Friday, November 18, 2011

The Weakest Link

As we all know a chain is only as strong as it's "Weakest Link" & that is true with Property Markets & Property prices.

The "Weakest Link" in the Australian property market is the "Recent Homebuyers" who has bought in the last 3 years. 

The price of all our Houses - Units - Apartments - Land  or Investment Properties are determined by what people have paid for them in recent times as well as the ability of Vendors to be able to wait in the market for their high prices. 

A Vendor having difficulty affording to hold a asset is very likely to slash prices.

If Recent Home Buyers do strike financial difficulties & start flooding our housing markets with housing that they are no longer able to afford to carry the prices of all of our properties will fall.

In the US / Ireland / Spain & UK it was Recent Home Buyers who had bought at the tail end of the  property cycle that drove prices down as they could no longer afford to keep their homes with rising costs of living & interest rates combined with a economic slowdown reducing hours worked & employment.

Most of  Recent Home Buyers in Australia have borrowed to the maximum capacity their incomes would allow. 

They did so at 30-40 year historically low interest rates leaving little room for unforeseen circumstances like reduced overtime,  unemployment , sickness, pregnancy or interest rates returning back to their 30 year historic average of over 10%.

Many of these "Recent Home Buyers" have only managed to enter the home market with the assistance of the Rudd Governments 2008 - 2009 GFC First Home Buyer stimulus handout of either $14,000 or $21,000. 

Prior to these FHB handouts they were not able to enter housing markets because their incomes prohibited them from SAVING a deposit quite simply because their day to day living costs were only just covered by their low incomes & this was when they were renting accommodation at only half the cost they now find themselves paying for home ownership!!. 

Another factor that excluded these FHB from entering the market was interest rates, at a normal interest rate in the vicinity 8% 9% or 10% they did not qualify to borrow enough to enter the market & it was only because interest rates were cut to record low rates around 5% that they were able to qualify for a home loan. 

Banks at the time proudly boasted that they were being  "PRUDENT" by  applying a 2% stress test on a 5% Interest Rate!! 

Oh Please!! ... How much sense would it make to apply a stress test to the 30 year historical interest rate average?

Owner occupiers or investors who bought in 1990, 2000 or even 2005 will have only borrowed a fraction of the amount borrowed by "Recent Home Buyers" so they will be able to cope with the unforeseen relatively easily, however this cannot be said about "Recent Home Buyers" & it will be them who struggle to pay for their houses when rates revert to normal levels of 8% - 10%.

 The ABS have just released a publication that makes interesting reading on the Australian housing sectors.
Below is a link & Extracts from this publication that highlights the point I make. 

This publication presents data from the Survey of Income and Housing (SIH) onAustralian housing occupancy and costs, and relates these to characteristics of occupantsand dwellings such as tenure, family composition of household, dwelling structure, age,income and main source of income. It also includes value of dwelling estimates, and information on recent home buyers.The publication includes a feature article on first home buyers in Australia.


More than 1.07 million households purchased their dwelling in the three years prior to the 2009–10 survey. These households are divided into first home buyers (40%) and changeover buyers (60%). Most first home buyers were young households with a reference person aged under 35 years (67% ***). Less than 10% of first home buyer households had a reference person aged 45 years and over. In contrast, more than half (52%) of changeover buyer households had a reference person aged 45 years and over.
Note: There are 8.8 million households so 1.07 million  is quite a significant number of households & then add to this the number of new entrants between July 2010 & June 2011 which are not counted here.
*** 85% of this number is under 27 years of age & 60% of this number have ZERO children & are managing to cope because they have 2 incomes. But Women are Women (Sorry to offend) & when the maternal instinct to have children kicks in the expensive house gets the flick or they don't have kids till what 40? 45?.

As you can see from the extract above around 10% of Recent Home Buyers are paying more than 50% of their "GROSS" incomes for housing & a further 26% are paying between 30% & 50% of their "GROSS" incomes for housing.
{It's is also worth noting the 6% of Changeover buyers are now also paying more than 50% of incomes for housing costs}

The Inside banking sources that I know estimate that close to 30% of Recent home buyers are now paying more than 45% of their  "Gross" household incomes to cover "Household Costs" (See explanation of Household Costs in extract above) Furthermore the percentage of incomes to service is growing each year as Property Taxes, Insurance, Water Rates etc increases exceed wage growth.

Remember that is 45% of G*R*O*S*S incomes when you take out taxes well over 55% of Recent Home Buyers incomes are going to cover their costs of housing. 

Quite simply this is unsustainable people have to have money to live "LIFE" & do simple things like have children, take them on holidays, pay for sporting activities, dental care for the kids, health care etc etc etc.

Might come in handy keeping a tin of this stuff in the house if you plan to sell next year.



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  2. well analysed. You are a funny guy!

  3. I did a little "check" on that story you had on Sasha de Bretton, the professional "Flipper". The story was about a house in Sorrento, at 37 Seaward Loop. Back in April 20, you reported she had cut the price in March to $2,680,000, down from her original asking price of $3,500,000! Today, I decided to have a little check on the REIWA site. Sure enough, 37 Seaward Loop is there. The asking price is now "Offers from $1,990,000"!!! That is a cut of 43% for her original asking price back in 2008, and a cut of more than 25% since March THIS YEAR. And yet we have people trying to claim on Perthnow that prices have picked up from the "low" of 9 months ago, and it is "up, up, up" particularly for places along the coast or freeway, and near "good shopping centres, schools and amenities".

  4. By my reckoning, assuming the host was right on the original purchase price, our professional Sasha (businesswoman of the year in 2011) has lost $185,000 on the purchase price alone - not counting the renovation cost, and the cost of setting up and servicing the mortgage. She's also tenated the place for $1550 per week, which means even if she made a profit, it would no longer be "tax free". Strangely she's got an image of this place on her website saying the renovation has added $500,000 to the value! Let's take her at her word on this one. That means if she hadn't "upped the value" she'd be asking $1.45 million for it, yet she paid $2.168 million at the end of 2007! That means that Sorrento property has slumped by 33% since the peak of the boom - according to Sasha anyway! Yet there is no property correction? She is ALREADY got it on the market at a price where she'll LOSE on her purchase price (plus the reno costs). I thought the "floor" on prices was supposed to be that people wouldn't sell at a loss, but just take it off the market and wait! I'd be interested in our host's take on all this!

  5. Wow, I didn't realise she was going to be in that "feature" in the Sunday Times on the 27th!

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