Whether you’re keen to invest in your very first property this year, are a property developer or an individual with multiple dwellings looking to add to your portfolio, it helps to keep up to date on all the latest property data, trends, statistics, and forecasts coming out about the market.  

However, with few regulations about who can proclaim themselves to be experts, and so many people looking to make a buck from so-called forecasting, it can be challenging to know who and what to believe. Debra Beck Mewing from The Property Frontline shares her tips on how to take in only relevant, trusted information about property estimates and markets.  

With over a quarter of a century of experience in property investing across Australia, Debra is a licensed real estate agent. She’s also a Qualified Property Investment Advisor (QPIA) and has completed a Bachelor of Commerce and Master of Business degrees. She began The Property Frontline to provide trusted buyers’ agent services and advice to others wanting to build their property portfolios.  

Through her own experience, Debra knows just how much bad advice is thrown around. This is particularly the case with property predictions. She has some advice for investors when it comes to discerning who to pay attention to. It starts with understanding what kinds of qualifications and licenses people possess.  

“Quality advisors are members of the Property Investment Professionals of Australia (PIPA) and will be listed on that organisation’s website,” she said. “The highest level of accreditation is a QPIA. Advisors who achieve this level can use the QPIA logo on their websites and other marketing materials. QPIAs undertake a detailed training course, uphold the highest standard of service, and must maintain regular training.”  

There’s more to it than simply having these qualifications, though. “Buyers shouldn’t just rely on the qualification alone. Always check an advisor’s experience and follow them online before taking their advice.” 

Finally, cover yourself with some protection to reduce risk. “Get a written guarantee so you can obtain a full refund if you find the advisor isn’t delivering as expected.”  

When asked whom she turns to for quality information herself, Debra had some suggestions. It’s all about going straight to the direct source whenever possible. “I use the purest form of data as my base point. This includes the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Reserve Bank, Australian Tax Office, plus a range of State and Council generated information.”  

As for sales data, Debra relies on RP Data (CoreLogic) and Pricefinder. “I use the data in these sources to analyse targeted markets for each of our clients.” As for forecasters, though, she has one main trusted resource. “The only one I rate is Louis Christopher from SQM Research. He has the best track record of the most reliable forecasts, he’s independent, and focused on delivering clear information to the market,” she said.  

So, what are some of Louis Christopher’s forecasts for 2020 that property investors need to know? According to his Housing Boom and Bust Report, released by SQM Research, this year should see dwelling price rises occur in most of Australia’s capital cities. This increase stems from interest rate cuts and the loosening of credit restrictions. In particular, Christopher believes Sydney and Melbourne will lead the charge.  

He forecasts that Sydney will rise between 10% and 14%, while Melbourne’s prices will go up by between 11% and 15%. Other cities are also likely to enjoy record price rises in 2020. After a prolonged downturn, Christopher is expecting the city of Perth to finally get some upward price movement, due to mining investment recovery, and an improved international outlook. He forecasts Perth property prices will lift by between 3% and 6% this year. Brisbane is another city that will be assisted by the recovery in mining. Christopher believes the Queensland city should record prices rises in the same range as Perth.  

Investors should note, though, that Christopher does have some worries about how long this new recovery may last. Issues such as the fact that Sydney and Melbourne are rising from an already overvalued point, and that there is a high rate of housing debt and reliance on cheap credit, means sustainability isn’t assured.  

When you’re ready to invest again, Debra suggests being on the lookout for people who proclaim to “find” properties for clients, but who are only really selling properties. “These people are commonly referred to as “spruikers”. Usually, the property they recommend will be off the plan, either house and land or recent builds.” 

“Spruikers receive big kickbacks from developers, so the property will be overpriced to cover this cost. Spruikers tend to be great at marketing and attract buyers through supposed education or coaching that’s actually more about conditioning people to buy what they want to sell.”   

To protect yourself, ask advisors about what kinds of payments they receive. “Check whether they receive commissions for sales, or pay for leads. If they take money from anyone else but you, their priorities will be with the person or company that pays them the most. That usually won’t be you,” she said. 

 As 2020 proceeds, do your research, ask lots of questions, and think hard before you sign on any dotted lines for properties. That way, you’re much more likely to see your money well spent, and setting you up positively for the future. 

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