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Tuesday, May 19 2015

Below are some extracts I read from an article today and thought the following pretty well sumed up the state of play at the moment and potential impact of changes occuring in the lender space. I will posting more about lender changes in the comings weeks.

(Source: Property Observer)

I may stand-alone here, but Sydney’s done – there I said it!

Normally, locations go flat when they become unaffordable or major infrastructure projects are abandoned but this time it may be at the hands of the banks, the governing bodies and the ATO.

Now making a statement like this is bold. Firstly, you need fundamental facts to back it up and these are the things I research – knowing where and when to invest, along with when to stop investing in an area. And lastly, we need an alternative place to invest. So, here we go:

The first sign for me that Sydney was on the cusp of a change was on April 23rd. A fundamental bank policy change that two major banks announced was the reason. This change stated that effective April 24th at 5pm, all Non-Resident lending Loan to Value Ratios (LVR) would be reduced from 80% of purchase price to 70%. Meaning borrowers must have another 10% cash to put towards the purchase.

One of those banks was the biggest lender to Chinese borrowers. The myth that the Chinese are all paying cash for houses is simply not true. The best Business Development Manager (BDM) that this bank employs has seen an immediate drop of 25% in mortgage volume since this change. Now that’s one BDM, for one bank, in one district of Sydney.

There is no question the overseas buyers are pushing our prices up but it’s not just the Chinese. They accounted for $27.7 billion in property transactions last year but the USA purchased $17 billion, Canada $15 billion and Malaysia $7.2 billion. The falling Aussie dollar has made our property much more attractive to them along with a buoyant property market.

But like usual, when there is money, there are Sharks looking for loopholes. So bringing sunshine to my eyes, are the ATO. Yeah, you won’t hear me say that too often. They are currently investigating 150 cases of unlawful purchases from overseas buyers. The loophole is done through trusts and companies. There appears to be a loophole in the FIRB’s (Foreign Investment Review Board) approval process for developers too. The great thing is that the ATO are a big enough player to bring this behavior to a halt and prosecute those offenders. Watch this space!

With the rate drop in May, one would think this would fuel more buyers to pay more. The funny part is that even though interest rates dropped, as a borrower your borrowing capacity hasn’t increased. wHy?

Banks are servicing your loan application at the 7% mark. This is a protection mechanism to safeguard you when interest rates rise in the future. This 7% mark hasn’t shifted in the last 3-5 interest rate drops. So no matter how much the rates still go down, your ability to service more debt will not increase unless your income does.

Banks must now also hold more funds in managed accounts per mortgage they approve. Meaning for every $300k mortgage the bank must hold $600k in managed funds. This has doubled in recent years. Hence we’ve seen Managed Funds increase to 3.05% in May when interest rates decreased. This was done to attract more consumers to invest their money. Consequently, this reduced the banks profits by another 0.25%. So it comes as no surprise that in mid May the interest rate war between the banks ended. One major bank no longer discounts interest rates for investment loans. The others will follow.

The governing body for mortgages, APRA (Australian Prudential Regulation Authority), have also told the banks that if their investment portion of their portfolio has increased by over 10% this year, then they must hold another $500 million in managed funds. Meaning banks will now be reluctant to pass this level and reduce interest rate discounts on investment loans.

The Median house price in Sydney has topped $900k. Insane, I know. Now according to the ABS, the Median income is $80,048 per annum. So a couple with two children, who each earn $80k, have a maximum borrowing capacity of between $800k – $1 mill. They have reached their cap.

So to summerise:

  • The banks are slowing up lending to Non Residents
  • The ATO are stopping illegal overseas transactions, plus reversing illegal purchases
  • Interest rates have dropped, but you can’t borrow any extra funds
  • The banks are stopping interest rate discounts to investors
  • The Sydney property market has seen fantastic capital growth for over 2 years
  • Property prices are unaffordable

Now given that investment loans now account for 50% of all mortgages written, the above corrections will see a drastic decrease in investor activity. This decrease will significantly impact consumer confidence across the board. And the end of the Sydney property cycle will be here.

Think about it… You have been inspecting houses for the past 2 months and you’re used to a high volume of purchasers inspecting and turning up to auctions. Then, the next week the volume is halved. Would that get you thinking? Is there something going on that I don’t know about? Your consumer confidence has just been shot.

So, after all this doom and gloom, where and what do we invest in?

The key to investing, is buying in great locations in the low part of the property cycle. Where consumer confidence is at its lowest. where is this the case?

South East QLD is an emerging market where those who get in RIGHT now will benefit. If you wait until Christmas, you have missed the boat. 

Posted by: Greg Carroll AT 12:06 am   |  Permalink   |  Email