Property market a 'war zone'

Property market a 'war zone'

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Real estate agents and investors have been warned that Australian property is in a “strange place right now”, with a few key battles on the horizon.

Charles Tarbey, CEO of Century 21, recently told The Smart Property Investment Show that some agents have had to work far harder than others in recent years, but the marketplace is shifting.

“I mentioned this to a group of our sales agents only the other day," Mr Tarbey said. "If you’re in the eastern suburbs of Sydney in recent times – and I say recent times because I can see a change coming through – you feel like you’re on the Greek island of Mykonos: you’ve just got the deck chair out and you’ve got the cocktail in your hand, and the sun’s shining and people are walking past throwing money at you because they want to buy that property.

“If you’re over in Perth, it’s like being in Afghanistan – you’re in a war zone. You’re having to battle with buyers, you’re having to battle with sellers, you’re having to battle with valuers, having to battle with banks.”

However, Mr Tarbey said markets such as Perth which present these challenges are where he’d “prefer to be” because they represent what real estate “is really all about”.

He cautioned that while the real estate market moves in cycles and can be a bit of a “rollercoaster ride”, investors and agents need to make sure they ride the “kiddies’ rollercoaster” to minimise the ups and downs. To do so, he said, they need to be prepared and to stay ahead of the market.

“I think if you’re in a position to purchase nowadays – and again, I say this to our agents – if you want to grow your business, make sure the bank is fully informed as to who you are and what you’re doing at the end of every month,’ Mr Tarbey said.

“Position yourself so that if a transaction or an opportunity comes up to buy an investment property or to buy a property management portfolio because somebody needs to sell that portfolio and you’re the most likely person because you’re the only person prepared, then you’re going to have the best opportunities,” he said.

“I think preparedness is a really, really important part, especially in the marketplace we’re moving into.”

In addition, Mr Tarbey said, agents and investors would be wise to keep an eye on stock levels and international trends.

“The flood of stock that could come through if we have an overseas collapse in China or the US and those investors don’t complete transactions here in this country of off-the-plan sales – [then] there could be a dumping of stock,” he said.

This could be of particular concern for inexperienced investors who have bought multiple off-the-plan properties, he said.

“All agents like to talk the market up – we like to think it’s okay – but the reality is we’re in a very strange place right now. I think that those people who bought their homes and they settled in them – great, stay there, you’re not going to lose money unless you sell.

“Those who have been playing the investors’ market out there that are not experienced, that have been buying properties – some have been buying two, three, four properties off-the-plan … They’re probably going to be sitting there a little bit nervous right now.”

Savvy investors will find opportunities as the new marketplace takes shape, adds Mr Tarbey.

“I think those investors [who have been waiting] are probably the smartest ones, because if they’re starting to cash up, there may be some good opportunities for them in the year to come,” he said, although he warned that being indecisive as the market shifts could be problematic.

“If you’re sitting on the fence, you’re probably going to get splinters in your backside,” he said.

To listen to The Smart Property Investment Show's full interview with Charles Tarbey, click here.

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