No evidence of real estate buckling under COVID-19 weight: Hotspotting's Terry Ryder

No evidence of real estate buckling under COVID-19 weight: Hotspotting's Terry Ryder
No evidence of real estate buckling under COVID-19 weight: Hotspotting's Terry Ryder

EXPERT OBSERVER

One definition suggests an economist is someone who can explain to you tomorrow why what they predicted yesterday didn’t come true today.

This very apt description of the behaviour of economists is being seen daily in major media, on a wide range of subjects including residential real estate.

The chattering economists – who collectively comprise the most over-rated and thoroughly unnecessary profession in the world of business – have been very noisy in their attempts to exploit the pandemic for publicity.

But they’re constantly wrong and regularly re-frame their forecasts. It’s common for high-profile economists, like the ones who work for banks and other big institutions, to make a loud forecast about interest rates or GDP or property prices – and journalists will breathlessly report their views. 

Then two months later the same talking heads will announce new forecasts which contradict the ones they made 60 days earlier. They get away with it because journalists appear to believe that credibility is not important – the moniker “economist” is all you need.

But if you were a major company which based an important business decision on a forecast by Bill Evans or Shane Oliver – and then discovered a couple of months later that they had changed their forecast, you would be justifiably annoyed.

So, back in February-March when the pandemic first struck, economists were lining up to forecast that real estate prices would collapse. Predictions ranged from 20% to 30% - and, in some extreme cases, from the usual suspects, 40% in terms of the slump in house prices. 

According to most of them, the collapse was going to be immediate and dramatic, as we had already seen with share-markets.

So in early April, when the price data for March came out and showed prices rising in most cities, the economists and journalists quickly rationalised that away – as in: “Yes, but it’s early days, wait until next month …”

So in early May new price data was published and it again showed no evidence of anything other than enduring strength in real estate markets. The economist/media response was pretty much the same: “Yes, but we’ve haven’t seen the full impact yet, wait until we see the data in June …”

But the June figures showed further sturdiness and the response was the same. And again in July and again in August.

So here we are in September. The CoreLogic figures show that only two of the eight capital cities recorded decreases in house prices during August. In annual terms most cities and most state regional jurisdictions still have house pricing levels significantly higher than a year ago.

So we’ve been immersed in this pandemic shemozzle for six months and there’s been a huge economic and social impact, but still no evidence of real estate buckling under the weight of it all.

And still economists are refusing to admit their palpable incompetence, despite the fact that some of them have revised their forecasts to be less extreme than before.

The new rationalisation is: property prices haven’t fallen because of support measures by the Federal Government and the major banks – and when that’s wound back, prices will collapse.

But they’re wrong again. Once again, economists have failed to understand real estate dynamics or to admit that housing markets don’t fit neatly into their economic theories about how they should behave.

Most of Australia is not dramatically impacted by the pandemic – or certainly not in a negative way. For those important bits of Australia that exists outside of Sydney and Melbourne, which is where two-thirds of us live, there are no lockdowns or crippling restrictions – and people are just getting on with it.

They see market after market – in the smaller capital cities and in most regional areas – where …

  • buyers are active, 
  • there’s not much for sale,
  • vacancies are ultra low,
  • rents are rising,
  • prices are solid or rising.

I’m having conversations every day with real estate professionals and consumers around the nation and I have yet to speak to anyone who is struggling. Even Melbourne businesses are finding ways to function amid Daniel Andrews’ spectacular mismanagement and are busy servicing their clients.

Certainly, my business has never been busier or more prosperous.

There a huge disconnect between media rhetoric and the reality for most Australians – the ones who don’t live in the two biggest cities where most of the chattering economists lurk.

FOOTNOTE: Here’s a clue on how to identify a charlatan – someone who pretends to be a real estate expert when they’re not. If they speak of Australian real estate as a single market, they’re a fraud so you can safely disregard them. That eliminates most of the high-profile economists in the land.

Terry Ryder is the founder of hotspotting.com.au

[email protected]

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Terry Ryder

Terry Ryder

Terry Ryder is the founder of hotspotting.com.au.

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Terry Ryder COVID-19

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