No matter what's happening in Australia's many diverse property markets, there are always opportunities for buyers to snag a deal. You only have to look at the differences between the capital cities right now to know there is no such thing as a singular Australian property market. Sydney values are booming, Melbourne is following suit and Adelaide is slow and steady. Perth is on the way down post-mining boom and Brisbane is beginning to haul itself up from the floor.
Regional markets in the different states have their own characteristics again. When one is up, another is down somewhere, you just have to be prepared to look interstate, or at least outside the areas you have grown accustomed to.
Of course, this viewpoint is great for investors, but what if you want to buy somewhere to live in your own area? Even though it's hard because the market is overheated? In such situations, when it comes to finding a bargain, the old saying about buying the worst house in the best street no longer cuts it.
These days, bargains can be harder to come by. There is less stock to choose from and the competition is prepared to lower the standards to get a foot in the door. Where once you could buy the worst house in the best street because no one else wanted it, now, that worst house will attract the most competition because everyone else is in the same boat.
If local prices have been booming, it will be hard to buy below market value, but not impossible. One way to eliminate competition is to find neglected or damaged properties. They might be run down, overgrown, fire damaged or just in need of a real makeover, just as long as they are the sort of homes with the wrong kind of wow factor. They are basically the worst house in the street, but taken to the next level, and can really serve up a bargain.
Potential buyers often put overgrown gardens or crumbling walls in the too hard basket, believing that a clean-up or repair job might be too costly or time consuming. However, they might not realise that a simple 10 or 15,000 dollar renovation could immediately add twice that amount of value to the home.
So, rather than a chore, try to see such a property as an opportunity, to pick up cheap and turn a handy profit. Come one, come all, bring me your rising damp, your weed infested gardens, your awkward pest problems and your non-structural flood or fire damage. Bring me the chance to buy below market value.
Tim McIntyre is the senior real estate reporter for the Daily Telegraph and News.com.au.
Over the past decade, he has attained widespread knowledge of Australia’s many unique property markets and is an authority on all things buying, selling and investing.
His commentary appears every Saturday in the Daily Telegraph Real Estate lift out, as well as online at news.com.au.