The top 7 trends for 2024 borrowers
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The top 7 trends for 2024 borrowers

The clouds are starting to clear for mortgage holders and first homebuyers but the sun hasn’t quite come out yet

By Rebecca Jarrett-Dalton
Tue, Dec 26, 2023 7:30amGrey Clock 4 min

After a turbulent 12 months, 2024 is shaping up to be another challenging year for Aussies looking to obtain a mortgage and those already servicing one. Despite 12 rate rises, inflation remains stubborn and isn’t expected to fall to the RBA’s intended range of 2-3% until 2025. Parts of the housing market remain as robust as ever, with prices for standalone homes steadily increasing due to fierce competition and low stock levels.

This scarcity of housing combined with a construction industry in distress are major factors that are pushing more first home buyers into making the jump. However, tightened lending means these buyers are more restricted in their options than they were a few years ago.

With that in mind, here are some of the key trends to watch for in the mortgage industry in 2024:

First home buyers head for the fringes

Sydney’s property market continues to soar to new heights, with house and unit prices growing further out of reach for most first home buyers. Even with a healthy budget of $800,000 – the price cap for buyers taking advantage of the government’s first home loan deposit scheme – buyers are priced out of most of Sydney’s suburbs. Currently figures show the median price of a unit in Sydney is $817,059 while median house prices sit at an eye-watering $1,333,985. To stay within budget, first home buyers would need to search for properties on the city’s fringes on the west, south-west and as far as the Blue Mountains.

First homebuyers may have to consider properties on the city fringes. Image: Getty

Singles are being hit hard

Singles in Sydney are facing formidable challenges when it comes to entering the property market. For the most part, property prices in Sydney show no sign of falling which presents a major barrier for those on a single income. Limited housing affordability coupled with stringent lending criteria and the high cost of living further compounds the issue.

Many singles find themselves struggling to save for a substantial deposit, and even with the Federal government’s first home loan deposit scheme and the NSW government’s waiving of stamp duty among other concessions, buying property as a single is still difficult thanks to most properties exceeding the price cap for government assistance.

Female homeowners on the rise

The rise of female homeownership reflects the country’s rapidly changing economic and social dynamics. According to census data, 35% of all households in NSW are single households. Single parent households have reached unprecedented highs. Empowered by increased financial independence and the growing emphasis on gender equality, women are no longer solely reliant on men when it comes to property ownership. CoreLogic reports that women currently own 26.8% of Australian property, with 35.7% of apartments in the hands of female owners.

Divorce trends also play a role in this change as women increasingly have the means and motivation to buy out their male partner’s share in marital property settlements. Additionally, more women are pursuing homeownership independently, heralding a broader transformation of the property market as greater numbers of women aspire to invest in real estate.

Second marriages’ effect on home ownership

Second marriages often bring complex issues regarding home ownership, especially when safeguarding assets is a priority. For individuals entering into second marriages, protecting investments or previous family homes for their existing children is a major consideration. In these cases, it’s common for couples to keep ownership of such properties separate to ensure they are inherited by their respective children rather than being factored into the new marital union.

When it comes to purchasing new marital homes, couples often enter the property market with clear financial agreements in place. These agreements ensure that the financial contributions of both partners are explicitly recognised, adequately reflect the financial realities and priorities of their second union and ensure that the new home is equitably shared. In the context of mortgages and property ownership, the importance of effective financial planning and communication when blending households in second marriages can’t be understated.

Appetite for new builds remains dampened

The appetite for new builds in Australia continues to be subdued primarily due to a variety of factors that have left many prospective homeowners cautious about embarking on new construction projects. With construction companies folding left, right, and centre, potential homeowners are understandably apprehensive about building their new home.

With uncertain timelines, cost overruns due to the rising price of building materials, and labour shortages to contend with, many Aussies are instead opting for existing properties or considering alternative measures like renovating as a more secure and predictable pathway to homeownership.

Residential construction rates will remain low in 2024.

Cash is king

Whether they accumulated cash through savings during the pandemic or are sitting on extra dough through the sales of investment properties, an increasing number of Australians are poised to buy into the market in cash. Data shows that 1 in 4 property purchases in Australia’s three most populous states are cash purchases.

Undeterred by high interest rates, these buyers are a formidable force in the property market. Consisting of downsizing Boomers and international buyers, this cohort could potentially price out buyers who rely on mortgage financing, intensifying competition for the most desirable properties and possibly driving property prices even higher.

Mortgage sideliners

A growing group of individuals often referred to as “mortgage sideliners” are sitting in the wings for longer and longer as they await more favourable market conditions. For these potential homebuyers the increasing unaffordability of homes coupled with tighter lending requirements is a major barrier to entry. Mortgage sideliners hope for a market correction and for interest rates to fall before making their move. While they continue to monitor the market for the right opportunity, mortgage sideliners risk the current market spiralling even further out of reach as a low interest rate period is sure to spark more competition for desirable properties.

Two Red Shoes founder Rebecca Jarrett-Dalton

Rebecca Jarrett-Dalton is founder of mortgage broker, Two Red Shoes



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Only 5% of U.S. Foundations Invest for Impact, Study Finds
By ABBY SCHULTZ
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Few of the U.S.’s philanthropic foundations invest their endowment assets—totalling an estimated US$1.1 trillion—to create positive social and environmental change in addition to high returns, potentially limiting or even counteracting the good such organisations do.

Exactly how few isn’t precisely known. But Bridgespan Social Impact, a subsidiary of the New York-based Bridgespan Group along with the Capricorn Investment Group, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based investment firm founded by Jeff Skoll , the first president of eBay, and the Skoll Foundation, also in Palo Alto, attempted to “get the conservation started,” with a study of 65 foundations with a total of about US$89 billion in assets, according to Mandira Reddy, director at Capricorn Investment Group.

The top-line conclusion: 5% of the primarily U.S.-based foundations surveyed invest their assets for impact. Most surprising is that 92% of these organisations, which have assets ranging from US$11 million to US$16 billion, are active members of impact investing groups, such as the Global Impact Investing Network and Mission Investors Exchange.

“If there’s any pool of capital that is best suited for impact investing, it would be this pool of capital along with family office money,” Reddy says.

The study was also conducted “to draw attention to the opportunity,” she said.

“We want to redefine what philanthropy can achieve. There is massive potential here just given the scale of capital.”

Foundations are required by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service to grant 5% of their assets each year to charity; in practice they have granted slightly more in the last 10 years—an average of 7% of their assets, according to Delaware-based FoundationMark, which tracks the investment performance of about 97% of all foundation assets.

The remaining assets of these foundations are invested with the intention of earning the “highest-possible risk-adjusted financial returns,” the report said. Those investments allow these organizations to grant funds often in perpetuity.

Capricorn and Bridgespan argue that more foundations, however, need to “align their capital with their missions,” and that they can do so while still achieving high returns.

“Why wait to distribute resources far into the future when there are numerous urgent issues facing the planet and communities today,” argue the authors of a report on the research, which is titled, “Can Foundation Endowments Achieve Greater Impact.”

The fact most of the foundations surveyed are very familiar with impact investing and yet haven’t taken the leap “highlights the persistently untapped opportunity,” the report said. It details some of the barriers foundations can face in shifting to impact, and how and why to overcome them.

Hurdles to making a shift can include “beginner’s dilemma”—simply not knowing where to start—and a misperception on the part of large foundations that impact investing is “too niche,” offering opportunities that are too small for the amount of capital they need to allocate. Other foundations are too stretched and don’t have the resources to add capabilities for making impact investments, the report said.

One of the biggest concerns is financial performance. Some foundation leaders, for instance, worry impact investments lead to so-called concessionary returns, where a market rate of return is sacrificed to achieve a social or environmental benefit. Those investments exist, but there are also plenty of options that offer financial returns.

The authors make a case for foundations to “go big,” into impact to realize the best outcomes, and to take a portfolio approach, meaning integrating impact principles into how they approach all investments. To make this happen, foundations need to incorporate impact into their investment policy statements, which determine how they allocate assets.

It will be difficult for foundations that want to shift their assets to impact to pull out of investments such as private-equity or venture-capital funds that can have holdings periods of a decade. But with a policy statement in place, a foundation’s investment team can reinvest this long-term capital once it is returned into impact investing options, she says.

“The transition doesn’t happen overnight,” Reddy says. “Even if there is a commitment for an established foundation that is already fully invested, it takes several years to get there.”

The Skoll Foundation, established in 1999, revised its investment policy statement in 2006 to incorporate impact. According to the report, the foundation initially divested of investments that were not in sync with its values, and then gradually, working with Capricorn Investment, began exploring impact opportunities mostly in early-stage companies developing solutions to climate change.

“As the team gained more knowledge and experience in this work, and as more investment opportunities arose, the impact-aligned portfolio expanded across different asset classes, issue areas, and fund managers,” the report said.

As of 2022, 70% of the Skoll Foundation’s assets are in impact investments addressing climate change, inclusive capitalism, health and wellness, and sustainable markets.

Capricorn, which manages US$9 billion for foundations and institutional investors through impact investments, constructs portfolios across asset classes. In private markets, this can include venture, private equity, private credit, real estate, and infrastructure. There are also impact options in the public markets, in both stocks and bonds.

“Across the spectrum there are opportunities available now to do this in an authentic manner while preserving financial goals,” Reddy says.

Of the foundations surveyed, about 15, including Skoll, have 50% or more of their assets invested for impact. Others include the Lora & Martin Kelley Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Russell Family Foundation, and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.

Though not part of the study, the California Endowment just announced it was going “all in” on impact. The organisation has US$4 billion in assets under management, which likely makes it the largest foundation to undergo the shift, according to Mission Investors Exchange.

Although the researchers looked at a fairly small sample set of foundations, Reddy says it provides data “that is indicative of what the foundation universe” might look like.

“We cannot tell foundations how to invest and that’s not the intent, but we do want to spread the message that it is quite possible to align their assets to impact,” she says. “The idea is that this becomes a boardroom conversation.”

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