One out of every eight homes sold is fetching less than it cost.
It’s a sobering thought for investors still affected by the delusion that house prices never fall. The figures, from the RP Data Pain and Gain report released on Tuesday, are based on gross profits and losses, which exclude transaction costs and taxes.
They show that 12 per cent of homes sold in the three months ending June were sold for less than their purchase price. Together, they incurred a total loss of $531 million. The remaining 88 per cent beat their previous sale price by a total of $12.1 billion.
The numbers also illustrate what real estate agents like to remind us are the three most important features of a home: location, location, location.
The areas where homes are most likely to be sold at a loss are what RP Data refers to as “lifestyle regions”.
Regional Queensland stood out with 27.5 per cent of sales made at a loss.
“The weakness in Queensland is mostly reflective of the conditions across the lifestyle markets such as the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and far north where the correction in home values has been more significant,” RP Data said.
On the Gold Coast, 36.3 per cent of sales were at a loss, but the proportion was still high at 34.6 per cent in far north Queensland and 29.9 per cent on the Sunshine Coast, with other regions in Queensland not far behind.
The red ink affected apartments more than free-standing houses.
In Wide Bay Burnett, the Sunshine Coast, Mackay and the Gold Coast, losses made up more than a third of apartment sales, while in northern and far north Queensland the proportion rose to around a half.
But it’s not all so dire for property owners.
Loss-making sales made up only 5.0 per cent of transactions in Perth, 6.2 per cent in both Sydney and Canberra, and 8.1 per cent in Melbourne. The figures are a reminder that real estate investors might be better to focus on the long term rather than trying to turn a quick profit.
RP Data said the proportion of loss-making sales for homes bought before 2008 was only 7.2 per cent, compared with 22.2 per cent for homes bought from 2008 – the year the global crisis erupted – onward.
To further illustrate the point, RP Data said length of ownership ahead of loss-making sales averaged only five years.
In contrast, the time between purchase and resale for all profit-making sales averaged 9.6 years, 15.7 years for homes sold for at least twice their purchase price.