• Drastically reduced number of buyers on the ground
  • Borrowing capacity being squeezed by rate hikes
  • Market opportunity currently exists

On a recent Saturday, I spent a number of hours dragging my husband to various open homes on the Sunshine Coast where we live.

I had been away in New Zealand for nearly three weeks visiting my family – at long last I might add – and while I was there the end of the financial year had come and gone.

Now, for anyone who is self-employed like me and is keen to add to their portfolio, the end of the fin year is one that I look forward to, because it means I can produce the evidence required for a mortgage broker to assess my borrowing capacity.

So, while my returns are being finalised, it made sense to me (but perhaps not my husband) to restart my local area research to ensure I was up-to-date with what was happening on the ground.

It’s been nearly a year since I attended any open homes and, boy, the difference was unbelievable.

I remember this time last year going to an open home in Bli Bli with my uncle. It was a tired 1980s brick and tile house on a smallish block in a modest suburb.

There were so many people there that you had to queue to even use the internal staircase. The whole situation reminded me of ants crawling on an insect carcass if I’m being honest.

Who knows what the property sold for, but it’s highly likely that the new owner has done quite well (as long as they didn’t let their heart rule their head during the negotiations). That’s because the median price of a three-bedroom house in Bli Bli has risen by 32 per cent since that time.

The next weekend my husband and I attended an open home elsewhere, where there were fewer people (at that point in time anyway), which we bought on the spot because of its renovation and development potential. I’m happy to say that the median price of a three-bedroom house in our area has soared 39 per cent since then, too.

Market opportunity

So, the difference between now and then to me couldn’t be more stark.

It’s clear that the successive rate rises over the past three months have scared the bejesus out of many people – plus borrowing capacity being squeezed each successive month – because we went to five open homes and there was a grand total of 10 people across all of them. At two of the inspections, we were the only potential buyers there.

Sure, the property price growth over the past year was not sustainable and is even disappearing in places like Sydney and Melbourne, which were partially overcooked (in some instances) during the pandemic in my opinion.

However, there are plenty of other markets where property prices were benign for years, but which were already recording rising market conditions, as well as stimulating their economies with massive major infrastructure programs.

Many of these locations remain sound investment areas for anyone with a medium- to long-term ownership mindset.

A trusty old saying by Warren Buffett is one that is bandied around so much it has almost lost its currency, however, it remains as true today as it ever did. Of course, that mantra is along the lines of being “fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful.”

Alas, some buyers who overpaid at the peak of a smoke and mirrors, or greedy, market might come to learn how true this economic insight really is.

And, for those you can afford to buy in markets with strong fundamentals, while others are fearful at present, may reap the long-term benefits of the present market lull.

This Saturday, I intend to be in the latter cohort of this scenario.

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