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2016 Investment Outlook and Australia’s property market implications

by Dr Andrew Unterweger | 15th January 2016

I would like to wish everyone a wonderful 2016 and every success in navigating what should be another challenging year ahead in terms of making some prudent investment decisions given the somewhat uncertain global macro-economic backdrop that we are faced with.

If I look at the newsletter I sent out at this time last year and the predictions for the year just passed, I think the only outcomes that were unforeseen, were the extent of the continued increases in property values in both Sydney and Melbourne. From a global perspective, similar themes that existed in 2015 will continue this year with the main change being the long anticipated lift off in the Fed Funds Rate and the likelihood of a further three or more such increases during the course of 2016.
The other main concern, especially for Australia and with a direct impact on the Australian property market is China, which, as everyone is aware is Australia’s major trading partner, however, the IMF forecasts suggest that China’s GDP growth could slow in percentage terms over the coming years (from double-digit rates to still rapid high single-digit rates.) and that US growth could pick up, but it still expects China to be the single largest contributor to global GDP growth in USD terms over the coming five years. Also, China’s economy is now much larger than it was when it sustained double-digit growth rates, which makes it harder to grow as quickly as it did and means that even high single digit growth rates deliver significant additions to global demand.

China’s growth is expected to have slowed to around 7% in 2015 from 10.6% in 2010, but because China is a lot larger than it was in 2010 (89% larger in USD terms and 69% larger in local currency terms) the IMF estimates that this year’s GDP growth is estimated to be equivalent to USD1,028 bn, which is slightly more than the addition to GDP in 2010 of USD 980 bn . More importantly, China’s recent Fifth Plenum, which included a significant focus on the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020), saw policymakers set economic growth as a top priority. Policymakers reiterated the goal of “doubling GDP and people’s income by 2020”, which implies a minimum growth rate of around 6.5% a year over the next five years which bodes well for the Australian economy at least in the medium term although I expect this position to continue into the foreseeable future. The major risk that I can see facing the Chinese economy is the expansion that has occurring in their banking system over recent years and hence the potential for a large increase in bad debts if economic growth slows too much, which would then have a global impact.

What we as property investors need to always be mindful of is the likely interest rate environment and, as we saw in the last few months, the impact that regulatory pressures from the likes of APRA can have on both the cost and availability of bank funding to enable us to continue with our investment strategies. I think the RBA will have an even more difficult time in 2016 in terms of setting monetary policy to cope with the continuing decline in the mining sector of the economy, the resilience of the AUD and trying to manage the price growth of some of the nation’s property markets. We have seen the banks come to the aid of the RBA in terms of increasing borrowing rates out of cycle and I anticipate this could well be repeated during the year as they face more margin pressure and slowing lending growth. I am sceptical that the Banks will pass on any interest rate cuts if the RBA does cut the benchmark rate and I think the present scenario continues to favour longer term fixed rates from an investor’s viewpoint.

To summarise, I think the continuing decline in commodity prices, a strengthening USD and weakening AUD combined with a supportive monetary policy from the RBA should assist the Services and Tourism sectors of the Australian economy to continue to expand, which will be broadly supportive for the residential property market. This will continue to drive quite different outcomes for the property markets of the various states of Australia and we should see some easing in the growth rates for Sydney and Melbourne. We continue to favour Brisbane and in particular the inner middle ring ( 3 to 10 km from the CBD ) as being better placed to find value and scope for sustainable longer term growth.

We will continue to monitor all these factors over the year and share some insights along the way.

I wish you every success for 2016.


Best Regards,

Dr Andrew Unterweger


Meet Dr Andrew Unterweger

Dr Unterweger is a highly qualified financial and property adviser, experienced venture capitalist and successful investor


By Smart Property Investor Staff Reporter

Friday, 06 February 2015

Two prominent economists have praised the Reserve Bank of Australia’s decision to reduce the cash rate and have predicted at least one more cut to come.

Domain Group senior economist Andrew Wilson said the Reserve Bank had made the right decision to reduce the cash rate from 2.5 per cent to 2.25 per cent.

Dr Wilson also said that another cut is likely, given that the economy received minimal stimulus from the succession of rate cuts between October 2011 and August 2013.


“We haven’t had much action from cutting from 4.75 per cent to 2.5 per cent, so I’m not sure what a 0.25 per cent improvement is going to do,” he told Smart Property Investment's sister publication Real Estate Business.

“Certainly the Reserve Bank had to act – it’s really the only tool in the box that we’ve got left.”


Pricing gaps across product types and capital cities are widening

by Cameron Kusher

30 January 2015

The cost of Sydney housing relative to other capital cities is widening and the cost of buying a house as opposed to a unit is increasing as a record number of units commence construction.

The cost of Sydney housing relative to other capital cities is widening and the cost of buying a house as opposed to a unit is increasing as a record number of units commence construction.

According to median selling prices over the three months to December 2014 published in the CoreLogic RP Data Home Value Index report, the gap between capital city house and unit prices has never been greater. As at December 2014, the capital city median house price was almost 20% higher than the capital city median house price. In dollar value terms, median house prices are $100,000 greater than unit prices. read more...


John McGrath ignites Sydney's "hot forever" inner ring debate

by Jonathan Chancellor


John McGrath has always been passionate about the property prospects of Sydney’s inner ring suburbs. But last week he went a little further, saying suburbs close to the city are becoming so desirable that they will be “hot forever”

But last week he went a little further saying suburbs close to the city are becoming so desirable that they will be "hot forever".

The high profile agent stopped short of declaring inner city property prices were immune from price falls.

But the chief executive of McGrath Estate Agents told Fairfax Media these areas would always be attractive to buyers.

"There is just no end of demand from overseas and local buyers who want to live in those precincts," McGrath said.

read more..





Sydney property bubble to pop when rates rise, says HSBC

Wednesday, 11 Feb 2015   |

James Mitchell



·        A fresh round of cheap credit is further inflating Sydney’s investor-driven property prices.

In a research note released yesterday, HSBC economists Paul Bloxham and Daniel Smith predict strong national housing price growth to continue at seven to eight per cent, driven by record-low mortgage rates.

“We see Sydney prices rising by 9 to 10 per cent in 2015 and expect that, when rates do eventually rise, there is now a high risk that Sydney will see price falls,” the economists said.

“Although we do not see a national housing bubble, we believe that growth in Sydney housing prices is currently running at an unsustainable pace and that any further growth is likely to be met by housing price declines in future years, when interest rates do begin to rise,” they said.

A signal of the growing risk of overinflation in the Sydney market is the high level of investor demand, according to HSBC.

Read more…







Melbourne growth to stand out in 2016: HSBC's Paul Bloxham

Melbourne will see the highest price growth of any capital city next year, HSBC has forecast.

In the latest HSBC Australia Downunder Digest report, HSBC Australia chief economist Paul Bloxham forecasts 4% to 8% price growth in Melbourne for 2016, after 7% to 8% growth in 2015.

Bloxham expects that in 2015, Melbourne and Sydney will "continue to outpace the rest of the nation", noting that from its mid-2012 trough, Melbourne's housing prices have increased by 20%. Read more


Commonwealth Bank posts 8pc half-year profit rise to $4.5b

By business reporter Michael Janda

Updated 11 Feb 2015, 5:49am


PHOTO: The Commonwealth Bank has posted its half-year results. (ABC News: Nic MacBean, file photo)

The Commonwealth Bank has reported an 8 per cent rise in half-year profit to $4.54 billion.

The bank's preferred cash measure of net profit, which adjusts for some accounting items, also rose 8 per cent to $4.62 billion.

CBA said its improved profit came on the back of a 5 per cent increase in revenue, despite subdued conditions in the lending market.

It also said it had lowered its cost to income ratio by 70 basis points to 42.2 per cent, as productivity initiatives continued to contain business expenses.

Read more…






2016 Investment Outlook and Australia’s property market implications

Australian market, Australian property, Newsletter

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