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Real Estate

What does the latest RBA cash rate rise means for property prices, inflation and the risk of tipping into a recession? RMIT expert available for comment. – RMIT

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NSW Northern Rivers Breaking News

What does the latest RBA cash rate rise means for property prices, inflation and the risk of tipping into a recession? RMIT expert available for comment. – RMIT

An expert from RMIT is available to comment on the latest RBA cash rate rise and what it will mean for Australia’s housing market and the economy more broadly.

Dr Woon Weng Wong, Lecturer, School of Property Construction and Project Management, RMIT University 

woon-weng.wong@rmit.edu.au

Topics: Economics, Econometrics, Finance, Property, Quantitative analysis, Statistics

“The rising cash rate will undoubtedly have a negative impact on the residential property market. However, we are only just beginning to see the first signs of a gradual cooling off.

“Looking at our most basic measures like median house prices, the month of June recorded a 0.35% drop from the previous month across all capital cities. Melbourne experienced the greatest decline with a 0.66 percent drop. This is reflected in the auction clearance rates which was 55 percent in the week ending July 4, which is a considerable reduction compared to 74 percent during the same time last year.

“But if we look at the bigger picture, the property market is still running hot with national prices approximately 7.76 percent higher in June compared to the same time last year, with Sydney and Melbourne trailing at 5.41 percent and 3.85 percent respectively.

“And if we go even further back, comparing current prices to the start of the pandemic (circa January 2020), the national median is approximately 35 percent higher with Sydney and Melbourne at 37 percent and 22.5 percent respectively. What this means is that property markets are showing signs of a slowdown but these are relatively minor compared to the substantial gains experienced over the past couple of years.

“Further cash rate rises are expected for the remainder of the year as the RBA aggressively targets inflation, which does not appear to be abating anytime soon with the conflict in Eastern Europe, the energy crisis, labour shortages and recent extreme weather events continuing to wreak havoc on the Australian economy.

“However, the consensus seems to be that further rate rises may be less onerous with the target cash rate anticipated to be 2.1 percent by the year’s end. The current cash rate is 1.35 percent, so that only leaves 0.75 percent on the table over the next 6 months. The cash rate is expected to eventually settle at 2.5 percent by the middle of next year. House prices will likely continue their downward trajectory with modelling by the RBA’s latest financial stability review indicating a 15-20 percent decline over a two-year window based on the assumption of a 200 basis point rate rise.

“The only scenarios in which the RBA might reconsider its hawkish position are inflation being brought under control sooner than anticipated; or a recession develops. The inflation question does not have a simple answer requiring everything from supply chains being fixed to easing consumer demand and a moderating rental market.

“Even if these issues could be resolved, the ongoing conflict in Eastern Europe remains the proverbial elephant in the room. Since the conflict began, crude oil prices (WTI) have risen from approximately USD78 per barrel in January 2022 to its current level of USD110 per barrel. Furthermore, the gas crisis continues to plague Western Europe as the German led exodus scrambles to secure alternative sources in preparation for winter in the northern hemisphere. When and how hostilities will end remains unclear.

“On the recession front, if the situation in Eastern Europe is the proverbial elephant, then a recession is the proverbial whale. The risk of a recession is real but may be avoided so long as economic fundamentals remain strong.

“According to the latest ABS data, the unemployment rate remained at a record low of 3.9 percent in the month of May. This is in stark contrast to the 1991-92 recession ‘we had to have’ in which unemployment rates hovered around 8-10 percent. In a recent UBS panel discussion in Zurich, RBA Governor Phillip Lowe stated there was a “narrow path” for inflation to come down without tipping the economy into recession.”

 

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National News Australia

BuyersBuyers releases 2022-3 Investor Special Report and top suburb picks

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NSW Northern Rivers Breaking News

BuyersBuyers releases 2022-3 Investor Special Report and top suburb picks

BUYERSBUYERS

Property market moves into downturn phase 

Australia’s housing market will be digesting the prospect of rising interest rates over the next six months, leading to a downturn which will present some opportunities for counter-cyclical investors, according to Pete Wargent, co-founder of Australia’s national marketplace for property buyer’s agents, BuyersBuyers.

Mr Wargent said, “the Australian economy has rebounded far more quickly than anyone could have dared to hope but combining the rebound in demand with supply chain disruptions means that the second half of 2022 will see some of the highest headline inflation prints in approximately three decades”.

“The prospect of the cash rate target potentially rising from close to zero towards 3 per cent by the end of this year will be a serious handbrake on housing market sentiment and activity, not least because so many younger borrowers have never experienced interest rate hikes before, let alone the fastest tightening cycle since 1994”.

“Our best estimate is that the property market downturn will continue for as long as borrowers fear rising mortgage rates, led by Sydney and Melbourne, and this is likely to mean for at least the remainder of 2022”.

“The flip side to this is that the underlying housing market fundamentals are strengthening, with immigration visas set to be fast-tracked to address Australia’s skills shortage, the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years, and incomes now rising” Mr Wargent said.

 Top suburb picks 

BuyersBuyers CEO Doron Peleg said that the national marketplace for buyer’s agents has now released its Investor Special Report for 2022-3, assessing the outlook for each of Australia’s states and territories.

Mr Peleg said, “using our unique housing market analysis tools, we have not only taken a macro view in our Investor Report, but we have also identified some of our favourite suburb picks and investment hotspots.”

“In New South Wales, we expect there to be a sharp rebound in sentiment and activity in early 2023, especially in the sub $1.5 million price brackets, as the long-discussed stamp duty reform kicks in for first homebuyers from January. All of our suburb picks for houses and units therefore reflect this, as well believe the property market recovery will be driven from then entry level price points upwards” Mr Peleg said.

Buyers co-founder Pete Wargent said that the Melbourne market has been significantly disrupted over the past couple of years, with extended lockdowns and COVID restrictions and decline in the population as residents headed interstate to south-east Queensland.

Mr Wargent said, “the relative underperformance of the Melbourne market means that there are some attractive deals on offer for counter-cyclical investors in suburban houses. Some counter-cyclical investors are also now looking at investment grade units in Melbourne, after a decade of underperformance, particularly where they can find assets with a point of scarcity.”

Mr Wargent said, “in south-east Queensland the rental market remains extraordinarily tight following the fastest net interstate migration to the state in Australia’s history, which is still continuing.”

“SEQ has benefited from remote and flexible working arrangements more than any other state, and there are some excellent opportunities to buy houses in Brisbane, Gold Coast, and Sunshine Coast. Price growth has been strong over the past 18 months in Queensland, so investors need to be discerning, buy carefully, negotiate hard, and take a long-term view, perhaps out to the 2032 Brisbane Olympics”.

Mr Wargent said that after a relatively quiet decade a looming rental crisis and relative affordability is driving a tremendous surge in interest from investors looking to buy in Adelaide.

“Two of the key features of the past couple of years have been a ‘race for space,’ and water as a drawcard for property buyers. Some of Adelaide’s beachside suburbs tick both of these boxes, and from relatively attractive price entry points as compared to the larger capital cities.”

Counter-cyclical opportunities 

BuyersBuyers CEO said that the 2022-3 Investor Report will be made available via the company’s website.

Mr Peleg said, “average household sizes declined through the pandemic, and despite a large volume of dwellings under construction, there is going to be tremendous pressure on Australia’s housing stock over the next few years as immigration ramps up again.”

“As population rises towards 350,000 to 400,000 per annum by the end of next year, and as borrowers realised that mortgage rates are still relatively low in absolute and historic terms, we believe that the second half of 2022 will prove to be an attractive period to buy for investors seeking an inflation hedge as rents soar.”

“There is an excellent opportunity to buy with far less competition and to negotiate hard on quality assets for the long term” Mr Peleg said.

“Of course, borrowers need to factor in that mortgage rates will inevitably rise from here, and to take a long-term view of investment property as an asset class.”

ENDS

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National News Australia

Tax time focus on rental property income and deductions

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Tax time focus on rental property income and deductions

AUSTRALIAN TAXATION OFFICE

Income and tax deductions from rental properties is one of the four key areas the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is focusing on this tax time. It’s an area that’s easy to get wrong, and needs extra care when lodging. The ATO Random Enquiry Program has found that nine out of ten tax returns that reported rental income and deductions contain at least one error, even though most of those property owners were assisted by a registered tax agent.

The ATO is therefore urging rental property owners to ensure they carefully review their records before declaring income or claiming deductions this tax time, and for registered tax agents to ask a few extra questions of their clients.

Assistant Commissioner Tim Loh explained “Registered tax agents can only work with the information they gather from their clients, and we know some clients won’t know everything they need to tell their agent. We don’t expect agents to be Sherlock Holmes, but we do expect them to ask the right questions to ensure their client’s return is right.”

Mr Loh said that rental property owners are urged to ensure they know what income they need to declare and what can be claimed as a deduction.

“We are concerned about mistakes, and in particular, leaving out income or deliberate over-claiming of rental property deductions this year.”

“Getting it right the first time, will ensure you receive the tax refund you are owed, and avoids us knocking on your front door down the track.”

INCLUDE ALL RENTAL INCOME

The ATO receives rental income data from a range of sources including sharing economy platforms, rental bond authorities, property management software providers, and state and territory revenue and land title authorities.

“The amount of data we access grows each year, making it easier and faster for us to spot any rental income that you have charged your tenants, but haven’t declared,” Mr Loh said.

When preparing tax returns, make sure all rental income is included, such as from short-term rental arrangements, renting part of a home, and other rental-related income like insurance payouts and rental bond money retained.

“Income and deductions must be in line with a rental property owner’s ownership interest, which should generally mirror the legal documents.”

GET YOUR EXPENSES RIGHT

Not all expenses are the same – some can be claimed straight away, such as rental management fees, council rates, repairs, interest on loans and insurance premiums. Other expenses such as borrowing expenses and capital works need to be claimed over a number of years. Capital works can include replacing a roof, or a new kitchen renovation. Depreciating assets such as a new dishwasher or new oven costing over $300 are also claimed over their effective life.

Refinancing or redrawing on a rental property loan for private expenses such as holidays or a new car, means that the amount of interest relating to the loan for the private expense can’t be claimed as a deduction.

If income from a rental property in a holiday location is earnt, it needs to be included in tax returns.

“You can claim expenses for the property to the extent that they are incurred for the purpose of producing rental income, not where your family and friends stayed in the property for a mini getaway at mate’s rates, you use it yourself, say at Christmas, or you stopped renting the property out,” Mr Loh said.

“Other circumstances where deductions cannot be claimed include pretending that your property is available for rent when it really isn’t, for example you advertise significantly above a reasonable market rate compared to similar properties or you place unreasonable restrictions on potential tenants.”

“Our 2022 Tax Time Toolkit for Investors also contains a number of fact sheets for landlords, including Top 10 tips to help landlords avoid common tax mistakes. These tips will help you avoid common mistakes and save you time and money.”

SELLING A RENTAL PROPERTY

When selling a rental property, capital gains tax (CGT) needs to be considered and any capital gains or capital losses need to be reported.

When calculating a capital gain or capital loss, it’s important to get the cost base calculation right. Cost base is usually the cost of the property when purchased and any costs associated with acquiring or selling it. These can be things like stamp duty, legal fees, valuations and real estate sales fees. Any capital works claimed as deductions may also need to be subtracted from the cost base.

“If you’ve sold a rental property that was once your home, you may be entitled to partially claim the main residence exemption. You will need to claim this exemption in your tax return when you lodge.” Mr Loh said.

Records of all income and expenses relating to rental properties, including purchase and sale records, must be kept. This ensures all eligible deductions are captured when preparing tax returns and capital gains tax can be calculated correctly when the property is sold.

“It’s also important to note that when selling any property for more than $750,000, vendors / sellers must have a clearance certificate otherwise 12.5% will be withheld.” Mr Loh said.

Clearance certificate applications can take up to 28 days to process so to avoid delays, sellers should apply as early as practical using the online form. Having tax affairs up to date, including all lodgments, helps speed up the assessment of an application and a certificate being issued. The certificates last for 12 months and if selling more than one property in the year, it can be used for multiple sales. Foreign residents are generally not eligible for a clearance certificate but may apply to vary the withholding amount.

Apply for a certificate and find out more at ato.gov.au/FRCGWcertificate

KEEP GOOD RECORDS TO PROVE IT ALL

Records of rental income and expenses should be kept for five years from the date of tax return lodgments or five years after the disposal of an asset, whichever is longer.

“Get your books in order and start keeping records as soon as you make the decision to earn rental income. It makes tax time so much easier for you and your registered tax agent” Mr Loh said.

Adequate records should demonstrate how the expense was incurred for the rental property and the extent they relate to producing rental income. They must include the name of the supplier, amount of the expense, the nature of the goods or services, the date the expense was incurred, and the date of the document.

“We can ask for proof of any claim that you make, so good record keeping is the only way to ensure you can claim everything you are entitled to.”

“Remember, when your return is lodged, you are on the hook for the claims you are making, not the registered tax agent.”

 

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National News Australia

Updated rate hike forecasts and the outlook for housing values

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NSW Northern Rivers Breaking News

Updated rate hike forecasts and the outlook for housing values

Cash rate forecast updates from ANZ Bank has reverberated through the economics, banking and finance and property industries this week. The Reserve Bank has also publicly stated the official interest rate is still probably well below where it needs to be.

More will be known following the June quarter inflation figures, to be released next week, followed closely by the RBA’s regular monthly meeting on the first Tuesday in August.

Despite the RBA’s view that Australian households are well-placed to manage further rate hikes, what would the ramifications be if the upwards revision to ANZ’s cash rate forecast proves correct? Long story short, it would spell more bad news for the trajectory of housing values. Since the first rate hike in May, the downwards trend in value growth has steepened, with the rate of decline accelerating across Sydney and Melbourne.

Interestingly Brisbane, which was previously enjoying a run of high quarterly growth in housing values, has abruptly joined the decline trend with the rolling four-week change in dwelling values turning negative through the first week of July, according to CoreLogic’s daily hedonic home value index. Since peaking, Sydney housing values are down -4.4%, with most of the decline (-3.8%) occurring since the May 5 rate hike. Similarly, in Melbourne, housing values are down -2.6% since then, comprising the bulk of a peak to current decline of -2.8%.

Growth in housing values is broadly slowing around the country, and it is likely more regions will succumb to negative movements over the coming months.

Our latest Mapping the Market data released this week showed of the 3,085 house and unit markets analysed in the June quarter, 41.9% had declined in value. It’s double the proportion that recorded negative rates of growth in Q1. To put the figure in perspective, at the height of the 2017-2019 downturn, almost 81% of house and unit markets were recording a quarterly decline in values. In the early phase of COVID, housing markets went through a broad-based but short-lived decline when 67% of markets were in decline, while during the peak of the pandemic growth cycle in early to mid-2021, only 3.2% of markets were recording a decline in value.

With household debt at record highs, and most of that debt held in housing assets, the household sector is highly sensitive to the rising cost of debt.  Add to this the extremely high prices for non-discretionary goods such as food and fuel, and it’s clear that household balance sheets are likely to be more challenged as mortgage rates increase.

While labour market conditions remain tight, there isn’t a great deal of concern that households will fall behind on their debt repayment schedules, however it is likely that households will be pulling back in other areas of their expenditure to ensure they can fund essential purchases as well keep up to date on their debt servicing obligations.  Sizeable repayment buffers, which the RBA recently estimated to be around 21 months for variable mortgage rate borrowers, should also help to cushion distress across the mortgage sector.

Consumer sentiment continued to trend sharply lower in June, with the monthly Westpac-Melbourne Institute index falling another -3%. The sentiment index is down nearly -20% since December and has fallen every month through 2022.  Westpac notes the pace of decline is comparable to previous shocks historically.  With an index value of 83.8 (noting anything below 100 indicates pessimists outweigh optimists), the sentiment reading has only been this low historically through periods of major disruption (pandemic, GFC, 90’s recession and 80’s recession).  The decline is mostly being driven by concerns around inflation, and to a lesser extent higher interest rates, but readings of housing sentiment have also declined, especially in NSW and Victoria.  Clearly consumers are very sensitive to cost pressures, implying a fragile household sector and likely points towards a broader pull back in consumption and housing market activity until sentiment starts to improve.

Overseas arrivals and departures data for June shows an ongoing ‘normalisation’ in international movements for both arrivals and departures.  Both measures are now tracking at around half of their pre-pandemic levels, but trending higher.  The return of migration back to Australia is likely to flow into additional rental demand – boosting demand in what is already an extremely tight rental market.  We should also see a gradual boost to tourism sectors as overseas visitors pick up, although there may be some downside impact as Australians embark on overseas holidays rather than the domestic oriented travel we have seen through the second half of the pandemic.

 

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