The Persian Empire, Uber and Real Estate - tales from a short trip

I spent last week in California - Santa Barbara and Los Angeles. 

The primary object was to visit a conference called “Ontrapalooza” - 3 days with a catchy name and it was amazing. But to be honest it was way more business and digital-geeks convention than a music festival. It was great to hear from small (and medium to large) company owners around the globe on their journey, struggles and process. 

A wise mentor once told me “if you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room” - since then I have made it my business to put myself in really smart rooms and listen more than I talk.  

It’s amazing what you can learn when you are in a room with Coders, CEO’s, Quant Traders, and the like. If you get a chance to be around smart people, take it. I didn’t understand everything I heard, but some is better than none.

But what really hit me coming home was more observation and emotion than intellect. 

You see, I had 2 days to play tourist. Most of the time I spent in the city of LA. The greater city the Five Counties of LA (depending on where you draw the boundary lines) has 18.8 million people. That is a lot bigger than we know here in Sydney or Melbourne. If fact it is not terribly far behind the entire Australian population. 

It is a big, wild, diverse city. I really wanted to do a whirlwind tour, so I engaged Uber drivers, the local “bird” electric scooters, and my feet. 

Some highlights: 

My Iranian Uber Driver/Tour Guide (pictured) was a total legend. If you ever want a tour guide I highly recommend him, buzz me and I will hook you up. 

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I saw hundreds (there are many thousands) of people living in tents on the footpath. 

I saw homes worth well over $100million dollars each in Beverley Hills and Bel Air. 

I saw (and smelled) prolific public legal use of Cannabis in downtown LA and Venice Beach. 

I heard the roar of 80 thousand football fans as the LA Rams did battle with the 49ers. 

I used an app to log in and rode a shared electric scooter (a “bird”)along major streets with no helmet and very few rules. I just picked the scooter up on the footpath (sidewalk) and left it in a scooter stand when I was done. (After dancing with LA traffic on 6th St I had one too many near misses - I gave that up pretty quickly and went back to Uber.) 


I personally met and spoke with immigrants from Mexico, Philippines, Iran, Poland, China, Nepal; as well as many locals of varying decent. I asked them about race relations. I asked them about the cost of living, the cost of houses, about Trump. 

What really struck me is how it is a melting pot. Just massive amounts of diversity. Economic, cultural and experiential. 

Housing was universally referred to as “expensive” but the response is to share housing more, rent out spare rooms, work remotely further out or be content with smaller spaces closer in. Traffic was of course busy. Scooter riders don’t stop for anyone though! (except a sunset pic)


As we left Hollywood drive my Iranian Uber driver said “this place is the heart of America. The movies tell our stories, this is where we feel. New York is the brain, it is where we think to invest” I liked the metaphor. 

I walked a section of the downtown near Skid Row, where homelessness is a big issue. It got dark. I realised I didn’t feel 100% safe. I wondered how safe the people sleeping rough felt? 

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I was thankful to meet people who work on Skid Row, including a former Car Salesman named Todd who quit his job to help care for people full time. People really are amazing. 

When flew home I couldn’t help but remember some conversations I have had this year about Sydney. 

I speak with folk from Sydney who say “Sydney is too big and too congested. It couldn’t possibly get any busier” or “house prices will never rise, they are already too expensive” “there are poor people in Sydney and they will hold back prices”

I understand the sentiment, but now I have seen a city 4 times the size, I will stop doubting what is possible. From now on I will think of LA when I think of the future of our cities. 

A city that has Skid Row AND Beverley Hills. Tents AND Mansions. Hollywood AND Compton. 

I am not saying it’s morally just, or right. It just is. What do we do about it to ensure Australia keeps things fair? Lots of things. Volunteering, giving financially, relocating and helping full time, how we vote and how we spend our money and attention all are valuable options. 

So… what did LA locals say in response to my questions? 

I ashamed to admit I was surprised (but in a good way). People were super friendly, they spoke warmly of other races, and whilst they admitted economic realities were challenging they seemed happy. They even smiled when I asked about Trump. I thought they would either love or hate him but most seemed much more philosophical about his strengths AND weaknesses. 

They also seemed incredibly tolerant towards the homelessness issue - admitting that they have the softest laws in the nation so they tend to get more people living on the street who have migrated from the rest of the USA. They don’t want to rush in and change these laws or demonise the victims. However they also had no desire to save every homeless person or solve the problem if caused by drugs or alcohol, having a strong belief in personal responsibility, but they didn’t sound like they carried any hate or resentment for the poorest ones either. I do note that downtown LA has a high concentration of social and faith based services set up to help the most vulnerable. I do NOT claim to have any answers to this very large and complex issue.

Funnily enough I filtered much of this through conversations with my uber drivers. I liked one of them so much I hired him to drive me around the next day which he happily did. Being Iranian we had wonderful historical conversations about the ancient Persian empire, king Cyrus being one of the most impressive leaders in ancient history and the rise and fall of various people groups over time. We talked about what it would look like for a global leader with empathy to succeed economically AND ethically. 

Food for thought. 

What about the real estate market in LA now?

It goes without saying. Prices in LA are high, of course. 

But also wildly variable. From several hundred thousand for smaller properties in rough/cheap outer suburban areas through to high. All the way high…

A quick search on Zillow finds a max entry point HERE of $195m (yes that is 195 Million) which is $284.3 million when converted to AUD.

AND 27 homes OVER $50 million USD on the local market to choose from. 

AND 365 homes over $10m USD Here is an example.

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If people keep flowing from the rest of the world to these hubs of diversity and opportunity then the growth will continue. So will the growing pains but the need for housing isn’t going to end. Even when LA weather is good enough to sleep under the stars. Constraints to supply is the drum I have been banging for years with regards to property investment returns, I believe it even more now having driven the streets of Beverley Hills.

BTW - How do the ultra rich feel about us? Give THIS sale last week in Barangaroo of $140million AUD for a penthouse apartment, at least someone is feeling pretty confident. 3 recent rate cuts leading to record low interest costs and the broader market is a vastly different place than it was early in 2019.

Are we going the way of LA? I don’t know but I have a feeling people will be attracted from across the seas to places like LA, and like Oz for many years to come.  As we globalise the dream of a better life is alive and well. It will sure be interesting.



Property or Shares? What is the best investment? 

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It’s an age-old debate. 

Tomato v BBQ Sauce. 

Holden v Ford. 

Salt v Chicken Salt. 

Ali vs Frazier.

Deep breath… I am sure to make some enemies with this month’s blog. 

(But first the disclaimer)

It goes without saying so I will say it again, I am not an economist, I am biased and I love property. The following musings are not financial advice and are general comments. 

Ok, moving on. 


How would you even measure it? For no particular reason I have selected 4 ways to compare asset classes. They are Returns, Risk, Tax and Leverage. There are many more. These 4 are top of mind for many investors I speak to.


Well, it may surprise you to learn that the returns over a very long time are almost the same. We have data going back to 1926 - which leaves us a tad shy of 100 yrs of data. 


This graph compiling 90+ years shows clearly that both Property AND Shares are the best 2 performing investments long term. Cash and Bonds are the other two measured and may be lower risk but the rewards are lower too. Capital gains AND rent AND dividends are included so the above graph shows total returns. 

I like that way of measuring. 

Actually even thought the article is a few yrs old it is still a great read if you want to think through cash v bonds v property v shares. To read the original article visit here.

So far we don’t have a clear winner. If anything Shares is very slightly ahead. Stick with me.


2 RISK: 

The total value of Australian residential real estate is somewhere between $6.9 and $7.4 TRILLION dollars. That is more than 3x the size of ALL super funds and 4x the size of ALL Stock on the ASX. A very. Big. Number. 

Interestingly, investors own 27% of the number of dwellings but only 24% of the value of Australian Real Estate.  This means 76% of all housing value is owned by people in the form of their own home. That’s right, 3/4 of all housing stock is lived in by owners. 

Furthermore, the total debt on housing is only 30%. That means the majority of housing is owned outright (no mortgage) and the majority of housing is being lived in by locals as a family home. 

What does this mean for investors? It makes housing more STABLE than other asset classes like shares. 

Shares grow, we know that, but the ride is a lot bumpier short term. Just look at the red sawtooth pattern on the graph above - imagine owning a million dollars of shares during one of those downward slides that can last a year or more at a time. 

The stability of property markets is such a big deal that the RBA has entire conferences on this very topic. It isn’t sexy. It doesn’t get months of media obsession. But the take-home message is this - the government KNOWS property crashes are bad for the nation’s economy, so must be avoided or managed through careful policymaking. For those who want to read the original proceedings paper from the conference go here.

We see this in action through RBA interest rates (which have just fallen) We also saw in May just after the election APRA dropped the “assessment rate” which was a further tinkering with the rules to bring buyers back into the market.

Take home message? The govt. can and will continue to meddle but they tend to do so very carefully to prevent a major crash, which they know could cripple the wider economy. 

In my mind the RISK round has property winning (but remember I am biased and a global black swan event can still hit our property market too).

3 TAX:

Without writing a long and boring post on tax here are my very short observations….

At the time of writing both shares and property still qualify for 50% deductions in tax for capital gains over assets held longer than 12 months. This encourages longer-term ownership of both. 

At the time of writing both property and shares had different tax treatment. Shares can access franking, which is a cool way of getting a rebate for tax already paid by a company. Property can access negative gearing. This is a cool way of offsetting short term losses against your wage income tax and improving cashflow thus “forced saving” them back into your property portfolio. 

I think you can make a case that any of these tax laws could change at some point given how close the recent federal election was. 

I think you can also make a case that either franking or negative gearing is more useful depending on your life situation. 

(for what it is worth I have always said you invest for profit first and tax a very distant 2nd)

Property v Shares? Perhaps the jury is still out.


The biggest difference in the practical application of investing in Shares v Property for most normal people is this: it is easier to borrow more money at lower rates to buy property. This is a big deal. What it means is you can access more individual assets, or one more valuable asset with your limited cash. You can commonly borrow around 80% of the value of a property and just put 20% up as deposit.

This increases returns. 

The increased exposure to the market also increases risk. 

Please be aware of both. 

Leverage is like a sharp knife. It can do both good and bad depending on who is holding it. 

For younger investors with good jobs and income to service loans but limited capital this can accelerate a wealth building plan. Of course it also makes it important to get the asset selection right.

Simply saving your way to wealth is very safe but it takes a long time and in a low interest rate environment the returns are very low.

Which brings us to (some kind of) conclusion. 

The single biggest challenge isn’t a question of property v shares. The issue is time. 

In the end all investing is about time. Investing a little of your hard earned money (earned via your time) somewhere thus generating a return with a goal to rescue some of your own time (later). 

To me the leverage of finance and being able to invest in assets worth several times my current savings balance (with manageable risks) is attractive - so that is what I chose to focus on. 

Either way, focus and experience will make you better. Get better at investing in any asset class and your returns will improve. 

Property v Shares? It’s your call. 



“When should I bother ordering a Depreciation Schedule for my investment property?”

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“When should I bother ordering a Depreciation Schedule for my investment property?”

First: What is a Depreciation Schedule? It is a report prepared by a professional that outlines the values of specific items in a property (including the building itself) so you can include various write downs in your tax return each year. Basically it is a reduction in your tax because things wear out over time. 

I have personally had some very healthy tax returns over the years thanks to proper use of QS Reports (AKA Depreciation Schedule) on my investment properties. It is 100% ethical, 100% legal if done properly and it is highly beneficial to managing one’s cashflow. I am a BIG fan.

So…a few weeks ago I was at the annual REBAA conference  which was a great time of networking with some of the nation’s best ethical Buyer’s Agents and we did some fantastic advanced masterclasses on a range of human psychology and economics. 

One of my highlights (strangely) was the tax and depreciation talk. 

What the…? Tax?  Favourite?

Aren’t those experts normally as dry as burnt white toast?

Stick with me…

One of our guest speakers was the director of Depreciation firm Mike Mortlock the director of MCG Quantity Surveyors. 

He began by describing the night of 9 May 2017 - how he listened to the news as the Liberal govt. removed depreciation allowances for investors on used plant and equipment. 

He described in amusing dry storytelling style how he cried into his glass of shiraz at the losses he (and investors) would be unable to claim moving forward. 

I took an instant liking to his vaguely nerdy humour (if you know me you know why) and of course we had a drink afterwards. No we didn’t cry. But we did talk about that fateful night in 2017. 

You see, since 2017 some investors doubt whether they should even bother ordering a report anymore…which begs the question - when SHOULD an investor go ahead and get a QS report (also known as a Depreciation Schedule)

I asked him to fill us in on this blog post… Over to you Mike:

Since 9 May 2017 some properties will have depreciation left in them, some won’t.

The key things to know: 

Plant and equipment must now be unused to claim losses against other earned income. Building allowance can still be claimed under the circumstances below. 

From our studies around 38% of people buy new properties. All of them can claim the maximum amounts. 

However, for those who buy used properties (62% of investors) how does that work? 

Well 69% of investment properties MCGQS surveyed were built after the building allowance cutoff date of 1987.

This means anything build AFTER 1987 will have building allowance that can benefit your back pocket each year.  

TAKE HOME MESSAGE 1: If the property is built after ’87 it is most likely worth doing a report. 

What about those homes build BEFORE ’87? Are none of them worth claiming on? 

Here is the kicker most people forget…

If built before 1987 there is no building allowance left BUT if the property had renovations to the value of around $40k since ’87, it is PROBABLY worth doing a report. 

TAKE HOME MESSAGE 2: If property is built before ’87 but has had significant renovations since then, it is most likely worth doing a report. 

MCG Quantity Surveyors indicate that around 64% of pre 1987 properties have been renovated, and the average value is just under $40,000.


(Note from Matt - Actually he then added this tidbit) “The fact is, some have very minimal, some have 300k spent on them, so it’s just me being a stickler.” (I would just add that “being a stickler” is precisely what makes someone a good QS - Matt)

How will you know which is which? You won’t for sure but a good guideline is this... if both the kitchen and bathroom have been replaced OR there are obvious extensions, it probably adds up to $40k or more. 

TAKE HOME MESSAGE 3: 83% of the time it’s worth it. 

My personal experience is that it is totally worth doing when you can and the benefits in holding cost reductions each year make owning property easier. We all want to make it easier on our monthly budget so we can hold more properties safely and build more wealth over the long term. 

What if you are still not sure? 

Just ring a good QS firm, they should be able to help with estimates on the value (or not) of getting a Deprecation Report done. 

Wishing you many happy (tax) returns.

(Thanks for the help on this one Mike.)



VACANCY RATE ESSENTIALS: 20 Areas with Vacancy rates under 2% and reasons to consider them:


SQM Vacancy Rate info this month shows the national residential rental vacancy rate increased in June 2019 to 2.3%, an increase from 2.2% in May. 

Nearly all capital cities recorded minor increases ranging from 0.1% to 0.2% over the month…

Sydney continues to have the highest vacancy rates in the country at 3.5%, an increase of 0.2%. This is the highest for Sydney since 2005. Perth’s vacancy rate is not far behind at 3.2%, having increased 0.1%.

Melbourne’s vacancy rate increased to 2.0%. 

So what does all this mean?

BE CAREFUL to include vacancy rate as a KEY METRIC in investing decisions. Remember THE LOWER THE BETTER. We prefer to invest in a market where the vacancy rate is around 2% or lower (1.5% is even better). One recent investment property we purchased for a client (exchanged last week) was in Cooma, a town with a vacancy rate of 0.6% and falling due to infrastructure projects and employment bringing people into the town. Rents are rising rapidly as I type in that town.

What does a HIGH VACANCY do to you? 

It means falling rents, lower than anticipated yeilds, negative cashflow, empty property for weeks in between tenants. IN SHORT HIGH VACANCY = STRESS! 

What does a low vacancy rate do for you? 

It means rising rents, improving cash flow, getting to pick and choose your tenant from multiple applications, short vacant periods in between and OWNING PROPERTY IS A PLEASURE! 

Vacancy rate is a Very. Big. Deal.

So… let’s cut to the good stuff: Below are 20 fantastic areas with Vacancy rates under 2% and evidence based infrastructure reasons you should consider them:

Jindabyne 0.2%

NSW primary Ski tourist area (historically considered risky) but growing tree change destination and summer bike related tourism is turning into a year round destination…reducing risk and increasing returns.

Murrumbateman 0.3%

Rural tree change and commute option for Canberra workers with some trendy wineries. 

Yass 0.3%

Thriving beef/sheep region and lately considered a viable rural commute option for Canberra workers. 

Cooma 0.6%

Affordable, Distant commute option for Canberra workers, Snowy Hydro 2.0 project is bringing hundreds of new high grade tenants into town. 

Kurri Kurri 0.8%

Close to new Mainland Hospital, affordable older homes with larger blocks & close to Newcastle for work.  

Tweed Heads 0.9%

Ideal Retirement climate, growing international airport, large new regional hospital, perennial tourism and surf/beach industry. 

Coffs Harbour 1.1%

Ideal retirement climate, regional airport, quality beaches. 

Unanderra 1.1%

Express trains viable commute option to Sydney, close to Wollongong University, it is the first affordable option heading south in Wgong compared to the northern suburbs which are more expensive

Lennox Head 1.1%

Ideal retirement climate, surf, beaches,  growing arts scene. 

Banora Point 1.1%

Ideal retirement climate, new hospital (as per Tweed)  affordable compared to Byron Bay.

Queanbeyan 1.2%

Affordable housing next to Canberra, comparably investor friendly rules (ie freehold land ownership, less onerous land tax rules)

Dubbo 1.2%

Major Central NSW regional hub, university, hospital expansion, agricultural and mechanical repair centre. 

Goulburn 1.3%

Canberra commute option on the Sydney side, correctional centre.

Cessnock 1.5%

Has historical buildings and growing coffee culture, Close to new Mainland Hospital, affordable older homes with larger blocks close to Newcastle

Dapto 1.5%

Express trains commute option to Sydney, close to Wollongong University, affordable option heading south in Wollongong next to northern suburbs which are more expensive. Growing new suburbs south and west. 

Albury 1.5%

Major regional hub, inland rail project, infrastructure centre between Melbourne and Sydney so logistics employers often base themselves here, Army Base.

Wagga Wagga 1.7%

Major regional hub, university, hospital expansion, Army Base.

Warilla 1.7%

Coastal affordable Wollongong option with beaches, lake, close new shell cove marina $2b, new train station, Albion Park road bypass. 

Shell Cove 1.8%

Desirable southern Wollongong option with beaches, lake, new shell cove marina $2b, new train station, Albion Park road bypass, hospital expansion

Nowra 1.9%

3 road bypass projects (Berry, Berry to Bomaderry, Albion Park) reducing travel time, increasing volume and ease of traffic access from Sydney, major hospital expansion, new bridge, Army Base. Affordable sea-change destination and growing coffee culture.


As you can see, there are many options for buying, moving, investing apart from the most commonly considered options of inner Sydney and Melbourne. As always do your research, know your markets, and be on the ground in the area.

Using vacancy rate to thin your buying short list could prove a very wise move.

Buying outside a major capital city doesn’t need to mean taking silly risks if you know what to measure. 



Things Baby Boomers need to know about downsizing before they sell the family home


Popularised by the beloved television program 15 years ago, the sea change phenomenon just won’t go away. 

It is no secret that Baby Boomers do things their own way. They have bucked trends, and created new ones, at every stage of their development. As Boomers retire over time many have realised they no longer need to commute to the CBD for work on a regular basis, freeing up their choice of location for living. 

Many choose to stay in the family home, at least for a few years post retirement as they want to stagger any drastic changes after adjusting to the initial big one of ceasing full time paid employment. 

Eventually a significant number decide to embrace change. There is no bigger change than deciding to sell the family home and move to a smaller property or one in a quieter location.

For many Boomers it is the first major property change they have had to face in decades, so it is normal to feel a lot of emotion. 

However, many are not “downsizing” into units as was predicted years ago by demographers. Instead, a lot of Boomers are “Downshifting”. What is the difference? 

Well the Sea Changers we see on a regular basis are doing 2 things by relocating. 

1 - They are creating the lifestyle they always wanted. No longer stuck in the city suburbs they want a home with some peace and quiet, but they don’t want to compromise. 

Downsizing presents an exciting opportunity for a fresh start close to the beach, or with a view of the bush, , which sure beats traffic noise and high-rise. 

But Boomers don’t want to be 10 hrs drive away from everything. Proximity to the cities (usually the one they are from) is a big drawcard as it allows them to keep social ties, part time work commitments and the like without needing to book a plane or drive all day. 2-3 hrs is a common request we receive when talking to Baby Boomers making a sea change. 

2 - They are putting a little extra aside for retirement savings.  Selling the Sydney family home usually means a quality home on the coast can be purchased and $200-600k can be kept aside to put into the super fund. This can often double a super fund balance and make all the difference in terms of sustainable income. 

Thanks to the new Downsizer Contributions law introduced last year….

Boomers over 65 can now sell the family home and put $300k per person into the super fund tax free. 

This is a game changer for Boomers who find themselves asset rich and cash poor. A tax free way to supercharge savings and make retirement an abundant experience instead of a miserly one. 

It makes the sea change or “downshift” so much more attractive as a couple can massively increase income for no loss of lifestyle.

See the example below: 

John and Jan are 67yrs old, they choose to leave a 4 bedroom home in Sydney (for example sold for $1.4m) and purchase an equivalent 4 bedroom home on the south coast, walk to beach and cafes for $800k - put $600k into the super fund and double or triple their income with no net losses apart from buying/selling costs. Their super balance could have risen from $350k up to $950k or thereabouts, meaning they no longer need to erode capital or rely on a pension.  (Disclaimer - we are property people not financial planners so please get your own financial advice before making any decisions about superannuation!) 

But wait, why buy a 4 bedroom home? Don’t Boomers only want a small unit now that the kids have left home? 

Well, yes, some boomers do actually downsize. Villas and smaller properties have their place. But what we have found from hundreds of client interactions is that many actually want space. Space from the neighbours for privacy, an extra room or 2 for the grandkids to visit and space for a boat or caravan to park. It is also true that after a lifetime of raising a family the items that remain full of memories are hard to throw out, making unit living challenging. 

A recent survey of nearly 4000 baby boomers confirmed that exrtra garage storage space and a good patio were amongst the top requirements for a retirement home to be suitable. 

You might be surprised to hear that High density developments, roof top gardens and daycare centres nearby were actually some of the most UNWANTED items listed in the survey. Is it possible that High-rise developments in the city may not be as popular with Boomers as they think?

If you think about it, it isn’t rocket science.  The wealthy have always enjoyed their space, and always bought beach houses in locations that are stunningly beautiful. 

Being in a desirable location such as Kiama, Culburra Beach or Mollymook also means the kids and grandkids will really want to visit for holidays. 

So why not? Boomers who have the means and are willing to embrace change are voting with their feet. 

How viable is it? More viable than you may think. Improvements in local roads such as:

The Berry Bypass

The Berry to Bomaderry upgrade …

And the Albion Park bypass

Are collectively making travel easier, faster and more convenient for workers, families and retirees alike to live on the beach and access the city when needed on a weekly or fortnightly basis. 

The number of relocations is increasing and population growth means local schools are at capacity, plus the expansions of local hospitals such as Nowra - so good healthcare is increasingly available.

The future advent of driverless cars and transport improvements such as high speed rail can only accelerate these trends. 

So what are the pitfalls to look out for? Well buying the wrong location (local knowledge is always best), buying the wrong kind of housing (steep driveways, steep high maintenance backyards and lots of dangerous staircases are all OFF the desired list) and paying too much (don’t just think that because a property is cheap in relation to Sydney, Canberra or Melbourne prices that it is good value).

In terms of things to look for - consider privacy, solar aspect, micro climate, proximity to beach, shops, and side yard access for extra vehicles which are all key considerations.

They say the grass is always greener, but many Boomers are discovering the secret that sometimes it just may be true. See our instagram history for a random sample of coastal homes we have helped our clients purchase near the beach in recent times. We love helping people make their property dreams a reality.

It may not make you a tv star, but some have found their patch of paradise and they seem to love it. 



Dream or Nightmare? 21 Most Common Property Buyer Mistakes that can derail your financial goals (and how to avoid them)

NOTE: This blog post is originally posted on the TPI Mag site HERE.



We know property is (for most of us) the single biggest financial decision we will make in our entire lives.

We all want to get it right… but how do we avoid the mistakes if we don’t get to practice? Corelogic research indicates we hold a house for an average of 10 years. This means most adults may only buy and sell a home around 5 times in their lifetime, with long breaks in between. The cost of making mistakes on a transaction this size could be more than you make working full time for any entire year… it makes sense to try and understand the pitfalls so we can avoid them.

Below is a list of the most common mistakes we see buyers making on a regular basis that cost them significant time, money and heartache – read them all…it could save you a small fortune & years of wasted time. The list is aimed at property investors but also applies to buying your own home.




1 Not having a plan – buying aimlessly is counter productive and owning the wrong property is a dead weight to your financial future. Real estate is lumpy, it is hard to buy and sell so it only makes sense to think twice before choosing what to purchase. Set long term goals, THEN short term goals & stick to them.

2 Ignoring the fundamentals of supply and demand – if you want the property to experience capital growth (don’t we all?) then you must understand the basic rules of the game. Supply is the amount of available housing now and in the future. Demand is the hunger from human beings to buy, rent or live in said housing. Property investors should look for RISING demand but LIMITED supply to maximise the chance of growth.

3 Being led by the media – In my 16 years of property investing I have seen articles saying that the market will crash by 50% and now is the wrong time to buy property EVERY SINGLE YEAR. This makes for great newspaper articles but most journalists know very little about real estate. Of course we need to understand the market and be smart but there are always opportunities to buy and most people would be better off if they purchase when they can rather than giving in to the fear based media.

4 Not doing enough research & rushing it – a transaction involving $500k-$1m or more deserves some good research. Don’t rush it. Don’t just drive down the road, or to the next suburb and buy anything that takes your fancy. When I bought my first property I had to subscribe to several local newspapers, print out expensive paper based suburb sales reports manually and drive around streets using a pen and highlighter to map the sales history of an area. The internet means buyers have more research tools at our disposal than ever before – there is no excuse not to use it.

5 Analysis Paralysis – research is important but at Precium we have seen many people send literally years searching for the right property only to miss an entire boom phase. This costs hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost opportunity. Don’t let fear (see point 3) drive your decisions. Picking a few key things to measure in line with your goals and moving forward each week using baby steps will create momentum and help you avoid getting stuck.



6 Not knowing your credit/finance – this is vital. Not understanding how much you can borrow has cause some buyers to make offers on properties and even pay non refundable deposits only to fail to settle, losing up to 10% of the properties value. That could be your entire deposit that you have spent years saving for. Get help from a good mortgage broker or at least speak to your banker if you have a personal relationship and understand what you can borrow BEFORE you start bidding at the auction or submitting offers on a property.

7 Job Hopping – in line with point 7 above, you should spend the year prior to buying property in a stable employment environment. Banks don’t like risk, and they believe moving jobs increases risk. Be boring and stay in that stable job until your finance is approved and the house is settled, then if you want a career change you can do it afterwards.

8 Too many credit cards – another finance mistake. Taking on multiple credit cards, personal loans or afterpay purchases will impact your borrowing ability, so avoid this in the leadup to a property application. Live frugally for a while so you can get the property you want, it is called delayed gratification and it is a life lesson your grandmother tried to teach you. It still counts.

9 Not getting the right loan – paying too much interest or being stuck with a dodgy loan can impact property investors who want to build a portfolio. Getting good advice should help.

10 Underestimating buying costs – remember in addition to your deposit you need to fund stamp duty, solicitors, building inspections and buyer’s agents if using them. The combined total of extra costs on a property can be around 5% so ensure you have access to funds as you need them to settle.




11 Buying investments with heart and not head – the colour of the paint on the wall will influence your subconscious feelings during an open home but it SHOULD NOT influence your decision to buy. Moving from emotion to logic and back again is a process that will check whether you are just letting emotion drive your choices, or whether the property lines up with your long term goals (see point 1). The numbers have to work, and sometimes this means buying properties you would not personally want to live in.

12 Not Doing Proper Due Diligence – we see almost every buyer failing at this one. You don’t know what you don’t know. Once you have had an offer accepted there are a lot of things you should check (we use a detailed checklist with our clients) to ensure the property is not a lemon or doesn’t have some kind of problem you don’t know about.

13 Not understanding Cashflow / Holding costs – if a property costs $500k, and rents for $482pw, this is a nominal 5% return ($482×52 / $500k). If you are paying 5% interest only to the bank this is neutral (ie the rent covers the interest) – but remember you will have the property vacant a few weeks per year if the tenant moves out, you have to pay rates, insurances and other costs, and your loan may be P&I so in most cases this property will cost money to own each week. You might be planning for the capital growth to eclipse that weekly cost (if you purchase well it should) but you still need to afford it in the meantime, so run we a comprehensive cashflow model for all our clients so they know whether a property will cost them $12, $37 or $95 per week to own.

14 Not modelling the profit accurately if renovating or developing – this one is for the more advanced investors or those doing property development. Not fully understanding all the costs of renovating for profit or developing multiple units on a block of land can ruin you faster than a drunk week at a casino. Feasibility studies are essential to know what profit to expect before you make a single offer on a property.

15 Not negotiating well – we love negotiation! It is (in our opinion) the highest per hour work most people do in their lifetime. If in 3 phone calls I can change the purchase price of a property by $60k, then I have just made $20k per phone call. The trick is knowing what to say, when to say it and handling the pressure in between. It is a learned skill and a very profitable one, so learn it or get help from an expert!

16 Not understanding the contract – Property contracts are written by sellers and usually designed to protect them so it is really important to have your own solicitor review and make any changes to ensure your interests are covered. Whilst you can do your own conveyancing if you wish – we don’t recommend this, it is just too important.




17 Not having right insurance – once you own a property having adequate insurance is important so you can sleep at night and respond to any problems including tenancy issues, fires, flood or other catastrophes.

18 Not making rental properties safe for tenants – if you are going to be a landlord, do it well. Make sure you approach property investing like a business, good customer service means making your home safe, neat and tidy for tenants. Even if you are providing cheaper or working class housing you can still do it well, keep properties well maintained and the bonus is you get to feel like a decent human being too.

19 Not keeping good records – your accountant will ask you for all the relevant records at tax time. The better your system for keeping those records the easier your tax returns will be. Set up a central filing system or computer folder to store it all, you will thank me later.

20 Not choosing correct ownership structure – most people can buy the first few properties in their own names, but get good advice as it impacts personal tax, land tax, and some people have serious risk issues in their main business that they need to protect property assets from, which might mean company or trust structures are better in some cases.




21 Trying to do everything yourself – Not having a good team is really the root of the above 20 problems, getting good advice and having expertise in all the areas you are lacking is the best way to fast track your success in property. Doing everything yourself is slow, hard and can result in expensive mistakes. Be warned: There are lots of spruikers and con artists out there, so choose carefully and check independent reviews but property investing is best done as a team sport.

We hope this list helps your next property purchase, we wrote it because we know the property industry is biased towards sellers and we believe buyers need all the support they can get.  


Which of the above mistakes have you committed before and how would you overcome it next time?



Can buying a holiday home make financial sense? An honest guide to the pros and cons of short term holiday letting… and 13 ways to maximise your returns.


You might have felt it on your last holiday. The peace and quiet, the sun and the waves (or swap for a good book looking over a winery or paddock if that is more your scene). Ah the serenity...if only you could bottle this and own it.   In fact, the real estate window is right next to the ice cream shop, lets have a look, perhaps we can buy a piece of this?

However, owning the wrong holiday house could be the source of more pain than a sore tooth from a cold ice-cream.  It can cause family arguments, cost you lost revenue, and keep you up at night - not what you want from a dream home at the beach or in the mountains or wine country.


  • Low cost holidays for you and your friends

  • The property can pay for itself from rental income or at least offset much of the expense. The right property well chosen and well managed could outperform long term rental yields by as much as 50-80%.

  • Somewhere to live in retirement, and a place adult kids can stay in emergencies.

  • Store kyaks, boats and other unwanted clutter there instead of at home if not using in between.

  • You can stay in between peak periods to maximise income and still get some usage.

  • Capital Gains - especially for coastal markets within 2-3 hrs of capital cities can be above average.

  • Negative Gearing Tax Benefits (true at the time of writing)

  • Bragging rights at the swanky dinner party.

  • On holidays you get a more consistent familiar experience.


  • If you don’t build the rental income it will cost money each year. Badly managers or being used by family can result in $10k-$30k per year negative cash flow.

  • Extended vacancies in between peak periods or school holidays can mean low or no income months.

  • You can potentially get sick of holidaying in the same place each year

  • Your idea about holidays might not match the market, meaning less income.

  • House prices typically rise and fall with the local market and the economy, some years will be better for selling than others. You might need to sell in a year that is not ideal reducing any capital gain.

  • Management fees, cleaning, council rates and maintenance plus insurance are significant ongoing costs to factor in.

  • Providing linen and keeping the gardens well kept are also important and cost money.

  • The best properties are expensive for a reason

If you are Kanye or Warren Buffett then you can probably afford to go ahead and buy the best with pure emotion, then leave your waterfront mansion empty 90% of the time… but for the rest of us we need to balance out the dream with some reality.

Can normal people actually invest in a property and rent it short term as an investment?  

Shock: Yes (IF some rules are followed!)

13 Rules for successful holiday renting:

1 - Do TAKE IT SERIOUSLY. Short term rentals are like long term investments but require a little more focus, similar to owning a small side business. If you want a purely passive investment this probably isn’t it.

2 - DON’T USE IT in the first few years (ideally 5-10). You need to treat it like a business and make a profit from the peak season. Don’t give in to your cousin who suddenly becomes best buddies and wants to stay the week of Christmas - and don’t take up all the peak periods yourself. The more you treat it like an investment in the early years the better the financial rewards and the more freedom you will have so you can choose to use it yourself later on.

3 - Do THINK LONG TERM for short term holiday letting. It takes around 3 years of great experiences (assuming you created an experience people to want to come back for) to get good repeat business momentum and enough 5 star reviews on Airbnb or Stays to get your occupancy rates high enough to really bring in good returns. Don’t despair when your first year doesn’t break any income records.

4 - Do CHOOSE LOCATION CAREFULLY. Whilst long term tenants can live anywhere there is a need, holiday makers are fussy and will always choose a property closer to the beach, ideally walk to shops, or with a cracking view over the water if possible. They will turn their nose up at something further back, further out or more bland. The exception to this is farmstays but the views, ambience and facilities must make up for distance if you are doing this kind of project.

5 - Do consider OLDER PROPERTIES. Australian tourists are happy with quirky and will tolerate older homes as long as they are clean, well decorated and fun! What is fun? Well you can be a bit more vibrant with your cushions and paint colours, you can be more adventurous with how you lay out entertaining areas or furniture choices.

6 - Do REMEMBER THE LAND is still the most important factor. As will all property investments you are really buying land in a desirable area and betting that people will want to live in that area long term. The house brings the income but the land is where the growth is. As such, don’t forget that the block of land, its location, its development potential and other factors such as zoning, density rules, restrictions etc are still critical to the investment success long term. Larger blocks are our favourite!

7 - Do remember MORE BEDROOMS = MORE INCOME. Renovating for additional bedrooms and even developing a 2nd dwelling on the property can ramp up the income. Development can be highly profitable but most people feel its too risky. One small scale, low risk form of income development that can magnify your returns on a holiday home is to build a secondary dwelling or “Granny Flat” -  as long as your site selection is done correctly, you may be able to build a small dwelling in the rear/side yard, and advertise it separately, or together with the main house for even greater returns.

8 - Do CONSIDER A SPECIFIC NICHE - specific people have needs (such as pet owners) and will pay a premium if you can accommodate them. Horse lovers, dog lovers and boating enthusiasts all take holidays and you can profit from their extra needs.

9 - Do SELL THE SIZZLE not the steak. First impressions count even more for holiday homes, Gardens, paint, furnishings and decor all complete the holiday experience so while they don’t have to be expensive, at least put some thought it so your guests have a great time. A bottle of wine or chocolates plus a spare role of loo paper goes a long way towards a 5 star review which will improve your success over time.

As you can see, combining clever buying selection, plus renovations/development plus short term rentals can generate above average returns for savvy buyers but you do need some discipline to make it work.

So… is this for you?

What if… what if you bought a beach house, but you followed the above rules and you made it work financially? What if in 10-15 years time you had an asset the family could be proud of, make use off, and perhaps you could even retire into? Isn’t that a holiday dream worth sleeping on?



CASE STUDY 1: Kiama/Gerringong/Gerroa - this is a high demand location 90 mins from Sydney and whilst properties are expensive the holiday incomes can be between $50k-$100k on the right properties when well managed. Precium recently secured a 4 bedroom home in Kiama Downs approximately 150m from the Beach for a client who now does short term letting and will eventually retire into the home. Returns are in the 4.5% range as this is year 1.


CASE STUDY 2: Culburra Beach - A client of ours purchased a home on a large corner lot 1 street from the water and are developing a 2 lot subdivision. Not only are they renovating the existing house (in this case adding a 2nd story to capture the water view) but will end up with another 3 bedroom dwelling they can sell separately if they choose. Eventual holiday income returns on combined dwellings will be between 8-10% but remember they have to spend a year completing a DA and building first. Development returns on the new building are around 15% if they choose to sell for instant equity profit but this owner will hold long term as they love the area and believe it will grow.


CASE STUDY 3: Vincentia/Sanctuary Point - Houses close to the water with more than one dwelling can be rented to either 2 long term tenants, 2 short term holiday setups or one of each. Our client purchased a dual income property already established (but you can also build the 2nd dwelling or “Granny Flat” yourself if preferred) In this case the owners currently have 2 long term tenants but if they chose to start holiday letting, they simply give the tenants notice, furnish the property and take some photos for Airbnb. Returns are currently 5.5% and with well run short term letting may fetch 6-7% or above.

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10 - DON’T BUY IN A HOT MARKET - try to buy in more depressed or flat economic times to avoid paying a premium for the property itself. You make your money when you buy so choose wisely and negotiate hard. Buying when finance is tough or there is some fear in the market means you can take your pick of the best properties and buy from sellers who are much more motivated.

11 - DO CONSIDER EXPERT HELP - make sure you only work with reputable property managers, solicitors and buyer’s agents who have experience in the local are you are considering. Having the right team on your side will make the whole process much easier and more profitable.

12 - DO KEEP BUFFER FUNDS. All properties should have an offset account or savings account where a good sized buffer fund is in place for emergency repairs, vacancies etc.

13 - DO KEEP GOOD RECORDS - an experienced accountant will know how to ensure you records are kept and how to maximise the tax advantages of a rental property.

SUMMARY: As you can see there is a lot to think about beyond the initial feeling of “I like it” but if you take the business side of holiday letting seriously it may be possible to have your cake and eat it too. Have a long term approach, get expert help and go for a “twist” an extra bit of land or extra income potential that will tip the property out of the ordinary and into better returns, even if it means a little extra effort. It is usually well worth it!


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Pigs in Mud… fear and other musings.


I have to be honest, it’s a strange time in the East Coast property markets. 


The truth is… thinking about buying property right now feels a bit interesting…

2019 is probably the MOST CONFUSING time in Australian property for uneducated buyers in years.

The media has been totally crazy, calling boom then doom then gloom, debt bombs, affordability crises, smashed avo-gate, fomo, fobo and a hundred other scandals.

The Royal Commission has had lenders running scared. Every economist who wants a front page article is making up predictions.Then, in more recent months we have seen the RBA back pedalling, the Govt removing investor lending restrictions AND interest only restrictions. The handbrake is actually off now. But the election is still coming, and that is making people feel uncertain all over again.

I wouldn’t blame you feeling confused, I have had people calling me unsure what to do all month, many want to buy are are unsure if it’s the right time.

Some buyers are playing the guessing game, and some are sitting on their hands waiting for someone to ring a bell at the bottom of the market. (HINT: Nobody rings a bell at the bottom of the market)

In fact… some savvy developers in key locations (not Sydney or Melbourne, I am talking about growth coastal markets) have already decided the bottom has happened and are out in force buying again. I personally know some agents who have sold 10 properties in the last fortnight and they are busy calling a recovery.


Some clients are asking about “the market” lately.  We buy in lots of markets so we always try and provide an answer that starts with “it depends”… 

A snapshot of the areas we have been buying lately in the interest of honest disclosure. 

Postcode 1: This postcode is > UP 2.3% < for the year to January 2019.  Recently purchased (and still looking) Positive cash flow units (example recent deal $286k purchase, rented for $400pw or 7.2% gross rental yield)

Postcode 2:  This postcode is > DOWN 6.7% < for the year but sales speeds have already picked up in January and stock on market recently started falling. Major Infrastructure projects mean 3-5 year outlook is above average for growth. Good value houses between $300-500k. Recently purchased (and still purchasing) Dual Occupancy Potential sites turning 1 home into 2 and small/medium development sites.  Development margins ranging from 10% to 20%.  Homes suitable for Granny Flat additions for long term 6-8% cash flow rental returns.  

Postcode 3: This postcode is > UP 8% < for the year to January 2019. Recently purchased waterfront beach homes. 

Postcode 4: This postcode is > UP 3.4% < for the year to January 2019 - recently purchased (and still actively purchasing) dual occupancy development sites turning 1 home into 2 for 10-15% equity profits and granny flat sites. Entry prices sub $500k if willing to renovate the existing home. 

Postcode 5: This postcode is > DOWN 0.4% < and has a major infrastructure project about to start. It represents good value for renovators and those wanting larger blocks of land close to beach. 

As you can see the “bloodbath” and price falls widely publicised in some Sydney suburbs are not equally translating to all markets. On the plus side, a softer market means we can DO OUR JOB. For us going to work for our clients we love adding the value. The more the better… but I digress.


There are a few very fundamental factors to consider (you can be sure these won’t get covered in the media because they are boring and boring doesn’t sell newspapers)

FACT: The nations two most expensive cities are still pulling back from a very high peak (this was always expected and predicted after a boom), and they have more pain to come in coming months. The media behave like Sydney and Melbourne are the only two real estate markets in the country - meaning you would be forgiven for forgetting about all the other options out there.

FACT: Next week, next month, next year, next decade every single Australian will still need a house to live in and protect us from the sun, rain, heat and cold.

FACT: The cost of living and the cost of building houses is continuing to rise at approximately 2-3% each year.

FACT: Our population grew by approximately 390,000 last year.

FACT: Unemployment is falling – at 5% it is now the lowest it has been since 2011.

FACT: As the globe becomes more mobile Australia is ranked one of the highest demand places to live (on the entire planet) so demand for immigration continues.

FACT: The Royal Commission report has basically said our banking system is stable and NOT about to implode, telling the banks to carry on.

FACT: Government restrictions on investment lending have been lifted signalling a green light for lenders.

FACT: East Coast property markets outside of Sydney and Melbourne are remarkably stable and some areas are growing. Plenty offer fair prices and solid rent returns.

FACT: It is still possible to buy a home on it’s own block of land for $600k, $500k, $400k, even $300k in some areas not as remote as you would think.

FACT: Specific regions of NSW have record infrastructure spending going on right now. Infrastructure spending in the billions of dollars which will impact property markets.


Not all home in all markets will perform equally. You need to research thoroughly, buy well and make your own profits to ensure success.


Step 1: BE HONEST... Feel the fear. Admit it. Denial is useless.

Step 2: REFLECT... What is the reality behind the headlines?

Step 3: ASK... Where are the opportunities in this situation? What are my goals?

Step 4: CHOOSE... Ok then...what do I want to do now? 

OPTION A: Continue waiting and watching. The truth is there is still uncertainty in the media and economy so perhaps this makes sense?


OPTION B: Do Something. Take action.

REMEMBER: Warren Buffet says: “Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful” 

He didn’t build Berkshire Hathaway into one of the worlds richest companies by sitting on the sidelines in the scary times.

IF you can think like the world's greatest investor (and that is a BIG IF) then now might be the time to BE AGGRESSIVE (“really? did Matt just suggest that?” - ok well if you are shaking your head then you might be right, I might be a lunatic but just take your time and think about this, you don’t have to rush out and buy the whole market but at least check out the 3 case studies below…)


The truth is amidst all the crazy vibes we have been like PIGS IN MUD lately on behalf of our buyer clients. 

We have slashed the purchase price of our last few client's properties more than ever before. The reduction is often between 7%-13% and occasionally more. 

Here are some recent case studies to show you just how much of a savings clients have been getting: 

CASE STUDY 1: Unit Advertised for $315k (fairly priced to sell fast and comparable sales in that exact range) - we haggled hard and purchased for $286k - a discount of approximately 10% - but we also knew the current rent was too low, so we worked with the client to do 1 very minor repair in the unit then we worked with the property manager and this unit is now rented at $400pw, a gross yield of 7.2% and positive cash flow. 

CASE STUDY 2: A house advertised for $420k but finally dropped to a very fair $400k in a street with the 2 most recent comparable sales being $405k and $430k. We knew the vendor was very motivated having already purchased elsewhere and moved house so we purchased for $370k (an 8% discount to fair market value). 

CASE STUDY 3: A unique double income property with development potential - and being a deceased estate we were working with extended family members on the sale. An initial advertised price of $750k fell into the $600’s during the marketing campaign. The property was withdrawn from the market and was about to be handed back to the banks when the agent called me to see if we could have one last attempt at saving the property from the mortgagee in possession process as the family would be better off if they could avoid this. 

The property had some repair issues so we negotiated a sale at $570k, a 24% discount from original asking price, and conservatively 13% or more from mid $600’s which was very fair market value. 

The property will rent for $600pw minimum or 5.5% and has massive development potential. The clients are quietly confident that in time they will realise the $100-180k equity gain they secured at purchase along with further ongoing profits when the market improves. 

So, as you an see we are having a LOT of fun delivering results for our clients at present. It is great to be able to add so much value during the buying process. The market is ripe for savvy buyers to make tomorrow's profits today. The current market opportunities simply will not last forever. 100 years of property cycle data has proven this true time and time again.

HOWEVER there are still numerous headwinds in the national financial system, the election is still coming and sentiment is still down.

So think carefully before you decide on your own course of action.

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SMOKE, MIRRORS and the ROYAL COMMISSION…  What you need to know following the recent R.C. Report. 

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If you are a property investor, then perhaps you felt it… (Warning Rant ahead)

it was like being under a dark cloud, with the threat of a big stick (possibly hidden in that cloud) for all of 2018.

The royal commission hung over property markets and the finance industry all year. Buyer’s worried finance would dry up altogether further turning the screws on property markets. The media lapped it up, called for armageddon and coined catchy phrases like FOMO, FOBO and FONGO. 

To be fair, Sydney and Melbourne needed a correction, they had years of double digit growth which was never sustainable. It happens at the end of every. single. boom. cycle. We knew it was coming. 

The rest of the country has been scratching our heads… because markets have been essentially FINE. A mild cooling in sentiment, a minor pull back in some areas, ongoing moderate growth in others. The rest of Australia has a remarkable boring set of graphs behind it and no real indicators for a wholesale crash. 

Anyway… the Royal Commission is now DONE. For all that smoke, for all the fear and doubt, was there fire?

Well yes, & no.

What do you need to know?

For brokers, the R.C. news is essentially BAD: 

The broking industry copped the worst of the suggested reforms, despite never having been named as the problem or the main reason for the commission in the first place. This is in my opinion immoral, unjust and unwise. It will reduce competition simply playing into the hands of the banks over time. 

To all the quality mortgage brokers I know, and their families…. Also for the hundred’s of clients I have worked with who love the impartial advice they get from their brokers I am very sorry, you have just been shafted. 

Expect to see profit margins and market share for big 4 bank loans to increase and a return to the Orwellian days of going cap in hand to the bank for a loan over the next few yrs. Expect to see some of the 2nd tier lenders disappear which was the intention of the banks in this all along. I have no evidence Hayne was paid millions by the banks and I am not normally a conspiracy theorist but wow its hard not to be suspicious after the other day. Share prices for the big 4 ALL up, share prices for mortgage broking houses DOWN 30% (in about 1 hr!). Stockbrokers always know what the real news is first.

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For investors however, the R.C. news is essentially a sigh of RELIEF: 

There were NO instructions for banks to further tighten their lending practices in Kenneth Hayne's final report into the finance sector with the Sydney and Melbourne booms already having stopped. Safe lending has been accepted and the potential collapse of our housing industry has NOT been red flagged. 

"I consider that the steps ... taken by banks to strengthen their home lending practices and to reduce their reliance on the HEM – are being taken with a view to improving compliance with the responsible lending provisions of the NCCP Act," Mr Hayne wrote in his report.

To be clear, HAYNE DOESN’T think we are headed for a GFC style housing collapse as per the USA in 2007/8. Despite the media calling like hyenas for the complete implosion of our entire housing industry, this is not likely according to Hayne’s statements.

As has been stated many (many) times before, we have some of the tightest lending criteria in the world. We have some of the lowest default rates in the world. We have a love of property ownership and we are committed to owning our own homes. 

So… perhaps the national property market (apart from a few overpriced high-rise towers of course) will now get on with life? 

What does this mean for buyers?

Well, lending will go on. Government restrictions for investors are being lifted. Banks share prices are up today. The finance industry knows the R.C. is a green light for lending. Over coming years banks may dominate brokers but loans will still be there.

AND.. in May 2019 we have a federal election, after which time the grandfathered negative gearing and capital gains tax benefits will be impossible to get. Assuming Labour win, which most analysts are convinced they will.

So, this means the clock is now ticking…and its 11:59 if you want those tax advantages.

On the ground investors now have 9-11 weeks (depending on the exact date of the election) to get a property under contract if they wish to protect their tax rebates for years to come before the nation votes. After that the assistance of negative gearing and a reduced capital gains taxation rate will be gone. 

Gone for good. Gone. 

BUT it is important not to rush out or buy rubbish properties. Highrise towers, units in our cities are clearly on the nose and do NOT offer any investment returns for investors in this market. Please please please, the off the plan towers are the one part of the market that could have more pain ahead, so be very careful.

We have always said PUT PROFIT before TAX. That hasn’t changed.

What to do? 

Be boring:

70% of Aussies have always wanted to own their own home with a piece of dirt. This is still possible if you look at the numbers, and not the shiny wrapping. Just don’t pay millions for it in falling capitals, its too risky. Be boring and consider buy cheaper homes that the majority of Australians can afford in sensibly priced areas with strong rental markets. Fall in love with sensible numbers, not pretty new units and glossy brochures.

Follow the money:

Certain regional markets offer huge infrastructure spending which will benefit local economy, local jobs, and local house prices. They will buck the trend of the major capitals. 

Watch the retirees and digital nomads:

It is important to choose areas to invest that are IN DEMAND with local owner occupiers AND have growing populations of people arriving every month as well. There are KEY COASTAL markets within a few short hours of Sydney (to the north and the south) and other markets in northern NSW that are getting the bulk of the baby boomer relocations and savvy digital and mobile workers who are moving away from the big smoke and arriving in lifestyle destinations ready to telecommute. (yes this is a well documented GLOBAL trend now and it is gaining pace)

Cashed up buyers are STILL quietly buying quality beach homes on the coast outside our cities for top dollar. You might be surprised but its true.

Seek quality:

To be held in tension with point 1… buy affordably but buy the best quality you can. Freestanding homes on good sized blocks of land in owner occupied areas are less risky and will outperform compared to newer units in oversupplied locations/ overpriced capital city markets. As Mark Twain said “buy land, the’re not making it anymore” 

Negotiate hard: 

This is not a time to pay too much. Educated buyers are making strong but low offers right now and getting high quality properties for less money.  Us Buyer’s Agents are like pigs in mud in the current market as we get to negotiate harder and get better outcomes than in recent years.

Make sure you have a team you can Trust:

The R.C. Highlighted the worst of the banks behaviour precisely because they are supposed to be trustworthy. That is why we are so upset at them. 

Never has having quality advocates on your team been more important. Whether it is a broker, a fully independent Buyer’s Agent or a Solicitor - check them out thoroughly and ensure they are set up to represent your interests and protect you from lemons, sharks and dodgy properties.

Action vs inaction - it is up to you but as Warren Buffet said: “Be fearful with others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful”.  This next 2 month window could be the truest that statement has ever been for Australian real estate. 

Considering buying before the election? Please read our most recent article “6 Things to consider if buying before May 2019”

Considering buying at all? Our gift to you is the 14 point “Property Buyer’s Cheatsheet” 14 things you must do to avoid painful and expensive mistakes. 

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6 Factors to consider if investing in Australian Property BEFORE May 2019.

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If you are a property investor you would have to have been hiding under a rock not to have noticed the changes over the last 12 months. From FOMO (fear of missing out) to FOBO (fear of missing better options) the urgency has gone out of the market and many buyers are sitting on their hands. 

The media has spent all year calling for doom and gloom, and our 2 most expensive markets have seen significant price falls.  BUT much of the nation has a relatively stable property market. Many economists and the reserve bank themselves have been clear that the fundamentals are actually ok, especially in the vast areas of coastal and regional Australia where normal family owned homes are the majority of stock (ie everywhere EXCEPT the high-rise tower madness of the inner cities). 

So, if the foundation is firm but the sentiment is saggy what’s a poor investor to do? Do you decide to buy or not? Well, smart money has been quietly buying over the last 3 months (reasons below) and here are 6 reasons you should think about following suit: 

# 1 The LENDING RULES just changed: In December 2018 APRA REMOVED the artificial set of brakes they had applied to investor lending. They applied this temporary restriction back in March 17 because they wanted to stop the Sydney and Melbourne markets (remember all the hipster anger, FOMO and smashed ago-gate?). By all accounts they were successful and things ground to a halt. 

Well this policy handbrake was a limit to investor lending as 30% of total lending. The handbrake is now off.  This should create a signal for lenders to get more creative and lend to investors again after one of the tightest years on record for investor borrowing. 

# 2  NEGATIVE GEARING: If you believe the polls, Labour has a good chance of winning the next federal election in April/May 2019.  They have stated they will remove any remaining negative gearing benefits - which will make holding investment properties slightly more expensive in the short term (due to the extra tax paid). For most people the actual amount is not large but the sentiment is huge on this issue. 

Eliminating negative gearing will be likely to cause a short term exodus of less educated property investors to stop thinking property altogether. History shows this will only last 6-12 months then they will be back in the market again. HOWEVER - Labour has said they will be grandfathering negative gearing laws for those who already hold property before the election.  What does this mean? Well, if you buy BEFORE the election, you get to KEEP precious tax savings for the life of the property. But after the election there will be no possibility for time travel. 

# 3 CAPITAL GAINS TAX. Similar to above, Labour is likely to do the same thing to Capital Gains tax rules.  This means the sale profit in your hand from a property purchased in March 2019 compared to July 2019 could be tens of thousands of dollars extra. In particular the current 50% reduction could be squeezed down to 25% effectively adding up to 40% (top marginal rate) to the total tax paid on a capital gains event. Can you imagine copping a 40% tax rise on your salary in one hit? Financially for the average investor holding a property 5-7 years this is an even bigger deal than the negative gearing issue. Remember the old adage “the best time to buy real estate is yesterday, the 2nd best time is today” - well in 2019 that could be the understatement of the decade. 

# 4 MEDIA SKEW… The media hype (aimed to maximising fear to sell more newspapers) regarding falling property values is NOT nationwide but highly focussed on overpriced Sydney and Melbourne Suburbs. Now we know property has ups and downs and should be a long term investment… WHAT THE MEDIA AREN’T TELLING YOU is that across Australia (including some parts of regional NSW) are performing far better than Sydney and are likely to continue for the immediate future. We know the key areas that have outstanding potential based on infrastructure growth projects.   Remember property is all about supply and demand? That fundamental truth hasn’t changed, and won’t change any time soon. 

5 GLOBAL ECONOMY - The fact is there are a number of global issues at play that increase uncertainty. Every year since the global economy existed you can find a headline indicating that when one country sneezes somewhere else catches a cold. Its the nature of being connected. Currently the trade wars between China and the USA plus Brexit are at the top of mind. These are much more likely to effect share prices than property. Seen in this light, property could actually be a safe haven from falling stock prices. 

6 UNEMPLOYMENT - December saw further falls in unemployment from 5.2% to 5.1%. This is solid news for our overall economy and employment picture. ABS Chief Economist Bruce Hockman said: "The continued decrease in the trend unemployment rate to 5.1 per cent coincides with the highest trend participation rate ever."  Is our economy imploding? It seems perhaps not. 

So… what should you make of this? 


Be a turtle - pull inside your shell and do nothing. This is what most people will do because it is easy and allows fear to call the shots. 


For the brave few still reading… If you want good deals you need to be prepared to buy when sentiment is quiet. It’s what a professional investor does, as Warren Buffett says “be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful”. You would be surprised how many professional investors (who come from property families worth millions) are actively buying in today’s market. What does that tell you? It tells you they know its a good time to be making cheeky offers and having them accepted, that’s what. Tick tick tick. The deals that present themselves in the market between now and April have the potential to be the best available for years. You will need to act now to capitalise on them. 

Caution: New and off the plan properties in oversupplied locations could still see further price falls. We have never advised people to buy these kinds of properties for this reason. Not everything will perform the same & not all areas will grow equally. Buying established property in owner occupied dominant areas with a tight supply/demand equation at fair prices is the best form of insurance we know. Do your research and remember you make your money when you buy.

Is this something you are thinking about? If so download our FREE 14 Step “Property Buyer’s Cheatsheet” HERE.



The Road (Less?) Travelled to the South Coast & 4 reasons to consider infrastructure led property investing in 2018 & 2019:


Now that the Sydney and Melbourne property booms are over… many investors are wondering what next for property markets?

Add the fact that finance is not as easy to get is it used to be with the royal commission currently making the banks tightening their lending criteria and you would be right to assume that not all markets will grow equally in coming is ahead.

At the same time we all know it makes sense to buy when others are not buying - the often quoted saying from Warren Buffet applies equally to the stock market and property too “be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful” (for more on this see previous blog article HERE)

The thing is that whilst all investing (housing, shares, any market you care to participate in) contains inherent risk… so does NOT investing. The doomsday prophets have predicted crashes every year for decades, and listening to them over that time would have proved very expensive indeed.  Avoiding the markets for decades would have exposed the cautious cash investor to a 100% risk of having their capital eroded by inflation AND missing out the lost gains from never having been in the growth market. That is costly advice.

So...if you do want to be in the housing market, how do you actually make choices about where to buy in a climate that has a bigger than average dosage of fear? How do we narrow the options and stack the odds in our favour?

Some people watch interest rates, tea leaves & the media to guide their property investing decisions, with very mixed results.  There has to be something more substantial than that surely?

One way that has worked well for investors down through time is to follow the infrastructure. Simply put, look for major projects that have impact on property markets and by the close proximity to them. Historically that has meant better than average returns whilst the improvements are being built and priced into the local market over a period of a few years.

It's actually quite simple… Real estate performs in response to supply and demand, this actually occurs at a very local level… So even though the sentiment in the national media might be hot one day and cold the next, the actual price of a house in spot X isn't determined by the media at all. It is governed by the number of families willing to part with money in that particular spot at that particular time. Stop. Go back a re read that sentence again. This is the bedrock of all investing. Seeing THROUGH the media and sentiment to recognise true supply and demand is essentially the core skill that renowned investors like Warren Buffet demonstrate, and why they look so wise in hindsight.  

Infrastructure projects are real. They create increases in jobs and economic activity, and can improve lifestyle or increase efficiency of travel in certain areas. These increases and improvements can flow through into the price of land.

Its common sense really, even though it is not common at all. Imagine your own suburb, consider if a new train line was installed straight through the middle of the suburb...  the train station Direct to the CBD in brackets sort of jobs was all of a sudden five minutes walk from your house. Ignoring your own emotional reaction to the increasing traffic and busyness in your area, that kind of infrastructure is normally going to increase prices because there will be an increase in people willing to buy Close to a train station… it's very efficient form of transport it makes people's lives easier as they can travel to work without dealing with traffic.

Now currently on the south coast it’s not a train but a road. In fact 4 sections of the same road.  The princes Highway at Albion Park, Berry, Berry to Bomaderry and Nowra. When it comes to regional areas, any reductions in the tyranny of distance also flow into land prices. Infrastructure like roads influence demand in the same way that increasing the size of a pipe increases water flow, and that pushes prices.

What is happening in the areas surrounding Sydney in 2018 and beyond? The government has already predicted and pre-empted the slow down in the housing markets (their best tax revenue generator) and has begun planning a major combination of infrastructure projects to stimulate the economy, provide jobs, and improve future amenity for our population of the future.

The south coast is currently seeing the biggest expenditure on road improvements in decades.  The Berry Bypass was recently completed at a cost of $580 million. The Berry to Bomaderry upgrade is now underway at $450 million. The Albion Park bypass will cost $630 million and bypass 16 intersections. The Nowra bridge has been confirmed at $310 million and will greatly ease local congestion.

Each of these sections is noteworthy on their own, but when combined over the next 5 years we will see the drive from Sydney become significantly quicker, safer, and consequently more people will visit and move to what is already a more visited tourist destination than the gold coast.

When you fix a narrow winding road from a really large population area, you effectively increase the size of the funnel people can flow from the large area (Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne) to the small area (lifestyle destinations within 2-3 hrs of the aforementioned cities). Increasing the size of the funnel can double or triple the number of people arriving in small destinations which puts a disproportionate pressure on the local housing market. If there is no increase in supply then prices are the only place left to absorb the pressure. When that happens capital gains are well above average.

What about jobs? 2 Comments. First: Baby Boomers don’t need them. Baby boomers are finally fulfilling the prophetic sea change that has been talked about for over a decade by demographers like Bernard Salt after rebuilding their super funds post GFC and bolstering their home values in the recent boom. They are no longer tied to CBD jobs and are free to relocate as they wish. Economists tell us that every 1 permanent relocation to an area can create as many as 7 jobs. Boomers need houses. This creates a Trade shortage. This also increases demand on local health facilites, creating nurse and Dr positions.  It fills the schools with the children of tradesmen & women, increasing funding for teaching positions. Some of the South Coast schools are literally bursting at the seams.

Second: The internet is making jobs more mobile. Younger families are also moving. The NBN has allowed more and more of us (the author included) to work remotely and sever permanent ties with capital cities. Digital nomads are exponentially increasing globally and the South Coast is no exception. People living in Huskisson can write software for a company in Singapore and a young coder in Mollymook can fulfill a contract to Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne or Silicone Valley.

To top that off Nowra - the Shoalhaven’s northern population hub has been quietly increasing the size and scope of its Naval forces and in recent years approximately $1billion has been spent at HMAS Albatross. Several thousand employees and contractors call Nowra home.

Just up the road the Shellharbour Marina is a $2 billion project that is changing the image of the former working class area just south of Wollongong into a desirable boat-centric destination. Property prices and population numbers are booming around the high profile development.

All the South Coast doesn’t have is a mining boom. The fact we didn’t have mining insulated us from previous market gains when the mining boom was running meant we started with a lower price base in our real estate markets.  This also kept rents from running up into the unsustainable highs of other regional areas. All in all our markets were stable and boring for the entire decade preceding 2015. The growth of recent years is a very recent phenomenon and may herald the start of a very different era.

In aggregate the above infrastructure projects total over $5 billion.  In a property market characterised by geography that will not be used for housing (national parks, the coast, and escarpments) with only a few hundred thousand people…. the impact of all those improvements is being, and will be felt in house prices.

When added to our obvious natural assets, the fact we are already a highly desirable tourist destination, and the demographic shift towards a favourable retirement lifestyle we have a perfect storm for capital gains.

This is a demographically led population boom with a technological twist that is being supported by infrastructure.  The money is being spent, the people are arriving and the transformation of our region is underway, like it or not.

Warning: The area will not grow uniformly, some areas will outperform others and you need quality research to understand which areas are growing in what order and by what magnitude.  Suburb and street level research becomes more important than ever when discerning buyers like Baby Boomers are selecting their preferred locations.

Getting local experience on your side will even the score but ensure you are not employing anyone with a conflict of interest. If the price of good advice seems high remember that the price of free advice will often be much much higher in poor asset selection and years of regret.

What could be the outcome of getting in on this trend early? Getting investment grade properties in quality locations at fair or better prices stacks the odds in your favour to reap the benefits of this next property wave.

The next 5 years in property in Australia are not going to be the same as the last 5 years. You need a different system to profit from real estate than buy in a capital city and hope. Until you have an evidence based approach to selecting investments you will have patchy (or worse) results and be at the whim of lady luck. Markets reward those who are brave enough to see into the future. When a region like ours is a place everyone wants to come for holidays, isn’t it only logical to think that as transport and technology improve that we will choose where we live based on how we like it, not whether it is close to our place of work?

The opportunity for those with vision is to own properties that in a decade will be vastly more expensive and looking back prices will seem ridiculously cheap in hindsight. Further it is also totally possible to move to one of the most idyllic places on earth and be a short drive from our nearest capitals, Sydney and Canberra. For those willing to invest, develop, or move to the South Coast the future may be a bright jewel of opportunity at a time when the general sentiment is depressed.

The author has no regrets since we moved here from Sydney 10 years ago and he can’t think of a better place to be.  

I guess that makes him biased - but hopefully for all the right reasons :)





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Pins in Strawberries and Fear in Real Estate 


I feel bad for the farmers. A few bad apples (sorry - fruit pun) put pins in strawberries and we had instant fear over one of our most loved fruits. The property market is a little more complicated than that but only just. 

There is a lot of fear in the media right now pertaining to property. Sydney and Melbourne markets have peaked, and many suburbs experienced price reductions from the peak. The Royal Commission has the banks under the spotlight and borrowers are finding they need to jump through more hoops to get finance. 

Many markets have seen a slowdown in sales speeds and auction clearance rates are lower. You could easily be fooled into thinking Armageddon is on the cards for every city, village, town and region in the county and price movements will be a carbon copy of our capitals. 

That would be a an easy assumption to make, but you would most likely be wrong. Assuming everything is the same as Sydney or Melbourne is like assuming every type of fruit and veg in the supermarket is unsafe because of those pesky pins found in the strawberries. 

Let’s be clear - when APRA tightened lending restrictions they had an agenda:  

They wanted to pull the handbrake on the runaway Sydney and Melbourne markets. They wanted to kerb overly excited speculation. They wanted to prevent us repeating America’s mistakes.

According to most economists they have successfully achieved this. 

Both cities had experienced intense price growth for years and were at risk of hitting true bubble status. They have now stopped cold. Like strawberry sales did a few weeks ago.

But is Australian real estate just 1 market? Or event 2? 

No way. 

We actually have way more different markets than a fruit salad. 

This is the thing the media so often ignore. 

Each area has its own level of supply and demand. Hundreds of micro markets that are all ebbing and flowing with our choices, our decisions to stay, to move, to head up the coast or down, or interstate.  As different from strawberries as the lychees, mangoes, carrots and broccoli on Woolies shelves. 

Most regions in most states never had the kind of FOMO (fear of missing out) that saw Kellyville median go from $630k to $1.29m in 4 years or Bondi from $1.3 to $2.7 in 5yrs or in Brighton VIC which ran from $1.6 up to $2.8m. Even working couples with 2 high powered jobs (and little hope of having kids) struggle in such pricey locales, let alone the rest of us. 

It had to stop and it did. 

But what about the bigger picture? We all know most areas outside these 2 markets are far far cheaper, and more achievable. Does that mean anything? 

Could the pins being in just 1 fruit type mean the others are safer than we think?

Wait… doesn’t the world’s best investor say to “be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful?” 

Yes he does. His name is Warren Buffet. 

So… how is the herd… the “others” behaving now? 

With fear. 

Massive doses of it. 

The media is playing the doom and gloom card on every week’s auction clearance rate too because it sells more papers.

So… does that make it the perfect time to “be greedy” in the buffet vernacular and consider buying? 


Lets think about this.

First - finance is tough this year, we stated that. As a result there could be more short term pain. But what of other measures?

What about population growth? 

Surely there is nothing more fundamental to property markets than the law of supply and demand? 

In August this year Australia ticked over 25 million people. Last year we added 380,000 to our total. This is a mix of immigration and natural increase of course, but the overall picture being a lot of new humans in the nation. This is likely to continue unabated and will put a requirement on us to keep building homes or see fewer people competing for the same ones. If the markets and stopped growing the developers gone into their caves because the easy money is over, who is building? Hmmm….

What about internal migration?

Evidence shows we are becoming more mobile, more lifestyle focussed and key natural assets (beautiful places) are drawing ever increasing population growth from moving baby boomers and you families opting out of the city. 

Globally, digital nomads are a thing. The internet is given more of us (author included) the freedom to ditch the long city commute and live where we wish. Usually on the coast or in the hills somewhere pretty, usually within 3 hours of some larger infrastructure base. Interesting…

What about employment? 

This year unemployment has fallen from 5.8% (pretty good historically) to 5%. It fell last month and looks to be falling further. In fact it is much closer to its lowest on record (4%) than its highest (11.2) over the last 40 years of data gathering. Armageddon? Possibly not quite.

Maybe buffet was right. 

Maybe timing is everything and listening to the herd is the worst thing to do. 

Maybe those little known overlooked markets around the country… those ones outside of the capitals that have booming local economies and growing populations could represent some very interesting places to buy after all? 

Especially at clever prices while everyone is too busy looking at the pins. 

Seeing past the fear is a simple as taking a deep breath, looking at all the evidence, and choosing your areas wisely. (To really whip the metaphor switch to eating bananas or mangoes in place of strawberries for a while - you might even like them)


(Disclaimer: The author continued eating strawberries during the “crisis” and enjoys a slightly unbalanced diet which he does not in any way advise. Please eat and invest responsibly)

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TaxATION... WAIT! don'T Stop Reading. free STUFF inside

Yawn... many of us hate tax. Or are at least bored by it. (sorry to the few details people I just offended) 

But what if I said the 3 minutes you take to read this could be worth $3000? $6000? more?

With tax returns due at the end of the month (if you lodge with an accountant) I always get asked about depreciation at this time of year.  Truth is, it doesn't matter when, but at some point you should ask yourself..."have I got depreciation schedules on all my investment properties?"

Now, some of you are saying "I don't even know what that is!" 

Ok, what is depreciation?  In a nutshell: 


Depreciation is a reduction in the value of an asset over time, due in particular to wear and tear.
"provision should be made for depreciation of fixed assets" - in residential property this means your carpet, blinds, oven, dishwasher, etc etc.  Basically anything that isn't part of the structure of the building and can wear out. 

The bad news: this stuff wears out and needs replacing eventually. 

The good news: the ATO lets you claim the cost of wear and tear every year.  

So if you put in new carpet last year - you can claim a portion of the wear this year. And you should. Why? Because this creates a "phantom" tax loss - ie a claim that reduces your taxable income but doesn't cost you actual cash this year.

That means you pay less tax.

That is good news, and its worth thousands (see - I told you it would be worth it to keep reading). 

If you are a property investor trying to grow a portfolio and have lots of properties, or even just 2 or 3, then you need to learn to manage your cashflow.  It's one of the hardest parts of long-term success.  Let's face it, we all hit cashflow walls occasionally, and if you ever want to take a holiday you need to know you can pay all those bills. So please, get a QS report done sooner or later. You won't regret it and you will make lots of $ back every year. 

After a cheeky headline like the one above I know you're not still reading because I am entertaining.  Wait no more - here is the free stuff I promised.  Well, I know the good people at Depreciator - one of Australia's few quality nationwide residential Quantity Surveyors I would trust.  I have personally used them on investment properties of mine and been thrilled with the results.  They offered a discount for my clients.  I don't get any commission at all for this, I just want my clients, and anyone who visits this blog - to get a really good deal.  

So - it's discount time. Follow this link and take Depreciator up on their offer of a phone call.  When you get on the phone request a $55 discount and mention Precium. 

Getting a good QS report results in thousands of money back over the years of claiming stuff. If you know someone who owns investment properties that isn't claiming all they can - then you are costing them thousands by NOT sharing this blog post to them. (do you feel guilty yet?)

Have a nice day :)



May Market?


May Market?

I have a few semi-related bits to post - so I will break things up.  I will send the market update today and the "part 2" (technical term I know) in a few days. 

Market Update.  Short version - the south coast is humming along.  RP Data and Your Investment Property Mag agree, they interviewed me for this article on the Illawarra being the best performing regional market in AUSTRALIA for the last 12 months.  Well worth a read but the take home summary:  Baby Boomers retiring out of the capitals is having a big impact on the market.  If you plan on getting into the market but were wondering if it was better to wait a yr, be warned, prices are on the up.

P.S. The Illawarra & Shoalhaven Regional Plan (which is in part driving the above market results) is something lots of people have been interested in so I put a link to download it from the home page.  Feel free to check it out if you haven't already.  (NOTE: Image shown is new Burrill Lake Bridge under construction image courtesy of Darryl Gamma)


Part 2:  Those of you who know me know I love property data (nerdy I know) well I am working on putting together what I believe will be Australia's best value property data access and some great education tools for those of you who are the DIY investor type or just want to know it all. 

STAY TUNED for part two...




Property Management - Good, Bad, Ugly

Have you heard the (familiar) horror story?  


Good Bad Ugly.jpeg

Nightmare tenant stops defaults on rent, trashes property, invites squatters, devalues home, upsets neighbours and ruins cashflow putting investor into financial stress because they still have a mortgage to pay….that story.


Ugh. (shudder)


One of my places got trashed once.  Tenant stopped paying rent, spent the money on drugs, we commenced tribunal action but they did a runner owing quite a bit.  The house was left in a terrible state and they stole a bunch of stuff. By the time I get the place cleaned up and rented again I was way out of pocket.  I got my insurance money eventually but it took a long time to actually get paid.


Now before you cry for me, don’t worry I am a big boy, I can cope, chalk it up to experience.  And no, it didn’t turn me off property (obviously).


But no one likes the thought of that happening. It scares a lot of people away from property altogether, and pushes others into overpriced new or off the plan properties because of some imagined promise that this wouldn’t happen if your rental is shiny enough.  It isn’t true, I have heard the same story even in new properties and high priced markets.


How do we 100% avoid the risk this kind of thing happening to us?


Truth is, you can’t.


But you can minimise it.


When I reviewed why it happened to me, I was cranky.


Then I got honest. I was left with 1 main reason.


I should have picked a better property manager, they screwed up royally (long story) but I hired them so again, my fault.




Choosing a property manager is actually one of THE MOST important parts of the whole property investing shebang. Get it right and the experience of ownership is smooth and fun for the most part.  Get it wrong, and….


I might do another post on this later but for now, here is a few quick things to look for in a PM.


1 - Accurate appraisals - knowing the numbers in their market so they don’t over or under rent your property.

2 - Being willing to instruct and help landlords on required renos and maintenance to put your property in the sweet spot of best local tenants. (ie yes to dishwasher, no to helipad)

3 - Being able and willing to screen the bad tenants out. (how they do this is everything, they have different ways but it must work)

4 - Having systems to pick up rent defaults and take matters to tribunal quickly when required, and being able to represent the landlord (not the tenant) in those cases.


In case you are wondering - no, I don’t do property management, and no, I don’t take commissions for recommending anyone.   I just spend a lot of time looking hard for the good ones and stick them when I find them.  Which makes me appreciate mine even more.  Come to think of it, I might ring one today to say something nice.


When you find a good one, look after them.  It’s a stressful often thankless task.




5 Things Mum taught me about Property Data

DISCLAIMER: This is not my actual mother. She would be horrified if I put her photo up here so you get this lame GIF instead. Mum doesn't even look like a bit like this. &nbsp;Sorry mum.&nbsp;

DISCLAIMER: This is not my actual mother. She would be horrified if I put her photo up here so you get this lame GIF instead. Mum doesn't even look like a bit like this.  Sorry mum. 


I love my mum.  She taught me a lot.  Especially about Property Data.  I am almost certain mum was talking about property data when she drummed these life lessons into me at a tender age.  Given it's Easter (not sure if that has any correlation at all) I though I would share her best thoughts on the matter. 



1 - "You'd forget your head if it wasn't screwed on."


It’s amazing how markets forget.  Despite when data is singing a clear supply demand song, we think things like “this time its different”.  Data shows that trends in property are long, but also that they can and do reverse.  We need to watch the data and learn to interpret it to see future trends by comparing to decades of previous market movement, not just months or years.


2 - "What if everyone jumped off a cliff? Would you do it, too?"


The desire to be part of the herd is strong.  Think about your next BBQ, how will you explain your investment choices to your best friend?  What will be the look you get?  It’s really tempting to just buy what everyone else is buying.  


I don’t like to rag on the media but they at times have been complicit in this.  Loads of people start heading in one direction, even if that one direction ends up being off a cliff like lemmings. Journalists forced to create more content are desperate to tell a story that support their industry.  Media companies derive their livelihood from ad revenue.  This revenue often comes from large property developers with vested interests in huge new unit developments.


The result in property can be a huge pressure for TV and News outlets to present new off the plan apartments as great investments.  Often they are not.  My apologies to the marketing firms, but data driven decisions to target the right (often established, not brand new) properties based upon real metrics for supply and demand is a better pathway in my humble opinion.


3 - "It's no use crying over spilt milk."


We all want to go back in time to when our grandparents were little and buy cheap properties for a few dollars each.  We can’t.   Data is far easier to interpret in reverse, but we don’t have that luxury.  However, I have found by studying the cycles of the past we can better observe the same trends, get a feel for datapoints in the present and plan for the future.  


4 - "When I was your age, I had to walk ten miles through the snow, uphill, by myself, to go to school."


(2nd Disclaimer, it was actually Dad, more than Mum who said this one, but it is still good. I don’t even know how long 10 miles is.   Maybe property data can tell me?)


I don’t like to play the age card (mostly because it makes me feel old), but I began investing 15 yrs ago.  It was in the early days of the internet. Data was really hard to get.  I knew even back then that good information would lead to good purchases.  I had to purchase my suburb reports one at a time and print them out.  They cost about a day’s wages (each).  I would drive down my chosen streets with a pile of paperwork and a highlighter looking for comparable sales and make notes.  I can still remember the agent’s face the first time I said - “It’s not worth more than $XX because the one 2 doors up just sold for $XX”  He wasn’t expecting a kid from interstate to say that. Priceless.  


These days data is of higher quality, for less money, and accessible in far more convenient manner.  There are no excuses to make choices in the dark.




5 - "Go play outside! It's a beautiful day!"


The really good news.  Data tells us when the sun is shining. And mum made sure we always made the most of sunshine.  Don’t sit on the sidelines or mope inside when the weather is good.  Certain sellers of doom have lost their own money and (worse) cost other’s fortunes proclaiming wholesale market crashes that have not eventuated. We all have to make a choice.  A choice to be in the market, or not. No one can take that choice from you, the risk of doing either remains yours. Whether the next thing in the market is price rises or price falls, or a flat market, the newspapers probably aren’t going to predict that so well for you ahead of time. The best way I know to sleep at night is to learn to think for yourself about the data, because it doesn’t lie.




There you have it.  5 Lessons from Mum that shape the way I use Property Data each day. Useful?


(Ok, so maybe mum wasn’t ONLY talking about property data when she handed down these evergreen snippets of wisdom while we were growing up. She might have had more general life lessons in mind, but I like to apply what I learn, and she loves me, so I know she will forgive me for taking a little poetic license.)



Dad went to school in Melbourne, it didn’t snow that often and am pretty sure it wasn’t 10 miles walk to school.  I think he was a little loose with the truth there, but the lesson is still useful and I use it with my kids now, it’s fun.  The others were all solid, I promise.



PPS Thanks for everything mum - love you!






A Selfie? Really?

Why would Matt send out a SELFIE?

...when our feeds are chock full of them.  

It’s not even very good. Or interesting. (and WOW my head is shiny)


Ok - story time. You see the other day I was in the city walking - when I stopped. 

I had a moment. 

I took this photo...but I need to go back further: (warning, this is long)

Some of you know I used to be a social worker.  I actually had my first full time gig in Redfern 15 yrs ago. It was great, and my office was a few doors down from this spot, the corner of George and Cleveland St.  Back then I just invested in property on the side, it was a hobby more than anything else, but I loved it, along with my first passion which has always been working with interesting people.  I was newly married and the world was in front of me.

3 years into that job, I was driving to work, coming along cleveland st about to turn left onto George St. The traffic was only doing 50km/h but there was a lot of it.  

A  pedestrian stepped out in front of me just as I was turning.  

I jammed on the brakes. 

I stopped. (thank goodness) I saw her face out my windscreen she looked relieved and sheepish.  She new it was her fault. 

Then it happened. 


A B-Double truck right behind me slammed into and completely consumed the back of my corolla.  It was sent spinning across the intersection. 

I can still remember the instant pale look of horror on her face as the pedestrian watched my car violently spinning in front of her, no, towards her.  I think I missed taking out her knee caps by about 5cm. 

I spent 6 weeks in physio for my neck, but made a full recovery.  No one was permanently injured, or worse killed - thank God. The rest was a blur.  

Back then I had dreams, but I was uncertain.  I had plans but no confidence.  I didn’t know how life would pan out. 

Then the other day when I walked that road - I had a full on flashback to that accident. I felt the emotion, re-lived the moment, it was involuntary.  Then completely out of the blue I felt gratitude wash over me like a wave.

You see, I am lucky, or blessed, or whatever the right word is.  A very patient loyal woman loves me, and I have 4 incredible children who (sort of) put up with my dad jokes.  I think back to that young man who got spun across the intersection by that truck and I think life could have panned out so many different ways. I am so grateful to be right where I am right now.  I’m not trying to make light of the trials or tragedies, they happen too. But really things are way better than I deserve.

If you are like me there is always another goal to set.  But for now maybe we should both take a moment to be thankful for the journey thus far. For the good stuff, and the hard stuff.  

I guess this is like a really late New Years reflection, and I am saying thanks.  Thanks to the amazing clients who I get to work with, to friends, family, God.  

I sincerely hope you can find a bit of that feeling too, somehow, even when things are hard. 

And sorry about the ramble. (not to mention the selfy!)


PS - In case you were wondering will I talk about property?  Yes, I'm itching to share a few ideas next time.  I actually have a few ideas I want to share with you and get some feedback if that is ok? 





Me in the media - apparently.

So this morning I was hunting away (glamourous work I know, I do quite a bit of that) for a block of land for a small developer I and working for, and the phone was a journalist.  

Apparently a phone interview done months ago went to print and I never found out about it, I thought it must have been trumped by Trump or other more controversial news.  Regardless we hope this is useful for you and gives some context to your property making decisions when thinking about buying locations. Location selection is a key factor in a happy buying outcome so take the time and get this part right!



PS - yes, we do have the best lakes, and the best fish n chips.









Berry Bypass Video

Locals love to hate traffic they aren't used to, but its hard to argue that this road improvement is impacting the coast.  I get a lot of questions about the progress of Berry bypass road works - from coast dwellers looking to commute to jobs up north, but mainly from Sydney Baby Boomers thinking about the retirement move south and from Sydney Investors who know that ship has sailed and are looking where to buy too.  Well since I drive past each week doing inspections between Wollongong, Kiama, Nowra and Ulladulla I thought I would snap this for posterity. I might do it again in a month or 2 and see what has changed.

October 15 Gerringong = final stages, Berry mid way lots of work still to do.

#southcoast #property #buyersagent 

Ps love sunny inspection days!