Shock horror

Shock horror – some positive data

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Brothels, union credit cards, crying MPs. Doom and gloom in Europe, America and the United Kingdom. Sharemarket fluctuations wilder than a “dinner party” at Silvio Berlusconi’s weekend villa. Sheesh. Subject yourself to a newspaper or evening bulletin these days and you’ll probably need some Bex, a cuddle and a lie down.


But wait… what’s that? Over there, just past more rumblings of leadership tension (yawn) and Lara Bingle’s new reality TV show (cautiously intrigued) – it’s a string of promising property data.

Like the random helicopter at the beginning of the video clip for Phil Collin’s Easy Lover, it’s all come like a shock out of the blue. Aren’t things meant to be really bad? Like, Millennium-Bug-buy-all-the-bottled-water-paranoia kind of bad?

Apparently not, it seems. Or at least not as bad as most people understandably might’ve thought. A series of reports released in the past week show folks are slowly starting to build new houses again, investors are showing some signs of confidence and Brisbane had its best quarter for new apartment sales in a decade.

Not bad. It might even be positive enough to make a few consumers peer out of their war-era bomb shelters, head to the shops and buy a plasma TV or mid-sized family sedan.

Of course, the good news isn’t universal. The markets in Victoria and Tasmania still look grim and one analyst told me he doesn’t expect that to change any time soon. But then, it’s pretty cold down there at this time of year. Maybe homebuyers are rugged up at home in front of the fire, with a bottle of Merlot and the new season of Downton Abbey.

Higher than average unemployment and a growing oversupply of new dwellings could also be playing a part, but I’m pretty sure it’s mostly the Dowager Countess’ witty repertoire of period-themed insults.

In last week’s blog post, I pondered whether we were talking ourselves into unnecessary panic. Now, I’m fairly certain we are. Stable inflation, low unemployment, falling interest rates, a fairly strong economic outlook and even the promise of a decent Budget surplus next year should not equal hysteria and terror among the masses.

In my view, and generally speaking (as I so often do), this whole situation is like a healthy 20-something getting a cold and then quitting their job, drawing up a will and bidding farewell to family and friends, fearing that death is imminent. It’s irrational and ridiculous.

You know what? Maybe some Bex, a cuddle and a lie down are exactly what Australians need. Then they need to consider buying something because I reckon in 12 months – maybe 18 months at a stretch – we’ll be sitting down to a nice cup of chamomile and wondering why the heck we didn’t buy when the going was good.

Shannon Molloy is the deputy editor of Australian Property Investor magazine.