Rear View With Eliza Owen

By
4/8/2016

WHAT ARE THREE LITTLE-KNOWN FACTS ABOUT YOU?

1. I am obsessed with podcasts and want to make a podcast about housing and cities!

2. I love theatre. I did about six shows with the University of Sydney Dramatic Society, and even did my honours thesis in the economics of theatre-actor decision-making.

3. Despite being a housing market analyst, I do not own a home of my own. I rent in a big, old share house with four lovely housemates and a herb garden.

While at university you studied economics. What was your favourite subject and why?

My favourite subject was Experimental and Behavioural Economics. Lecturers basically invited us to rip into established economic models, and critique what we’d been learning for the past three years.

Classic economic models assume that everyone is the same, are always pursuing maximum benefit for themselves, and know the best way to do this. Experimental and Behavioural Economics uses experimentation to see how people really behave in response to changes in wealth.

It’s been so helpful in understanding housing markets too. For example, a lot of people assume real estate works in a classic supply and demand model – that if you build more houses, prices will go down. However, analysis of developer behaviour actually reveals they will only develop when they expect
prices to go up. This means that in boom times, price and supply actually move together, rather than inversely.

What was it that attracted you to Australia’s property market?

To be honest, after graduating I was more interested in having a job than specifically doing housing market analysis. The graduate market is really competitive so I was happy to be working!

At Residex I was trusted with a lot of responsibility fresh out of university. I was offered access to an amazing database, a platform to publish work, and training in coding so I could do a lot for myself. I have become obsessed with the housing market – the growth patterns, how houses interact with finance and the economy. There’s a lot of interesting stories to be told.

Outside of economics, what else are you passionate about?

Art is very important to me. When I’m not working I am reading, drawing, writing or performing. I have also recently taken up gardening, which I really like. That’s kind of an art, right?

I am also interested in town planning. I am fascinated by how large swaths of people get together and organise themselves into cities, and how those cities can be best designed to maximise health and happiness.

If you were to choose one market in Australia right now to invest in, where would it be and why?

I can’t speak for anyone else, but personally my dream is to buy somewhere in Sydney – probably somewhere in the inner west or eastern suburbs. There is a lot to enjoy in these areas in terms of shopping and entertainment, and they are a good commute from the city. However, as the market is coming into a downswing, I would spend the next couple of years accumulating a deposit before buying.

In terms of an arts and cultural scene, employment opportunity and economic diversity, I think Sydney is the best place to be. A lot of artists are being priced out to more affordable areas, and there is a growing arts scene in all of Australia’s capitals, but my family and most of my friends are also here, so if I can get an investment in Sydney, I will.

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