Expert Advice with Kate Forbes


Everyone likes cash, don’t they?

While most of us don’t have much of it in our wallet anymore because it’s been replaced by a bank card, that doesn’t mean that we don’t spend much of our lives wanting more of the stuff.

Whether it’s through a salary or starting a business, most Australians would like to have more cash at their disposal.

The problem with such a mindset, though, is that the desire for cash drives some investors to buy the wrong type of properties.

These see the phrase “cash flow property” and they start daydreaming about filling a bathtub full of $50 notes – just because they can.

The thing is, while you need cash flow via rent to make the mortgage repayments every month, it will not make you rich.

Indeed, chasing high cash flow properties may actually be detrimental to your wealth.

Here are three reasons why.

1.    I’ll have some of that

If you buy a property that is positive cash flow, then that extra money is classed as your income.

What that means in reality is that bathtub full of $50 notes turn into $20 notes instead because you will have to pay a proportion of it to the tax department.

It might feel nice to have extra funds coming your way from rent, but no one got wealthy on an extra few hundred dollars a month, did they?

2.    Slow capital growth  

Now, while the cash might be flowing in your eyes, the property that you have bought probably isn’t growing in capital very much.

That’s because so-called cash flow properties are usually located in the outer rings of cities or in regional areas, which are generally quite sensitive to economic cycles.

Also, because there is usually less demand from buyers, properties in those locations don’t tend to increase in value as much as they do in our major cities over the long-term.

3.    Finance wobbles

At the end of the day, banks are in the business of lending money, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have certain types of borrowers that are their ideal customers.

Usually they’re the ones that are buying investment grade properties in locations that have a proven history of capital growth, such as major cities. Lenders often get nervous when a loan application for a property “out the back of beyond” lands on their desk.

Now that doesn’t mean they’ll knock it back, but it might mean they will only lend a smaller proportion of the purchase price.

Say, in the city, you may be able to secure a loan with a loan to value ratio of 90 per cent, using a 10 per cent deposit of your own funds.

However, in a regional area, you may have to cough up a 20 per cent deposit, which lowers your leverage and ultimately your potential returns. 

It’s important to realise that all investment properties become positive cash flow at some stage because rents rise but your repayments stay the same.

The thing is that it usually takes a number of years, by which stage your investment grade property has already grown in value significantly.

Let’s say over a five-year timeframe, rent on your $500,000 investment property increased from $500 per week to $600 per week and your mortgage repayments have remained the same at $450.

So, that means you have an extra $400 or so a month in your bank account – before costs of course.

Now, if that property was in an inferior location, its value may not have improved much over the period. and in line with this the rent is unlikely to rise significantly

However, if it was a blue-chip location, for example, its value may have increased by 50 per cent, which is $250,000.

To simply it, that equates to tens of thousands of extra dollars per month if you were to sell the property!

I sure know which one I’d rather be investing in.

And over time the rent of the high growth property will increase faster than if it was in a poorer location.

I've come to learn that cash flow keep you "in the game", but it's really capital growth that gets you out of the rat race


Kate Forbes is a National Director at Metropole Property Strategists. She has 15 years of investment experience in financial markets in two continents, is qualified in multiple disciplines and is also a chartered financial analyst (CFA).

She is a regular commentator for Michael Yardney’s Property Update    


Read more Expert Advice from Kate here!

Disclaimer: while due care is taken, the viewpoints expressed by contributors do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Your Investment Property.