Investors shift strategies

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Mortgage brokers and buyer's agents say it could be risky for property buyers to borrow more amid the low interest-rate environment. For investors and homebuyers, however, this is a risk they are willing to take.

The three rate cuts by the Reserve Bank of Australia this year could boost the borrowing power of property buyers by as much as 15%, said Rose & Jones buyer's agent Stuart Jones.

"This 15% extra borrowing capacity will be completely consumed by the borrower. And that's going to parlay into 15% price growth," he told The Australian Financial Review.

While investors are as willing as homebuyers to borrow more, they are constricted by one problem: equity loss.

Victor Kumar of Right Property Group said investors who bought at the peak of the market have yet to recover from the losses they made, making them second-guess getting back into the housing market again.

Also read: Investors Are Returning To The Housing Market

In fact, the share of investor lending in the total mortgages has been falling, from its peak of 37.9% in November 2016 to 25.9% in June this year.

"Even though the assessment rates have been dropped by the banks, and the interest rates have come down as well, a majority of them still can't qualify for the level of finance that they need to get back into the market. People who already have a couple of investment properties are finding that the banks are looking at those properties more as a risk than as an asset," Kumar told the AFR.

However, it appears like some investors are unbothered by the weaker economy and are willing to continue borrowing. Kumar said these investors are shifting their strategies by changing the type of property they get into, minimising their exposures to risk.

"They're looking at value-add properties, dual occupancies or zoned land, so that if the market goes against them, then they've got several strategies to implement on that property," Kumar said.

He said some are even drawing the equity they built from their home to get back to the share market.

The latest ANZ/Property Council Survey, however, point out to the more optimistic outlook of investors about the house-price growth.

Emerging signs of recovery, from rate cuts to rising clearance rates, are fuelling the investors' positive sentiments, said ANZ senior economist Felicity Emmet.

"Since the auction clearance rates have picked up sharply, prices have been rising strongly now in Sydney and Melbourne for two months, and housing finance is starting to pick up. Interest rate cuts and regulatory easing have been key drivers of this turnaround," she said.

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