I was lucky to recently spend an amazing weekend riding horses in the NSW Snowy Mountains National Park.
It was one of those bucket list trips and I went with a old school friend. We'd gone to pony club together and grown up as horse crazy girls. We'd spend most of our teenage years riding and looking after our horses (which kept us out of trouble!).
Whilst sitting around the camp fire at night with a group of other women and staff we'd just met, I was discussing property investing with one of the ladies - can't help myself!
She was a pretty amazing single lady with her sights set on the future. She'd been clever enough to buy a few investment properties in-between serving our country in the army. We were discussing her recent purchase of an off the plan apartment.
She shared with me the numbers on her deal and I was a bit surprised. I have good experience with buying off the plan but it was over ten years ago now that I used this strategy. Back then, the property developer offered a good discount to purchasers and this helped create some equity. If the market was also moving upwards, then a nice chunk of money could be made by settlement time. I would settle an apartment then draw out the equity to use as a deposit to settle the next one.
But things have changed. There seems to be more risk as there isn't the same discounts being applied. So you buy in at today's market price. If of course, it's a hot market as is Sydney at the moment, that price could end up more than what the apartment may be worth in a year or two once completed.
I explained what I did to the lady. Property Bloom manages small developments for our clients. A dual occupancy development can create a big chunk of money within twelve months and you end up with two properties. I explained that the big difference between buying off the plan and developing yourself, is that you are creating the equity through the development process, not hoping for capital growth whilst your apartment is being constructed.
Would you rather control of the equity creation by cutting some keen deals on the land and construction or, rely on a stranger to build your investment and hope for the market to rise?
I did the later six times and was lucky four out of the six times. The other two deals were borderline. If I had my time again, I would not have completed on the two ordinary investments. But as they say, time heals all wounds and because I held onto these investments (in lieu of selling at a loss) they've turned out well.
My big lesson from buying off the plan? It is far more lucrative to be the developer than the investor.