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BFCSA: We've had the Banker Elite pumped up boom . Now for Apartment CBD GLUT BUST

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Off-the-plan apartment values plunge in Sydney and Melbourne


Apartment values in Melbourne and Sydney are falling by up to 20 per cent between purchasing off the plan and buyers receiving the keys, despite housing shortages and booming residential prices, according to analysis.  Nearly 44 per cent of apartment ­purchases in the most populous cities are below the sale price at the time of completion, and units in mushrooming high-rises in major capital cities are the hardest hit, according to WBP Property Group, a company specialising in ­valuations and property advice.

“It’s a tragedy,” said WBP chief executive Greville Pabst. “Some investors are losing their deposit because they can’t settle, or they have to make up the funding shortfall. Those considering these types of properties as investments should seek details on rental performance and history of capital growth.”

It takes between six and 10 years for the price to return to what was ­originally paid, according to industry experts. Mr Pabst said the negative equity appeared to be worst for ­two-bedroom apartments priced between $500,000 and $700,000.  Many buyers want to lock in a price and can buy on a low initial outlay because the entire deposit – usually 10 per cent – does not need to be paid until the property has been built. Others are chasing the tax savings, such as reductions in stamp duty and claiming depreciation on investment properties. Prices are also hit by oversupply, which has an impact on resale prices, similar to values falling on new cars.

A huge increase in the construction of high-rise apartments is reshaping the capital city skylines, particularly in Melbourne, where new inner-city precincts are being opened for development.  Property analysts have issued red alerts against buying apartments in Perth, Brisbane’s CBD and parts of ­Melbourne’s CBD.

Acute problem

According to the survey, off-the-plan apartments in Sydney, mainly around the CBD, are slipping by about 13 per cent between purchase and possession.  The problem is most acute in Melbourne and Perth, where apartment construction is outpacing population growth, and the slowing manufacturing and mining sectors are reducing demand for labour and accommodation. In the Perth CBD, vacancy rates since March 2012 have increased from less than 1 per cent to more than 7 per cent, dropping average rents about 15 per cent. In Sydney, traditionally a mecca for migrants and property investors, the vacancy rate is about 2.5 per cent, which is expected to rise as new developments are ­completed. “Buyers need to do their research,” warns Louis Christopher, managing director of SQM Research.

“It is no­toriously difficult to choose, because in some cases these ­apartments can do very well.”  In Melbourne, where 100-storey-plus skyscrapers are planned, the vac­ancy rate in Southbank is over 8 per cent and rising sharply. It is more than 5 per cent in Docklands and the CBD.  Timing is important. Developer ­Mirvac reports apartments bought ­off-the-plan two years ago in projects in the Sydney suburbs of Chatswood, Rhodes and Glebe, are now finished and being resold at prices 10 per cent to 15 per cent above the original purchase.


Morrell & Koren director Christopher Koren, a buyers’ advocate, former auctioneer and 30-year veteran of the property market, said: “It’s absolutely no surprise that if you keep building apartments, supply is going to exceed demand. It’s like the US government printing dollars – after a while they tend to lose value.. Anyone who buys off the plan is paying the developers’ 20 per cent to 40 per cent margin.”

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Guest Wednesday, 20 January 2021