DON'T GET BURNED: Paul Clitheroe recommends that if you're considering an apartment, look for smaller developments where your unit isn't one of dozens that are all pretty much identical.
DON'T GET BURNED: Paul Clitheroe recommends that if you're considering an apartment, look for smaller developments where your unit isn't one of dozens that are all pretty much identical. LUKAS COCH

Property is no guarantee of profits

YOU can never lose money on property, right?

Well, apparently that's not always the case.

Despite the double-digit gains in values across some cities, about one in 10 properties sells at a loss.

CoreLogic's latest Pain and Gain report debunks the myth that making money on residential property is a sure thing.

The report found that in the March quarter of 2017, 9.6% of properties nationally sold for a loss - leaving their hapless owners out of pocket by an average of $35,000.

That still leaves the overwhelming majority of properties sold for a profit.

And with an average profit of $185,000 a sale, it's pretty clear that if you get things right it's possible to make big money on property.

So what are the danger zones?

The CoreLogic report identified some of the key factors that can increase the likelihood of taking a hit to the hip pocket.

To begin with, over the past 20 years units have consistently been more likely to sell for a loss than houses.

It's the same this year, with 13.3% of apartments reselling for a loss compared to 8.1% of houses.

That's not to say units should be avoided. But it does highlight how the land component of a house, coupled with greater opportunities to add value through renovations, can support long-term price growth.

One of the biggest factors determining whether a property sells for a profit is the length of time the owner hangs on to the place.

Properties sold for a loss in the March quarter had been owned for an average of six years. By contrast, houses sold for a profit had been owned for an average of nine years, or 7.6 years among apartments.

Clearly, it pays to be prepared to own a property for a decent amount of time.

Expecting to make a quick buck can be an easy way to get your fingers burned.

Remember too, that scarcity adds value.

If you're considering an apartment, look for smaller developments where your unit isn't one of dozens that are all pretty much identical.

Above all, research the market thoroughly to know if the price you're paying is fair market value.

It's a lot harder to sell a property for a decent profit if you paid above the odds in the first place.



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