Mark Armstrong is a director of iProperty Plan, which provides independent analysis and tailored advice to investors and home buyers.

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Mark Armstrong

24 April 2013

Getting into the property market is a tough ask for Gen Y

Getting into the property market is a tough ask for Gen Y

The property market is a slow moving beast and when you are able to pick up on the trends and get on board, it allows you to make better investment decisions.

BIS Shrapnel’s emerging trends in residential market demand report released this week picked up on one of the most powerful trends driving the property market.

The report suggested that members of Gen Y are about to embark onto the next phase of their lives. These children of baby boomers grew up in the suburbs and when they left home, moved closer to the city looking to be close to lifestyle amenities and work.

They are now aged between 20 and 34 and are searching for a bit more room as they plan to settle down and start a family. While I agree with the findings in this report I would suggest this trend has been happening for some time and was started by the Generation X.

Gen Xers are now in the late 30s and 40s and many grew up in middle suburbs such as Vermont, Burwood and Oakleigh. Their parents who are now in their 70s and 80s started the urban sprawl in the 50s and 60s as they moved into these areas that were dominated by the first brick veneer homes.

As the Gen Xers got older they went searching for a more dynamic lifestyle than the sleepy suburbs had to offer. They pushed into to areas such as Richmond, Elwood and Fitzroy and either rented or purchased a property.

As they approached their mid 20s to 30s, the same age the Gen Yers are now, they went searching for more space. They had fallen in love with the inner urban lifestyle and wanted to maintain this as much as possible.

Many did not want to move back to where they grew up because it was too far away from the ‘action’ so they searched for areas that put them on the door step of they lifestyle they had become accustomed to. Run down houses in areas such as Camberwell, Hampton, and Northcote were snapped up by the Gen X’ers and strong capital growth in these areas followed.

1 Hartley Street, Northcote (pictured below) is a typical example of what they were looking for. It sits on over 500m2 of land, is close to the city, cafes and pubs and at the time was affordable with scope to improve the house. It was purchased in 1999 for $314,000.

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Today these owners have made a lot of money with the property now worth over $1 million. That is a growth rate of almost 10% compounding each year since it was purchased.

Now it is Gen Y’s turn. They are following a well-worn path established by the older generation. The difference now is many of the areas the Gen Xers moved to are out of reach as in most cases the entry point is a $1 million or more.

So the market has began to pulse out to more affordable areas. Suburbs such as Preston, Brighton East and East Burwood are now feeling the heat from the Gen Y’s who are striving to emulate what the Gen X’s have pulled off.

Last weekend this property at 12 Taylor Avenue, Burwood East went to auction.

The agent quoted the property to sell for $600,000 to $650,000. This quote was viewed as realistic as a slightly smaller but comparable property around the corner at 59 Lenna Street failed to attract a bid at auction less than 18 months earlier. It eventually sold for $595,000.

However intense competition to get into this established area drove the price and the property sold for $772,000. This was a huge result and illustrates directly what the BIS Shrapnel is saying.

Getting into these markets is going to be more difficult for the Gen Yers however as they are not just competing with each other. These areas are also highly sort after wealthy immigrants coming to Australia from places such as China and India and this will put further pressure on capital growth.

Regardless of the reasons you buy a property either as a home or investment I believe we should always have one eye on its growth potential. The demographic movements of a population are a vital trend to understand and harness if we want to make the most of our property investment dollars.

Mark Armstrong is a director of iProperty Plan, which provides independent analysis and tailored advice to investors and home buyers.

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