The mood of the moment, super blues, property news & finances

Jan 9 16:43 2009 Nicci Print This Article


But how quickly the wheel turns. The new year opened with some enthusiasm and confidence and now,Guest Posting with the stock market tanking in free fall, the sentiment out there is very wary indeed. All this talk of a recession is self-fulfilling and it is interesting to watch people ducking for cover. I had a couple of property clients pull back from purchases and taking a wait and see attitude. I think property will be the winner from all this in the long run as it usually is. People look for a safe harbour in a storm. The combination of a nervous stock market and imminent threat of ongoing rate rises is understandably making people nervous.

I feel sorry for all those who sold an investment property, at the government's urging, to sink their up-to-$1M into a super fund. I am sure that investment decision is making a few people feel a bit woozy as they scan the morning papers. They were hammered in August and now at the time of writing, over 1500 points or 22% has been wiped off the value of the All Ords since November with the worst one-day fall since 9/11.

But for most people who do not panic and/or sell at the bottom, order will be restored in due course. But with all the talk of recession, it may take a while to recover. As they say, the market goes up by the stairs but comes down in the elevator! It could repeat the 80's bear market that kept dropping for two years after the crash of '87. The other interesting thing to remember is the absolute property boom that began after that slide.

The Byron Bay hinterland is still a great place to buy, build and settle. The top end of the market is as strong as ever. It is also a great place to write about. Many of the financial journals and some of the tabloid rags have had their Byron Bay gossip sessions. The financials have been running stories about how big money has been coming to town with silly prices being paid for prestige property. It is a worry, as I believe that cashed up idiots come here and measure their penis size on how much dosh they can spend on a pad as an exercise in ego gratification. The sad thing is that it gets a spiral going and they can't help but make more money. I don't think it bodes well for the culture of a small town like ours. People like that don't really get "It". The Daily Telegraph was running a silly story on how Byron Bay doesn't really like tourists and that they should stay away - bollocks.

Pop Star and Tantra devotee Sting was also in town - sorry, very gossipy today. Not staying at Rae's at Wategos as reported but staying in a few privately let homes in Belongil. Entourage of chef, driver and assorted PA's filled up at least 4 houses and rumored to pay approximately $150,000 for the 10 days. Even though it rained constantly, he apparently had a good time and got to sample some of the spiritual and enlightening experiences the Bay has to offer.

Last newsletter I mentioned how Suffolk Park was the winner of the property price rise stakes - storming the field with an average 20% PA rise in the last 5 years. I am amazed to hear that a lot of that increase must have happened in the last 6 months or so. It seems like only mid last year I was advising clients on getting it at around $600,000 and now entry level at beach side Suffolk is hitting $800K plus.

It is easy to report on where the better than average price rises have been - but the big question is where will they be in the future. Well, as I have mentioned in previous newsletters, besides obvious top end locales like Wategos and Belongil, I am backing places like South Golden Beach (and other select pockets of Ocean Shores), Billindudgel, Broken Head (already gone!), Byron's Sunrise Estate and Pacific Vista, Upper Wilson's Creek, Old Byron Bay Road, Fernliegh/Newrybah area. Happy to take your call if you want any more info on that.

The major banks have pulled off a very clever trick. They managed to hold out against some of the recent rate rises and put out the impression that the non bank lender's rates (RAMS, Aussie, Mortgage Choice etc) were going to go through the roof. They say they have the advantage of using deposited funds and not buying at market rates they can hold out longer. Many brokers, myself included, have been refinancing people out of the non-banks into fairly good fixed rates. But as soon as they sucked the market as much as possible they quickly up their own rates without even taking the lead from the Reserve Bank. Sneaky Bastards!

One silver lining of market meltdown is the reserve is more unlikely to introduce the rate rise in February as predicted. The other silver lining with rate rises is that they are often implemented to hose down a fast rising economy. What is the main ingredient of a hot economy - rising property values. Therefore I have never understood the logic of someone not buying an investment property because of fears of interest rate hikes. What you lose in rate rises, one will more likely pick up in spades with capital gain.

For those thinking of fixing their rates in all this uncertainty, my belief is the present fixed rate may be too high to beat the banks over the long term. But by all means it is wise to fix a rate if it is "peace of mind" (a very good commodity at the moment) that you are seeking. There has been a lot of drum beating that rates are going to keep moving into double digits and stay there. I am not of that school of thought but also feel uncomfortable predicting mortgage rates as it is far from a science. Present rates on offer are about 8.1% for lo doc variable and between 8.15% - 8.25% for 3 or 5 year fixed. I know you can find better honeymoon rates - they are a rip-off - don't be tempted. Again, come in and discuss your finance situation anytime.

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