The property storm Sydney had to have: Robert Simeon

The property storm Sydney had to have: Robert Simeon
The property storm Sydney had to have: Robert Simeon

Is this quote by Johnny Isakson the perfect property quote – “In the real estate business you learn more about people, and you learn more about community issues, you learn more about life, you learn more about the impact of government, probably than any other profession that I know of.”

Let’s focus on the part of governments in property – more particularly as it relates to Sydney and its many niche property markets. Local governments are being amalgamated so that the NSW government can put on its developer cap and start approving thousands upon thousands of new developments. They identify overseas buyers as the driving force so they then introduce higher duties to get a greater tax grab. The federal government (since December 2008) allows one hundred per cent of all new developments to be sold offshore driving overseas investor demand to levels never seen before – the perfect property storm has been created but who will clean it up?

Firstly, we need to pinpoint when this newly created apartment – a – thon peaked which would be around mid – 2013. Barangaroo was the star attraction with 750 new harbour side apartments that sold in a matter of hours smashing per square metre records. These per square metre rates were then factored into every other new development and the investors came in fast, which in turn led developers to pay record prices for property sites thus creating an insatiable property appetite for investors and property developers.

Then 18 months later the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) on December 9, 2014 tightens lending regulations resulting in higher deposits from investors buying off – the – plan. Although not much was said at the time the investor cracks were starting to appear despite developers and real estate agents buying record amounts of polyfilla. Next in July 2015, APRA announced that the big four banks and Macquarie Bank must hold more capital to provide a buffer against defaults by investors.

In May 2015, then federal treasurer Joe Hockey announced that the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) was being handed full control over all property acquisitions in Australia. This then led to the ATO announcing that every property transaction dating back to 1985 would be recorded and placed on their property register. Foreign investor participation in Australia’s property markets had spiked to $34.7 billion in 2013/14 up from $17.6 billion the previous year, so suspicions were on the rise. I might add that some market commentators (like myself) had been raising concerns well before this.

Who could forget the piece I filed back on 5 March 2015 – Treasurer Joe’s Villa del Nightmare when the ATO announced the first divestiture notice for a $39 million Point Piper mansion that was bought by a foreign buyer without Australian residency. The subject property was then flipped to a friend who just so happened to have an Australian residency and the case was closed – or so we were led to believe.

Last week (a premature announcement broke) – Foreign resident capital gains withholding clearance certificate applications would be required for every property in Australia selling above $2 million from 1 July 2016. I was reliably informed that the grand plan is that clearance certificates will apply for every Australian property down the track. Here is the official ATO clearance certificateapplication from the ATO website.

So does this then take our attention (well mine anyway) to the fact that quite possibly in the very near future the ATO, who have been very quiet of late on all matters pertaining to divestiture notices, may soon have some big announcements? Assuming all those who purchased illegally will not be able to receive a clearance certificate – so the ATO pockets 10 per cent of the selling price from every sale?

The big problem here is that most in the industry knows that the Asian buyers have dropped off significantly, as too the Asian developers. Sydney has approximately 30,000 new apartments nearing completion and how many of those properties will have defaulting buyers? We know what the first market sale price was and nobody can intelligently predict what the second sale price may be. Guesstimates range from a 10 to 50 per cent correction depending on the volume of property coming on to the market, and rest assured you can no longer apply the Barangaroo square metre rate set back in mid – 2013.

If these defaults do happen and the second sales prices are well below the initial selling price this will then throw all the thousands and thousands of off – the – plan sales into complete chaos. Then all the future developments are shelved given these once strong markets have disappeared. Councils have been merged so what then happens to that grand plan of high density future developments?

Sydney for a few years now has been showing clear signs of investor growing pains. Although this time around the vast majority of these new developments are still a way off completion. If we go by past markets the banks are about to become reluctant property owners – so what’s the plan?

Sadly, there is no plan – just cross your fingers and hope that level heads prevail. Quite fascinating that with all these massive high – density developments that in this day and age we still don’t have a governing body regulating Australian property markets.

I get that feeling that we will need more than an umbrella.

MOSMAN – 2088

Number of houses on the market this time last year – 68

Number of houses on the market last week – 55

Number of houses on the market this week – 51

Number of apartments on the market this time last year – 46

Number of apartments on the market last week – 50

Number of apartments on the market this week – 42

CREMORNE – 2090

Number of houses on the market this time last year – 8

Number of houses on the market last week – 11

Number of houses on the market this week – 10

Number of apartments on the market this time last year – 13

Number of apartments on the market last week – 22

Number of apartments on the market this week – 18

NEUTRAL BAY – 2089

Number of houses on the market this time last year – 7

Number of houses on the market last week – 8

Number of houses on the market this week – 8

Number of apartments on the market this time last year – 26

Number of apartments on the market last week – 22

Number of apartments on the market this week – 20

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.

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.

Tags: 
Sydney Residential Market

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