Virus or no virus, there’s one big mistake property buyers continue to make.  This issue will make the difference between property success or failure, financial wins or downfalls, continued government dependence or early financial independence. 

The mistake 

The pivotal mistake buyers make is they use ‘the market’ as a decision making tool to determine when to buy.  With extensive amount of attention given to property market performance, it’s easy to understand why people become focussed on this approach. 

In Australia, the property market is one of the biggest drivers of the economy and, with 70% home ownership rate, any changes in property prices will impact a large number of people.  It’s also one of the most substantive ways for individuals to build wealth . . .unless they make bad choices, of course. 

Lucky for us, there’s plenty of data collated on many aspects of the property market.  Unfortunately, it also means we’re constantly bombarded with information about the market and the interpretation of the numbers will often be confusing and misleading. 

Setting aside poor interpretation of the numbers, the issue gets even worse when you look more closely.  There are three key reasons why using ‘the market’ will lead to bad decisions. 

Hyping property sales prices gets headlines and there’s a growing number of ‘specialists’ selling ‘hot suburb’ reports. 

But here’s the information they don’t tell you . . . the data used to compile the ‘lists’ is usually at least two months old. 

This is because the data is drawn from each State and Territory’s Revenue Office and a sale has to be settled and registered before the data is finalised. 

Most sales have a six to eight week settlement period, so by the time the sale hits any database, the suburb prices are outdated. 

The next key problem is that these reports don’t provide enough detail to deliver decent results. 

This is because within each suburb there are multiple markets. At best, you’ll see the price for houses and units, but this is basically useless information. 

Why? Because you need details on how four bedroom houses are performing over two bedroom houses, or which street is undergoing a development phase and has tonnes of opportunity in it. 

Another problem is that the definition of a ‘hot’ suburb will be different for everybody

This is a major point many buyers miss . . . buyers need to purchase property that matches their property type. 

For example, my idea of a hot suburb will be a suburb that has plenty of properties needing renovation or sub-division. 

But many clients I work with need properties that don’t need anything done to them because my clients are busy with their full time roles. 

And there’s one more absolute kicker as to why sales prices and ‘hot’ suburb lists don’t work . . . 

Those lists are just a record of history . . .NOT a predictor of where prices will go next. 

Sales prices are a lagging indicator of future property performance. To determine where prices are heading, you need to use completely different information.   

However, the direction of prices is a completely separate issue to the question of whether it’s a good time to buy and ‘the market’ can never be reliably used for this purpose. 

More trouble 

I look at hundreds of portfolios each year, and when people strike trouble it’s because they have lost sight of their own requirements.  By the way . .this includes people who sit on the sidelines waiting for ‘the market’ to dip / improve / tighten / heat up. 

Many buyers become side-tracked by ‘monitoring the market’ . . . but how are they doing this?

They’re using sales data and suburb performance information . . which, as we have discussed earlier . . is a useless indicator for predicting where the market is heading.

Better option 

There’s a much better and more reliable source of information you can use as a decision making tool.  It’s more easily accessible and easier to understand – start with reviewing your personal situation. 

Firstly plan out what you want to achieve, then take action to achieve your targets. 

Consider the time you have available, your skill set, interests and targets.  This will help you decide why you’re buying, and how much effort and funds you’re comfortable and able to commit to any purchase. 

If you have equity or savings to cover your target purchases and have a stable income (if you want to utilise a loan), use this information to decide when to buy.  

Your decisions about effort, budget and targets should now inform what you should buy, and where you should buy. 

After you have used your personal situation to narrow down the why, when, what, where of your purchase/s you can utilise relevant information to identify which property to buy. 

Don’t blame ‘the market’ 

Ironically, when buyers make unsuccessful purchases they will often blame the market.  You don’t need to be one of these buyers.  You’re in charge of your financial future and can take control by using your personal situation to determine when to make any purchases.

Following ‘the market’ will lead you to make the wrong decisions.  People who take this approach end up either waiting on the sidelines, and then jumping in when the market is hot . . .or sitting outside of the market and losing money.  They’re not following the market, they’re being driven by it.

Using your personal situation to make decisions – particularly when to buy – will enable you to take a much more straightforward pathway to achieving your goals, and make the choices that will ensure your financial success.

About the author

Debra Beck-Mewing is the Editor of the Property Portfolio Magazine and CEO of The Property Frontline.  She has more than 20 years’ experience in property investing Australia-wide and has used a range of strategies to build her property portfolio including renovating, granny flats, sub-division and development. Debra is a skilled property strategist, and a master in sourcing properties that have multiple uses and multiple exit strategies. She is a Qualified Property Investment Advisor, licensed real estate agent and also holds a Bachelor of Commerce and Master of Business. As a passionate advocate for increasing transparency in the property and wealth industries, Debra is a popular speaker on these topics.  She is also an author, podcast host, and participates on numerous committees including the Property Owners’ Association.

Follow us on facebook.com/ThePropertyFrontline for regular updates, or book in for a strategy session to discuss your property questions. 

Disclaimer – This information is of a general nature only and does not constitute professional advice.  We strongly recommend you seek your own professional advice in relation to your particular circumstances. 

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