AMP ‘blacklists’ more than 140 suburbs for apartment lending

Apartments in more than 140 suburbs are on a confidential black list because of growing concerns about oversupply, off-the-plan sales, and, in some areas, falling prices, according to leaked documents.

AMP Bank, the banking division of the largest financial services group that compiled the list, claims it is a “prudent” response to managing risks of “over-supply”, which could push down prices, rents and lead to defaults.

“We have identified certain high density areas where we have put provisions in place to manage risk and over-supply,” a spokesman says. “We take a prudent approach to managing risk,” she says.

AMP is one of several big lenders circulating ‘black lists’ of suburbs where apartment buyers will face tougher terms and conditions, including increased scrutiny of their ability to pay.

It is focusing on developments of more than 10 apartments being built around state capitals and inner-suburban postcodes where there are high volumes of new, or soon-to-be-completed complexes.

Suburbs more than 10-kilometres from Sydney’s central business district, such as Homebush and Arncliffe, where there is a lot of apartment building underway, have recently been added to the list.

AMP borrowers will face tougher terms on the amount borrowed, number of apartments purchased in a single development and a ban on using some incentives offered by developers, such as rental guarantees.

Other lenders have recently issued similar warnings about former real estate hot spots that have gone cold, typically in former mining boom towns of Perth and Darwin, where rents and prices have been tumbling.

Rock Building Society has reviewed and expanded its list of ‘high risk’ postcodes and issued a limit on luxury properties and maximum loan-to-value ratios for those properties of 70 per cent.

ANZ is circulating a list of 50 postcodes, concentrated around Western Australia, Queensland and NSW mining towns, that is describes as “not acceptable” for providing lenders mortgage insurance, which is a one-off insurance payment that protects lenders against default.

It is also impose tougher controls on the use of commission and overtime payments used in calculating buyer’s ability to service a mortgage.

AMP’s ‘high risk’ list targets state capitals, particularly Melbourne and Sydney, where the building of apartment buildings has boomed because of demand from investors and first-time buyers that cannot afford a house in suburbs.

The main Melbourne focus is the central business district and nearby Docklands and Southbank, where large numbers of high rise complexes continue to be built.

Melbourne’s overall apartment prices are up about 5 per cent and rents around 4 per cent during the past 12 months, according to SQM Research, a company that analyses property prices.

But there are pockets of over-supply, which could be worsened by imminent completions of major construction projects.

In Sydney the focus is also for developments around the central business district and inner suburbs of Dawes Point, Darling Harbour, Millers Point and Sydney South.

Sydney, which as been the nation’s top performing residential property market, posted rises of nearly 10 per cent for apartments and 5.5 per cent for rents during the past 12 months, according to SQM.

Inner Brisbane, which has been issued a buyer ‘red alert’ by SQM because of concerns about over-supply, is also on AMP’s watch-list.

Queensland accounts for an additional 73 suburbs, which is more than half the nation’s total, including Cairns and many suburbs along the Gold Coast, including Broadbeach, Mermaid Waters and Florida Gardens.

Prices of Brisbane units have increased by about 1 per cent during the past 12 months and rents are up by about 2.4 per cent, according to SQM.

Developers are offering buyers three year rental guarantees on sales, which are three- to-four bedroom apartments selling for about $500,000.

Lenders are concerned about the number of new apartments expected to flood onto the market over the coming 12 months, adding to a large existing inventory of unsold, or vacated, apartments in many markets.

An estimated 45,000 apartments are due for completion and settlement over the next nine months to Christmas in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, an increase of nearly 25 per cent compared to last year, according to planning consultancy MacroPlan Dimasi.

Another 53,000 could be coming to market in the same postcodes next year, the consultancy estimates.

Perth, where unit prices have fallen by 9 per cent during the past 12 months, has more than 30 blacklisted suburbs, particularly around central and east Perth, where rents are routinely being slashed by increasingly desperate landlords.

Darwin, which is also struggling to absorb developments that were commenced during the mining boom, is also listed.

Lenders are also worried that off-the-plan investors might not be able to bridge a deposit gap caused by lower loan-to-value ratios, which means bigger deposits before settlement.

A recent survey by WBP Property revealed nearly half off-the-plan sales in the eight months to last August were in negative equity, which means worth less than the purchase price.

Average losses were about $40,000, or about 10 per cent, between agreement to buy and pre-settlement valuation, which is required by lenders to assess any changes in value and he amount of money a lender can borrow.

Buyers have to bridge the gap between the purchase price and final valuation, which can result in contract breach, deposit loss and, potentially, legal action by vendors.

AMP, which says its analysis is based on in-house and independent consultancy, says borrowing restrictions target what it describes as “high density” areas, which are apartments in complexes with more than 10 units and located within the blacklisted postcodes.

Under the new lending arrangements, loan-to-value ratios are up to 90 per cent, there is a maximum of two apartments per borrower on any development, rental guarantees will not be accepted and a cap of 25 per cent of any individual development, or 10 units, which ever is the bigger.

Other lenders, such as ING Direct, recently banned inducements of rebates, special conditions, furniture, televisions and cars to buyers to complete their off-the-plan deals.

Lenders fear the undisclosed incentives could increase the value of a property in a way that cannot be transferred to success buyers.

by Duncan Hughes

Read more:
Follow us: @FinancialReview on Twitter | financialreview on Facebook



Canberra: Woden’s housing market is at its strongest in years

When residents of Canberra’s first satellite town, Woden, moved into their new homes in the early 1960s, they were living on the fringe of the burgeoning city.

The nation’s capital was yet to hit a population of 100,000, Belconnen was little more than a few sketches and Lake Burley Griffin was still being filled.

More than 50 years on with urban sprawl pushing Gungahlin to the northern ACT border and Molonglo Valley suburbs popping up towards the west, Woden’s residents find themselves in one of the city’s most central locations.

Property in the area is hotly contested with families, first home buyers and the district’s downsizers putting Woden at the top of their list.

Luton Properties Woden agent Anthony McCormack says he has seen a surge in demand for homes in the area with prices rising significantly in Curtin, Hughes and Garran.

The price growth in Woden’s north has also led to an increase in inquiry for the southern, more affordable suburbs such as Isaacs, Farrer and Pearce.

“People have really cottoned on to how geographically central it is,” McCormack says.

“They are also confident with the area’s road systems, hospital, town centre and schools.”

Peter Blackshaw Woden and Weston Creek agent Luke Metcalfe says Woden’s housing market is the strongest it has been in years.

“The auction clearance rates are very strong and we’re seeing five or six bidders at each house,” Metcalfe says.

“Good properties are attracting anything from 50 to 100 groups during their marketing campaigns.”

Metcalfe says he is seeing a lot of buyers upgrading within the Woden district and there has also been an increase in inquiries from Tuggeranong residents hoping to move closer to the city centre.

“The average buyer is someone looking to upgrade from other parts of town or within the suburbs themselves,” Metcalfe says.

While Woden is home to an ageing population, a new generation of residents have started to make their move to the district. Independent Property Group agent Jonathan Charles says a lot of young families are moving into the area to take advantage of the valley’s excellent schools.

He says an updated four-bedroom home with an en suite and double garage is by far the most popular request.

“Stock levels are very tight in the Woden area and there’s not an abundance of homes,” Charles says.

“When they do come on the market they’re hotly contested.”

Woden Valley Community Council president Martin Miller would like to see the suburb’s infrastructure upgraded to meet the demands of the district’s residents.

“There are a lot more newer office buildings, the shopping centre has expanded two or three times and the residential building Sky Plaza has a love/hate relationship with residents,” Miller says.

“But you can see a lot of the facilities are ageing 50 years on and a lot of things need renewal.”

Miller says it’s encouraging to see development happening in the town centre, but he would also like to see more investment in family housing.

“What is really suffering is the model of housing, we need more facilities for families, rather than just retirees or young couples.”

Charles says while demand is strong for family homes in Woden Valley, buyers should advise local agents what they’re looking for so they don’t miss out.

“They need to register their interest with agents in the area so we can notify them when we have something coming up,” he says.

Woden facts

  • The name “Woden” derives from a nearby homestead. Dr James Murray bought the 1000-hectare parcel in 1937 and named it after the Norse god of war and patron of learning, who is also known as “Odin”.
  • Woden was the first of Canberra’s town centres to be built outside the CBD. Development of Woden’s 12 suburbs began in 1962, with the first residents moving into Hughes in 1963.
  • Isaacs was the last suburb completed, with construction beginning in the late ’80s.
  • A population of 32,958 was recorded in the 2011 census.
  • The Woden suburb of Garran is home to the largest public hospital in the ACT and south-east NSW region, the Canberra Hospital.

Woden area a drawcard for families

There’s plenty of competition in the Woden region for the perfect family home and it’s a situation Stephanie Day, pictured, has become familiar with over the past couple of months.

Day grew up in Woden and is hoping to buy a family home in the area. She moved to Melbourne eight years ago and is back in the ACT with her partner, Tom, and her two-year-old daughter, Hayley.

Since Christmas they have been staying at Day’s family home in Isaacs and each Saturday has been filled with open homes.

“We’re looking in the area because it’s close to Mum and Dad and it’s where I grew up,” Day says.

‘I’m familiar with the area and it has good primary schools and nice neighbourhoods.”

Like many young families, they’re looking for a three or four-bedroom en suite home in or around Woden, with Farrer, Pearce and Torrens among the suburbs they’ve visited.

“A lot of the homes are sold by auction so we’re just getting a feel of the market,” Day says.

“Some houses are going way over what we expected them to go for.”

The family is keen to settle in Woden or one of the neighbouring Weston Creek or upper Tuggeranong suburbs. The autumn season has brought more properties onto the market, so ;Day is hopeful they will find a home soon.

Let the sun shine in

1/99 Ainsworth Street, Mawson

An expanse of glass, a loft design and flowing living spaces lend a light and airy atmosphere to this striking three-bedroom townhouse.

It is set in a boutique development of just seven residences and was designed by award-winning TM Architecture.

The home was completed in early 2015 and the owners have added several stylish upgrades to the original design to make it their dream home. Glass balustrades and an open timber staircase, extra drawers in the kitchen and skylights are among the additions.

The double-storey bank of windows captures lovely leafy views and allows plenty of sunshine to fill the room in the winter. The open-plan living area includes custom joinery, feature pendant lights and a contemporary adjoining kitchen with marble accents, soft-close drawers and a walk-in pantry.

The master suite is conveniently placed on the lower floor, along with his and hers wardrobes and an oversized en suite.

Two additional large bedrooms are on the upper floor, boasting views across Mawson and towards Mount Taylor. A lofted rumpus room allows for a range of options, including a home office or teenager’s retreat.

The home is set in a prime Woden location, just two minutes from the town centre and five minutes from the hospital. Mawson Primary School, Marist College and Melrose High School are all within walking distance.

Number 1/99 Ainsworth Street, Mawson, will be auctioned on Saturday, March 19 at 1pm, on site. Phone Dan McAlpine on 0401 005 282. Inspect: Saturday, 11.30am-noon. EER: 6.

CQ property market is stabilising to pre-mining boom levels

THE property market throughout Central Queensland is stabilising with sales volumes and prices returning to pre-mining boom levels.

The boom triggered significant price rises in housing and apartments throughout the region, including out west to the mining towns of Moranbah, Emerald, Dysart and Blackwater.

The economies of these towns have struggled since the boom ended about 2012, with rising unemployment and limited opportunities for economic diversification.

However, for Mackay, Rockhampton and Gladstone, traditional economic bulwarks of tourism, sugar, beef, export and education are helping to stabilise the economy.

Many experienced property observers agree, property sales volumes and values are now finding their new normal.

Mackay has fared the worst of the three major centres, with the annual median sale price continuing to sink, now sitting at $365,000, down 10.1% on a year ago and 8.8% lower than five years ago.

Even though Rockhampton has a lower median house price, now sitting at $294,500, it’s only 5.4% below a year ago, and down just 1.8% on five years ago.

This indicates a more stable market and the REIQ is confident that the bottom has been reached.

150 locals not FIFO workers to benefit from Stanmore plan

FIRST in line for the 150 jobs created at a new Stanmore Coal mine will be workers from Moranbah and Mackay.

On Wednesday news broke that the Isaac Plains coal mine 6km east of Moranbah would reopen in February.

Gladstone-based Golding Contractors was awarded its contract late Wednesday afternoon and principal mining engineer Dylan Pieters said it would look to employ “those living closest to the mine”.

“To get a mining contract in this current market is a really good thing,” Mr Pieters said.

“We want to employ people where the mine is at and we’ve already started advertising some of the positions.”

But he said the bulk of the new jobs would be advertised soon, through and the company website.

Stanmore Coal’s managing director Nick Jorss said the company would not employ FIFO workers “because it did not suit the business model”, particularly with the mine on track to be one of the world’s lowest-cost metallurgical coal mines.

He planned to reduce the cost of production for each tonne of coal by around 35% compared to the mine’s previous performance.

Buying the mine for just $1 in July was a major cost-saving but Mr Jorss said it would also change its operation method.

“The model is definitely changing,” Mr Jorss said.

“We are changing the method and maximising the amount of dragline.

“Moving overburden with dragline reduces costs.”

More than $7 million in royalties, in addition to state and federal government taxes, would flow back to the state.

After the mine reopens in February Mr Jorss said the first coal shipments should leave in April, en route to Japan, Korea and Taiwan.

He hoped the mine would have a 10-year lifespan.

During that time it would set aside $32 million for the rehabilitation of the mine site.

Stanmore Coal to reopen Isaac Plains mine near Moranbah despite resources downturn

The Mayor of the Isaac Regional Council says she hopes the reopening of a Bowen Basin coal mine will be a catalyst for other mining companies across central Queensland.

Stanmore Coal said it would reopen the Isaac Plains mine near Moranbah, that was closed by the previous owners in 2014.

The company said it would employ 150 workers through contracting firm Golding, when the mine reopens next February, half the workforce in place when it closed.

Mayor Anne Baker said it was unusual for mines to open during a downturn.

“Coal mines don’t generally open when you’re in the middle of a downturn, so this is certainly an encouraging step forward and potentially a catalyst for change of how history has been when we’ve seen a company like Stanmore Coal have the confidence to restart production at Isaac Plains,” she said.

She said the mine would bring flow-on benefits to local workers, contractors and suppliers.

“What they’ve made very clear to us is that the people in the local area and the regional area will have the opportunity to apply for these jobs,” she said.

“With that brings people residing in your community, support for your local businesses and at the current climate and the times that we’ve been experiencing, it’s very good news for Isaac council.”

Low-cost approach

Stanmore managing director Nick Jorss said it had implemented a low-cost approach to the operation.

“I think it’s going to stay tough for a while but in the longer term it will recover.”

Nick Jorss

“No we’re confident. I mean we’ve spent a year getting to this point, doing the numbers, working with the mining contractor, spent five months working with Golding to get to this point and the award,” he said.

“So we’re confident we’ve got a low cost base and we’ll get through this period.”

He said the fundamentals for coking coal were very good.

“Coking coal is a very scarce resource. The steel-making industry is not going anywhere and some of the best coking coal in the world is being consumed at a rapid pace,” he said.

“So people need cars, people need coal for all sorts of things, so absolutely, we’re very positive about [the] coking coal outlook.

“I think it’s going to stay tough for a while but in the longer term it will recover.”

‘Great synergies’ for coal company

The Queensland Resources Council’s chief executive, Michael Roche, said Stanmore had improved the mine’s efficiency.

“The company’s had a very close look at this asset and have worked out a way to make money from mining there and the company also has some other coal deposits nearby,” he said.

“So there are great synergies out of this operation for Stanmore Coal, so I think we will see more good news coming out of Stanmore Coal over the next year or so.”

By Harriet Tatham, Melissa Maddison and Paul Robinson

Bargain Isaac Plains coal mine returns with 150 jobs

A MORANBAH coal mine bought for $1 earlier this year will soon provide job opportunities for 150 local workers.

Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker said she met with Isaac Plains coal mine owner Stanmore Coal on Tuesday when they announced a scheduled opening in February 2016.

While she would not say if the mine had totally ruled out all elements of a fly-in, fly-out workforce, she was given “absolute confidence local people will be able to apply and work there”.

“It’s going to be open to everyone,” Cr Baker said.

“They never mentioned FIFO. There are 150 positions and everyone is welcome to apply.”

The mayor hailed the project, 6km east of Moranbah, as a boost for industry, local workers and the community.

Moranbah Bakery owner Steve Hanvey said if local workers really were prioritised for the jobs the project would be a “beaut thing for the town”.

“My partner was doing deliveries the other day and at the petrol station she saw five families packed up to leave town,” Mr Hanvey said.

“We need support and we’ve had a lot of doom and gloom for a long time.

“I have all 10 of my fingers crossed and my arms crossed that these jobs will go ahead and there will be more to come.”

The Moranbah resident of 24 years said it wouldn’t just be the workers who benefited but the whole community.

The mine was open-cut and Cr Baker said “real time air quality monitoring” would be in place for Moranbah residents.

Stanmore Coal bought Isaac Plains Mine from Vale and Sumitomo in July for $1, more than a year after about 300 jobs were lost when production halted in 2014.

After a program of exploration and refurbishment, Stanmore Coal will begin mining activities following government approvals.

Mackay : The Queensland city tipped best place to buy a home

Mackay has been tipped as the best spot to buy a house in Queensland say property leaders as the beachside city shows signs of rising from the bottom of the property cycle.

LJ Hooker principal Brett Greensill said Mackay’s property cycle was clearly on the rise after a downturn, making it the ideal time for buyers.

“House prices in Mackay have come down in recent years and have now stabilised at the bottom of the market, with great potential to start to rise in the near future,” Mr Greensill said.

“I advise home buyers to look for regions that are just rising from the bottom of the cycle, and Mackay is definitely in that position at the moment.

“The housing affordability in Mackay coupled with the current record low interest rates makes for perfect buying.”

He said the recent mining downturn which saw masses of job losses in the region and spikes in vacancy rates, was not a cause for concern.

“The mining downturn has downturned,” Mr Greensill said. “And the mining sector has stabilised.”

Mackay Professionals principal Trevor Chapman said buyers were already taking advantage of Mackay’s bottomed out market.

“The bottom price is really hot at the moment – and it’s always the bottom of the market that moves first; we’re seeing that happen already in Mackay,” Mr Chapman said.

He said the bottom of the market is sitting at around $200,000, but it will not last long.

“All of my low stock is going, and it’s all from local buyers,” he said.

He said investors, however, have not appeared to catch on.

“Investors should be here already,” he said.

“We’re going to see them come in once the prices show signs of rising.”

Current high vacancy rates in Mackay could be a factor in why investors have been reluctant to enter the market.

Mackay’s Gardian real estate principal Eric Rickman said 20 to 30 per cent of buyers are coming from the south east corner of the state, which were mostly owner occupiers.

“Maybe the high vacancy rates are worrying investors – but we do have buyers from the south, they just aren’t all investors,” he said.

He said November was his best month for sales to date.

“In November we experienced our best month since we opened two and a half years ago,” Mr Rickman said.

“The market is on the up.”

Investors should approach mining town’s ‘recovery’ with caution

Investors are being warned to proceed with care after a new report claimed the property market in one of Australia’s most prominent mining towns had turned a corner.

Mackay’s real estate market is showing signs of recovery following its dramatic downturn, according to a recent report from the Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ), but investors are being advised to treat the news with caution.

Real estate agents are fielding an increasing number of enquiries from local buyers, according to the report, leading to speculation by the REIQ that the market has reached a turning point.

Mackay has suffered greatly since the downturn in commodity-related exports.

Only in June the area was named by CoreLogic RP Data’s Pain and Gain report as the biggest loss-making real estate market in the country, with 45.5 per cent of sales resulting in a loss.

The current median house price in Mackay is $340,000 – a 15 per cent decline over the past 12 months – according to CoreLogic RP Data.

But the REIQ report argues that record-low interest rates, combined with cheap housing stock, is driving a new wave of first home buyer activity in the area.

Peter McFarlane, REIQ zone chairman for the Mackay district, argues that this represents the first signs of a turnaround for the region.

“There has been a distinct improvement in the Mackay property market in 2015,” Mr McFarlane said.

“More first home buyers are taking advantage of the low interest rates and the affordable property prices to realise their dream of owning their own home,” he said.

Future price growth in the region is likely to be more sustainable as the market adapts and becomes driven by local owners rather than interstate investors, according to Mr McFarlane.

“Mackay has been re-established as a true local buyers’ market in the post-global financial crisis era of adjustment and renewed gradual growth,” he said.

“As a result, market conditions have stabilised and confidence is increasing in the local property market and the broader local economy.”

He explained that moves to diversify Mackay’s local economy had led to a renewed optimism over the area’s prospects.

“Local government initiatives to broaden diversification of industry and facilitate development in the region have put Mackay on an economic development growth path in 2015, leading to a general feeling of optimism throughout the region.

“As outlined in the latest REIQ report, this positivity has now been reflected by the increased level of local buyers interested in investing in the property market,” he said.

But Ben Kingsley, CEO of Empower Wealth Advisory, cautioned investors to hold back on any entry into the Mackay market for the time being, stating that mining towns across the country have yet to see the worst of the downturn.

“In regards to mining towns, I would still be cautious before jumping in. I don’t think we’ve seen the bottom yet – we’re still seeing finalisations of capital expenditure and still some finishing off of expansions of some of the mines,” he said.

“So I suspect we’re going to see less rental demand than we’ve seen. That will obviously mean that as these construction jobs further decline, we’ll still see a bit of vacancy and so there will be very little appetite or demand, which will affect prices.”

But Mackay may be in a better position than most once the recovery does commence, according to Mr Kingsley, owing to its attempts at economic diversification and location.

“It’s too early yet. I’d definitely say that Mackay as a township has got lifestyle appeal, it’s next to the Whitsundays, so from that point of view it has got a little bit more of a diversified economy. I suspect that you’ll start to see more focus on other agricultural assets as growth drivers for the township,” he said.

Even so, not enough signs exist of the Mackay market entering a clear recovery phase for any confident investment decisions to be made, Mr Kingsley advised.

“I wouldn’t be jumping in just yet. I’d probably give it another 18 months to two years before I’d really want to see the bottom [and] the signs of picking the bottom are near on impossible,” he added.

“I’d prefer to see some uplift [rather] than some bottoming out. That’s probably my tip for most of those mining towns. I don’t want to be the trailblazer. I’m happy for others to trailblaze and then once I know the foundations are good, then it’s time to start.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by Philippe Brach, CEO of Multifocus Properties and Finance.

He believes that any recovery in the region will be led by a resurgence in iron ore prices – a distant prospect at this point in time.

“As much as I’m convinced that Mackay will pick up again, I can’t see any points at this point in time. Mackay will start picking up when the iron ore prices start picking up […] until they start moving I think the whole mining town real estate [sector] will remain subdued for sure. So I’m not sure where the REIQ has come up with a recovery in Mackay, because there’s no fundamentals for that at this stage,” he said.

In January this year, Trinity Property Consultants and the REIQ predicted that the Mackay property market would bounce back in 2015, claiming the region was set to become the “engine room for the Queensland economy”.


How to buy an investment property

Here’s a great video from Jane Slack-Smith over at He video goes for about 2 hours – but contains many great tips fro property investing in general.

Highly recommended!

See video at

Or directly at YouTube –


Is it time to fly in or out of Australia’s Mining Towns?

The risks and rewards of investing in property in mining areas have been widely documented and discussed in the media. So, in 2015, should property investors steer clear of mining areas for good? Are there still good returns to be made in Australia’s post-boom mining sector?

Our latest mining town report breaks it all down, utilising data from Hometrack Australia.
The report includes:

  • An analysis of the key mining town ‘Winners & Losers’
  • How you can reduce risk and know when to bow out
  • How to get the best bang for your buck in a mining town

downloadDownload the PDF Report – Homesales 2015 Mining Report

Source: is a proud sponsor of the 2015 Investor Choice Awards and provides property investors with the essential tools they need to make educated investment decisions.