Fifty Shades of Property: Where fact meets fiction

Fifty Shades of Property: Where fact meets fiction
Fifty Shades of Property: Where fact meets fiction

The headline should not to be confused with Fifty Shades of Grey, although many would argue that the audiences are struggling to differentiate between fiction and nonfiction.

Property is a best seller although it’s becoming quite evident that when some write about property market events you will attract more eyeballs and interest if one uses the stratagem approach – such is the competition today for audiences.

Easily the largest chapter in the 2014 edition of the Fifty Shades of Property has been that ‘bubble’ (although some weeks ago this plot lost credibility when data was released revealing that the majority of states and territories in Australia were reporting price retreats).

What, no crash? This can’t be happening – we need a monumental property derailment in Australia like the rest of the world.

Of course Sydney has been the stand – out performer thanks wholly and solely to the investors. Although the authors maintain that touché mantra by referring to Sydney data as Sydney house prices – when in fact it’s well documented that the apartment market is the huge performer thanks to investor frenzy. Nonetheless, for the sake of the argument it will read better for the audience when we call this Sydney house prices – despite this really being nothing of the sort – so manipulate the headline to achieve another touché.

Easily the largest chapter in the property story this year has been that ‘bubble’ (although some weeks ago this plot lost credibility).

At this time every year we start to see new chapters being added, such as recession and massive unemployment for the year ahead – again fiction coming to the fore. Which takes me to a refreshing piece written by David Bassanese in The Australian Financial Review this week – We need house price rises to grow economy.

"The Australian economy has had an outstanding run over the past two decades and has admirably dodged a number of global upheavals that might have felled lesser economies. Any economist south of 40 – years – old has no working knowledge of what it feels like to fall into a wrenching recession.”

Now isn’t that the truth. As too, his critique of the Australian housing markets:

“More recently, an increase in commentary about a house price bubble has also been allowed to develop, when all we’ve seen to date is an overdue cyclical upturn in house prices – and in only a limited number of states – on the back of especially low interest rates.

"Surprisingly, even the Reserve Bank has been lulled into expressing concerns that the housing market has become ‘unbalanced’ between investors and first home buyers – so much so it’s threatening to dampen critical investor demand through new macroprudential controls.

“How serious are Australia’s housing problems? Relative to household income house prices are only nearing past cyclical peaks – and mortgage affordability is still better than average due to low interest rates.

“The fact that investors are more prominent in this cycle should be no surprise given the rental yields have remained attractive relative to interest rates, and rental vacancy rates are tighter than normal – helped in part by the fact that foreign students make up an important element of Australia’s rising population.

“To the extent the growing role of self-managed super funds and foreign investors raises concerns, these are best tackled at source by changes to laws.”

That is what I would call a nonfiction critique of what’s actually taken place and yes, Australian Treasury is presently investigating 33 potential foreign ownership breaches – although I can see many, many more chapters on this topic for the 2015 edition.

For the writers who unwisely decided to adopt a blood and thunder approach to Australia’s property markets, one can only hope they have learnt a valuable lesson from their embarrassing forecasting – given it’s very clear they have failed the credibility test.

As Mark Twain once wrote: "Most writers regard the truth as their most valuable possession and therefore are most economical in its use."

Robert Simeon

Robert Simeon

Robert Simeon is a director of Richardson Wrench Mosman and Neutral Bay and has been selling residential real estate in Sydney since 1985. He has also been writing real estate blog Virtual Realty News since 2000.

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