportive and motivated to look after tenants. They will also give more options to allow renters longer term security, as the psyche shifts in the mind of tenants while affordability becomes more and more prevalent. At Steller, we are already seeing requests for multi-year leases in our residential side. Due to the demand, we’ve started offering such options as a 3+3 year lease term to give security to our renters – and added income security for us too.
To avoid making the same mistakes in the past, it is imperative that we move forward by assessing the market condition to attempt to predict a market fall. We also have to keep in mind that during the last market crash, the business relationship between Asia and Australia was not as established as it is today.
However, the question that most will be asking is if the influx of Chinese investors and migrants is something positive for the market. Many argue different sides of the situation, but it really depends on the perspective you put on it. With the growth of real estate increasing at a startling rate, certain individuals warn of the bubble bursting, while major banks take action to keep increasing rates on loans. Some actions that banks have taken are to tighten up their lending requirements, making it harder for people to borrow money. The quality of credit and underlying assets going out is also much better than before.
In my opinion, the market will see a stable, steady growth of five to 10 per cent a year as it’s more than capable of absorbing current and proposed approved developments in the pipeline. With the continued investment of the Chinese and other migrants, we need to concentrate on the increased development of medium density housing and apartments such as those synonymous with Steller.