Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Real estate report.

I've followed real estate with interest since I was a teen. Window shopping for houses, basically. I liked the red-brick federation homes with wrap around verandahs and french windows and bay windows and so on. Those days are gone and I've realised I'm too poor for nice houses. These days I just love an smh article about real estate with lots of gloomy comments. I will spend my whole lunchbreak reading comments. Half the world things thinks Gen Y are lazy and live at home and spend all their money on overseas holidays instead of saving for a mortgage, the other half think property is genuinely too expensive and blaming everyone—the Chinese and the boomers and the government. People who think there are affordable suburbs in Sydney are pointing to half a million for 2br apartments in Hornsby. I leave that to the judgement of the reader, but I don't really think half a million is "affordable". I agree it's the cheap end of the market, but it's not cheap.

But I think both sides of the argument are have some truth.

"Generational" spending habits are an issue. I'm Gen Y, and I am relatively frugal. No car, no internet, no bought lunches, and I mostly holiday in Australia with friends. But I live in the Eastern Suburbs, eat out about once a week and I've had a nice overseas trip (after uni and 6 years of FT work, and it cost half as much as my braces). However my parents haven't had ANY overseas trip (or braces). And takeaways or restaurants were only for birthdays. My grandparents were even more frugal, buying a house with savings, or building a house themselves, growing food, recycling clothes. The generation before, I don't know, they probably thought themselves lucky to own a second pair of shoes and only got lollies at Christmas time. People have historically lived pretty lean lives and home ownership has never been a walk in the park. But the trouble is, when the bar is set too high, people don't try. If it was a matter of struggling to afford a unit, I would happily struggle to afford a unit. But no amount of struggle will afford me a unit in Sydney. The gap is too wide between what I could struggle to afford and what things sell for. And if there's no hope, why bother?

"In Sydney" is an issue. I think a lot of people are in my boat. I'm torn between wanting to stay where I am with the friends and church and the support of lots of single friends and stuff to do, and wanting live somewhere near my family where I can grow veggies. And the thing about my profession is there aren't many jobs in other areas anyway. I glance around from time to time when I feel discontented. Number of page views for a design job in Newcastle recently: 1600. That's slim pickings. There is some kind of grant paid to people who leave Sydney and go to a regional area, but what good is that going to do if you don't have a job out there? Decentralisation is a bigger issue than helping with moving costs.

Anyway, nobody ever said you can have it all. It's not some unfair conspiracy, just a massive supply and demand discrepancy. Baby boomers downsizing into units in the city at the same time as Gen Y want to get a foot in the market buying those same units in the city, and one of those groups has a lot more money. Meanwhile people with nice detached houses don't want their streets razed to make way for ugly flats. If the demand is coming from investors, which is apparently is, the bright side is that they'll rent out their properties, and the more rentals the cheaper the rent will be and we'll still be able to live where we want for the time being.


  1. Don't forget about the pensioners who end up staying in large family homes because if they were to sell it, they would lose eligibility to the pension because the means test does not include assets. It would be interesting to see how much that contributes to the property problem in Sydney.

  2. Huh. Didn't know that. It's an interesting problem where houses are big fat assets rather than just homes.