Is the property dream coming to an end?


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As a homeowner and property investor I want house prices to soar but for my kids' sake I also want them to fall.

Clearly the market can't please everyone and while many of us are concerned about where exactly the property market is going, I think Money's chief commentator, Paul Clitheroe, sums it up nicely in our 2017 Real Estate Guide.

"Add up births over deaths, plus immigration, less those who choose to live in other countries, and we end up with a population of some 35 million by mid-century," he writes. "So it is not hard to argue that demand for property will grow."

2017 real estate guide property special issue special edition money magazine first home buyers

Should you take that as a sign that property prices will continue to rise? No, clearly there will be movements up and down - just how big will depend on a number of factors, such as interest rates, employment, global shocks and so on.

But feel confident that over the long term property, if you can survive a market downturn, is a good investment.

The Russell Investments/ASX 2016 Long-term Investing Report showed that residential property held its own at 8% (before tax, after fees), making it the best-performing asset class over the 10 years to December 31, 2015.

While this research may be reassuring, it doesn't settle short-term nerves for both first-home buyers and investors. Issues of affordability and price falls remain.

The report itself warns that "the property dream may be coming to an end".

Our latest Real Estate Guide couldn't have come at a better time, as the federal budget announced a number of initiatives to address these concerns.

This second edition debates some of these proposals (if you're an investor you won't be too happy about the loss of some depreciation perks) while also offering real solutions to building wealth through property.

For instance, Bryce Holdaway gives you the mechanics for growing a portfolio over the long term. As he says: "One investment is not enough to provide a passive income."

Terry Ryder shows us where the growth baton is being passed with his state-of-the-nation wrap-up and Margaret Lomas helps us avoid getting stuck with a property that has positive cash flow but never grows.

Plus this time we've included 69 pages just for first-home buyers. Everything from where to save, where to buy and how to do it is there for your reading.

Sometimes you do need to ask for a little help - my first property was bought with the help of mum and dad. And sometimes you need to dial up the risk, for example by not saving in a cash account but rather in the asset class you want to buy in.

For me, shares played a big role in saving for a deposit because, let's face it, cash in a bank account is going backwards. If you're prepared to take some risk there are better ways to build a deposit.

And if you don't have the full deposit, Chris Gray's article about the cost of waiting may motivate you to jump in sooner rather than later (see page 92). "When it comes to the property market, the biggest cost could be that of delaying your decision," he writes. He estimates you could lose over $480,000 by waiting to build a full 20% deposit.

We have rounded up Australia's best and most respected property experts. These people walk the talk, so if you're after reliable information that works, here it is!

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Effie Zahos is editor-at-large at Canstar and a financial commentator. She is the author of A Real Girl's Guide to Money: From Converse to Louboutins, and a regular money commentator on TV and radio across Australia. In 1999, a background in banking Effie helped kickstart Money, which she edited until 2019. Effie holds a Bachelor's degree in economics.