Where to for Property?

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In the light of low bank interest rates and uncertainty in share markets, many investors are wondering whether the residential property market will offer the best returns going forward.

Mortgage repayment holidays should prevent a massive sell-off as a consequence of pay cuts and redundancy, however the short-term nature of these holidays may just delay the inevitable for some, resulting in downward pressure on prices. This is likely to kick in towards the end of the year as unemployment levels rise. The worst is yet to come.

Already, investors are standing on the side-lines waiting like vultures to find bargains. They, like first home buyers, will be assisted by record low mortgage lending rates and the removal of Loan-to-Value Ratio (LVR) restrictions.

Banks will play a key role. They will no doubt be risk averse in the coming months. Development projects will be carefully scrutinised and this could have an effect on the supply of houses and therefore prices. They will also be carefully considering the income security of borrowers and their ability to continue to make mortgage repayments should they suffer a drop in income or an increase in interest rates (given that we are at record lows).

Clearly, there will be differences between regions in terms of the competing pressures of demand and supply. Net population growth and economic growth (or decline) will be other key drivers in specific areas. Differences are likely to occur in regional provinces as more people migrate to cities to find work, and in those areas which will be badly hit by the worst affected industries such as tourism, hospitality and retail.

While there may well be bargains to be had in a few months from now, investors will need to do their research to find opportunities and move quickly to secure them.

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Liz Koh

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