"Do your research always, and do take note of what the experts and third-party data sources feed back to the community at different times."
What early signs of market recovery mean for property investors
If you are a young, new, or aspiring investor who is learning the ropes of how to interpret published metrics or figures you may see mentioned in the media, it can be challenging. I say this because just like many other areas of property investment, not only is discerning real metrics and stats from vague and ambiguous figures not easy at the best of times; but it can be especially hard when you find two reputable sources who report on the same data, but with completely different results observed. “Analysis paralysis” really is an industry illness when it comes to property investment.
And take it from me, this process does not get any easier the further down the track you go. My suggestion is this: do your research always, and do take note of what the experts and third-party data sources feed back to the community at different times. But also know that property investment can really only offer, in analysis terms, retrospective feedback and not real time feedback. Well, not yet, anyway. Property investment is a slow-burn investment type. This means that unlike shares, for instance, where assets can be bought and sold in minutes and completely fresh data is made available in what is practically real time, the slow exchange of assets with property makes for slower metrics and means that data cannot be reported back immediately. It tends to be reported back retrospectively for the quarter that just passed.
The flow-on effect of this delayed data means that sometimes (but not always) market indicators are not really observed as part of a consistent trend until that trend has already passed. This gives us a good explanation as to why people sometimes only realise a market has, for example bottomed out after it has already moved into upswing phase.
So what are we to make of the latest data?
The consensus from several media sources appears to be this: early signs of recovery are emerging in the property sector as the market begins to respond positively to several interest rate drops occurring in recent months. We know this because property industry figures are generally reported for the quarter previous and published early on in the following quarter. The key metric to focus on is “overall capital city performance” occurring in the month of June. In light of the recent mortgage rate cuts in May (with a smaller rate cut issued in June), capital cities of every state and territory, when averaged out, showed an increase – albeit a small one – in property values for that month. This is significant because no other month during the last two years has fruited a positive number for this capital city metric.
It is important to note that the capital city performance figures are not the “be all and end all” of reporting metrics used to measure the industry at any given time, however this number is very important in the “knock-on effect” it can bring when transcending to regional, coastal, and other non-city markets. Capital city indicators often influence and thus have a direct effect on these other types of markets in Australia.
So the question is this: is this a positive sign given in the month of June just a blip on the radar? In other words, it could be an initially positive – but temporary – response to recent interest rate cuts and will likely go back to further declining numbers over the new few months. Or should we take this encouraging indicator for what it may really be – a sign of a trend forming, that perhaps the capital city markets are, overall, moving on from the market stagnation we’ve seen since late 2010?
Many influential Australian property industry experts are always quick to assert that the Australian property market is not one cycle, but rather hundreds of mini-cycles, all operating independently. These commentators believe that the upswing, peak, downswing, and bottomed-out main market cycle phases cannot be used to describe the Australian market broadly. Rather, each suburb within a city, each regional town – and each post code pretty much –need to be assessed independently when it comes to figuring this stuff out. This seems logical enough, however sometimes these same commentators are quick to mention that an entire capital city is in one phase, which contradicts the above statement about every post code being unique. For example, Melbourne is consensually agreed upon as being in a flattened, or bottomed-out, cyclical phase.
I’m no expert myself, so I tend to heed their advice, however it does seem that if we are to “trade” in the currency of sweeping statement assessments about entire capital city markets, it seems only fair to genuinely consider the figures posted in the media this week as a step in the right direction for the capital city markets. From the research I’ve done, stories I’ve read, and even the handful of post codes I randomly programmed RP Data with (which I watch over time to observe market trends when it comes to fluctuating values), I’m of the belief that most capital city markets have seen the worst of the price/values softening, and an early upswing is starting to take place. Time will tell, so watch this space, and let’s keep an eye on the next month, quarter, and indeed annual, figures upcoming, to see how the state of the market really is.
I'm keen to hear from the community on this possible trend emerging and what this means for you in your future investment strategy and approach.
Cameron McEvoy is a NSW-based property investor and maintains a blog, Property Spectator.