Sentiment of housing investors more optimistic than non-investors: Matthew Hassan

Sentiment of housing investors more optimistic than non-investors: Matthew Hassan
Sentiment of housing investors more optimistic than non-investors: Matthew Hassan

EXPERT OBSERVER

Despite the material correction in housing markets, residential property investors remain markedly more optimistic than non-investors.

Investors sit front and centre in the housing market correction currently unfolding in Australia. For the first time, the Westpac Melbourne Institute Consumer Sentiment survey provides some insight into who this segment is and how they are assessing things.

An additional classification question added to the survey in Dec now allows us to separately identify consumers that own residential investment properties. The first results show an interesting breakdown on both the characteristics of this sub-group and their sentiment – the latter of particular interest given both the investor-driven housing market downturn and associated concerns about potential ‘wealth effect’ spillovers to demand.

At the aggregate level, 18.7% of respondents reported owning a residential Investment Property, broadly in line with official statistics.

Consumers in NSW, WA and Vic were slightly more likely to be housing investors while those in Qld showed the lowest incidence (15%). Not surprisingly the share of investors rises steadily across age groups, peaking at 27% for those aged 55-64, dropping back sharply to 14% for those over 65 (noting that this group is less likely to be accessing the tax benefits of negative gearing).

Again in line with the official statistics, the incidence of investor housing ownership is higher for those on high incomes (31%) and amongst consumers that are owner occupiers (24%). So-called ‘rentvesters’ account for just 7% of tenants.

Turning to the sentiment readings, housing investors are markedly more optimistic than non investors with an average sentiment read over Dec-Jan of 114.7 vs 101 for non investors and 103.7 for all consumers.

Note that this does not appear to be a by-product of income differences – across every income band, housing investors have more positive sentiment reads than non investors.

The positive spread is across all index components but is most pronounced for ‘finances vs a year ago’ (+16pts) and least pronounced for ‘finances, next 12mths’ (+6pts) – an intriguing mix that suggests investors have been unperturbed by price falls over the last year but that expectations of further declines may be curbing optimism for the year ahead.

On housing, investors are more positive on ‘time to buy’ but more negative on the price outlook. They also view ‘real estate’ more favourably as the ‘wisest place for savings’, particularly compared to ‘deposits’, but are slightly more inclined towards repaying debt than non investors.

Read the full report: 'Red Book January 2019' (PDF 453kb)

Sentiment of housing investors more optimistic than non-investors: Matthew Hassan

MATTHEW HASSAN is a Senior Economist for Westpac

Tags: 
Consumer Sentiment Property Investor

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