Buying straw hats in winter is a strategy that works particularly well in the sharemarket, but the same is also very true for the property sector.
Bargains of a lifetime are often found amid the fallout of a bust, and arguably the bigger the bust, the greater the opportunities.
While much of the attention at the moment is on rampant property markets in Melbourne and Sydney, we believe a massive property price rerating in the tourist mecca that is the Gold Coast is just about to get started.
Following the GFC, the south-east Queensland property market was absolutely hammered and was the worst-performing in Australia. Prices fell generally by about 50 per cent. There was a substantial overhang of supply with much inventory from the developers remaining unsold. The banks closed ranks and tightened LVRs which made it difficult for new investors to secure financing. Auctions dried up and many properties remained unsold for months and in some cases years.
The Australian dollar soared in value on the back of the commodity boom but this created the perfect storm for Queensland and tourism, which was particularly hard hit. Tourists were no longer coming to Australia and Australians themselves were travelling overseas to take advantage of our strong currency.
In the past few years you have been able to buy apartments in the GC for aboutone-third of replacement cost or what the property would have sold for back in the early 1990s and in some cases, the 1980s.
However, we believe that the property market in the Gold Coast has definitively turned upwards and prices are now well and truly off the bottom.
There has been a supply response since the bust, with the overhang absorbed, thanks to an expanding local population and new international demand. Tourism is back and with the low Australian dollar, two major five-star hotels are being built on the beachfront.
The $1 billion Jewel Project is being backed by the Wanda Group, headed by China's second-richest man Wang Jianlin. The developers have also broken ground without selling one apartment. They are obviously that supremely confident and know exactly where the demand will come from. And you don't have to be too calculating to figure that the buying will come from China.
We have also seen the highly respected Banyan Tree pay up for a massive land bank, to roll out a substantial apartment and hotel offering under their Cassia brand. It is notable that this is the first time the company has built a hotel in Australia and has chosen to do so on the Gold Coast.
These hotels will attract tourism and bring in a new wave of clientele particularly from China. Prices for beachfront blocks will soar in the year ahead and this will flow through to unit prices.
We think the timing is right now for an upswing in the market. We think that we will see this trend of Chinese buying gather pace. And just as buying by the Japanese during the '80s and '90s fuelled the gains in the Gold Coast property market then, the next boom will likely be driven by the Chinese, with a rising middle class, and favourable currency moves underpinning demand.
The Japanese may even be back as well with the Nikkei close to breaking 20,000 once again.
We could be wrong and time will certainly tell, but we believe that quality well-located beachfront property on the Gold Coast could easily double if not triple from their fairly recent low points over the coming five years.