The Australian locations where homeowners are selling at a loss
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The Australian locations where homeowners are selling at a loss

The portion of properties sold at a loss within three years of ownership has almost doubled in one year

By Bronwyn Allen
Tue, Jan 9, 2024 9:39amGrey Clock 2 min

Loss-making resales of homes and investment properties held for less than three years are on the rise, indicating more stress in the marketplace amid high interest rates and the cost-of-living crisis. CoreLogic data shows that of the 86,000 resales during the third quarter of 2023, 6.6 percent were sold at a loss after less than three years of ownership. This is up from 3.6 percent in the September quarter of 2022 and represents a 10-year high, according to CoreLogic’s head of research, Eliza Owen.

Properties held for three years or less represented one in five of all loss-making resales, according to the report. These types of sales were seen in many markets across the country. However, the areas recording the highest portion of these sales were Melbourne–Inner at 4.1 percent, Melbourne–West at 3.7 percent and Sydney’s Central Coast at 3.6 percent. The median loss for these resales was $30,000.

Most of the loss-making resales among properties held for less than three years were houses, at 64.8 percent. Ms Owen said this was quite a different trend to all loss-making resales across all tenure periods. On that broader basis, more of the overall loss-making resales were apartments at 70.9 percent.

It is a commonly held view among property experts that real estate must be held over the long term to achieve strong capital growth. This is partly because property prices typically move in cycles that can take several years to complete. Property is also an asset class that involves high entry and exit costs such as stamp duty, legal fees, marketing costs and agents’ commissions. This makes selling after only short periods of ownership undesirable, indicating that those who are choosing to do this are likely to be experiencing financial stress.

During the second half of 2023, thousands of mortgages rolled over from fixed periods of two or three years at interest rates below 2 percent or 3 percent to variable rates of above 5 percent or 6 percent. Some of these sales may reflect the ‘mortgage cliff’ effect of this change. Looking ahead, Ms Owen pointed out that the Reserve Bank of Australia is forecasting unemployment to rise to 4.2% by the end of 2024 and this will test serviceability, and may lead to an increase in motivated selling for mortgagors with high debt levels and low savings buffers.

Ms Owen also emphasises that short-term loss-making resales make up only a small portion of the Australian housing market and this was not expected to change. “This is ultimately a small share of mortgagors, so the portion of shortterm resales is not expected to grow substantially from where it is now. Ongoing increases in home values nationally should contain the rate of loss-making shortterm resales, though capital growth conditions were looking weaker across Sydney and Melbourne to the end of [2023], she said.



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Hong Kong Takes Drastic Action to Avert Property Slump

The city’s real-estate market has been hurt by high interest rates and mainland China’s economic slowdown

By ELAINE YU
Fri, Mar 1, 2024 3 min

Hong Kong has taken a bold step to ease a real-estate slump, scrapping a series of property taxes in an effort to turn around a market that is often seen as a proxy for the city’s beleaguered economy.

The government has removed longstanding property taxes that were imposed on nonpermanent residents, those buying a second home, or people reselling a property within two years after buying, Financial Secretary Paul Chan said in his annual budget speech on Wednesday.

The move is an attempt to revive a property market that is still one of the most expensive in the world, but that has been badly shaken by social unrest, the fallout of the government’s strict approach to containing Covid-19 and the slowdown of China’s economy . Hong Kong’s high interest rates, which track U.S. rates due to its currency peg,  have increased the pressure .

The decision to ease the tax burden could encourage more buying from people in mainland China, who have been a driving force in Hong Kong’s property market for years. Chinese tycoons, squeezed by problems at home, have  in some cases become forced sellers  of Hong Kong real estate—dealing major damage to the luxury segment.

Hong Kong’s super luxury homes  have lost more than a quarter of their value  since the middle of 2022.

The additional taxes were introduced in a series of announcements starting in 2010, when the government was focused on cooling down soaring home prices that had made Hong Kong one of the world’s least affordable property markets. They are all in the form of stamp duty, a tax imposed on property sales.

“The relevant measures are no longer necessary amidst the current economic and market conditions,” Chan said.

The tax cuts will lead to more buying and support prices in the coming months, said Eddie Kwok, senior director of valuation and advisory services at CBRE Hong Kong, a property consultant. But in the longer term, the market will remain sensitive to the level of interest rates and developers may still need to lower their prices to attract demand thanks to a stockpile of new homes, he said.

Hong Kong’s authorities had already relaxed rules last year to help revive the market, allowing home buyers to pay less upfront when buying certain properties, and cutting by half the taxes for those buying a second property and for home purchases by foreigners. By the end of 2023, the price index for private homes reached a seven-year low, according to Hong Kong’s Rating and Valuation Department.

The city’s monetary authority relaxed mortgage rules further on Wednesday, allowing potential buyers to borrow more for homes valued at around $4 million.

The shares of Hong Kong’s property developers jumped after the announcement, defying a selloff in the wider market. New World Development , Sun Hung Kai Properties and Henderson Land Development were higher in afternoon trading, clawing back some of their losses from a slide in their stock prices this year.

The city’s budget deficit will widen to about $13 billion in the coming fiscal year, which starts on April 1. That is larger than expected, Chan said. Revenues from land sales and leases, an important source of government income, will fall to about $2.5 billion, about $8.4 billion lower than the original estimate and far lower than the previous year, according to Chan.

The sweeping property measures are part of broader plans by Hong Kong’s government to prop up the city amid competition from Singapore and elsewhere. Stringent pandemic controls and anxieties about Beijing’s political crackdown led to  an exodus of local residents and foreigners  from the Asian financial centre.

But tens of thousands of Chinese nationals have arrived in the past year, the result of Hong Kong  rolling out new visa rules aimed at luring talent in 2022.

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