Property speculation slows as prices stagnate

***AFR FIRST USE ONLY***
Generic housing at Bella Vista housing development, homes, mortgage, house, for sale, roof tops. Wednesday 24 May 2006 AFR 
Photo Louie Douvis
***AFR FIRST USE ONLY*** Generic housing at Bella Vista housing development, homes, mortgage, house, for sale, roof tops. Wednesday 24 May 2006 AFR Photo Louie Douvis

"Flipping" of properties - buying and selling real estate with a short period of time to make an easy profit - was rife in Sydney and Melbourne when prices were rising sharply.

Buy a property, give it a coat of paint and re-sell it quickly to pocket easy capital gains.

And, provided the property being flipped was claimed as the principal place of residence, there is no tax on profits.

Figures from researcher CoreLogic's latest Property Flipping Report show for the year to June 2017 that 7 per cent of property re-sales across the combined capitals were those flipped within two years of purchase.

The highest rate of flipping for the year to June 30, 2017, occurred in Sydney, where 8.3 per cent of property re-sales were flipped within two years and 7.7 per cent in Melbourne.

CoreLogic figures show the highest portion of profitable flips, at more than 90 per cent, were in regional NSW, Sydney and Melbourne.

Sellers in Perth, Hobart, Darwin, regional Queensland, regional Western Australia and regional Tasmania where property prices growth has been sluggish, were the most likely to flip their properties for a loss.

Property price growth in Hobart has accelerated but only over the past 18 to 24 months.

Regional Northern Territory had the highest portion of losses. Half of all re-sales within 12 months of buying were sold for a loss and 40 per cent of re-sales between one and two years were sold for a loss.

The CoreLogic figures overstate the portion of profitable flips as they are simply the difference between the buying and selling prices and don't count the costs such as stamp duty, conveyancing and marketing and real estate agent commissions incurred by the flippers.

The figures for Sydney and Melbourne are likely to mark the high point of profitable flipping. CoreLogic notes an increase in loss-making flips recently.

The days of buying just about any property in Sydney and Melbourne, re-selling it quickly and being almost guaranteed a profit is likely coming to an end, if not already over.

Sydney and Melbourne price growth has slowed substantially over the past year, with small falls in both cities recorded by CoreLogic during December 2017.

There is something else likely weighing on the minds of would-be speculator-flippers besides stagnant prices, or should be weighing on their minds, and that's the increasing likelihood that interest rates and borrowing rates will rise.

Rising interest rates are not favourable to rising property prices. If rates were to rise sharply and prices fall, it is those who have only just just bought a property who would be hardest hit.

They could find themselves unable to service their mortgage and in "negative equity", where the property is worth less than the mortgage.

Flipping rates could even increase from here with a higher portion re-sold for a loss as recent home owners struggle to meet their mortgage repayments and become forced sellers.

This story Property speculation slows as prices stagnate first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.