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Is it quicker to build equity from development or buy and hold in a high capital growth location?

Today I met with an old friend. I’d coached his son in soccer (yep I am a junior soccer coach – but only up to under 10’s!).  He is a very successful local real estate agent. His business on Sydney’s Northern Beaches has been growing from strength to strength over the past few years.  But he was here to see me to discuss his personal investment options.


He said “Jo, despite me being in the industry, my focus hasn’t been on growing my own wealth – more growing my business and getting the best results for our vendors and landlords – I’ve been selling property not buying it.  Now I need to start planning for my retirement”.  Whilst still a way off, retirement is rightly so on his radar.


Property on the Northern Beaches of Sydney has become expensive; it’s hard to consider it from an investment perspective as the entry point is high; the rental yields low but capital growth prospects are ok tracking at around 5% but on a high base, this can be impressive.  So if you are investing in this location, it means you need to be able to support your investment with surplus cash as the rent just won’t cover the costs. The costs include interest payments, council and water rates, insurances, repairs and management fees. It’ll be a negatively geared investment.


What my friend was looking for was a project where equity can be created but also an investment that would be cash flow positive. This would let him keep moving forward on his investment journey and continue to focus on growing his real estate agency business.

I presented an affordable dual occupancy development concept to him. We looked at the numbers and he said “Jo, I don’t think you can create that kind of equity within one year by just buying and holding.”  


Within a year we can create around $100,000 in equity through a development like this.  I said, of course not because what we are doing is creating equity via the development process – from adding value and building two dwellings on one piece of land and subdividing it to create two properties.” 


Not only are we creating equity, the gross yield from the rents on completion means the properties are easy to hold as they may be cashflow positive. So the rent combined with the tax benefits means that you shouldn’t need to contribute extra cash (depending on your taxable income – seek accounting advice).


But another important element to this dual occupancy development opportunity is that the regional cities we develop in have good capital growth rates currently tracking at 7% + annualised.  As a comparison, the historical growth rate of the Northern Beaches suburb I live in is 5%. Hmmm, this is looking more interesting.


This dual occupancy project would be valued at approximately $760,000 on completion – that is two freestanding three bedrooms, two bathrooms, SLUG villas at $380,000 each.  If the properties receives 7% annual growth then around $53,000 capital growth should be realised in year one. This will increase year on year based on the annualised growth rate.

Creating some equity, a strong yield and good depreciation benefits with a small development in a location with good growth prospects seemed to make sense to my real estate friend.  His next step is to take a drive around and conduct his own due diligence. I’m expecting his call back soon.

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