‘Zero spread’ opens up property-buying opportunities

By Grace Ormsby 22 October 2019 | 1 minute read

Property investment is set to gather pace as first home buyers and investors alike are tempted into a “zero spread” environment, thanks to an equilibrium between lending rates and rental yields, an industry expert has predicted.

First home buyers

Appearing on a panel at the Citi annual investment conference held in Sydney last week, CoreLogic Asia Pacific’s head of research, Tim Lawless, noted that “we’ve seen investors fall from about 43 per cent of share of mortgage demand down to about 25 per cent in May, and that’s risen slowly to about 26 per cent share of the market at the moment”.

“So, investors are well and truly underrepresented in the market,” he stated.

Normally, you’d expect investors to be about 30 per cent of mortgage demand, according to the researcher, which has led him to predict property investment to rebound.

“We should expect [that] investment is really going to gather some pace now.”

“If you look at the gap between rental yields and mortgage rates, they’re both sitting at about 3.8 per cent,” he outlined as to why he holds this view.

“We’ve never seen a zero spread between mortgage rates and gross rental yields,” Mr Lawless said, predicting that investors are likely to become much more interested in property prospects as a result.

With rental yields providing a lot more opportunities for positive cash flow, Mr Lawless said the question that follows for many individuals is, “Well, if yields are so low relative to mortgage rates, it’s become an equation of: should I rent or should I buy?”

“Pay down a mortgage or pay off a landlord?”

“It’s looking a lot better now to be actually getting to the marketplace and taking on some debt and putting up your equity in a property,” the researcher stated.

Despite the optimism, Mr Lawless did concede this isn’t going to be the case in every city.

“Sydney’s still showing relatively low rental yields, and they are once again compressing,” he highlighted.

It’s the lowest-yielding market of any city, Mr Lawless said, sitting at 3.2 per cent gross yield that nets out to around 2.5 per cent net yielding.

Melbourne’s not much better, according to the expert.

But, “if you look at any of the capital cities outside of Sydney and Melbourne, you are typically looking at yields up around mid-fours, sometimes heading to the fives”.

“It’s pretty clear you’ve got some good cash-flow opportunities there, and I think more and more we’ll see renters converting into first home buyers,” he continued.

According to the researcher, part of the reason why first home buyer numbers are quite high now is because of the incentive from stamp duty concessions in NSW and Victoria, but it’s also to do with the affordability improvement that’s occurred.

“The fact is, if you can afford a deposit – it’s probably the hardest part of getting into the market – and paying your stamp duty, if you can get in, then paying down your debts is pretty straightforward.”

“Particularly [when] compared [with] even a decade ago, it’s much more affordable,” Mr Lawless concluded.



Affordability refers to a product or service that is inexpensive and accessible for people with limited means.


An investment is an asset or item purchased with the expectation that it will generate income or appreciate in value in the future.


Property refers to either a tangible or intangible item that an individual or business has legal rights or ownership of, such as houses, cars, stocks or bond certificates.

About the author

Grace Ormsby

Grace Ormsby

Grace is a journalist across Momentum property and investment brands. Grace joined Momentum Media in 2018, bringing with her a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Communication (Journalism) from the University of Newcastle. She’s passionate about delivering easy to digest information and content relevant to her key audiences and... Read more

‘Zero spread’ opens up property-buying opportunities
First home buyers
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