Property tycoon talks up real estate, says shares are "terrible"

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The founder of Australia’s biggest home building company believes real estate remains a prime investment opportunity when compared to other avenues, such as the share market.

Speaking to Bloomberg this week, Meriton founder Harry Triguboff described the Australian share market as “terrible” and said conditions within Australian property were so good they had caused him to abandon plans to sell his company to Chinese interests.

“The problem is I’m really not keen on selling. I never was. They came to talk,” Triguboff told Bloomberg.

“You’ve got to open your eyes, go to restaurants, it’s all full, where ever you want to get in, it’s all full. So the country is doing so well, what’s the point of selling?” he said.

Global stock markets have been volatile this year amid signs of slowing growth in China and expectations that the Federal Reserve in the U.S. will embark on interest rate increases.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index has declined 8.9%this year, as the MSCI World Index has fallen 4.3% and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index has retreated 2.3%.

Triguboff is undaunted by waning demand from Chinese buyers and last month’s price declines in Sydney, believing interest in real estate will remain strong from within and off shore.

“One of two things will happen. The [property] prices will remain the same -- nobody is talking of them going up,” he said.

“If they remain the same, the Chinese might stay here. If they go down then the Australians will come in and buy.”

Chinese buyers accounted for around 40% of Meriton sales over the 2015, helping the firm to its best sales year ever, and Triguboff doesn’t see sales falling away too much in the coming year.

“Selling doesn’t occur to me as a problem.

“Prices may go up or may go down 5%, 10%. I’m not interested. We are selling apartments for $1 million now, which I used to sell 10 years ago for half.”

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