Sydney’s outer suburbs and Melbourne’s middle-ring are the most popular for real estate “flippers” – those who hope to buy property and reselling it quickly for a profit.
An analysis for Money by researcher CoreLogic RP Data shows Sydney’s outer west and south west are sweet spots for properties resold within two years.
Edmondson Park and Busby in the city’s south west and Jordan Springs, a new suburb near Penrith in the west have resale rates of about 20 per cent.
Leading suburbs in Melbourne for flipping are Seddon, Box Hill North and Yarra Junction with two-year resale rates of about 10 per cent.
Seddon and Box Hill North are close to Melbourne’s centre. Sydney’s flipper suburbs are generally further out because Sydney’s inner and middle suburbs are just too expensive.
Another factor behind flipping closer-in to central Melbourne is that in Victoria, off-the-plan purchases attract a discount on the stamp duty.
With strong price rises, particularly in Sydney, it seems like money for jam – speculators have been able to buy houses without doing much to improve them before selling for a profit.
“Dwelling” prices, which includes houses and units, rose 18.4 per cent for the year to July 31 in Sydney and Melbourne prices were 11.5 per cent higher over the same period, figures from CoreLogic RP Data show.
Louis Christopher, the managing director of specialist property researcher SQM Research, says given the high transactions costs of real estate, the market needs to be moving up strongly for flippers to make money.
“The only place flipping really works is in strongly-rising markets, such as Sydney,” he says. Even there, flipping is confined to the relatively cheaper regions of the city, such as western Sydney, he says.
As flippers will usually claim the property as their principal place of residence, there is no tax on profits. However, there is no avoiding the transaction costs, such as stamp duty.
There is little evidence of much flipping at the “upper end” as the purchase prices and transactions costs are too high, Christopher says.
Experienced property analysts say flippers who choose well and manage the risks will continue to make money as long as price rise remain strong. But at some point, the big surges in prices will end.
In June, the Treasury secretary John Fraser said Sydney and some parts of Melbourne were “unequivocally” in a house price bubble.
Given it may take at least 12 months to flip a property, the risk is that interest rates rise in the interim and prices cool.
Robert Mellor, BIS Shrapnel managing director, says he is “getting a bit more concerned as we are in unchartered territory with annual price rises of about 15 per cent in Sydney”.
“There will be higher interest rates in 12 months’ to two years’ time; although they could be only a bit higher,” he says.
Kevin Lee, the principal of Smart Property Adviser, says many people have become seduced by the thought of becoming an “instant hero”; that they will make a killing simply by signing a contract to buy a property.
“It used to be called greed; now it’s normal,” he says.
Lee says flipping is a risky game. There are many risks that have to be managed and only some people are good at it. It takes tenacity and perseverance to be successful, he says.
Buying a “renovator’s delight” cheaply may turn out to take a lot more time and money than the renovation TV shows make it seem.
Financial pressures that often come with flipping can put relationships themselves at risk, he says.
Lee knows of someone who had three successful flips; but went “horribly wrong” on the fourth flip when during the last interest rate cycle, rates rose and the market cooled.