Brisbane's sales market, trends in Brisbane property

First home buyers a foundation for the market

What will 2014 bring for inner-Brisbane’s real estate market? Boom, bust or something in between? Real estate agents are by nature optimistic, so you can guess how most of us see the New Year panning out.

With that said, all too often we can be guilty of assuming that more is better. Does everyone win when real estate prices rise? Invest with the stock market and a price surge benefits all involved. Not so with home prices, where those who already own – approximately 70% of us – might smile, but those wanting to enter the market can find the going tougher.

The Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) says the latest housing finance figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show that the number of first home buyers is at a record low. President Peter Bushby: “The proportion of first home buyers in the number of owner-occupied housing finance commitments fell to 12.3 per cent compared to the October figure of 12.6 per cent and is the lowest figure since data began to be collected in July 1991. It is far lower than the long-run average proportion of 19.9 per cent, despite eight interest rate cuts since November 2011.” The REIA has called on governments to review their support for First Home buyers.

Queensland’s typical first home buyer is getting older. And many are doing their sums right now, the gap between renting and owning encouraging to make the leap. Naturally they’d like to time their purchase to perfection, strolling onto the market-train at leisurely pace then willing it to break-neck speed as soon as they’re on board.

Unless you’re buying or building new – and only a small percentage of First Home buyers in Queensland are doing this – there’s no longer a government grant for you. But because they start the housing ‘cycle’, first-timers are important to market activity. They start the wheels turning, so all of us need them. Hopefully 2014 will see them return in the numbers the market needs for sustainable long-term activity.

And what of those re-entering the real estate market at later stages in life? Out in the field each day we meet home buyers from all walks of life and divorcees, for example, often struggle to find a suitable home within their budget. Could you match your current lifestyle with half the money?

The best result of 2013 wasn’t the green shoots of price growth in many parts of the State – happy as it makes home owners and real estate agents alike. The best outcome from the past year was a busier market with higher turnover of properties. If you want to sell there’s now a much more ready market than we’ve had in some years.

So here’s a wishlist for 2014: An opportunity for everyone who wants to buy a home to do just that. And an opportunity to sell and buy again for homeowners wanting to relocate, downsize, upsize or even just outmanoeuvre their 20-something stay at home off-spring.

Whatever part of the market you’re in, have a sensational 2014.

Please give us your thoughts. Do you agree with the REIA call for governments to increase incentives for First Home Buyers?

An edited version of this article appeared in The Courier Mail’s “Market Talk” column on Saturday 11th January.