On Saturday I attended Australia’s biggest property investment convention – the annual Home Buyer & Property Investor Show. And, what a day it was! Crowds were in high attendance on Saturday, and I’d even argue there were more people in attendance than last year’s event.
Today I thought I’d cover off some highlights of the event by expanding on some trends I noticed while roaming around the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre.
US property investment, while always present at this expo, easily had the greatest presence I’ve seen, in terms of the number of exhibitors in attendance. I counted at least six different exhibitor stands of companies with American investment products and offerings. There were a variety of offerings from these companies; some offering completely integrated finance and property sales solutions; others offering only the property purchase process in itself, but across many different US cities/markets.
There was even one company, Select American Homes, that offered property only (no finance) to exclusively one market – Atlanta, Georgia. I sat in on a seminar from them and was quite impressed as to the scope of their offering. This company had an integrated Australian and American team who, while not offering or assisting with finance, charge one lump sum fee that covers off the entire acquisition, renovation, LLC company structure (for finance), and ongoing tenant property management. Their degree of due diligence on their focus city was second to none.
The sophistication of US property investment options on offer at the show is, in my mind, an indication of the degree of maturity that American property investment has reached in the Australian marketplace. A few years ago we’d have been lucky enough to hear from perhaps one or two such companies, with a “take it or leave it” approach to their offering. Fast-forward to today and the degree of sophistication and product offerings in the US market is clearly apparent. Some, including myself, would argue that the jury is still out when it comes to success in this type of investment, but judging by the crowds flocking to the stands in droves, clearly interest is at an all-time high.
(photo taken Sunday 5pm suggesting sales tally after three days spruiking) source Jonathan Chancellor
There was also an increase in non-US offshore property investment options. Luxury high-end villa developments in Bali, resort-style beachfront developments in Thailand, and also one company focusing entirely on New Zealand were all present. The New Zealand market has had substantial growth in the last two years (compared to flatter growth in the two years previous to this), and does offer some interesting incentives, such as zero capital gains tax.
Another trend I observed was the offerings from the finance exhibitors. While seeing many traditional bank and non-traditional lender exhibitor stands present was nothing new, seeing their primary product offerings all together did highlight a common theme. The interesting trend I noticed was that most banks and non-traditional lenders present were offering incentivised loan products. Most of these were some sort of cash back or gift voucher promotion (UBank, ING Direct and RAMS Home Loans were all offering vouchers or gift cards to the value of $500-$1,000), which may seem like one of the oldest tricks in the book, but with today’s low-rate environment giving way to highly competitive product offerings from lenders, vouchers and cash-back schemes must be an easy way for these finance providers to get noticed.
Also on finance, I noted an increase in the presence of superannuation financiers for investment property specifically. Three exhibitors I spoke to were all offering finance, leveraging the initial deposit of a superannuation fund to become a self managed super fund investment property. One of these even operated exclusively in using one’s SMSF to purchase, yes, you guessed it, US properties with it.
This could be a real game changer. I wrote not too long ago about the challenges of drawing from one’s superannuation fund to finance a deposit for an Australian investment property. The biggest challenge was that with Australian investment property, you’d struggle to find any property for less than, say $200,000, that offered great scope for growth. This means that to “unlock” enough superannuation for an initial deposit, you’d need to reach a seriously big “critical mass” of super before you could act on it. For most Australians, this means you’d have to wait for your super fund to grow a big enough balance (either organically, or by contributing additional funds other than that of your employers’ in to it).
However, with US properties one can enter the market for as little as $30,000 or so, meaning a much smaller initial deposit from one’s superannuation fund. It will be interesting to see where and how this trend develops.
So what was new and trending well in the Australian property market then?
Granny-flat developer exhibitors had more presence than last year. Interestingly, I also observed several granny-flat specialist exhibitors at the Sydney Home Show (another show that is more geared towards home owners and home renovators versus property investors, however there is a degree of crossover between both of these).
Again, it was not about the volume of exhibitors specialising in granny-flat offerings, but the variety and sophistication of the products and solutions they were selling. Some of them offered purely the kit homes; others offered end-to-end planning, design, construction, fencing, water main splitting and driveway allocation all as part of one offering.
There were also a couple of exhibitors focusing on property management, more so towards “portfolio management” as opposed to singular investment property management. Some providers were offering 4% flat rates for the greater Sydney area, with others offering from 5% across any state and territory in one’s portfolio.
Another way to observe the popular topics and ideas trending well was by looking at the seminar calendar and the topics covered within. One big shift this year compared to previous years is the volume of seminars geared towards knowing which markets are currently in the best position to start an investment career in, along with superannuation in general (buying property leveraging your superannuation, and also thinking about “superannuation-gearing” versus “negative-gearing”).
All in all, an excellent and busy few days, with a great deal of information on offer and some industry “juggernaut” voices providing great integrity and wisdom.
Bring on the http://www.homebuyershow.com.au/melbourne/ next show!