We’re finally getting our mojo back

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It has been a long time coming, but Australians are starting to shake off their pessimism when it comes to property and embrace a more cheery outlook. It’s about bloody time.

Doom and gloom is contagious, I swear. It’s like an airborne virus that sweeps across the population, turning perfectly healthy people into withering messes in one foul sweep.

Like a kid with chicken pox released into a kindergarten full of previously uninfected little ones, our confidence in a whole manner of things was destroyed in the wake of the GFC and the brief stimulus-induced recovery in 2009/10.

For the past few years, those persistent homebuyer woes have been painfully discouraging and draining. Like dark clouds on a summer day or atrocious Cuban-American ‘rapper/singer’ Pitbull, they just won’t go away. While we’ve been in a funk about housing, most of us have held off buying.

But it seems we’re turning a corner. From the investor’s perspective, confidence is rising at a pace that one research group described as “surprising”. A report by BDRC Jones Donald found three-quarters of landlords are positive about their investment and 20 per cent are planning to buy another property in the next year or so.

Buyers are also pretty optimistic, according to the latest Westpac-Melbourne Institute Consumer Sentiment Index. In fact, their national ‘time to buy a dwelling’ measure is at its highest point in three years. It’s a trend echoed in the Genworth Homebuyer Confidence Index, a biannual measure of confidence among committed and intended home purchasers. Its latest report shows the index rose to 98.4 per cent, the highest level since 2007.

The annual Housing Affordability and Sentiment Index Study found a quarter of respondents would like to purchase a property in the next six months, while 28 per cent would like to buy in the next year. Many would-be buyers are even willing to sacrifice luxury items to make their property dreams a reality.

Of those looking to buy an investment property, 11 per cent had never owned a home before, possibly signaling a healthy view of the long-term prospects of real estate as a wealth creation tool.

Looking at a number of measures, the attitude of would-be buyers is encouraging to say the least – especially as we prepare to farewell another year. And what a year it has been.

To describe 2012 as a ‘mixed bag’ would be fairly apt. The first half of the year was largely flat, despite high hopes as 2011 wound to a close. The last few months have seen a rebound across the board, from property prices to auction clearance rates and buyer demand. Once again, the property industry looks to the next 12 months with hope and optimism.

Shannon Molloy is the deputy editor of Australian Property Investor magazine www.apimagazine.com.au

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